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Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 27 comments

New Wave Feminism, Done and Dusted

Creeping up from out of academia and into popular culture is a weird set of doctrines tied to “new wave feminism.” While the word “feminism” often just means treating women and men the same way,  these days “feminism” is used to refer to a broad set of ideas beyond “equal treatment” which do not logically follow from feminism or from feminism plus a combination of solidly proven beliefs. I wrote a list of questions and answers to show what’s wrong with the new feminism.

I think Men and Women are exactly the same psychologically. All of the apparent differences are really caused by our culture’s enforcement of male and female roles, aren’t they?

Nope: Testosterone and menstrual hormones have easily observable and well-documented effects on behavior, and the presence of each one is different between the sexes.

Isn’t Evolutionary Psychology a fallacious pseudoscience?

No. I’d recommend Ed Clint’s takedown of these accusations, or this book review which covers many of the same accusations in only seven pages. If you’re not in the know, new-wave feminists have a bee in their bonnet about this field of study because it supports the viewpoint that men and women are different psychologically, and that these differences spring out of genetics, not just culture.

If Men and Women aren’t exactly the same, doesn’t that open the door for sexism?

For idiots it does. For smart people, it’s easy to see that two people can have different abilities, talents, ways of thinking, etc. and that both people deserve respect. Same thing goes for any differences we find between the sexes.

We Live in a culture that secretly supports rape! Don’t we?

There’s no good evidence that rapists are protected by the culture at large or that any sizable percentage of the population is willing to allow rape to go on. See here for details, or read Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate for a sensible look at this issue.

Doesn’t Porn objectify women?

“Objectification” means “to treat as an object.” In other words, the feminists are saying that porn depicts women as mere objects with no feelings of their own. If you actually watch porn, you’ll know that porn stars are infamous for their sexual moaning. That moaning indicates the woman is being depicted as a subject, one with feelings and feelings that matter, not an object. Just in general: most porn depicts women as wanting and enjoying the sex in various ways, not as “living sex toys,” regardless of what the new wave feminists will tell you.

You’re just saying all this because you’re a sexist Macho Pig.

That’s an ad hominem attack, and even worse: it’s not even true. I won’t say much more on this one, because I don’t think it deserves any more of a response.

  • Void Walker

    I am totally on the same page as you are.

    I consider myself a feminist, insofar as I believe women should have equal rights with men, pursue any path in life that they choose, etc.

    Where I draw the line is the point when radical feminists harbor disdain and even outright hatred for men, merely because we were born with balls. I’ve encountered a few feminists like this.

    Nice article.

    • ncovington89

      @ Void, would you believe there are feminists out there who consider heterosexual sex to be “unnatural”? No, that is not a joke.

      • Ann

        Hi, guys ~

        May I, for the sake of this post, assume that you and void hold median-type views — not too extreme on either side, but fairly balanced and moderate?

        If I may, then let me then say that I am reminded of the reactions by people who sincerely defend “animal rights” — who support with their time and money various programs that defend animals, reduce their suffering, etc. — but who at the same time are disgusted by PETA.

        What I think is overlooked is the “value” or “function” of extremist views.
        The vigorous expression of extremist views serves a crucial function: namely, it moves the median.

        For example, if Void is expressing a “median” sort of point of view, then ONE HALF of the men in the country think that women should have FEWER rights than he does.

        So moving the median makes a difference.

        My mother used to say that a man’s stout assertion: “Well, I think women should have equal pay for equal work!” was the hallmark of a covert “male chauvinist pig” — and one of the reasons that men were advised to realize that their opinions were irrelevant and unwanted.
        The reason for the women’s scorn at this tepid position was apparently that it occupied only a median position, or perhaps a little less.

        An unfortunate by fabulous example of “moving the median” can be seen in the attitude of the general public (the average person’s “median” opinion) concerning evolution. Not so long ago, almost everyone accepted without question what they had learned in school.

        But I find now that people are much more hesitant to hold with the idea that evolution is a mere fact. When I asked her what she believed, one of my friends said, “Well… you hear so much against it…”

        It’s okay to dismiss the antics of the Creationists as clownish and venal, but unfortunately they did succeed in moving the median.

        So have PETA, Greenpeace, Women’s lib, New Atheism, and so on moved the median by strong assertions of extreme positions,

        This is how cultures make progress –or anyway, it is how they change.

        • ncovington89

          “May I, for the sake of this post, assume that you and void hold
          median-type views — not too extreme on either side, but fairly balanced
          and moderate?”

          I don’t budge when it comes to treating women with equal respect and dignity as men. I am, however, uncomfortable with certain ideas that aren’t equality and which do not logically follow from a belief in equality.

          As to extremist positions being valuable: you’ve got a point, but on the other hand an extremist position can also do a lot of harm: it can scare moderates into being conservative simply because they don’t want to be extremists.

          • Ann

            Well, you are correct.

            The most difficult problem with using extremism to reframe and recenter the debate is that it can inadvertently produce polarization and backlash.

            Nevertheless, on the whole, it is worth that risk. Most people really don’t want to be scorned, out-of-it dinosaurs, so most people just gently slide toward the extremists’ position.

            I’m reminded of the Onion fake news story in which a housewife reports that she had had a generally favorable opinion of gay people until she witnessed a Gay Pride Parade. But she didn’t go all the way back to the Westboro Baptist stage (or even the Landover Baptist position LOL!)

            Therefore, what the extremists gain is this: “If you can tolerate this edge, then you won’t even BLINK at a new center.”

            And here’s another point:

            During the era of cigarette advertising, some of it was aimed at recruiting new smokers, but a lot of it was aimed at retaining brand loyalty. Ads like “I’d rather fight than switch” don’t care what non-users of that brand think — the ads are not even aimed at non-users.

            Well, in the same way, advocates of New Wave Feminism don’t really care what you think or conclude, or how you react. Gender justice will have to be torn from the hands of men no matter what they say they believe, so it’s a waste of resources to try to avoid alienating them — especially if it means diminishing the core message to the actual audience of the message (women) — and double-especially if the male support is “equal pay for equal work.”

            (My mother used to say that this expression was a hallmark of a “male chauvinist pig.”)

            Any advance that women get by being “given” it by men is not really an advance. The only true gender justice is what you can seize and compel for yourself. If it can be “granted,” it can be taken away again.

            So under that theory, it doesn’t matter if men are polarized or not. No man is going to “decline a promotion to CEO” because a woman wants the job — no matter how much he announces that women should get equal pay for equal work.

            If a woman is going to get that job, she has to compel that promotion — not wait for it to be handed out like a birthday present. And if she can compel it, it doesn’t matter if some guy liked it or not.

            Here’s the Onion article
            http://www.theonion.com/articles/gaypride-parade-sets-mainstream-acceptance-of-gays,351/?ref=auto

          • ncovington89

            I don’t buy the dismissal of anyone’s opinion because they are supposedly “privileged.” That’s a fallacious attempt to wipe someone’s opinion off the table because you don’t like it.

            When it comes to racial issues, I hold the exact same position I do about gender issues: white people’s opinions matter. They don’t matter any more or less than a black, hispanic, or asian person’s does. In fact, I think white people have a perspective that could be hugely informative for those who want to move forward on race. Think about it: a white guy hears what other white people say when no one else is around. A white guy can say how he perceives the world, and that can add to the discussion. Example: Once or twice in my life, I have been called a racist even though this was not the case. My contribution is that minorities should be a little quicker to give people the benefit of the doubt on things like this, as that would go some ways towards easing racial tension. Moreover, I can honestly say that the majority of white people I know are not racists, and that as a whole most people judge based on character more than color.

        • Void Walker

          Hey, Ann.

          I do respect the passion behind extremist positions, but I do think that extremism can go a little too far sometimes. Certain “radical” feminists I’ve encountered have asserted that, since I’m a man, I must therefore be a sexist pig. They reached said conclusion without even taking the time to get to know me. This is an example, I could give more if you wanted.

          Now, do not misconstrue; I am a feminist at heart. I just think that movements of *any* variety have the potential for sweeping generalizations and baseless assertions. That even includes certain “sects” of atheism!

          • Ann

            Well, my interest in this discussion is
            (1) the analysis of extremist positions as successful or unsuccessful political tactics
            (2) the “loyalty” of extremist positions to their own stated beliefs; the congruence of the position relative to the belief

            I’m afraid I’m not actually interested in the specifics of any position’s assertions, or their passion, or things like that.

            In terms of (1), I think that extremist positions are successful — in spite of the polarization of some members of the peanut gallery.

            Even since the year 1215 AD (for example), every progression in society has come about because a nutty extremist has started insisting that women should be able to vote, or that the Barons have certain rights against the King, or that new species arise from natural causes working on pre-existing species.

            Certainly some extremist views just fade away (“The Rapture is coming!”), but if they don’t they tend to become more than middle, and even more than mainstream. In the end, they become part of the unquestioned background wallpaper of “How things are obviously supposed to be” (For example, the government should pay the expenses of teaching kids to read, and of paving the streets, and providing a fire department. None of these were self-evident when an extremist first proposed them.)

            (2) In terms of Attribute (2), extremist positions must ultimately come to a place where they inform members of the “non-in” group that their two cents’ worth is not desired.

            The idea has to finally get to its own logical extreme — You are not invited to join the discussion, and the changes will be enforced by US without asking YOU. Like the Barons didn’t really expect King John to finally get persuaded anyway — nor was his “granting” them rights even the goal in the first place.

          • Void Walker

            Ah, I see what you’re saying now. I agree, actually.

          • Ann

            I feel bad about it, but I admit to a feeling of “squeamishness” when I hear men say they support women’s rights. I’m not sure why I feel this way — I actually blame it on my mother’s propaganda LOL!

            Maybe it is analogous to African-Americans who feel a little negative about white people’s stout assertions that they sure do support civil rights?

            I think that men and white people cannot know how much they benefit from “privilege” — or how patronizing it can sound.

            And to make it worse, I am perfectly aware that the intention is good, and the remarks are perfectly sincere.

            In the long run, it has made me leery of asserting to my black friends that I sure do support civil rights for racial minorities, and it has dimmed my gratitude when men assure me that they support women’s rights.

            The best thing I have heard along these lines is the remark that “We can’t do it without them.”
            Yet I know that the women of the 60s did not agree with that — nor perhaps did King John’s Barons.

            If you had a chance, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

          • Void Walker

            Actually, I can totally understand any apprehensions you may have about men supporting feminism.

            In this nation and many others, there are tons of men who view women as little more than objects. This is alarming to me; the ceaseless propagation of such archaic notions seems unending. Religion certainly has not helped. In fact, I would argue that much of the objectification of women *started* via certain religions (cough….Christianity…HACK).

            How do we combat this? Spreading awareness that women are (gasp!) fucking human beings worthy of respect and freedom, as much as ANY man. Unfortunately, this is a VERY challenging thing to achieve. Trust me, I’ve tried. :-/

          • Ann

            Thanks! A nice, sensitive reply indeed.

            I read one time that in fact Christianity experienced accelerated adoption because it took women’s “souls” seriously. The idea seemed to be that this was the first religion to assert that women had independent moral careers and individual fates in the afterlife according to their own deeds. (According to this, Israelite women get into Heaven by riding on their husbands’ coattails, and Muslim women don’t really have souls in the first place.)

            Anyway, as far as I can recall, this author said that this attitude toward women made Christianity a great favorite among them, and it was their adoption of it that helped it spread so far and so fast.

            I’d love to get some scholarly support or refutation of this claim.

            It reminds me of a similar claim made about Jane Austin’s women — they were personally responsible for their moral careers — perhaps an unusual depiction of women for the time. She presented them as unique individuals, not sociological stereotypes according to gender.

            However, this idea that women have souls is contradicted by the Creation Scientist Dr. Jonathan Edwards,from the well-known Landover Baptist Church — one of my favorite churches. :-)
            http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news0500/femsoul.html

          • Void Walker

            My eyes literally bled after following that link. It burns!

            Really, though. Whomever forwarded the idea that Christianity somehow empowered women has apparently not read the bible very closely. I, myself, have. A recurring theme throughout the OT is that women are to cleave unto men and adhere to their commands. As an example, in the creation narrative featured in Genesis, one notes that Eve was A: taken FROM Adam, and B: ultimately, the catalyst of sin.

            There are many, many other examples from both the old and new testaments that clearly elucidate us unto the manner in which women were viewed. Subservient, submissive, slave like. To think that I used to follow that book to the word, never once questioning it’s “divine” nature.

            Sad, huh?

          • Ann

            You’re right — the Landover Baptist Church is a well-known parody church. Pastor Deacon Fred was even invited to address the American Atheists Rally in Washington DC a few years ago.

            Wiki says the status of the Landover Baptist Church is “active” — but I’m not sure. Their archives are fun reading anyway.

            I think the idea that women have their own souls and their own moral path is thought to be specific to the message of Jesus, not the OT or non-Jesus parts of the NT. Jesus did seem to like them and treat them like anyone else, I guess.

            I have a theory that one of the (many) purposes of the story of Genesis was to illustrate the conflict between the outgoing Earth Goddess (grants fertility) and the newcomer Sky God (punishes sin.) These divinities represent solutions to different sets of social problems, and the old one is booted out when the society has to address new challenges. That accounts for Eve’s badness, and the snake too.

            I won’t bother with the details. Maybe it’s a wrong interpretation.

          • Void Walker

            Your theory is quite interesting, actually. Have you studied the origins of Yahweh much? Interesting stuff.

          • Ann

            I’m a big Joseph Campbell fan.

            That’s where I got the idea that a snake represents the Female Principle — all “material” (the same word as “maternal’), and no “spiritual” — essentially a moving digestive tube, constantly in full-body contact with the ground. So it symbolizes the earthy, material, physical aspects of life, but also the idea of birth and rebirth (when it sheds its skin and emerges from itself as a renewed being.)

            Fertility mothers are venerated when the societies are small and suffer from underpopulation, and the occasional oddball event that leads to famine (drought, rain, hail, fire, raids, etc) Then it is corn dollies in the fields and fat Venuses in the houses.

            But as society progresses, and get larger, then these threats are reduced. The city-state can control a river, and develop irrigation, and store surplus food. Professional armies can deter invaders (usually!). But other stressors arise — income inequality, injustice, legal problems, including corruption, theft, and so on — secret crimes which may triumph on earth. So then the culture needs an all-seeing Eye in the Sky God who punishes bad people after death (They are clearly not punished during life.)

            So the group tells the story of the displacement of the Female Principle in favor of the Male Punisher God — just what Genesis says.

            But there are lots of other themes in Genesis as well — Just-So stories, and such like.

            I’m looking for a link I lost which says that the original language of Genesis describes a Council of brother gods — each one given his own people. It was persuasive, but that isn’t hard when the reader doesn’t know anything that might contradict what it says (which would be me.)

            If you know of anything like that, I’d appreciate a steer in the right direction.

      • Void Walker

        I honestly do not know. Maybe if they were sufficiently extreme in their rationalizations, but I honestly cannot say.

        Why do you ask?

  • Ann

    My dear old Nicholas ~

    Perhaps you know that “gender” (like “race”) is not a particularly objective category.

    Before you can say that men and women are different because of the varying effects of testosterone or estrogen, would you not first have to show:
    1) You can accurately categorize every individual as either a male or a female
    2) You can define and measure the attributes you are assigning to these fantasy categories
    3) You can correlate each fantasy attribute to the individuals of the fantasy categories

    So, for example, you should be able to show that a measurement of (for example) math aptitude
    1) Accurately measures “math aptitude”
    2) which presupposes you can even DEFINE “math aptitude”
    3) That you can, by looking at the results of the test, correctly name the gender of the tested person
    4) which presupposes you can accurately classify any individual according to gender

    … and many other absurd claims.

    Now amplify the absurdity of these claims by mixing them up with the pseudoscience swindle known as “psychology.” Hahaha!

    Sure sounds trustworthy to me!
    Those silly feminists!

    • ncovington89

      We all know what men and women are. Playing the definition card just because there’s a few ambiguous situations (i.e. transgender people and those with rare and unusual conditions) is no more convincing than trying to argue that there’s no such thing as species because of hybrids, transitional forms, and so on. I don’t mean any offense in stating it that bluntly, that’s just how I feel.

  • Hierophant2

    You’re not a “sexist macho pig”… you’re just another idiot who thinks just-so-stories from a non-science (evopsych, which is neither evo nor psych) beats real science (anthropology, neurology) and compassion (for women), because, like all skeptics, you are invested in the status quo.

    Your answers are ridiculous attempts at justifying a pre-existing conclusion, making them no more logical than Creationist babbling.

    • ncovington89

      If you’re reaching for insults in the first round of debate, that speaks very poorly for your position and even worse for you.

      • Hierophant2

        What “debate”? I am not debating you. You have no arguments to present, no evidence, and certainly no science.

        Present an actual argument and we’ll talk.

        • ncovington89

          Right, this entire post was on evidence and arguments. You can respond to what I posted or go ahead and exit my blog.

  • Eileen

    “That moaning indicates the woman is being depicted as a subject, one with feelings and feelings that matter…”
    This is a bit of a shallow connection. Have you ever asked a woman how she feels when/after watching porn? There’s actually a lot of objectification happening that’s invisible or very subtle if you don’t have a deep understanding of what sex is often like for women. It’s not a question of enjoyment as much as it is a question of agency and hierarchy. When have you seen porn where the woman moves the man into a position she wants to be in (versus being pushed around like a rag doll)? When have you seen porn that depicts the woman having an orgasm (or that doesn’t end with a ‘grand finale’ when the guy comes)? Not to mention titles like ‘timid virgin gets fucked hard at summer camp’ which hint at the roots of rape culture [which by the way, I challenge you to talk to ten women about before you cement your opinions].
    Some porn (though I would argue, not most) depicts women genuinely enjoying sex. But it’s a common misconception that just because a woman is moaning, she’s having the time of her life. It’s also a common misconception that just because most (or even all) people are against a social problem such as rape philosophically, they aren’t blind to the ways they support it in practice – consider our ‘post-racial society’ for a sobering example.
    I doubt you are a sexist macho pig, but I think before you critique new wave feminism as ‘done and dusted’ you should work to check some of your assumptions.

    That
    moaning indicates the woman is being depicted as a subject, one with
    feelings and feelings that matter, not an object. – See more at:
    http://www.skepticink.com/humesapprentice/2014/04/11/new-wave-feminism-done-and-dusted/#sthash.PVc1LvtS.dpuf
    That
    moaning indicates the woman is being depicted as a subject, one with
    feelings and feelings that matter, not an object. – See more at:
    http://www.skepticink.com/humesapprentice/2014/04/11/new-wave-feminism-done-and-dusted/#sthash.PVc1LvtS.dpuf

    • ncovington89

      Eileen, I was curious as to whether you could give me a ballpark estimate of how much porn you have watched?

      Not being facetious, I’m genuinely curious about this.

      • Eileen

        good question! hmm depends on your unit of measurement ;) in terms of free online videos, maybe 100 in my life? if you feel that your exposure to porn includes more of a representative sample, fire away.

        • ncovington89

          Well, taking a representative sample is important, so I’d be curious to know how you came to watch those videos (i.e. was it from a source talking about how awful the porn was or were you bored/curious and decided to do some random googling).

          You say, “When have you seen porn that depicts the woman having an orgasm?”
          Well, It is pretty common for women to orgasm (or at least act like they are having an orgasm) during the film. And that’s how porn depicts women as *subjects* not “objects” (an object doesn’t have feelings and no one is interested in portraying an objected as if it had feelings). I take it you feel like that just doesn’t matter, but it does: it’s a clear indication that new wave feminism has the wrong conceptual framework for porn.

          You say that, “it’s a common misconception that just because a woman is moaning, she’s having the time of her life.” I agree, but that’s not something relevant to porn. During the filming, a porn actress might genuinely enjoy what’s going on or she could just be acting. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the people who watch porn are watching a woman acting as if she was a person enjoying it, and not just an “object.” What matters here is how the women are *portrayed* in porn, and they aren’t portrayed as anything less than human.

          “Not to mention titles like ‘timid virgin gets fucked hard at summer camp’ which hint at the roots of rape culture…”

          I don’t want to spoil our conversation so far, but I must be blunt: this is ‘heads I win, tails you lose.’ When porn portrays women as promiscuous and desiring sex (as the bulk of it does) then the feminists scream that this portrays women as whores or that it shows women as people who are supposed to be on board with everything a guy wants to do sexually. On the other hand, when a porn movie portrays a woman as shy and coy who later comes out of her shell, that’s interpreted as a veiled representation of rape (which is dubious anyway, “timid virgin” doesn’t have to have anything to do with rape necessarily). Heads I win, tails you lose. That’s the problem with most political / religious / social frameworks; they aren’t falsifiable.