Sunday, June 1, 2014

Everyday

There is another statistic floating around.

How many women are killed by a specific group of people over a specific time period.






Let's add some context to these numbers.

First, a direct comparison of gender violence - in South Africa, 3 women every day are killed.

Which may not seem high, until one understands that South Africa is only about a fifth of the total population of the United States.

Another statistic - 18 black males are killed every day  ("Black males accounted for about 52% (or 6,800) of the nearly 13,000 male homicide victims in 2005")

There are 90 suicides a day (70 of them men)

And about 22 veterans commit suicide every day. (Men and women)

What's this all mean?

Does it mean we should not be concerned about the three women that will be killed tomorrow by their current or former partners?

No, it simply means we need to understand why people feel the "three a day" statistic is particularly alarming. The number itself is a pointless measure. It could be one per day, it could be ten a day. Most people would at all notice large changes in this statistic.

What men and women do see when they mention this statistic is not really any substantive claim of what these numbers ought to be, but how their own interactions with others have the potential to escalate to injury or death.

The statistics are not false, just a reflection of one's focus and state of mind. What is lost in this "per day" statistic is what is actually "everyday".

What is everyday is abuse of all forms - verbal, physical and emotional abuse.

What is everyday is distress of all forms - fear, hatred, regret, paranoia.

This perspective - violence born out of misogynistic hatred is ignored everyday. Male entitlement and sexual dominance is excused or condoned everyday through daily cat calls, butt slaps and suggestive humor.

To add insult to injury, misogyny is again ignored when it goes as far as to kill three women a day in a serious betrayal of trust - violence from a partner.

Misogyny kills. Debate over, right?

Of course, much of this does not resonate as much as some people would like it to among an ever-present band of critics, skeptics, "trolls", "men's rights activists" and other argumentative types. Why?

Each group has their own reasons for being disagreeable, but perhaps some numbers can illustrate some facts.

Start at the beginning - adults tend to hit boys more than girls (1 2). Further, around 1 in 6 boys may be victims of sexual abuse. Later, as adolescents, boys abuse one another at alarming frequency.

Then comes the transition to adulthood. Marked not only by age, but also by having rounded the bases with a woman. But not just any woman - this aspect is important. The woman in this phase is thought by many feminists as an object of sexual desire, however the woman is perhaps more an object of social status.

The importance of this status perhaps is most obvious when a "hot" female teacher beds a boy in her class. Instead of being a statutory rape like any other, it is often viewed as the teacher blessing the boy with respect for a lifetime. The signal is that the boy may be a prodigy - in this case, the law exists just to insult the maturity and charisma of the young go-getter. The view is that the boy has hit a home run so far that the beta males had to be killjoys and made it illegal.

In adulthood, the messed up priorities and violence still rule the day. This time, as careers. 12% of males between 25 and 34 are veterans. Additionally, we pay men to wear badges and point guns at the bad men closer to home. While these men are paid to maintain law and order, it often does not work out that way.

Men with less exciting roles have the privilege of playing the trendy macho game of "Safety Harnesses are for Cowards" at work.

Thankfully enough males behave well enough so most of the population can enjoy watching men die on television in relative peace.

Within all this, occasionally men manage to surprise us in their capacity for evil. At this point, we have a moment of clarity and realize that male problem solving is fundamentally broken.

The internet at large, being always the enraptured audience of anything particularly gruesome, is eager to dissect. (This post is no exception)

Enter the Saviors

Many line up with answers. If not answering directly the problem of male violence, answering to how one is allowed to react to the discussion.

One such post of late is from Phil Plait, calling out the defensiveness of males participating in the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which spawned shortly after the UCSB tragedy.

A short book could be written that would address all the falsehoods. For example, it is ridiculous to call a 4chan-like "incel" forum a "men's rights" forum. Conflating the two is a silly and insulting distraction. If you want to see what a collection of "men's rights activists" looks like, watch this video of one meetup at the University of Ottawa.

Instead, let's look at one statement Plait says of the "everyday misogyny" that is a good stand-in for his perspective on the matter.

Plait writes:

"We need to change the way we talk to boys in our culture as well as change the way we treat women."

Now, a very polite reading of this could result it in meaning we need to address all the issues with male problem solving in a realistic manner.

However one cannot be faulted in rolling their eyes and thinking that this is just another lecturing all-American platitude. Who we lecturing? Boys. Who are we treating differently? Women.

Let's add it to the scrap heap of other phrases:
  • "Just say no to drugs"
  • "It's cool to stay in school"
  • "Never hit a woman"
All statements contain a hint of truth and the spice necessary to change culture. But ultimately when things get a bit too real this moralistic nonsense is abusive in its own way.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this conga line of preaching is that it comes often from male "scientists" that are usually obligated to bring the data when discussing their field of expertise.

Once the topic is feminism or the social sciences, everyone leaves their numbers and thinking cap at home and wishes us all to listen to anecdotes on Twitter until the tears arrive. We're to think that frequently and collectively paying this penance is somehow going to help us discover solutions.

The happy coincidence is Phil Plait maintains a blog under the header "Bad Astronomy". Perhaps this is a good segue into a blog titled "Absolutely Terrible Feminism".

The mystery is really how we are going to change the way we talk to boys.

For when did we start talking to boys?

Maybe the conversation with boys starts with birth. 

"Do you want to be circumcised, Johnny? Remember, silence is consent."

We listen so well to men's needs.

Fear is everyday.

Violence is everyday.

Click-bait concern is everyday.

Understanding is not.

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