Friday, February 27, 2009

Is it feminism or women?

I think it is human nature to assume, by default, that other people are similar to you. That they feel how you feel, think how you think, would react how you react and that their experiences are similar to yours. I suppose that many times those assumptions would be correct. But, sometimes they are not.

I read the blogs of some men's rights activists. I have learned a lot from them. I have also encountered a lot of hyperbole. Lots of "all women are.." or "all Western women are..." or "99% of women are" or "95% of women are" (you get the picture) types of statements. I have made no secret of the fact that I am no fan of hyperbole, because it makes it harder for others to hear the truth in what you are saying because they get stuck in the hyperbole. After all, probably the only "all women are..." statement that would be factually true would be "all women are female". When people engage in hyperbole their point gets lost because others will point out the factual inaccuracy rather than engaging the substance of the point. Of course it is possible that my nerdiness is what makes me impatient with hyperbole (no blanket assumptions allowed in my nerd-land). But, I think it is more about the fact that there is no need for hyperbole to demonstrate that feminism sucks. Further, the use of hyperbole actually detracts from the case.

Recently Coffee Catholic wrote a blog post addressing the "American women are skanks" bit of hyperbole. I am not comfortable with all the accusations of "whining" that CC makes. And, while I have felt pressured for sex and have been ridiculed by men for not acquiescing, I have found the vast majority of men to be respectful about my boundaries, even if those boundaries ended their interest in me. So, I have not shared CC's experience of feeling hounded or having my mental health affected. But, I do agree that it is disingenuous for a man to complain that women are skanks if he has participated in the "skankification" of women. I agree with her on that point, just like I would agree with a man who said it was disingenuous for a woman to complain about men being "sexually obsessed" when she dresses and behaves provocatively.

Over at MarkyMark's , CC also commented on a post about a related subject which seems to have started quite the discussion. One commenter, a Ruddyturnstone, asserts that CC believes that because she was looking for a long-term commitment when she was young, there must have been lots of other women out there doing the same thing.

RTS goes on to say It's the same old, same old with the women posters here. A man claims that Western women, in general, do X. The women jump on and say, "But I'm not like that" (or, sometimes, they say "But all women aren't like that" or "The women in my little circle of family and friends aren't like that"). Even if it's true, who gives a shit? Who was talking about you, or your sister or niece or even "all" women? It's a GENERALIZATION.

I have certainly made similar comments in response to a comment that was not expressed as a generalization (such as my exchange here with MS). These sorts of statements may have no indicators (meaning that they use words or phrases like: "women in general" or "most women" or "many women" rather than "women") that they are a generalization. Sometimes they have indicators that they are not generalizations ("all women", "each women" etc.).

RTS continues, Most Western women are, in fact, "like that." And what you are doing is derailing the conversation and delegitimizing a valid and generally true critique, and the experiences and observations of the man who made it.....Jeff is to be considered a "whiner" because every single woman he has ever dealt with cheated on him.That's what I meant when I talked about delegitimizing the male perspective. Jeff's experience is set at nought, because it does not jibe with what CC claims is her experience....No, it doesn't go "both ways." Jeff's tale is pretty much the same as the one almost any Western man could tell you. CC's is an outlier, at best. Western women lie and cheat all the time, just as in Jeff's portrayal of them. Very few Western women were virgins looking for marriage throughout their 20's but couldn't find anything but players, as in CC's tale....there really just aren't that many nice girls out there. And there certainly aren't many looking to get married in their 20's.Of course, CC says that SHE was a virgin and all ready, willing and able to marry at age 20, but no men were around who wanted to. And that is where I see the problem. That may very well have been CC's experience, but it is no way typical. And, it in no way nullifies or contradicts what Jeff, or you or I are saying. CC, like some of the other women who post here, is using her experience as way of "trumping" the experiences of men. What we say, even here, even on a blog that is supposed to be about Men Going There Own Way, is subject to being overruled by the experiences of women. (Edited by me, Learner, at the ellipses for length)

This discussion is very curious to me. While I understand the idea that what CC said delegitimized Jeff's experience and agree that is not just or helpful, I confess that it seems to me that both CC and RTS are assuming that their experience and the experiences of people they know is the norm. Quite frankly, I have no idea what the norm is anymore, but I would guess that while feminism has wreaked havoc on western culture, that the norm is not quite as cut and dried as "it doesn't go "both ways." Jeff's tale is pretty much the same as the one almost any Western man could tell you. CC's is an outlier, at best. Western women lie and cheat all the time".

Not everyone has the same experience. CC having a different experience doesn't nullify or trump the experience of men who have experiences similar to Jeff's. But Jeff's experience doesn't nullify CC's experience or the experience of other "outliers" either. Both are valid experiences and are not mutually exclusive. One experience does not have to be false for the other to be true. The problem comes when we assume that everyone's experience is like ours, or like the experience of the people we know. It seems to me that what derails the conversation is the hyperbole.

The problem with both hyperbole about men and women is that both of these issues blame a group of diverse people (men or women in general) instead of the specific persons engaging in the objectionable behaviors and the ideology, feminism, that resulted in the behaviors. When men say all women or all American women are skanks, it makes women the "enemy", just like when women say most men are to blame if women are slutty it makes men the "enemy" (or like when women say that an abused woman shouldn't have to even be in a room with a man because it isn't "safe" it makes all men the "enemy") Both reactions fail to focus on the real problem, which is feminism.

Maybe I am too optimistic (since I am an "idealist"), but I believe that if the hyperbole could be kept to a minimum that there is more of a chance that the truth that feminism is a scourge that is destroying society and the church can be exposed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A freak of nature

Today I received an email invitation to participate in the research project study of a student at another university who wanted to compare the personality types of people in my profession with people in a related profession. Even though I usually find that sort of research question a bit of a waste of time (because, why does it matter?), I consented to participate because my students often solicit others for study participation so I usually try to return the favor. I was directed to click on a link to take a Jung Typology personality test. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was based on Jungian psychology, so the personality type results are similar. If you want to take the test (it doesn't take long) you can do so here.

It turns out I am an INFJ (introvert-intuitive-feeling-judging, or a "idealist counselor" according to the Keirsey Personality sorter), like Sidney Poitier and Jordan's Queen Noor (um.....okay). I was not surprised by this. If I had read the descriptions before taking the test I would have thought this type fit me best. What I didn't know was that INFJ is the most rare of the 16 personality types, describing only about 1.5% of people. So, apparently I am an oddity and a freak of nature. "Weird", if you will. (I'll spare you most other things about me that may be outside of the're welcome)

Since I have been teaching the last 6 years or so I have taken an inordinate amount of pleasure in doing things that may cause some of my students to perceive me as weird. I suggest they may get extra credit for answering in class with a foreign accent. I sing badly and perform even worse dance moves during lectures. I make sound effects when demonstrating hands-on techniques. I make fun of myself and tell stories about my past mistakes. I embrace my intrinsic goofiness. The more they make "oh my word, she is weird" faces at each other or roll their eyes at me, the more it entertains me. I guess I am comfortable with the weird. To me it is normal, average even.

After several discussions I have read on some blogs lately, I have been thinking a lot about perceptions and how they may be influenced by our experience. I'll come back to that in the next several days, but for now I'd love to hear about your thoughts on your experience with personality tests and your results if you care to share them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The gender gap

Today I was surprised that a columnist in my university's student newspaper addressed the topic of the so called "wage gap" between the genders. He did a fine job of covering the basics of the issue:
  • Differences in wages between men and women are due to lifestyle decisions such as preferred working hours, having children, and work conditions such as required travel and hazards.
  • Over the past 40 years wages for women, particularly black women, have gone up faster than other demographics.
  • If women really make less for the same work, why would an employer hire men at all?
I am expecting there will be at least one angry letter to the editor on the subject tomorrow...we'll see.

For more information about the wage gap see this post by Elusive Wapiti.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prayer request

My good friend Jonathan is in Japan on a missions trip until February 25th. Please join me in remembering him in prayer when you are talking to the Father. You can check out his blog for details.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New label tags

I have added labels to all posts (why I didn't do this when I started this blog in October of 2007, I don't know) so you can now scour the vast ramblings contained in these pages. I know you're excited!

Friday, February 6, 2009


What is chemistry? I am not referring to the science that gave me fits in both high school and college (and gave me my lowest score ever on a test...26%!). I am referring to that "something", that connection that we feel for certain members of the opposite sex.

A few weeks ago I went on my first "real" date since the incident. How did it go you ask? Um....not so well. I am normally a little nervous on first dates, but I was so nervous that I had to slide my hands under my thighs to keep them from shaking. Not surprisingly, my trembling like a school girl did little to endear me to the poor man. He let me know that he didn't think there was sufficient chemistry for him to further pursue me. Naturally I was disappointed because he looked so good "on paper" (meaning we have compatible spiritual beliefs, he is intelligent, has a good sense of humor). But honestly, I think all of the trembling was a physiological reaction indicating that I'm just not quite ready to date again just yet. So, it's just as well that there was no "chemistry".

All that had me thinking about the idea of "chemistry". For me, chemistry is something that is rarely, if ever, instantaneous. Actually it is rarely something that I would feel strongly after one date. I seem to need to interact with someone more than that usually. The two examples I can think of where I felt that "zing" or "chemistry" within the first date didn't lead to good things for me because I seemed to allow my "feelings" to diminish reservations and "warning signs". I seem to do better when the "chemistry" is a bit slower in the development. So, generally, I will agree to more dates to give things a chance to develop. But, people are different. Some people want to feel "chemistry" right away.

It brings many questions to mind:
  • Is chemistry just about attraction?
  • Do you feel chemistry instantly, or does it take time to grow?
  • Is chemistry necessary for a good/ successful marriage?
  • Can chemistry last?
  • Would we be better off paying less attention to chemistry when looking for a potential spouse?

I want to hear what y'all think.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009