Tag Archives: men

‘y’, oh! ‘y’ (the end is nigh…)

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A few days ago my world shifted a little on its axes: this is not hyperbole. The world is always going to look a little different  since I read a post on a wp blog dissecting the story of the ‘y’ chromosome’s decline thru a radical feminist lens. It immediately struck a chord, for reasons I will attempt to divine in this post. It ruffled a few feathers in the MRA camp, too; and their response was typically ignorant, spiteful and misogynistic. Much to my annoyance – though perfectly understandably from the blogger’s point of view – the post was closed to public comments 😦

The post in question had been reblogged by another feminist blogger who helpfully pasted in a link to a Tumblr site where said MRAs were ‘discussing’ the implications of this aspect of human evolution from their oh-so-enlightened perspective. Since that link and the original post are no longer available, I’m forced to paraphrase, but the gist was ‘without men, who would empty the garbage, who is going to change a lightbulb, work factories etc etc’. And you know what, guys, if this is the extent of your insight then I’m embarassed for you: on your terms we’re so conceited we deserve to be extinct immediately.

A comment from one radfem that grabbed me was her realization that, ‘I have no father’ which for a woman is literally true. Genetically – and how much more basic can you get? – a woman inherits her ‘building blocks’ from her mother and from her father’s ‘female’ sperm which contain the genetic information (‘X’ chromosomes) he inherited from his female forbears. There is literally nothing of him in her: the ‘father’, then, is entirely a social construct, at least as far as females are concerned. This is – to me, at least – a radical idea. Also radical is the post’s ‘angle’ that males ‘understand their condition’ on some level and that such instinctive knowledge is a – largely subconscious – driver for our tyrannical behaviour and systems. This inevitably led to speculations/assertions that males are not only biologically weak but inherently destructive in their behaviour and by nature of their very existence. Evolution would seem to be trending towards the same conclusion. There are arguments for ‘helping nature on its way’ – it’s theoretically possible already to make babies from the genetic material of women only; to sex-select at the embryonic stage – females are being aborted in their millions already for ‘cultural’ reasons – and recent research has shown that kids of same sex mums are actually healthier and better-adjusted than their mum and dad counterparts – and for leaving well alone, on the basis of well-intentioned but misguided scientific interventions in the past. Alternatively, some feminists, such as Andrea Dworkin have advocated for sex-segregated communities*.

Either way, and contrary to what one might infer from the MRA response, the decline of the ‘y’ poses less a threat than an opportunity for the future of humanity. The implications for future generations of males appears bleak, on the surface anyway – though this scarcely excuses the apparent need on the part of men of today, to step up their hate-campaign againsts women of today and all time – but provides worthwhile insights into the false premise of patriarchy. I’m going to focus on a couple particular examples here, the first because it’s personal; the second because it’s current. I don’t claim any kind of expertise when it comes to radical feminism – very much a newbie, and plenty investigation to be done in that area on my part – and my thoughts about this are very much a ‘work-in-progress’, so if any readers feel that my inferences are wide of the mark or that I’m misrepresenting anyone, please do feed back if you want to. I’m listening…

Adoption: As an adoptee, my perspective on family is a little different to most peoples’. There’s no biological connection between me and my father or mother so the legitimacy of the child/parent bond has never depended upon biology for me. The implication that all girls are essentially ‘adopted’ by their fathers is a game-changer in a world where adopted kids (female and male) are presented as exceptional (and not in a good way). This got me thinking about need for biological parents and offspring (specifically mothers who give up kids for adoption, and adoptees themselves) to ‘know’ their place in a family tree, as it were. Why do many mothers find it so traumatic to surrender their children thus, whilst many men are able to ‘father’ and abandon sometimes many children indiscriminately and without compunction? Here are my thoughts. The simultaneous ubiqity and differentness of women – in terms of their universal connection thru the proliferation of the ‘X’ chromosome – coupled with the fact that all men are half-‘X’ hints at a deep-rooted imperative and capacity to ‘mother’. This is not to subscribe to the ‘biology-as-destiny’ line of reasoning ingrained in patriarchy, nor to suggest that ‘mothering’ implies relating to males in a way that infantalizes them, excuses bad behaviour and makes domestic tyrants of many a wife and mother. I’m inferring that women, whether or not they choose to have children, whether they give birth or adopt, are biologically-empowered to feel connected to both males and females in a way that we – the half-‘y’ brigade  aren’t. Biologically, they’re enabled to choose parenthood in a way that we’re not: men may literally bombard women with our genetic material in hope of impregnating them, but ultimately it’s the woman’s metabolism and state of health that set the agenda; with a hefty dose of plain old-fashioned chance. In a fundamental way, men cannot be ‘pro-choice’, only pro women’s choice; and even our support in this department is contingent upon women accepting it; or would be, in a society that was less hierarchical and more democratic. Accepting as much is a big ask in a world where ‘control’ is a fundamental tenet of ‘manhood’; but accept we must, for the sake of peace, ours and in the world at large.

As an adoptee who, like most, has wrestled for years with conflicting emotions around my sense of ‘connectedness’ to both my adoptive and biological parents (I’m not in touch with the latter) the understanding that a desire for ‘family’ is rooted, at least in part, in patriarchal lies absorbed by osmosis from a young age, is a psychic weight off my shoulders. I’m not at fault and nor are my adoptive parents: the underlying problem is bigger than us. The patriarchal over-emphasis on blood-relation as a prerequisite for ‘familial’ love (and the customs, rituals and laws built around this premise) have real consequences for children, for women and for men: that pharma companies and healthcare providers are raking in millions a year from couples desperate to have ‘their own’ children whilst thousands of kids languish in a ‘care’ system that often neither meet their needs or protects them from abuse is criminal on two counts; to which we mght append a third kind of crime: the oftentimes isolation of the vulnerable in care institutions is a state of affairs that certain men are keen to maintain, to their sexual and material advantage. Women, seduced by patriarchal myth and who thus feel that they couldn’t love ‘someone else’s’ child are selling themselves short, if everyday evidence of women’s capacity for love is anything to go by. They, in accord with partners and social norms may well have come to regard adopted kids as second-best, and guess what, many kids grow up feeling the same way about themselves.

Transgenderism: a phenomenon that will inevitably be rendered obsolete along with males. Accepting that we men are, on some ill-understood, instinctual level, aware of our own impending extinction points the way to a theory of Transgenderism fundamentally different to the currently-fashionable notion of being ‘trapped in the wrong body’. Maybe it’s the inherent obsolescence of the biological male, rather than the learned confines of the masculine role that MtTs are symbolically rejecting?

A comment by (MtT) Soran on the GenderTrender blog post ‘Male to Eunuch, Asexuality and Gender Nullification’ came close to articulating this, when he** said:

‘…maybe the extreme breadth and fluidity of the human mind is simply rendering the human body obsolete, and we’re going crazy trying to escape it? All of this seems to boil down to the human body itself, which was ‘designed’ by blind processes that had no conscience … I just don’t understand why we’re assuming that ‘sanity’ means accepting an evolutionary accident…’

Soran‘s attempt to grapple with his conflict sidesteps addressing the issue of gender directly (he states earlier in his comment that ‘…gender is BS…’) and looks instead to biology for an explanation, admitting its falliblity and inherent randomness. It may be then, that those who identify as Trans*women are simply a little closer to a conscious awareness of the ‘y’ problem and utilise the best tools that society – i.e. patriarchy – can provide, inadequate as they are, to ‘escape’ their fate. The futility of gendered thinking is laid bare.

In a single sex world, is woman without man still ‘female’? No and yes. No, in the sense that the current, popular understanding of female – for which the definition in engineering terms ‘hollow space into which a corresponding male part might fit’ is a good analogy – will inevitably lose meaning. In a more fundamental sense, yes: the elimination of a patriarchically-defined standard of female will pave the way for a much fuller, more diverse, integral one. Feminists often talk of women being ‘less-than-human’ under patriarchy: evolution towards a single-sex – though by no-means asexual – model of humanity and human reproduction represents as much a fulfilment of human potential as female potential, in a world where the two become at last, synonymous and realise ‘the extreme breadth and fluidity of the human mind’ that Soran describes.

I’m only sad I won’t be around to see it happen…

* Sheri S. Tepper’s engaging and insightful novel, ‘The Gate To Women’s Country’ explores some of these ideas in a fictional context. I highly recommend it, and many of her other stories.
** His preferred pronoun
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Privilege: a quitter’s guide.

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I’ve been reading feminist writing for some time now, but it’s only since I’ve been trying to articulate the ways it’s inspired and enlightened me thru this blog that I’ve come to appreciate the adage that ‘the more you know, the more you realize how much you have to learn’ (or words to that effect). In a recent post, Haters, whores and hypocrites…, I waxed on the subject of, amongst other things, male privilege and hypocrisy. I think it’s a pretty good post, as far as it goes; but it got me thinking about my own privilege and how much that was unconsciously affecting the perspective I bring to my writing and my life. Best intentions aside, it would be arrogant of me to assume that 40 years of living in a male body and seeing thru male eyes hasn’t impacted on my view of the world. To point up the hypocrisy of others and not subject myself to equally ruthless scrutiny is, well, hypocritical.

It’s one thing to recognize the existence of privilege and the fact of your own, but how good are you at policing your own speech and behaviour? ‘Check[ing] your privilege’, to use the current vernacular. For every time you’ve caught yourself in the act of thinking or saying something sexist or making a privilege-based assumption/judgement, there are probably a dozen times you didn’t; at least, that’s my experience.

So for the benefit of myself and other guys, I’m posting a link today (see below) by a blogger called Synecdochic, who kindly took the trouble to produce a checklist aimed at those of us seeking to meet women (and the world) on more gender-neutral terms; not freak women out, and recognize when you’re on a hiding to nothing and back off, dignity – yours and hers – relatively intact (along with a couple reflections of my own).

DON’T BE ‘THAT GUY’

In Entitlement (part one) she begins with the fundamental assertion that ‘Women don’t owe you anything … not even their attention’. Ever posted a comment on a feminist blog, mentally congratualting yourself on how clued-up and sensitive you are on the subject in hand, to complete… apathy. Chances are they’ve heard it all before, so don’t waste a moment getting all butthurt about it. And whilst I don’t feel entitled to get a response to anything I post – I ignore/spam some comments others leave on my blog, too – I really appreciate it when I DO get one, even a ‘negative’ one, and it’s clear that the respondant is telling me something I need to know. I replied to a thread on a blog recently and the mod left a short, polite note informing men that that topic was a women-only discussion and that our comments would be spammed. Her blog, her prerogative, and there was no reasonable way I could take it personally. You don’t have to travel far on the www – or in the world, to which much of Synecdochic‘s advice also applies – to observe that men’s responses (to women) when the shoe is on the other foot are frequently MUCH less reasonable or respectful, and often sexist, spiteful and threatening, to boot.

And a point Synecdochic makes in Entitlement (part two): ‘It is a very sad fact that nine times out of ten, people with privilege, who are exercising that privilege in a way that makes other people feel uncomfortable, will not hear the fact that they are making other people uncomfortable until it’s pointed out to them by someone with the same privilege … that guy is way more likely to listen to you.’   This is something that’s always been in the back of my mind since I started mbg. If I’ve had any kind of agenda in putting my thoughts into words – widening my knowlege and honing my writing skills aside – then reaching out to other guys has certainly been a big part of it: this hypothetical audience might include guys who have read and been influenced by feminism; heard of/read it and dismissed it out of hand, or never encountered it at all. By and large I’ve found myself conversing more with women, simply because guys on the whole haven’t been as interested; or at least, less inclined to get into discussions. Sad to say, I think the misconception that feminism is ‘anti men’ still prevails in many quarters. This has not been my experience. By way of example, Andrea Dworkin – an intellectual and activist frequently reviled as often by other feminists as by liberals and conservatives – has written movingly of the men who have touched her life, and frequently exercised great generosity in discerning positive qualities even in those she came to dislike and despise. If you can read her heartfelt tributes to her father and brother in this autobiographical piece, without a) reaching for a handkerchief and b) feeling a little lighter and more optimistic about the potential of your fellow man, then you’re harder-hearted and more cynical than I. Hers was – and remains – an original voice, challenging both politically and linguistically; reason enough for any aspiring writer, feminist or not, to open up at least one book of hers. I’d recommend Life and Death, for what it’s worth; and if a recommendation from a man rather than a woman is more palatable to you, then I can live with that just fine, for now.

To continue, and conclude on the subject of writing, if you’ve made your way thru to the end of this post, then thanks – I do write in the hope of being read, amongst other motives – but did you click on the link? I hope so. In a mere 3000 (ish) words, Synecdochic demonstrates kindness and insight and you might begin to gain a whole new perspective on the world. To paraphrase (the aforementioned) Dworkin:

‘Am I saying I know more than men about [social interaction*]? Yes, I am. Not just different: more and better, deeper and wider, the way anyone used knows the user.’
* fucking [orig.]