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Author Topic: Boys Are Stupid
Gumdrop Girl
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got your attention, didn't I.

Protest over novelty items bearing the slogan "boys are stupid"

If you've been to the mall, I'm sure you've seen the line of clothes, toys and trinkets that have cartoons that say "boys are stupid" on them. you might have smirked, or even giggled. Heck, I'd bet a number of folks on this site even bought one. But (finally) people are starting to get offended. Already Tilly's and Claire's have ceased to stock the offending items. Do you agree that the slogan is insensitive to males? or do you think people are overreacting to a silly joke?

Personally, I find humor in making fun of the pathetically stupid, but I'll be all-gender inclusive. Wanna make fun of stupid people? then check out Happy Bunny http://www.hottopic.com (inventory search keyword "happy bunny").

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BruinDan
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The whole thing cracks me up. My sweetie and I ran into these shirts last fall at Tilly's, and I remember telling her that I was sure there would be some outrcy by Christmas. Evidently I had my timing off, but it still doesn't surprise me.

The shirts are stupid, the slogans are stupid, the prices are stupid. But there's no law against stupidity. In 1992 my junior high school banned the "Hudda 187" shirts when they were found to be a code for "kill cops." Back then, they used a law that was on the books which prohibited "terrorist threats" in order to ban the clothing outright. In this case, nobody is suggesting murder so it's not quite as clear-cut. Either way, I'm sure school boards will have a field day banning these shirts and "taking a stand..."

Whatever. I wouldn't dress my kid in these shirts, I highly doubt my friends would dress their kids in these shirts; and if the rest of the world disagrees, that's their deal.

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BruinDan, "Not Quite Morrissey," PHOM

¡Siendo padrote no es cil!


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Milke
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But if there were shirts out there that said 'Women Are Sluts - Rape Them' or 'Black People Are Worthless - Enslave Them And Make Them Pick Cotton So You Can Earn Your Fortune' I think people might have gotten upset a bit sooner.

Generalisations about any group of people based on sex, orientation, skin colour, and the like are stupid and harmful; maybe someone should put that on a t-shirt. Regardless of what harm's been done to anyone by any other person, or what bad humour's intended, there's really no excuse to consider that sort of thing okay. Anything that encourages hatred or ignorance, legal or not, doesn't deserve to be displayed on anyone's chest, because that just perpetuates all sorts of nasty crap, and as human beings, we owe it to ourselves to be kinder.

And that day at Tilly's? I didn't buy any shirt.

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Milke, with an L, Mrs BD to you, RATS, TMNTP, MF, CWCD, WAOTA

And everybody's got to live their life
And God knows I've got to live mine


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Heather
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The trouble with that sort of analogy is that it isn't the same thing to make statements like those about minorities or oppressed groups -- especially when they are things that do or have regularly happened, and with at least some semblance of cultural permission, currently or historically -- and to say one should throw rocks at a majority or dominating party, or that they're stupid. because, in a word, not only do those things tend not to happen, and do those parties tend not to be close to as vulnerable to an attack, those statements are far more easily dismissed because the reality is that if, say, a bunch of people started throwing rocks at men regularly, those men would be likely to be protected far more easily than a less powerful group for greater assaults. In other words, rapists STILL serve little time, if at all, for rape; domestic abuse victims, the majority of whom are still female, still have a terrible time getting protection. Afraican-american people still make a mere percentage of a dollar whites do, etc.

And it does often happen that dominant parties cry foul as to being oppressed, when they usually very much are not (and may not even have ever experienced any sort of oppression), and often when they continue to oppress others and can't see that clearly. Though I'd have a hard time filing young boys as a culturally oppressive group, or all men as such, the fact of the matter is that in every culture in the world, simply being male essentially overrides almost anything else in terms of being the dominant group (in other words, even if, say, you're a male who is of a minority race or a lower social strata, in nearly all cases, you'll have automatically more status and power than a woman in that same stara or race).

I'm not defending the merchandise, mind you. Nor do I think it's at all constructive, though in line with what Dan was saying, I do think it's pretty illustrative of our culture as a whole -- schoolyard taunts seem to be right on par with all too many people's dealing with gender issues. But I also think the LAST thing boys need to hear or see are messages which tell them it's likely best and safest that they DO adopt the posture and defensive behaviour of the worst parts of the patriarchy (because, see, women DO hate them and want to hurt them, etc.), and I think the last thing girls need is to hear or see messages which tell them a viable solution to gender imbalances is to emulate the worst sort of sterotypical "male" behaviour.

I'm just not fond of those sorts of comparisons because I don't find they hold water.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 01-31-2004).]


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Milke
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But it used to be reasonably socially acceptable to consider statements like that true. It used to be okay to hold rape against its victims, and do wretched things to people solely because of their skin colour -- and make jokes about such things, because saying something is supposed to be funny often gets it excused. I chose those examples because they're things that really have happened. We know now that they were seriously wrong, but not enough people acknowledged that at the time, and thus, they were allowed to happen.

In general, we've gotten smarter -- or maybe it's just that kind people started calling jerks on their behaviour. If we're able to change dangerous patterns for some people, there's no reason we have to find new groups to try to oppress, regardless of whether that's successful or not. No one's a minority just because of who they are, but when we choose to be hateful and stupid, we can harm anyone.

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Milke, with an L, Mrs BD to you, RATS, TMNTP, MF, CWCD, WAOTA

And everybody's got to live their life
And God knows I've got to live mine


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Heather
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Realy, in many, many places and among many people it still IS socially acceptable. In many places, to varying degrees it DOES still happen. And even in places where it isn't considered socially acceptable, many people still feel that way, they simply hold their tongues.

In other words, those things truly aren't things of the past for the most part.

I absolutely agree with you in many regards, save that effectively, you can't actually oppress any group who is on the top rung. That's just not socially possible via what oppression is. For example, I can't oppress my government because they have the power and I don't.

But you certainly can create things which feed all oppression fruther, which perpetuate damaging behaviours, and which suggest backlash or alternatives to exisitng oppression that is negative and destructive.


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
you can't actually oppress any group who is on the top rung.

Sure you can. You can do that my assuming that any particular group if on the top rung. This is done quite easily, by way of the broad generalization that all men (white men in particular) are somehow pulling the strings that run society.

It is entirely possible to be a white man living in a shack in Tennessee and have no power whatsoever. It's also possible to be an African-American woman and become the National Security Advisor. I understand full well that historically this has not been the case, but if we are to rely only on what is historical, we are not to progress at all.

I think we do a disservice when we apply that sort of blanket attribute to any class or gender or race or creed. Spouting off that "all black woman are welfare moms at the bottom of the social ladder" would no doubt inspire condemnation, and would lead off all sorts of very successful folks. Everyone from the late great Barbara Jordan to Rice to Deborah Coleman, the genius who is CEO of one of Ford's largest subsidiaries. Do we celebrate their success and their greatness, or do we rely on the mantra that they are aberrations, exeptions to the rule that only white men are to occupy the top spot?

I do see what you're saying, and I agree there is more than enough historical basis to deem white men the keepers of the golden key for much of history. But at some point we are going to have to move beyond looking at that, are we not? I believe our lifetimes are better served by recognizing the very real potential each and every one of us has to actually be somebody, to achieve upward mobility, to turn history on its ear.

A good way to start that would be to either laugh off statements like the one on this T-shirt completely, or ban them outright. But to do so across every racial, gender, and ethnic group, without making exception for those on the "top rung."

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BruinDan, "Not Quite Morrissey," PHOM

¡Siendo padrote no es cil!


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Heather
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Well, no, actually, in order to oprress anyone, you have to forcibly hold them down or subjugate them by virtue of authority, force or power.

So, yes, with some help I or someone else could create a mass overthrow, but it'd be highly unlikely and no, I personally cannot oppress someone who is in a position of power over me unless somehow the porverbial I am the one who ends up with more power than they. And it is not oppression to state a given group holds power or recognize they have it -- in fact, that's quite the opposite of oppression. I'm not trying to nitpick on semantics, but I don't want what oppression is to be defined incorrectly, because it's important, especially in the context of this sort of thing.

I'm not generalizing that all males or all white males, as you state, have all the power and must always be. I am stating that at this point in history, and for much of it, they are those who are the sweeping majority. Our national security advisor still reports to someone, and can be vetoed by someone, and is employed by someone, and guess who and if that's coincidence? And if you want to talk about working from a framework where we operate outside lines of race, gender or social strata, I think it's most beneficial for evryone that we acknowledge the existing imabalnces -- that even benefits men in a postive way, because were we outside it, they too would be able to know they were being judged purely on their work and merits.

I agree, at some point we have to move beyond that, but we can't do so, IMO, WITHOUT looking at it, and I don't see how we're served by pretending it isn't so while it is so. Yes, it's possible to be a white man in a shack in Tennessee, and there are gobloads of men who are poverty-ridden, but the truth is that right now in our culture, in most ways, that white man on the lowest rung , perhaps, of the economic ladder STILL often has more leverage and power than his wife, or then his black or asian neighbors on the same rung.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 01-31-2004).]


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Well, no, actually, in order to oprress anyone, you have to forcibly hold them down or subjugate them by virtue of authority, force or power.

If that is the case, then where in America is the oppression today? Where does the government send troops to enforce segregation? Where are laws enacted which prohibit women from voting? Where are police told to shoot black men on sight when they cross into white neighborhoods?

If the intended definition of oppression is indeed something that is inherently only possible through express order of authority or force, then it does not exist in America today. Except in the case of Affirmative Action.


quote:
And if you want to talk about working from a framework where we operate outside lines of race, gender or social strata, I think it's most beneficial for evryone that we acknowledge the existing imabalnces -- that even benefits men in a postive way, because were we outside it, they too would be able to know they were being judged purely on their work and merits.

That's a very good point, and I agree with you there. However, the tricky part comes in how we acknowledge those imbalances and how we try and counteract them. The aforementioned case of Affirmative Action is one way that has been attempted, yet it comes off as little more than Jim Crow in reverse. I realize that it was enacted with good intentions, but surely there must be something better out there.


quote:
but the truth is that right now in our culture, in most ways, that white man on the lowest rung , perhaps, of the economic ladder STILL often has more leverage and power than his wife, or then his black or asian neighbors on the same rung.

But the inherent problem with that statement is that we cannot know that. It relies on that same blanket assumption I was talking about, that there is some magical network of white men who can "make things happen" for other white men and can "make things not happen" for Asians or blacks or women. It's a neat conspiracy theory, but it's one of those things that relies on anecdotal evidence to subsist. You're dead-on that historically a white man would have had a far easier time of it than his asian counterpart, but if we pin evidence from 200 years ago into a 2004 framework, how does that prove anything? All we are left with are comparative cases of white men who claim they had it tough and black men who claim they had it tougher. And it's all guesswork to figure out whether that is a cause or an effect.

(This is a very interesting turn we've taken, by the way. )

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BruinDan, "Not Quite Morrissey," PHOM

¡Siendo padrote no es cil!


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Bobolink
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In Canada, a woman can be Head of State, in fact has been continuously since February 6, 1952.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

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DarlingBri
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quote:
If that is the case, then where in America is the oppression today?

Right where Heather said: by virtue of authority, force or power.

It is a fact that power and authority in the US is still overwhelmingly held by white men. And that is not because the rest of us like it down here at the bottom.

Please do not try to tell me that entire classes of people are not oppressed in America today. Just do not even try that. A woman is raped every three minutes in the US. Ethnic minorities are three times as likely to live in poverty. Black people are still excluded from country clubs.

As to your "affirmative action is oppressive" remark, I'll let this quote make my point for me:

quote:
Hiring a well-qualified minority candidate who brings the additional quality of a different experience, rather than an equally qualified white applicant who does not bring that added benefit, is not discrimination; continuing a system that consistently replicates the overwhelmingly white composition of the faculty is.

Source: Affirmative Action Is Not Discrimination

The key phrase in there, by the way, is "continuing a system." You can deny that the systems exist if you prefer, but then, I imagine it's comfortable for you to do so.

[This message has been edited by DarlingBri (edited 01-31-2004).]

[This message has been edited by DarlingBri (edited 01-31-2004).]


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DarlingBri
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quote:
Originally posted by Bobolink:
In Canada, a woman can be Head of State, in fact has been continuously since February 6, 1952.


An inherited position with no legislative power. And, for the record:

quote:
Succession to the British throne is restricted to Protestant descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, with male heirs having precedence over females, and those who have married a Roman Catholic excluded.

Elizabeth had only sisters. Lucky her husband wasn't Catholic.

[This message has been edited by DarlingBri (edited 01-31-2004).]


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by DarlingBri:
It is a fact that power and authority in the US is still overwhelmingly held by white men. And that is not because the rest of us like it down here at the bottom.

It should be noted that you are not in the United States, and therefore cannot be "at the bottom" of the US social ladder.

quote:
Please do not try to tell me that entire classes of people are not oppressed in America today. Just do not even try that. A woman is raped every three minutes in the US. Ethnic minorities are three times as likely to live in poverty. Black people are still excluded from country clubs.

That seems a bit overly defensive, but I'll take it.

The fact that slimebags rape women does not mean that all men are evil, or that all men are engaging in a systematic oppression of women. It means that slimebag rapists are out there, and that they should be stopped. To try and equate rapists with all men and assume that they hold power and are engaging in state-sponsored subjugation of women (which has been shown to be the definition of oppression) is both overly cynical and completely incorrect. When the US Government removes rape laws and orders men to rape all women, we can talk about that.


quote:
Hiring a well-qualified minority candidate who brings the additional quality of a different experience, rather than an equally qualified white applicant who does not bring that added benefit, is not discrimination; continuing a system that consistently replicates the overwhelmingly white composition of the faculty is.


This goes back again to the definition of the word "oppression." If we are to use that definition, then by nature the only for of oppression still in place by the government (and it has to be in place by the government, since they are the ones with the "power" in this system) is Affirmative Action. I've already stated that I understand it was put into place in an attempt to create a balance, but one must also agree that doing so has created a system of oppression on another group of people. Anytime there is an explicit policy that will deny one person admittance over another simply on the basis of skin color, we have oppression. No matter what purpose that oppression may serve in the long run.

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BruinDan, "Not Quite Morrissey," PHOM

¡Siendo padrote no es cil!


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by DarlingBri:
An inherited position with no legislative power.

Kim Campbell's wasn't. Neither was Margaret Thatcher's.

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BruinDan, "Not Quite Morrissey," PHOM

¡Siendo padrote no es cil!


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Bobolink
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And in some countries, women aren't allowed to become monarchs under any conditions.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein


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Heather
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I figure I should try and clarify further.

Inherited privledge, in and of itself, in the case we're discussing, by gender, when purposefully perpetuated by purposefully keeping other groups down, is oppression.

There is oppression in the United States en masse. Affirmative action, however one may feel about it, cannot be oppression because it does not serve to keep a class or race which had less power in a position of less power. It seeks to *balance* the scales, not even to give other classes a greater power than those with it presently or at its inception. Had it sought that, there's no way in heck it would have passed through. I'm not a big fan of it myself, but I think in a long cultural situation where there are few fairly enforceable solutions, it's about the best fix there is to TRY and enable classes which have been severely oppressed and thus still start out with the short end of the stick, no matter what. if it's a successful experiment, then hey, in fairly short order as far as the big picture, the scales should be much more balanced to the point we don't need it. But right now, we still very much do. When poverty and illiteracy and shite education AREN'T epidemic in minority communities, to a degree that is incomparable to that in white communities and groups, then we can talk about not having tools like AA. But we still have WAY too much to clean up to even try and pretend things would be fair otherwise. Even with it, they often still are not.

In terms of discussing oppression, I'd earnestly suggest texts like Paolo Friere's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," because it's insanely complex and makes anyone's head dizzy. And it's hard as heck for any of us to see it without temporing it with our own flavors much of the time.

But to suggest that there exists no oppression in a country where rapists serve less time than those who don't pay taxes on time almost always, where domestic abuse may not be legal, but is still incessantly ignored, where one gender and creed of people, across the board, in all professions, make more on the dollar than all others where one orientation is afforded rights and benefits another is not only because we have a moral majority which has deemed one as "moral" and others as immoral, where african-american and hispanic women are four times more likely to die during pregnancy because of lack of access to medical care, where according to the last census, the poverty rate for whites is about 8% compared to the 23% for african-americans alone? Heck, where we can end up with a President who nearly flunked out of college, primarily because he's from a family with influence?

That isn't coincidence or happenstance.


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DarlingBri
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It should also be noted that I am American and lived in the US for longer than you have been alive, young Skywalker.

quote:
The fact that slimebags rape women does not mean that all men are evil, or that all men are engaging in a systematic oppression of women.

Nobody is saying that all men are evil. (Some people are wearing t-shirts that say "boys are stupid" but we seem to have fallen off that point.) Likewise, nobody is saying that all men are engaged in a systematic oppression of women or people of colour.

What we are saying is that we live in a straight white patriarchal culture and that fact in and of itself oppresses women and minorities.

quote:
one must also agree that doing so has created a system of oppression on another group of people. Anytime there is an explicit policy that will deny one person admittance over another simply on the basis of skin color, we have oppression. No matter what purpose that oppression may serve in the long run.

No. The oppressor cannot be the oppressed. This is a minute attempt to legislate for some modicum of equal access.

[This message has been edited by DarlingBri (edited 01-31-2004).]


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DarlingBri
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Uh, hello? I'm well aware that Maggie held a real position of power. I'm not saying that women cannot attain such positions. I was responding to the particular example of ER being the "head of state" and was pointing out that in discussions of gender and power, that's not a good example.

Maggie is a perfectly fine example, and so is Indira Ghandi, and so is Condoleezza Rice. But we're having to pull single examples here from 51% of the population. That's pretty telling.


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Glam
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Gyah, that "Boys Are Stupid" slogan irks me every time I see it.

Every time I walk past the greeting card section of any store, I see many cards with the same general themes - males are unintelligent. They generally depict men as overweight television-watching blobs who don't care about anything other than , sports, sex, beer and the remote who rejoice in bodily functions: socially inept morons.

A lot of cards DO portray women negatively: as stereotypically shopping-obsessed and PMS-laden, but even in those cards, I find that there are many instances of an attitude that states 'We women just keep men around for the money/sex/etc, they're just big dumb toys...'

Male-bashing seems to be part of some movement to empower women, but I don't think it's empowering to any gender.


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Heather
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quote:
Originally posted by BruinDan:

This goes back again to the definition of the word "oppression." If we are to use that definition, then by nature the only for of oppression still in place by the government (and it has to be in place by the government, since they are the ones with the "power" in this system) is Affirmative Action. I've already stated that I understand it was put into place in an attempt to create a balance, but one must also agree that doing so has created a system of oppression on another group of people. Anytime there is an explicit policy that will deny one person admittance over another simply on the basis of skin color, we have oppression. No matter what purpose that oppression may serve in the long run.

Actually, no we do not. We ONLY then have oppression, per the literal, academic and sociological defintions, if that group, as a whole (or by manner of being a dictator, etc.) wields greater power over another, and they systematically use that power at the expense of the other group to hold them down.

That cannot happen in a group which practically and statistically, all over the board, very clearly has LESS power, less influence, and a lesser quality of life.

Obviously, you get to choose to define things for yourself if you like, but the way you seem to be defining it wouldn't fly in an academic or solciological context.

quote:
The fact that slimebags rape women does not mean that all men are evil, or that all men are engaging in a systematic oppression of women. It means that slimebag rapists are out there, and that they should be stopped. To try and equate rapists with all men and assume that they hold power and are engaging in state-sponsored subjugation of women (which has been shown to be the definition of oppression) is both overly cynical and completely incorrect. When the US Government removes rape laws and orders men to rape all women, we can talk about that.

Umm, no one has said here that men are evil. No one has used the word evil at all, and flatly, where I'm coming from is a standpoint of balance and equity for EVERYONE. In regards to rape and oppression, the issue does not merely lie with rapists themselves, who, whether we like it or not, and for loads of reasons (including, quite likely, that many men are schooled that they MUST oppress and act via force to be men), are predominately male, but also by lawmakers and law enforcers, who also are overwhelmingly still male in this country, who hold up a system in which rape laws are often not enforced, in which rape is often belittled or dismissed, and for which time served, etc. is incredibly low when compared to far LESS violent crimes.


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BruinDan
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op·pres·sion
noun
1 a : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
2 : a sense of being weighed down in body or mind
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
That cannot happen in a group which practically and statistically, all over the board, very clearly has LESS power, less influence, and a lesser quality of life.

Okay, I think I see where you are coming from here. The definition of the word would be in tune with that too, that basically those with no power cannot be oppressors because they have no means of enforcing anything.

But Affirmative Action is not being enforced by those with no power. It is being enforced by the government, which in fact wields all the power of this land. Even if it is being enforced for those with no power, it is being enforced by those with it. That's a fairly important distinction, I think.

And even if it is done to promote balance and equality, a byproduct of that is to hold people down. It does not matter who is being held down, the mere notion that one's skin color (or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation) can legally be used as a basis for choosing one person over another is blatantly offensive.


quote:
who hold up a system in which rape laws are often not enforced, in which rape is often belittled or dismissed, and for which time served, etc. is incredibly low when compared to far LESS violent crimes.

This is not in line with my law enforcement experience. Indeed there is a great big rest of the country where I did not work, but at least on this end that is not the case. And if we can at least have one county (and the most populous one in the nation, at that) where such things are taken far more seriously than the examples you've cited, that's a reasonably positive sign.

I concur that for far too long rape and domestic violence issues have gone ignored, or were at least treated as second-class. I think the time for change has finally hit us, and that ought to be reflective in sentence modifications and changes over the next few years. This state, for example, strenghtened its domestic violence laws again last year and is on par to establish "mandatory minimums" for rape if the 9th Circuit ruling against such statutes is struck down.

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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by DarlingBri:
What we are saying is that we live in a straight white patriarchal culture and that fact in and of itself oppresses women and minorities.


If the problem lies with the culture, rather than in how we deal with it, then how will it be any better when the culture changes? When a majority of lawmakers are female? When we get our female (or, dare I say it, gay) president? Once that changes, there will be someone else claiming to be "on the bottom" who will not be happy with the way things are going. Will that person then have the rightful claim of being oppressed simply by virtue of who is running the show at that time?

The logic seems problematic to me, that's all.

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logic_grrl
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quote:
Will that person then have the rightful claim of being oppressed simply by virtue of who is running the show at that time?

Let's see ... If the majority of all legislators were women. If working men as a group routinely earned around two-thirds of what working women as a group earned, and still ended up doing most of the childcare and housework. If 1 in every 4 men would be sexually assaulted by a woman in his lifetime. If only a tiny fraction of those assaults led to convictions (in the UK, right now, around 5% of the rapes which get reported to the police lead to a conviction; recently, the crown prosecutors dropped a gang rape case - although they found the victim's account "believable" - because they felt the fact that she admitted drinking alcohol and consenting to sex with one man meant there was minimal chance of getting a conviction in court). If Scarleteen was getting deluged by the boys who were being beaten up or physically threatened by the girlfriends or ex-girlfriends.

If "oppression of women" consisted of a few t-shirts saying "Girls are stupid", and this was regarded as daring, controversial, and probably something that ought to be forbidden.

Then yes ... men would rightfully be able to complain that they were oppressed.

Talking about oppression is not about saying that "all men are evil", or saying that all individual men are oppressors and all individual women oppressed. It is about saying let's be honest, and acknowledge that right now the system strongly privileges one group of people over another.

I'm white. I know perfectly well that that means that in many situations, I won't be stereotyped in particular ways; I won't be stopped and searched by the police because my mere presence in a place is deemed "suspicious"; I will not be subject to particular kinds of discrimination. There may be a few "affirmative action" situations where an equally-qualified person from an ethnic minority will be favoured over me, but those are actually fairly rare.

This does not mean that I am self-flagellating or consumed with guilt about being white, or that I think that all white people are evil oppressors. It just means being honest and acknowledging that right now, in the society in which I am living, white people are often privileged over other groups, whether we as individuals like it or not.


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by logic_grrl:
Let's see ... If the majority of all legislators were women. If working men as a group routinely earned around two-thirds of what working women as a group earned, and still ended up doing most of the childcare and housework. If 1 in every 4 men would be sexually assaulted by a woman in his lifetime. If only a tiny fraction of those assaults led to convictions (in the UK, right now, around 5% of the rapes which get reported to the police lead to a conviction; recently, the crown prosecutors dropped a gang rape case - although they found the victim's account "believable" - because they felt the fact that she admitted drinking alcohol and consenting to sex with one man meant there was minimal chance of getting a conviction in court). If Scarleteen was getting deluged by the boys who were being beaten up or physically threatened by the girlfriends or ex-girlfriends.


You see, all those strike me as things that we as a society are doing wrong. But that does not strike me as a system that was designed by men strictly for the purpose of oppressing men. If that were the case, why would life not be better for men? Why would men be more likely to be killed or injured as a result of violence? Why would men serve longer prison sentences than women for the same crime? Why would men be far more likely to face execution than women who commit the same offense? Why would men be less likely to retain custody of their children after divorce? Why would men be more likely to pay alimony even in cases where their wives have consistently earned more money for the length of the marriage? Why would men be far more likely to die in battle? Why would men be so much more likely to die while serving the public? Why would men be the only ones to register with Selective Service? Why would men still be living shorter lives than women? Look, I don't want to be John Doe-ish here, but I think we get the drift. This list, much like the litany of iniquities women face, could go on for days.

I will not argue, and could not support the logic that things have not historically been easier for white males than for any other race, creed, gender or class. I think it's fairly clear-cut that this has been the case, and I will stipulate that to some extent that is still the case now. But I also think that making the claim that men are granted every inherent advantage by "a system" that grants women none is farfetched.

I think the reality is more closely aligned to the fact that we're both afforded inherent advantages as equality marches slowly and inevitably to its logical conclusion. On the day that women make the same amount of money that men do and are required to sign and date their draft cards, maybe we'll be there.

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Heather
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quote:
But I also think that making the claim that men are granted every inherent advantage by "a system" that grants women none is farfetched.

Which, just like your stipulating that somone was saying or implying that "all men are evil" has not been stated nor implied by anyone in this discussion.

I don't mean to pick on you, Dan, but when you keep reaching for the furthest possible conclusion and using it as emotionally high-flung rhetoric with the implication someone else is saying things which they have not said, it makes it difficult to discuss what really HAS been said.

No one has also said that there is "a system designed by men for the purpose of oppressing men." If you meant to say women, I'm not sure anyone has said that either, it has simply been said that it HAS oppressed women and others. Certainly, we can point to plenty of laws and cultural mores that very clearly were/are put in place to oppress women and those of other races, but there's a lot of areas in which the intent is murky or perhaps even a fine intent, but the end negative product is more clear.

Just to address a few of your last questions: men tend to live shorter lives than women for mainly the same reasons they always have, a lot of which are biological and lifestyle-based, not cultural (though some surely are cultural, such as the fact that indeed, only men currently or ever have been drafted in most cultures, something you'll find most women staunchly oppose, even those of us who are anti-war to begin with). Men are more likely to be killed by violent means almost exclusively because of male-male violence and posturing, not violence between genders. Per prison sentences, that's an awfully big question, because to my knowledge that varies a lot by crimes (and it stands to be mentioned that black men serve longer sentences for nearly EVERY crime across the board than anyone of any creed or gender).

Per executions, you're looking at again, a similar issue as to the draft, and again, you'll find most women don't support that inequity, mainly because the way most politicians tell it, all of those sorts of issues are often based in "protecting" us poor little women because we're such frail and delicate critters. In terms of custody, again, you're going to find that similar issues come into play, because our culture feels women are more "natural" caretakers; more often made to pay high alimony becauser not only are women's salaries STILL lower than male ones, we are thought to be less able workers and providers. While it may seem like issues like these are detrimental more to men than anyone else, and I agree they ARE often very detrimental to men, they're ultimately detrimental to everyone, and they're also terribly complex.

Really, logic_girl spoke beautifully per where my head is at with these issues in her last post. The truth of the matter is that at this time, still, though yes, certainly less so than in the past, males, andyes, white heterosexual males more than anyone else, are at the top of the heap in our culture, and many of those in positions of power work awfully hard, at often at the expense of others, to make sure that remains so (and to make sure that we remain in a position of power-over/power-under hierachies, rather than egalitarian models), whether we like it or not.

And I certainly recognize and empathize that that's sucky to deal with when you ARE a white male who isn't out to oppress anyone, who would prefer things were more egalitarian all around, and who, perhaps, feels "blamed" when these sorts of issues get discussed. I'm not male or hetero, but I am caucasian, and like most folks, I've had a diversity of experiences in my life in which it felt yucky or confusing to be so, when I wasn't eligible for certain scholarships due to my race, despite my poverty, when I over heard conversations about all whites being responsible for violence and racism when I spent the first part of my life basically on the lam due to my fathers activism in those areas, etc.

But really, I assure you, there's no need to take it personally or to think anyone is putting it on YOU. However, I'm unwilling to refuse to acknowledge the realities in our culture, still, because again, I don't see how we can keep forging forward with progress if we aren't continually identifying what needs mending.


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Anita18
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I think the problem we have here in this nation is not one of direct oppression, where the government or society overtly expresses a preference for its "dominating class" over the "subjugated" class. America has gone far in getting rid of that, but it's also one of the slowest to change the culture. And I think that is what's wrong with America - we have these old-school ways of thinking that we are reluctant to get rid of.

I have my personal definition of oppression - it's how people are prevented from (or made to be ashamed of) doing what they want to do, physically or psychologically. In my opinion, oppression in America stems mostly from stereotypes our culture has had for decades. Women and minorities are certainly oppressed because of the culture of our nation. We are used to seeing white men in positions of power, and we are unwilling to change that safe habit. I'm reminded of an episode in ER where an elderly black male patient commends the accomplishments of Dr. Benton, a high-ranking black surgeon in the hospital. Moments later, he requests a white male doctor instead, Dr. Carter, who is much more unexperienced that Dr. Benton is. The patient didn't mean to oppress Dr. Benton, but he was used to having white male doctors take care of him, and didn't want to disturb that familiar opinion.

I also think that males can be oppressed too. If a boy likes art and dislikes sports, he's gay. If he makes a lot of effort to make his gf happy, he's whipped. If he likes computers, he's a nerd and therefore does not get any girls. If he's a virgin, he's a loser. I'm not saying that everyone thinks this, but they're just associations that everyone is familiar with.

I'm Asian, the so-called "model minority." I'm supposed to get good grades (especially in math), be respectful, quiet, driven, socially awkward, and be "the best." Asian women are either sexually powerful (dragon ladies) or quietly demure (cherry/lotus blossoms.) Asian men have small penises and are sexless beings. Even though we get positions of power, there are still stereotypes we have to contend with as well as hatred from other groups. And, btw, I despise math with a passion.


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Gumdrop Girl
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hey Anita, then I think this would be pertinent to your point of view.

what were your thoughts on the Abercrombie and Fitch shirts that had slogans like "Wong's Laundry Service" and the t-shirts bearing a picture of a Chinese Buddha and saying "Rub my tummy for luck"?

I think that's perfectly in line with the question of whether the "Boys Are Stupid" slogan is bad.

As for being Asian American, if any sterotype is more dangerous the rest, I'd say it's the marginalization of Asian-Am presence in the media (there's not a realistic number of Asian docs on ER), studies (health, social and otherwise tend to measure white, black and hispanic while omitting asians), community (especially government). We're kinda invisible in those respects. btw, calculus and i never really got along too well, either.

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Anita18
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I was really offended by the laundry service one. I don't know what was on the Buddha one, but that doesn't seem as bad...probably because tbe laundry one had "Two Wongs can make it White" on the front. I mean, didn't anyone on that shirt design team even THINK of the implications? I've never gone into an A&F store, and probably never will. (Well, that and the fact that everything's so expensive to begin with...)

Heh, that reminds me of the Asian culture fad that's still going strong. I read an article somewhere of a Japanese tattoo artist that would etch "slut" and "small penis" in Japanese on his nonAsian customers who wanted "goddess" or "strength" tattoed. He claimed he was offended over the fact that these nonAsians didn't respect the real meaning of the word - they only wanted it because it looked pretty.

There's always this "exotic" stereotype that Asians have. People are attracted to "Asian culture" (or what Westerners deem as stereotyped Asian culture) because it's so foreign. Even though Asians have been around almost as long as blacks and Hispanics, people still assume that if you look Chinese, you must know how to write and speak it. An African-American isn't expected to speak Swahili, so why does this gap still exist?

I do agree that we're marginalized in the media, but I think it's something that has improved in recent years. Well, not to say that we still have a long way to go...


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Stacyisagirl
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If there is "enough" affirmative action so that all jobs that have "power" are split the same as the number of women, blacks, asians, native-americans, handicapped, poor, not properly educated, illegal (undocumented, sorry) aliens, etc, etc, as nauseum, who is going to keep track? Looks to me like lots of people are trying to bring back socialism even though it hasn't worked too well in the past. Another great quote, "You can't legislate morality." Also, I just love it when someone thinks the solution to one group's "oppression" is to pass laws that give the "oppressed" group extra benefits at the expense of the "oppressers" and somehow think that, by using the method of "do unto others as they have done unto you" it makes things better! Or, is that really "an eye for an eye?"

One more item, I don't know of ANY girls or women who want to be drafted!!! I do know of lots of girls and women who think any advantage they can get is due them no matter what it is or how they get it. I really believe that is what most of us think when it comes down to it. With the anger that is obvious in the management's comments it is easy to read between the lines.


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Stacyisagirl
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"However, I'm unwilling to refuse to acknowledge the realities in our culture, still, because again, I don't see how we can keep forging forward with progress if we aren't continually identifying what needs mending"

Please remember, never confuse motion with progress! As long as we treat people in groups as all the same we are never going to get it right. We have to start treating people as individuals. Not all women are the same, not all blacks are the same, not all (fill in the blank) are the same. So why do we think we have to make them the same under the law? When we do, that is segregation because we have set aside or segregated a group to be by itself, apart from the rest of humanity. So, if under the law, the group you identify with wants to be treated differently (just for awhile until things are "right", of course) then you get segregation and all that goes with it.

By the way, what group of people are satisfied that everything is the way it should be for them? That is the way every "minority" will have to feel before affirmative action comes to an end. Or, do we just crunch the numbers and some day say, "Ok, the computer says white women are now "equal" no more affirmative action for white women. Or, now gay males between 35 and 50 years old are equal so no more laws are needed to protect them. Is that how it works or do we all, including the oppressors, vote on it?
Just wondering be cause when you start a project it is a really good idea to know how to tell that your finished!!! Or, maybe it is the interest of the professional activists for it to never be over so they won't ever be out of a job?


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Gumdrop Girl
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Y'know, I didn't intend for this discussing to derail into the murk that is affirmative action (which i have long opposed). what I wanted to talk about was private industry being persuaded to act responsibly by sheer market forces. If the goods are offensive, consumers don't buy, right?

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Heather
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quote:
Originally posted by Stacyisagirl:
Or, maybe it is the interest of the professional activists for it to never be over so they won't ever be out of a job?

I assure you, if you're talking about activists like myself, I'd be glad as heck for my "job" to be uneeded (that'd be a great day I'd sure be glad for: no more STI transmission! No more unwanted pregnancies! No more date rape! No more worries about penis or breast size! No more inability to feel good about making one's best sexual choices!). After all, most of us get paid little or nothing, rarely net benefits, we work our buns off far more hours than most folks who net decent salaries, often against the tides of mainstream culture, and thanks is often hardly plentiful.

(Sounds like a whole lot of civil servants jobs, fancy that.)

FYI, the United States has never, ever, in its history been a socialist country or supported socialism in any way. I'm not sure what history book you've been reading. The McCarthy era was perhaps a glaring omission?

Also FYI, you may or may not personally knpow any girls or women who -- not want to be drafted, I think very few people of any gender *want* to be drafted -- support an all-gender draft, but that most certainly doesn't mean they aren't out there. In fact, a good many women's groups have, for decades at a minimum, been addressing that issue (though it stands to mention that majority feminst thought tends to be anti-war and anti-military-industrial-complex in very general terms much of the time), as have a great many feminist figures, like Angela Davis, Katha Pollitt, Emma Goldman, the works.

That said, let's please do do our best to bring the topic back to Gumdrop's intent, as reminded.

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[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 02-05-2004).]


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Stacyisagirl
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This country has not been socialist but there are plenty that have. What I think would be nice would be a level playing field instead of who gets what extra help because some people in one group treated some people in another group badly. That only perpetuates the problems. I have had my say and I don't need to talk about it any more except to say that even though my father is a white man I still love and respect him and that I want to get a place in a university and a business because I am as good or better than any guy not because I'm a girl
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Heather
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quote:
Originally posted by Stacyisagirl:
I want to get a place in a university and a business because I am as good or better than any guy not because I'm a girl

I don't intend to hammer a point home, but the thing is, you would not even have a CHANCE of doing that, had not at some point women (or those who live in poverty, or those who were once slaves due to nothing but race, etc.) -- as a GROUP -- been recognized, through the fight of same, as as worthy and deserving of higher education, of a right to vote, of a right to independent living, to the works, as men are.

I agree, being judged on one's merits alone is abolutely the best thing possible. But that is not possible in systems in which people are excluded AS groups due to gender, class or creed, NOT merits, and in order to even be in that position, what you've criticized has had to happen in the past and present for you to claim what you say you want and be able to get BY that merit.


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Stacyisagirl
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"I agree, being judged on one's merits alone is abolutely the best thing possible. But that is not possible in systems in which people are excluded AS groups due to gender, class or creed, NOT merits" Well, I guess that takes care of my plans for the future to make it on my own. I'm convinced, Affirmative Action, here I come! I need all the extra points I can get 'cause I'm just a girl!
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