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If that's how you take John Scalzi's essay…you have poorly read that essay.


The point of Scalzi's "Straight White Male…" essay is that all else being equal, being born a straight white male in western culture will result in large amounts of unseen privilege that can be leaned upon without even thinking about it.

It says nothing about relative ease of accomplishment after that. It says nothing about the small, petty, and (generally) inconsequential ways in which men are discriminated against (think auto insurance, as a first order item) in general life.

It also doesn't say a damned thing about whether you have the right to complain or not. It says far more about you thinking whether you've got standing to complain in a particular case, as the reality is that most men do not face gender discrimination on a regular basis—and when said discrimination is systemic (as it is in custody and alimony arrangements), then it must also be addressed—and it generally is being addressed (slowly, but surely).

Yes, I understand the essay (and disagree with it) my comment however, was not on the essay but on your post.

You replied "Always appropriate:" with a link to the essay in reply to klodolph.

I assume that you were replying to this part of his post:

>If your point is, "Gosh, men have it hard, too." Sure, I'll agree. But, you're laying on the hyperbole a bit thick.

By replying in this way, you were effectively dismissing any disadvantage men have or discrimination they face because they have it easy in life according to John Scalzi (and it is always appropriate to remind people of this). Was this not your reply's intention? If so, what was it?

I don't think you do understand Scalzi's essay if you can seriously talk about that hyperbolic list as if it's even remotely meaningfully comparable to the systemic level of sexism and racism that I see out there. I'm not saying that I'm a paragon of virtue—far too often, I don't speak up when I see or hear things that bother me and that I know are hurtful. Yet…Scalzi's essay is hard to disagree with, at least in the American context, because it is true at pretty much every level. It doesn't tell you that you can't complain about things, but it certainly says that whatever hurt you have…it could be much much worse than it is.

I was absolutely dismissing your hyperbolic list because of its hyperbole, and I was doing so in part because Scalzi addressed the baseline (which is what's really at discussion here) and the oft-hyperbolic attempts (like yours) to pretend that because "Men Have Problems, Too" that the discussion of the baseline isn't even worthy of being talked about.

But if you really want to have that list dissected, here we go:

1. "You can be called dumb your entire childhood". Suggesting that only boys hear this sort of thing is laughable. In my experience, boys are more likely to be called smart and clever than girls, who are more likely to be considered adorable and pretty. Systemically, girls in America are told that they aren't supposed to be good at math or engineering from about grade four on (boys don't do better in math until about the seventh grade).

There are cultures that consider the education of girls to be a waste of time, money, and effort—and I'm not just referring to the hard-line Taliban. These girls aren't just told that they're dumb, they're told that they're not even worth being told that they're dumb.

2. "it is made clear to you that you are inherently a monster capable of anything, that you have most likely raped someone". This is, of course, pure hyperbole when it's said by those who say it against men, and equally so when a man repeats it as if it were an accepted truth about all men.

Even so, there are far too many men who simply do not understand that not only does "no" mean "no", but only "yes" means "yes" (sex while she's blindingly drunk is not consensual, sorry). 3. "it is funny if your genitals are mutilated because you probably deserved it". I remember a lot of jokes around the Bobbitt case, but I also remember jokes not too longer after the Challenger accident. That case is very difficult because Bobbitt was an abuser (and continued to be with future spouses) and may have raped (he was charged and acquitted) his wife (marriage does not mean automatic consent). She was considered not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to an institution for a short period of time.

On the other hand, almost all of the campaigners that I know or have encountered against male circumcision are women.

4. "if a woman hits you, you probably deserved it and you should take it like a man". I don't even know what to say to this one, because I've never heard anything like it and don't know any woman who would say it. There's a few men I could imagine saying it, but they're "macho men" in any case. Women are charged with assault.

5. "your life can be ruined by simple accusation by a woman and if she was lying there is no punishment for her". With the first part of your statement, you highlight a legitimate (if rare) problem; with the second part of your statement, you go off the rails. Look at the DSK case: his accuser is facing a civil suit over the loss of face here. If someone lies about a case and is caught doing it and the embarrassment for the prosecutor is high enough, you're going to be facing some music.

6. "if you divorce, your children will automatically go to your wife unless she is a criminal". In most jurisdictions, this is no longer true. Family courts want amicable separations and arrangements where possible (they're substantially cheaper and more stable on the family) but will look at the stability offered by both parents when determining the primary caregiver and the visitation schedule. The cases that I have heard where this tends to be true have judges who make such judgements on fallacious "traditional" (e.g., "a mother's place is in the home" traditional) arguments. This is the same sort of fallacy that spurs on "covenant" marriage law efforts.

7. "even if she initiated the divorce, you will still have to support her". Once again, I'm not even sure where to go with this one, mostly because it's full of wounded male ignorance.

(1) Where this sexism is entrenched in law (and it depends on the jurisdiction; in Ontario, the law is income-balanced with equal division of property), this is based on the perception of the woman as the stay-at-home mother and homemaker. Income-balanced laws still tend to favour the woman because (2) women generally make less money than men; when my wife divorced her first husband, she could have been liable for a equalization payment to her then-husband because she made more than he did.

Let's be clear, though, that the ignorance in this statement is actively dangerous. It does not matter who initiated the divorce (that's sort of the point behind 'no-fault' divorces). Under your scheme, somene who is leaving an abusive partner would not be eligible for any part of what they gave up. This is a great way to ensure that these people never leave their abusers…and as such are more likely to be seriously injured or killed.

8. "political figures proclaim that women are the true victims of war even though you were the one who lost his legs in battle". I hear this more about kids than about women. I also hear this mostly from people who are, essentially, chickenhawks.

9. "if you want to stay at home and look after your kids, you are lazy, if you want to focus on your career you are an uncaring father (either is okay for a woman)". I'll have to tell the couple of guys that I know who are stay-at-home dads that they're considered lazy. And…I guess you've never heard of women being called "ambitious bitches". Look carefully at what you said here, and then go back and read what has been written about Marissa Mayer and her recent pregnancy. Not only was her suitability as a businessperson called into question because she was pregnant, her suitability as a mom was called into question because she didn't take a long maternity leave. Resolve that conundrum without determining that it's double-standards sexism…and maybe I'll give you this one.

10. "you are portrayed as bumbling idiot on television". That Chrissy Snow on Three's Company was so smart, what about Kelly Bundy! Not all characterizations of men on TV are Peter Griffin or Homer Simpson or Al Bundy. Going back to somewhat before the same period as Three's Company, you have Mike Stivic ("Meathead" played by Rob Reiner). You've got Alex P Keaton (not bumbling, not an idiot, but not like the rest of his family, either).

11. "you are told that you are lucky if a woman gives you the time of day" and "if you approach a woman you can be called a creep, if you don't you are shy". If you act like a creep, you probably are a creep. There is a time, place, and way to approach someone with respect…and acting outside of that realm is creepy. Look at the discussions that female cosplayers have had recently about the (negative) attention that they've gotten by creeps who think that it's okay to take rear shots without permission (and one thing I read recently was interesting, because she was more than happy to give permission for people to photograph her—she made her costume to be seen, after all—but the shots without permission and that completely sexualized her turned her off).

12. "if your wife hires a hitman to kill you, she will be acquitted because you apparently abused her despite no evidence of this". Huh. If you're talking about the Nicole Doucet case, it seems to be an unusual case, but it probably says much more about the RCMP's handling of the case than it does about her ex-husband. He is an unfortunate injured party in this case, but there are plenty of real convictions of women who have hired hitmen (successful or no) to kill their partners. Your knowledge of this case is probably as deep as my knowledge: not very deep at all, and it's a lightning rod case much like the old McDonald's coffee case. By the by, your characterization is typically wrong on one point: she was not acquitted. Her conviction was set aside, and the grounds were based on misconduct. (The laws are also different here in Canada; prosecutors can appeal acquittals.)

13. "you are treated like a creep if you show any interest in being around children" Once again, I'll have to tell all of the male teachers that I know that they are creeps! It's going to be shocking news to them.

I don't know you, but you've somehow picked up a lot of beliefs that are contrafactual or are at best truthy. I treated your list with derision because, frankly, that's all that a hyperbolic list like that actually deserves.

I am not sure if I am reading the same essay as you. All it is, is an analogy comparing life to a video game. He claims that being a white heterosexual male makes everything in life easier in the same way that choosing the easy difficulty setting makes a video game easier. It doesn't necessarily mean that your life is easier than everybody's life on more difficult settings but if two people are in the same situation, the heterosexual white male will have it easier. is this correct?

I just find this a huge simplification and generalisation. Sure, it may ring true with some people but it is an opinion piece. It doesn't present any evidence for its claims. Not everyone that reads it will draw the same conclusions about it as you. So it does nothing to change the validity of my hyperbolic list which I never presented as fact but as an illustration of the frustration that many men are feeling.

As stated above, the list is not a list of facts but it describes how the frustration that many men are experiencing so it is pointless to attempt to repudiate each point. Some of these points are huge issues however, and do seem to be indicative of systemic sexism towards men. Maybe you don't feel the same way but many people do.

Your "Always appropriate" comment hit a nerve because it basically says that any issues that men have with sexism towards them is null and void(regardless if it is in the form of an exaggerated list of issues) because this guy(Scalzi) says men have things easier and it doesn't matter in what context the issues arise because it is "always appropriate". Now maybe you didn't mean it that way but I cannot see how it can be taken any other way.

I do believe that the baseline (as you call it) needs to be discussed but believe it or not, not everyone sees it the same way as you or Scalzi. It is certainly not as simple as Scalzi makes it seem. Sexism towards men IS part of the "baseline".

I also take issue that you now feel that the list represents my beliefs. I never presented them as such. I have not made up my mind about them but I do feel that there are issues here. I am by no means a mens rights nut but I do feel that male issues are underrepresented and your "Always appropriate" comment is analogous to a "Don't worry your pretty little head about it" response to a woman bringing up sexism towards women. The fact that you don't see that is frustrating.

Having said that, I am not going to change your mind and you are not going to change mine so this is pointless.

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