Men behaving badly

Actually, that doesn’t quite do justice to what has been going on in a series of incidents over the last little while.

Gabrielle Jackson did a piece for The Guardian Enough platitudes and excuses: here is the truth about this week of sexism. Amazingly, on the weekend before she wrote the article she herself was groped by a complete stranger sitting at the next table in a Sydney restaurant.

Jackson summarises the events:

    First a federal government minister resigned over inappropriate behaviour towards a female public servant while out drinking in Hong Kong.

    Then that same minister, Jamie Briggs, sent out photos of the woman in question to his mates.

    Then those mates leaked the photo to the media.

    Then another federal minister, Peter Dutton, called a respected political journalist a “mad fucking witch” for having the temerity to publish an opinion on the matter.

    Then cricket star Chris Gayle told a female journalist she had beautiful eyes, asked her out and told her not to blush, baby. The men in the commentary box snickered, calling the cricketer “amorous” and describing the journalist as scurrying off “with bright red cheeks”.

Excuses included that they didn’t mean to offend, no harm was intended, or in Gayle’s case that he was just having a bit of fun. More on him later. Jackson goes into detail as to why each act was sexist.

Jamie Briggs has been removed from the ministry (he resigned, but was obviously pushed) and there is now a question about his preselection for the next election. The seat seems vulnerable to the Nick Xenephon Team party who are running the former Briggs staffer Rebekha Sharkie, who resigned in 2010 over his sexist comments.

Peter Dutton’s problem was not his pressing the wrong button but what he said in calling reporter Samantha Maiden a “mad fucking witch”. “Fucking” is probably just an intensifier, but the “mad witch” part taps into a long “history of labelling women who pose any perceived threat to men’s power as unhinged or evil” as Michelle Smith explains at The Conversation.

There were calls for his resignation, but not from Maiden who accepted his apology and said there were more important things arising from the Jamie Briggs affair.

I’m no doubt biassed, but the man’s an idiot anyway and it would have been a good opportunity to shed him. However, it would have been seen as an over-reaction by many on the right, who Turnbull would not want to offend.

Maiden is probably right, though. For example, why did her paper, The Australian, carry a photo of the public servant on the front page with the face pixelated but with other identifying detail in the story? Labor has written to the Public Service Commissioner demanding to know what steps have been taken to address the breach of the woman’s privacy. They are also threatening to refer the matter to the police, believing a crime may have been committed under the Sex Discrimination Act.

As to Chris Gayle, his action has been defended as a bit of harmless flirtation. But he’s got form and as Neroli Meadows said, he does it to humiliate. Clearly he had no intention of seriously asking Mel McLaughlin to go out for a drink. It’s not just him, unacceptable stuff like that happens all the time to women working in sport, something confirmed by Russell Jackson.

    On Monday night you could see that look of discomfort on Mel McLaughlin’s face as she was crudely propositioned on live international television by cricket’s leery creep-in-residence, Chris Gayle. I’ll tell you what you also saw there; the face of all of the female sports reporters to whom this sort of stuff has happened far too often and which, for reasons that entirely escape me, still happens to them in 2016.

    2016. Not 1974. Not as the sneakily-damning feminism-in-media subplot of Anchorman. 2016. Almost everything about sport has improved in the past few decades, yet still women are unable to simply turn up to work and do their job properly without being slobbered over by lecherous simpletons like Gayle.

Tracey Holmes says that McLaughlin’s cheeks her red because she was angry, not because she was blushing.

    Clearly some men just don’t see women as equals. (I can hear the clicking keyboards of outrage from offended readers now. “I’m not a sexist but …”)

    Whether they be politicians or athletes or many professions in between, some men still believe women have a place. That place is not as an equal, or a professional, but as some kind of boxed-in subordinate to satisfy what they want, when they want it. Step outside that box and wait for the reaction.

Holmes wonders whether anything has changed in the last 100 years.

Well, yes no doubt it has, and Chris Gayle may find he is too much trouble for any of the Big Bash franchises. And he may be in deeper trouble if the story about him exposing himself to a woman working around the West Indies team in Sydney last year turns out to have substance.

There is worse happening elsewhere in the world, but as Lauren Rosewarne says in What it feels like for a girl: Dutton and Briggs remind us of politics’ endemic sexism:

    If harassing colleagues in bars and calling women witches is not worth discussing, then we’re considering it OK. Then we’re viewing it as part of the landscape of Australian life. Then we’re consenting that this is what it feels like for a girl.

    I’m not willing to put up with that.

Elsewhere, Van Badham comments before all this happened in Twelve months of sexist jerkery – and those who stood up to it.

Also see Hoyden about town.

Sorry, this is going to have to be a moderated thread.

105 thoughts on “Men behaving badly”

  1. What’s wrong with these blokes? Don’t they have mothers, sisters, daughters, wives/partners? Can’t they tell the difference between good-natured banter and insult?

  2. Graham, I said things had changed in the last 100 years, but I didn’t specify how, how much, or whether it was for the better.

    Joanna Bourke’s book What it means to be human starts with an anonymous letter to the editor to The Times from an “Earnest Englishwoman” in which she suggests that women’s rights should at least be equal to those accorded to animals, so that there could be no greater barbarity towards women than there was towards dogs or cats.

    Bourke goes on to point out that penalties for mistreating animals were in fact substantively more severe than for treating women.

    The legal situation has improved since then, but how many centuries will it take for attitudes to reach true equality? Tracey Holmes makes a good point, I think.

  3. I have seen some pretty bad cases of women harassing men with the aim of making them uncomfortable. Think about how some women behave towards men who blush or towards men who are more straight laced than they (the women) are.
    The boundary between friendly banter and unacceptable put down is often sub-culture as well as individual relationship dependent.
    For these reasons I saw Brigg’s and Barnaby Joyce’s behavior unacceptable but both my wife and I suspected that the Dutton behavior was part of a banter relationship between him and Maiden.
    Another problem is that men traditionally net-worked and made a lot of decisions outside work at the pub even though it disadvantaged non-drinkers and women.

  4. Gayle is presently taking legal action over the ” exposure ” story, so I’ll wait and see with that. Given Fairfaxs recent findings against them, you’d think they would have been very cautious on it, they literally can’t afford another multimillion dollar payout for making shit up.

    And I’m not sure Van Badham is a goto on appropriate language, a large portion of her tweets are disgustingly vile attacks.

    That aside, I think the likes of Briggs, Dutton, Gayle…..see very few people at all as equals. Similarly Rudd, Shorton, even Red Underpants Conroy have form in this area.
    Their ” superiority complex ” is the problem, how it manifests differently to men and women is typical bully behaviour in that they attack the most obvious difference.

    The hype over the Gayle thing has been way out of proportion, to the point of Gayle being called a racist ( whiteys blush, darkey don’t nonsense )

    I would have loved if Mel had responded with ” Your wife probably needs that drink more than I “, he’d have been sat on his arse.

  5. From Jumpy on the other thread, to me:

    I’d be happy to discuss ” sexism ” [ your favourite subject] on the open thread, if Brian allows

    There is a theory that to overcome sexism we need men to get involved in calling out other men for sexism. I’m not sure about that theory, but I think it would be good if one of the men here had a go at explaining to Jumpy what’s wrong with that comment.

  6. Val, you started your blockquote with the < then the /, meaning it was cancelled before it started. Got to go now!

  7. … a large portion of her tweets are disgustingly vile attacks.

    Intrigued by Jumpy’s critique of Van Badham (if she’s that bad, why bother reading her twitter feed?) I visited her feed and found that I wasn’t disgusted at all since I couldn’t find any “vile attacks”.
    I guess Jumpy’s upbringing was more sheltered than mine.
    However I did find this, which indicates Fairfax may not be headed for administration just yet.

  8. My daughter has started referring clueless men to this article.
    I doubt Jumpy will “get” it, but for open minded men it’s worth a read (just try not to get defensive).

  9. There’s an issue the author touches on in that essay that’s relevant to Jumpy’s comment. It’s when men tell you that you’re wrong about sexism, that you’re making it up, that you’re worrying about things that don’t matter, that you only see sexism because you want to see it, that ‘sexism’ is your “favourite” topic, etc etc etc

    I remember being told this so many times when I complained about the way Julia Gillard was treated. The reality is Julia Gillard was treated in a sexist way, and not just from the right – some men on the left (and some women) were sexist towards her.

    However there’s this seemingly endless defensiveness, so that if you even try to talk about sexism, many men (and some women) will try to make out that you’re the problem.

  10. Zoot – I also went to check out how many of Van Badham’s tweets are “disgustingly vile” – and ended up deciding to follow her. Pretty entertaining!

  11. I’ve read a few of Van Badham’s articles and heard her interviewed on the radio other day. She sounded sensible, perceptive and well worth listening to.

    Val I was hoping you would straighten out jumpy. I come from way back and the words don’t always come out right, but here goes.

    Jumpy has vaporised sexism by making it a sub-aspect of a different concept, the “superiority complex”.

    “Superiority complex’ is the wrong frame, but even in his terms, if men are the ones who consistently and overwhelmingly have the “superiority complex” over women, sexism re-emerges, but he doesn’t see it. He sees only cases singly and severally, but misses the larger picture.

  12. As to the appropriateness of “superiority complex”, it is the nature of the relationship that is the problem. I’d rather women spoke about that, so would only point to Tracey Holmes’ comment, quoted in the post:

    Clearly some men just don’t see women as equals. (I can hear the clicking keyboards of outrage from offended readers now. “I’m not a sexist but …”)

    Whether they be politicians or athletes or many professions in between, some men still believe women have a place. That place is not as an equal, or a professional, but as some kind of boxed-in subordinate to satisfy what they want, when they want it. Step outside that box and wait for the reaction.

  13. Zoot (and all) Happy New Year!
    “My daughter has started referring clueless men to this article.”

    I read that article, it was very insightful, almost too insightful. As a 1946’er I have been good about shedding many of the stereotypes that seemed to infused into me by the temporal aspects of my birth. After all, my parents were born soon after WW1, survived the Depression, battled in WW2, endured the shortages of post war Australia and saw the benefits of significant post-war migration essential to our reconstruction. It is little wonder that the baggage many Aussie men carry is not altogether well suited to the social changes of the past 50 years. Not meaning to be apologetic here Zoot, trying to understand just how we come to find ourselves where we are.

    So here we are now, and women are still unfairly represented across many fields. I do think that is changing albeit slower than desirable. But social change is always complex in that a change here is often reflected “over there” in some way. A silly example – typically a woman precedes a man through a doorway. Do we keep doing that, or is a more enlightened way to overlook manners or courtesy?
    I guess I am saying I’m fine about seeing change, but uncertain how to proceed. Almost intimidated by a possible failure to become part of the change.

  14. Geoff, we are pretty much the same age, so I’m sure our formative experiences were broadly very similar.
    I was lucky in that my mother always had employment outside the house, so I grew up with a subconscious understanding that women weren’t necessarily limited to housekeeping.
    When the subject of equal pay arose at primary school I think I was the only child in my class who believed women should receive equal pay for equal work; that was interesting. However my mother would have been insulted if anyone had called her a feminist.
    My path to where I am now started with a dear feminist friend who in the seventies challenged my use of the word “chick” to describe a female academic I admired. “We’re women, not fluffy little birds,” was her response and I was very (very!) discomforted and defensive.
    But reflecting on her words led me eventually to understand she was correct. In the terms of the article I linked to, I listened, and I like to believe I have continued to listen – to my daughters, to my wife, to my female associates and friends.
    I like where I am now. It means that when I approach a door, whether I defer to another person or not doesn’t depend upon their gender, but on the many subtle signals that people of equal status exchange. I have held the door for men and women and I have had the door held for me by men and women.
    Good manners is not gendered and feminism is liberating for both men and women. I think the best way forward is for us both to keep acting with good will and in good faith.

  15. Brian

    She ( Van Badham ) sounded sensible, perceptive and well worth listening to.

    Well, someone put together just some of her words a while back.
    Still impressed ?

  16. Thanks Zoot, I’m pretty comfortable with that.
    Interesting contrast in that my dad was a pilot and was frequently away leaving my mother to the home duties and raising my brother and I. Unsurprisingly my stereotypes reflected that environment.
    I still have traces of that old way. My wife recently chided me for referring to a student as “little” such and such, and she was right to call me out. It was intended respectfully but with insight I reckon I dredged it up from some other age where those early days were deeply embedded. I think real change occurs over generations though, not just by a change in an individuals attitude mid-stream in life.

  17. Val

    However there’s this seemingly endless defensiveness, so that if you even try to talk about sexism, many men (and some women) will try to make out that you’re the problem.

    Perhaps not trying to work the ” sexism ” angle into almost every conversation ?
    What you perceive as defensiveness may not be that.
    For you it may be occupational as it is for me sometimes. I find, in social outings and such, that I introduce construction or business into the chat without even realising it. A little elbow or stink eye from my wife is the general remedy for me. Bless her.

  18. Jumpy, you claim that I try to work the “the ‘sexism’ angle into almost every conversation”. That’s clearly an example of one of the things I mentioned above – a man telling a woman that she is making too much of sexism, that it isn’t really important, that she’s exaggerating it, etc etc.

    Your only experience of me (as far as I know) is from Internet conversations where I have, at times, tried to introduce a feminist perspective. It has nothing to do with how you behave on social occasions.

    You haven’t provided any evidence that I try to talk about sexism when it’s not relevant. Give an example and we can discuss it, but just making vague insults and put downs isn’t good enough.

  19. Still impressed ?

    Oh dear, Jumpy’s going all PC on us. So Van Badham sometimes has a potty mouth … yawn …
    I notice you haven’t voiced any concern about the choice language in the comments to that post.

    For the record I find neither the tweets nor the comments particularly offensive, but I did work in the construction industry for a while so I guess I’m hardened to those terms (which were pretty much the lingua franca of the workplace).

  20. Jumpy, the site you link to is not authenticated, nor is it contextualised. I’ve got no opinion about it.

  21. Brian they are her tweets, like it or not.
    An eye wink or watch look is derogatory yet you’ve no opinion on that other than the author is ” sensible, perceptive and well worth listening to ”
    Suggesting someone calm down when they advocate panic is sexist ?

    Ive been happily married since a 20 yo yet divorcees lecture me on relationships, give and take and understanding with a woman ?

    This is bizarre.
    Don’t know how you reconcile things.

  22. Jumpy, I know what I know. I heard Van Badham interviewed on radio and she ” sounded sensible, perceptive and well worth listening to.” I don’t know if she made those tweets whether she was returning like with like. If anything my decision not to bother with Twitter has been confirmed.

  23. It was patronising, I think.

    It was not only patronising but factually wrong, demonstrating Jumpy’s poor grasp of mathematics (the epitome of mansplaining?)

  24. I’m wary of over-using “mansplaining” because I think we all can be patronising or mistaken in our explanations sometimes (pretty sure I’ve been guilty of that at times yr honour!) – but I think this one does justify the term, zoot.

    First, taking what was clearly intended as a rhetorical device to convey urgency (‘why aren’t we panicking more?’) literally, so that he could treat me as an emotional woman (‘calm down Val’).

    Second, ‘correcting’ me by giving me some wrong information on a subject that I probably know more about than he does.

    I think it’s a mansplaining bingo!

  25. I’m wary of using the term “mansplaining” partly because I’m a man. So I looked it up:

    Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words man and explaining, defined as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

    Thus far I think we have a mild case of mansplaining.

    The definition goes on to describe more severe manifestations.

  26. Jumpy: All I can say is that your wife has done a very poor job of sorting you out. Mine admits to seriously failing in this area as well.
    Now that we have sorted out that it is all some woman’s fault (as usual) can we get on to a more productive topic?

  27. John D “… can we get on to a more productive topic?”

    Ambiguous statement in this context John – do you mean more productive than talking about sexism (which this thread is about), or more productive discussion about sexism (eg what can be done about it), or talking about another subject (for which there are other threads you can go to I would think)?

  28. Ok, we’re having some definitional interpretive dance that a circus contortionist would strain with;
    Firstly, Brian, sugesting a woman calm down is sexist because it could be, ( repeat, could be ) taken as condescending, right ?
    Sugesting the same to you ( Alla knows i’ve tried ), a man, and you do take it as condescending is sexist too ?

    Zoot and Val.
    If an overall average remains the same…. alright forget it, you don’t seem to get it.

    Careful there, my wife and yours could be grievously offended by your comment. Say that of a man and its ok though, because pc hypocritical double standard bs….or sumsuch.

    ( ps, if you give advice in a forest, check behind every tree. )

  29. Jumpy the overall average ISN’T the same. Excuse the shouting but that’s what we’re trying to tell you.

    You said that calling someone a ‘climate change denier’ was like calling them ‘poo poo bum head’ but I think that’s more a mark of your own foolishness than mine. You are trying to deny what’s happening. You may be doing so in a particularly condescending way towards me, but I think in this case the sexism is just part of the bigger picture of trying to cling on to a world that doesn’t exist any more. The world where men (especially white men) thought themselves to be in control of nature doesn’t exist any more. It was always built on sand. It’s time to wake up and face what’s happening.

  30. If an overall average remains the same…. alright forget it, you don’t seem to get it.

    No, come on Jumpy, explain it to us, please. Show us that you do in fact have some understanding of averages.
    I demonstrated that if the average remained the same when 1 station was 5 degrees above average, your claim that that somewhere someone enjoyed a 5 degree cooler average did not follow. (In fact it would be somewhat unlikely, use your statistical chops to explain to us why.)
    Your statement was wrong and in your typical fashion you are trying to bluster your way out of it. Here’s a friendly tip – you’re not fooling anyone.

  31. Jumpy:

    Firstly, Brian, sugesting a woman calm down is sexist because it could be, ( repeat, could be ) taken as condescending, right ?
    Sugesting the same to you ( Alla knows i’ve tried ), a man, and you do take it as condescending is sexist too ?

    “Patronising” was the word I used, your tone was patronising, I thought.

    If you are being patronising (or condescending) as a man to a woman, you are by definition being sexist. What you say to me or how you say it has no relevance.

    Look, it wasn’t a capital crime! I suggest you wear it and move on.

  32. Off topic for here, but relevant to the original debate (ie the one in which Jumpy made the remark in question) – I have put some information about the increasing frequency of bushfires on the Climate Statement thread, following Brian’s comment on a similar topic. Jumpy you should read it.

  33. If an overall average remains the same…. alright forget it, you don’t seem to get it.

    If an overall average remains the same … total positive changes must have been balanced by total negative changes.
    The only case where a positive change in one value must be equalled by a negative change in another value is if only those two values are being averaged.
    No Jumpy, we get it.

  34. Ok, if a woman said to man;

    It’s time to wake up and face what’s happening.

    Jumpy you should read it.

    …. on a subject that I probably know more about than he does.

    Ambiguous statement in this context John

    Man to man;

    I guess Jumpy’s upbringing was more sheltered than mine.

    I doubt Jumpy will “get” it, but for open minded men it’s worth a read

    He sees only cases singly and severally, but misses the larger picture.

    Oh dear, Jumpy’s going all PC on us

    Man to woman;

    Val, calm down.

    …So only one of these comments is condescending and or patronising, and therefore sexist?
    Fine. I’ll try to accept that crap and move on.

    I’d rather discuss the ridiculous idea that elite sportswomen should get equal renumeration to clearly superior elite sportsmen anyway.
    If gender equality is seriously the goal, then feminists should be arguing for the abolition of gender segregation in all its forms, including sports.

  35. Jumpy, people have been a bit impatient and rude to you, but you still fail to see that structural gender inequality remains an issue in our society and culture. And women remain vulnerable to men who are bigger and stronger. Men who may think that women should be available to satisfy their needs.

    It wasn’t long ago that women were seen as possessions of men, by men and by society generally. Legal rights have improved, but attitudes die harder. Read again the link used by zoot’s daughter to see how it feels.

  36. Brian: You said:

    If you are being patronizing (or condescending) as a man to a woman, you are by definition being sexist. What you say to me or how you say it has no relevance.

    This statement captures what i don’t like about terms like “sexism”.
    By and large I try to treat people as people no matter what their gender is. To me being patronizing is patronizing no matter what the gender is of the patronizer and patronizee. Using physical force against others is undesirable no matter what the genders of the people involved is. Deciding who gets a job on the basis of gender is not good no matter what the gender of the person being discriminated is. And…..

  37. That’s fine and good John but the existence of the sociological phenomenon doesn’t depend on our likes and dislikes. If it exists, and it does because people are not always doing what you suggest, it needs a name.

  38. Part of my problem is that “sexism” seems to be about men behaving badly rather than people behaving badly. It is also used by some as an attack label to try and put poor innocents like Jumpy in their place.
    Just have a look at the attacks on Jumpy in the comments on this post.

  39. I’m a bit divided on this John – I do think there was a problem with people jumping on Jumpy – even if you’re wrong, you don’t need three people repeatedly telling you so. That’s why I was trying to get back to the original discussion, to give us a chance to get back to evidence rather than individuals.

    On the other hand, Jumpy doesn’t seem to me a poor innocent – he does appear reluctant to look at evidence, in regard to both sexism and climate change.

    Sadly – because I agree with you on a lot of things – I think you are also somewhat reluctant to look at the evidence on sexism. As Brian says, you have to look at structural factors – systemic social patterns – rather than just trying to reduce everything to individuals.

  40. John, at this time it is relevant to go back to the post, which identified five cases of people behaving badly towards women, with sex as a factor. The only person not identified as a man was the one who leaked the photo to the media, who was unidentified but almost certainly a man.

    Women are saying that these acts by high profile men are more common than we think, and come from men at all levels in society. There are issues that relate to a lack of respect, esteem, and power that affect how they experience their daily lives.

    It’s true that not all women report this, some are genuinely strong enough, or well-positioned enough in society, for it not to be a concern. But back in the 70s when I studied sociology we talked of ‘acceptance of dominant class values’. So the feminist project is in part consciousness raising.

    We can talk about employment practices, where subjectivity on the part of the employer is a huge factor. I recall a seminar provided by a visiting American who told us the blond-haired Caucasian males who were 6’2” tall had been shown by research to have the best chance of succeeding at interview for executive positions.

    Obviously there are multiple inequities at play, gender one of them. But it is also legitimate to talk about the common experiences of females in our society.

    I recall from a stoush at LP a fact being researched raised about the point at which women are seen as taking over. I forget exactly how it was couched, but 25% was the magic number. If 25% of comments on this thread had come from women they would have been seen as taking over the thread. We have to ask why this is so. The information was new to me, but reflection tends to tell me it’s true. It’s an example of how sexism in embedded and goes under the radar.

    If women complain and identify sexism for what it is there is a tending to blame them for whingeing and upsetting the peace. This concern has been expressed numerous times already, by Val, in zoot’s daughter’s link and by Lauren Rosewarne linked in the post, and others. It’s a genuine dilemma.

    I seldom talk about climate change with strangers, acquaintances, friends and family, because in context the exchange is likely to reinforce rather than change existing positions. Mainly I did the post here because ignoring men behaving badly in the present context was almost like making a statement that it didn’t matter.

    Jumpy has been addressed in a way that sometimes has been more personal than I would like, but he’s not a poor innocent IMO. He was up for the discussion, and the term ‘sexism’ was unavoidable. Of course it’s pejorative, because the phenomenon is undesirable.

    While I’ve learnt a few things from this thread I’m inclined to think positions have not changed and we’ve probably gotten as far as we are going to get. I have some criticisms of feminism, mainly in terms of strategy and the use of anger, but the post wasn’t about feminism as such. Mercifully the thread has been free of anger.

    I’m off to work in the (brutal) heat for the afternoon.

  41. Val, people repeatedly told Jumpy that he was wrong because he kept insisting he was right, and changing the way the playing field was marked out all the time. It wasn’t very edifying, but there we are.

    you have to look at structural factors – systemic social patterns – rather than just trying to reduce everything to individuals.

    Part of the problem is the nature of sociological knowledge. Identified phenomena are abstractions, and questions always remain as to whether they best represent reality or have utility in understanding and doing something about whatever is deemed to need change.

  42. Righto, righto, I admit it, I’m a sexist.
    But I’m a moderate sexist.
    I shouldn’t be condemned by the actions of a few, violent, extreme sexists.
    The truth is sexism is a peaceful ideology and the actions of some, lone wolf misogynists ( spit!! ) shouldn’t take away from the contributions that regular, peaceful, moderate sexists make in this Country every day!.
    Let’s stop the hate and be a tolerant society. Please….


  43. Men Behaving Goodly.

    In its first season, 2013-14, when Carters was with Sydney Thunder, more than $30,000 was raised and, in partnership with the LBW Trust, three classrooms were built (and are now fully functioning) at Heartland School in Kathmandu. Last year, as the Sixers hit 47 sixes, they made $108,000, which subsidised the tuition of 500 women taking degrees at the SPRJ Kanyashala Trust in Mumbai. This season, as well as supporting another round of 500 women in Mumbai, Batting for Change will subsidise the education of 100 women in Sri Lanka. “We want to build a strong sense of attachment and commitment to our causes,” he says.

    A 23 year old cricketer with a heart of gold and a proud mum.

  44. A proud Dad too, I hope.
    A beaut example of focused, directed, successful charity that everyone involved is proud to be a part of.

    Taxed for aid, not so much.

  45. Yeah Paul!!
    Sockit to me, sockit to me, sockit to me, sockit to me, sockit to me

    Find out what it means to me,
    Take care, TCB,

    ( Apologies to Otis Redding, the writer of the song )

  46. Jumpy, I was 30 when Germaine Greer published her famous book in 1970. I’ve been known to refer to myself as a partly reconstructed male chauvinist, not entirely in jest. I try!

    Val I was reflecting further about John’s concern over “sexism” being used as an “attack label”. One of the problems is that militant feminists sometimes have a tendency to lash out, and not take much care if anyone gets hurt in the process.

    You will no doubt recall that back in 2013 I made the mistake of complaining about militant feminism.

    Well the lashing started here. You will note that the robustness of my psyche was not to be any kind of consideration.

    Well my psyche survived, though there is still scar tissue, but my sleep patterns at the time didn’t. In the end I had to walk away from the whole thing leaving untruths and distortions about my position stand, just so that I could continue with the normal responsibilities of my life.

    I did learn a few things from the experience. One was that anger directed towards other people is a form of violence.

    While we are here, I believe that the aboriginal woman who was angry with you, and it worked for her, was just lucky it was you. I’d lay odds that she was not so fortunate in similar dealings in other parts of her life.

  47. Brian
    I also remember you getting a pasting for saying ” my wife.. ”
    I laughed remembering the little chat I had with a priest and a woman in a church in front of family and friends. I assume you had a similar chat.

    It all doesn’t bother me one bit now, only curious.
    My position now is ” Believe what you will of me, I don’t care ”

    ( I see I tried to raise a discussion on gender segregation in sport back in 2013 too. No takers back then either. Funny how ” equality ” has its no go areas for even for the most vocal proponents.)

  48. Jumpy, I actually don’t remember that. I do remember getting a pasting for the same thing from a woman I met at a committee meeting in Canberra. I went home and asked my wife if she minded, and she said, yes, she did if I didn’t.

    I don’t think there is much interest in gender segregation in sport, because roughly half the population would be at a significant disadvantage. There should be no barrier, however, for a woman to get into a male team if she’s better than the available males.

    Back in the 1950s at out primary school district sports meeting our school won the open 4×100 relay. I was in the team but the fourth team member was my younger sister.

  49. Val: You say:

    I think you are also somewhat reluctant to look at the evidence on sexism. As Brian says, you have to look at structural factors – systemic social patterns – rather than just trying to reduce everything to individuals.

    Like Brian, I am old enough for women’s lib to start getting attention after I married a woman who had no intention at all of acknowledging male superiority let alone thinking of ways to be come an obedient wife.
    My take on women’s lib is that for lucky people like the Davidson’s women’s lib morphed into peoples lib. I say lucky because people’s lib get rid of rigid ideas about male and female roles and futile arguments about who is the boss. It also allows who does what in a partnership to be decided and changed on the basis of strengths, weakness’s, changing circumstances and who enjoys doing what.
    For the unlucky ones women’s lib was just another tool in ongoing, bitter gender wars as well as a tool that can be used for some men to put down men or women to put down women.
    What i have said doesn’t mean that I don’t believe sexism etc. can lead to some people being made miserable, being treated unfairly etc. and that some of these problems need action. However, I do think it is better to deal with it as an example of people behaving poorly to people, not just men behaving poorly.

  50. I still can’t see why it is in anyone’s interest to effectively kill women’s sport!

    It’s condescending and patronising isn’t it ?
    To establish institutional gender double standards, from a very young age, is not social egalitarianism.
    Your ” one way valve ” idea isn’t either.

  51. Jumpy, it’s basically a dumb idea that no-one will buy. There might be a time when young girls are bigger and stronger than boys of the same age. I don’t much care what people do then, because sport shouldn’t be focussed on competition.

    For teens and adults, however, you are basically condemning females to be spectators. No-one’s going to buy it.

  52. No-one’s going to buy it.

    That’s fine, but they don’t have the right to demand ” equality ” in other areas if that’s the case.
    It’s either a principal or it’s not, no exceptions.

  53. Sporting events for different age groups helps young sportspeople develop and older people continue to enjoy competition or simply doing something they like. Continuing separation on the basis of gender and disability should be supported for the same reasons.
    This shouldn’t be an excuse for discrimination in other walks of life.

  54. The key thing the physical education specialists emphasise is participation and skill development across a broad range. Early specialisation and intense competition in primary schools tends to work against their aims.

  55. There are skills involving certain kinds of bodily attributes, such as upper body strength or flexibility – men are better at some, women at others. The reason societies have glorified those that men tend to be better at has nothing to do with innate worth or value, but because men on average tend to be better at them. It’s the historical legacy of patriarchy. It’s probably useless to expect someone like Jumpy to understand that, but Brian and John I think you could.

    Similarly, there is historical and comparative evidence that male-dominated jobs are paid more because they are male dominated, not because they are essentially more valuable. Once more women move into those jobs, the pay rate tends to go down. Did you know that medicine is a rather low paid profession in Russia?

    People like Jumpy, I think, just see it as the natural order of things that male dominated areas of life, or things that men can do better or faster, are seen as more valuable and important than those where women tend to do better.

    Brian you feel you have been attacked by feminists, but if you think about the fact that we live with this bs all the time, you might understand why we get angry sometimes. I sometimes feel like being really rude to Jumpy, though I try not to, because he practises a form of denial (of sexism and its effect on women) which is kind of emotionally cruel.

    Possibly he will now say I’m abusing him! That’s the problem – as a woman, if you confront someone about sexism, you’re accused of attacking them, or being unkind to them, or being a trouble-maker, etc etc.

  56. Val, I get all that, but I’d like to comment on this bit:

    Brian you feel you have been attacked by feminists, but if you think about the fact that we live with this bs all the time, you might understand why we get angry sometimes

    The fact that you live with this bs all the time was one of the first things pointed out to me, and used as an excuse for an open season on me, irrespective of any possible damage done.

    I didn’t just feel I was being attacked, I was being attacked.

    The whole thing turned, as I worked out eventually, on false assumptions about what I knew. I was defending the blog, and couldn’t recall threads that were unfair on Gillard and in fact sexist. Turns out I didn’t remember them because I didn’t know they were there. I didn’t ever manage to read all the threads at LP, some of which ran to over 300 comments. As soon as a stoush started I’d give it up as a waste of time.

    Later Pavlov’s Cat, or Biff as she took to calling herself, concluded that I was sexist because I hadn’t intervened in a moderation role.

    There were two reasons for this. As I said I didn’t know the stuff was there, and was surprised about the nature and extent of it all when I eventually saw it. Secondly, moderation was the main responsibility of the thread owner, and I didn’t in fact get involved with it much at all. I left it to others who were better at it.

    All through the episode I didn’t get angry, but have views and made comments about anger, which didn’t go down at all well.

    I still think it’s important that people take responsibility for what they do with their anger. It causes harm in ways that are not predictable and often can’t be remediated. And it seldom achieves their aims, unless they are actually aiming to hurt people.

    It was never a problem with anything you said, and this thread has gratefully been free of it.

  57. Val,

    There are skills involving certain kinds of bodily attributes, such as upper body strength or flexibility – men are better at some, women at others.

    Could you please name the ones women are better at.

    People like Jumpy, I think, just see it as the natural order of things that male dominated areas of life, or things that men can do better or faster, are seen as more valuable and important than those where women tend to do better.

    Can you also name those areas for.. erm..” People like Jumpy ” ( nice sub-catagory, I like it )

    Brian you feel you have been attacked by feminists,….

    You can’t know how Brian feels and I, for one, have witnessed him being attacked on a few occasions.

    …..he ( Jumpy ) practises a form of denial (of sexism and its effect on women) which is kind of emotionally cruel.

    And many feminist practise a denial that forms of sexism have protected and nourished women for millennia too.

    Now, do you as a feminist, condone gender segregation in sport ?
    Do you think gender equity in all areas of society is to goal with gender segregation an abomination of that principal ?

  58. John
    I’m talking mainly of elite sport where income is derived but every sport below has levels, based on ability, right down to people with severe disabilities.
    Plenty of people continue there sporting pastimes in mixed teams with no problem.
    Open level at the top of the sporting tree won’t discourage participation down lower.

  59. Jumpy:
    You asked me to name the physical skills that women are better at than men. I’m not an expert but here’s some I’ve heard of: flexibility (greater), extreme endurance (as good, possibly greater), possibly fine motor skills, possibly balance, possibly target shooting.

    In terms of sports: artistic gymnastics (particularly beam I think?), ultra endurance events, possibly target shooting.

    Obviously those sports have some following, but they are not generally as popular as male dominated sports. Please don’t tell me that they never could be, because that is your subjective opinion shaped by the kind of society you live in and the life experience you have had. The ‘sociological imagination’ requires us to try to think that things could be different.

  60. Val
    Ive tried unsuccessfully to find even one olympic or non olympic sport where women outperform men.
    Not shooting, endurance running or swimming, not any measurable discipline that both compete in.

    If you are able to find one please let me know.

    Ill look at games next.
    Chess, darts, competitive computer gaming, card games even rock/paper/scissors, things like that, anything.

  61. Val from another thread.

    OTOH this business of calling yourself an “out and proud … sexist” seems silly and trollish, so could you drop it?

    No, not unless Brian deems the masculinist point of view less valid than the feminist point of view.
    Both are sexist and do not represent equality.
    I ask only for a balanced judgment.

    It simply sounds as if you are trying to make fun of women’s concerns about sexism.

    Some ideas, yes, but never individual or personal.
    Ideas can’t feel pain.

  62. Can I say, I’ve got zero enthusiasm for this to continue, and I’m watching the tennis in another room.

  63. The tennis match is over, but there is a new one beginning that I’m also a bit interested in.

    Jumpy, you are doing it again, changing how the playing field is marked out.

    When you admitted to being sexist, I didn’t take it that you were proudly sexist. It’s nothing to be proud about. Here are two definitions of sexism:

    Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex: sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women’

    unfair treatment of people because of their sex; especially : unfair treatment of women

    Now you’ve introduced a whole new concept – masculinism.

    It clearly has problems of definition.

    I’d say that there are instances of powerful women, there are instances of females ganging up on a male, and there are problems and issues about male roles and growing up as a boy.

    But substantively there is a generalised imbalance in power and perceived worth between males and females which you seem to deny.

  64. Both are sexist and do not represent equality.

    Jumpy demonstrably has no clue at all.
    In the words of Wolfgang Pauli, that statement is not even wrong.

  65. Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sex:

    That would be my definition, ” typically ” has nothing to do with it.

    If a woman is given the right to be sexist i’m ok with it, so long as I have the equal yet opposite right.

    [Distinctly unhelpful stuff deleted.]

  66. That would be my definition, ” typically ” has nothing to do with it.

    Jumpy, “typically” has everything to do with it. You are not entitled to change dictionary meanings to suit yourself. They are formulated by lexicographers to describe what the common usage of a word is in terms of meaning.

    If a woman is given the right to be sexist i’m ok with it, so long as I have the equal yet opposite right.

    I haven’t seen anyone claiming the right to be sexist, other that you.

  67. Brian: some of the stats on men Vs women are interesting. for example, men are twice as likley as women to be murderedand 3 times as likely to commit suicide. In addition , men’s life expectancy is about 4 yrs less than that of women
    The above stats suggest that that some men are doing it hard (just like some women are doing it hard.)
    In addition, it is also noticeable that while we have women’s policies, spokespeople, ministers and departments we have no corresponding policies etc. for men.
    If you want to carry out an interesting experiment try suggesting to strong women that we need men’s policies. “You have got to be bloody joking!” or “Women have got so many more problems than men so we need to give priority to women’s problems.” are among the reactions I have had.
    The points I would make are:
    1. Both some men and some women are struggling in our society.
    2. In many cases, such as suicide, what is going on is often different for women compared with men.
    3. We need policies and spokespeople for both genders.

  68. John, you invite a tsunami of statistics showing that women and girls are doing less well than males, but I said above “there are problems and issues about male roles and growing up as a boy” and you’ve highlighted some of them.

    Unskilled young men are particularly at risk.

    Some would say that the answer is TAFE, but I think we need more than that.

    Steve Biddulph (not everyone is a fan) has been advocating for boys and men, but then lost the plot completely, noticed that girls also have problems and set out to re-invent feminism.

    I’d agree that we need policies and spokespeople for all groups in need, which is what I think you are saying.

    I can’t resist a true story. There was a panel of three one night on TV on women’s issues including Eva Cox and a man, forget his name, who had done much to assist women.

    Well the bloke had a bit of a brain explosion and pointed out that if females had life expectancy that much lower than women there would be much concern and no doubt programs to fix it. Eva Cox turned to him and said in her most condescending voice “You poor little petal!”

    That shut him up for the rest of the night, he didn’t say another word.

    I was so pissed off that every time I heard her speak thereafter I switched off. One day I heard someone on the radio saying very perceptive things about indigenous children, and suddenly realised it was Eva Cox.

    Now of course I’m apt to tell people that anger is a useless emotion.

  69. I don’t think anger is a useless emotion Brian but it is what you do with it that counts. For example I feel angry when I read comments like John’s, but then I remind myself that anger usually comes from a place of hurt, so I try to understand why I find his comments hurtful, and if he intended them that way.

    The conclusions I have come to, briefly, are:
    John’s comments are hurtful because they deny the reality and extent of patriarchy and discrimination against women – a social reality that women live with every day.
    As an educated and intelligent man, John should know better, which is partly what makes his comments hurtful. It suggests that he is trying to minimise or ignore the problems women face, rather than being simply ignorant. However I don’t think John is trying to be hurtful – this isn’t misogyny.

    John, here is some information – some of it, as I say, you should know already.

    Most, though not all, human beings in recent history (the last few thousand years), have lived in patriarchal societies where men own most of the wealth and resources and exercise formal power of governance, and women are subordinate.

    Much of the legal underpinning of patriarchy has been dismantled in many (though not all) societies, including ours, in the last hundred or so years. However society is slow to change and many of the structures of patriarchy remain in place, for example:

    – of the 100 wealthiest people in the world, about 85% are men
    – men still earn more than women for the same amount of work
    – women still do more unpaid work
    – men are more likely to receive public honours
    – over 90% of CEOs in the top 200 ASX listed companies are men
    – of 190 countries, only 2 have a higher proportion of women than men in the lower house (or single chamber) of Parliament. In all the rest, there are more men than women.
    – in about 75% of those countries, less than 30% of MPs in the lower house/single chamber are women. This includes Australia.
    – you are correct that men are more likely to be homicide victims than women (about 60% of victims) but they are far more likely to commit homicide (about 80% of offenders) and other acts of violence.

    The figures you present about suicide and longevity suggest that this situation is not good for men’s health and wellbeing, but feminists have been saying that for a long time. Feminists have always said that greater equality between men and women will be good for both.

    The general reason that there are departments and policies for women but not men is because of the social situation I’ve described, but there is in fact a men’s health policy in Australia.

    I haven’t put links for all this because it would send the post into moderation, but I will do so later.

  70. Oh I forgot all these posts are going into moderation anyway so I could have put the links in. Anyway I have other things to do right now so I will send them later,

  71. Ok, that was a blatant one.
    I happen to be watching the tennis and an interviewer picked out a couple of famous jockeys in the crowd, one male and one female.
    He asked the male about his next ride but asked the female about her jewellery and was it a date.

    She had daggers in her eyes and I don’t blame her.
    Did you catch that one Brian ?

  72. Val: I am disappointed that your reaction to my comment

    some men are doing it hard (just like some women are doing it hard.)

    was to get angry. Also disappointed that what you saw in my comments was

    John’s comments are hurtful because they deny the reality and extent of patriarchy and discrimination against women – a social reality that women live with every day.

    Nowhere did I speculate about why some women and men are doing it hard and at the end of the post I said

    Both some men and some women are struggling in our society.

    I guesss what really saddens me is that you are not the only woman who thinks that is unacceptable for a man to point out that some men are really struggling too and need a bit more understanding and help.

  73. Val, in general I have avoided posting about gender issues because in my experience it always ends up with people becoming upset or angry. I did this post because certain men behaving badly was the leading story of the week and I felt I couldn’t ignore it.

    Perhaps it may help to go back and read John’s earlier comment of January 16.

    John mentions the “gender wars”. I think he’s trying to do a bit of lateral thinking to avoid the upsets and frustrations of the past.

    He is talking from personal experience, but also thinks like a process engineer with experience in the mining and construction industry. That is, he tends to conceptualise problems in ways that facilitate solutions.

    I don’t think he is trying to minimise or ignore the problems women face, he’s trying to help.

    Whether he’s right or not, there was no animus there.

    Anyway, that was my take. Not sure it helps.

  74. Val, your comment outlines powerful evidence for a persisting structural gender inequality. Currently I’m reading Eric Hobsbawm’s Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century. It’s a series of essays on European history and includes a chapter on Culture and Gender in European Bourgeois Society, 1870-1914.

    In an earlier chapter he describes how the Jews achieved emancipation in most parts of Europe during the 19th century, after the Enlightenment and enunciation of universal human rights in the previous century.

    He sees women starting to emerge into the public space towards the end of the 19th century. Middle class and upper class women were expected not to undertake any paid labour at all in the 1870s, so there was little provision for secondary or tertiary education for them. He relates how the version of Who’s Who of those times begins to record women who had simply achieved a university degree because it was such a novelty.

    When I joined the Queensland public service in 1969 women still had to resign if they became married.

    I guess your point is that situations women find themselves in now have deep antecedents.

  75. John, the men who are doing it hard by and large aren’t doing it hard because they are men, whereas a huge number of the women who are doing it hard are doing it hard because they are not men.
    The default “normal” for most of my life was the white male. They didn’t need (for example) special health services because the people for whom the system was set up were white males. (Even Obstetrics if you remember Monty Python’s “machine that goes ping!”)
    It was only after women and indigenous people started agitating for services that would recognise and work with their unique issues that the failure of our culture to properly care for the “normal” white male became apparent. Hence the rise of men’s services.
    I realise this probably sounds garbled and I am trying to compress a hell of a lot into a short comment. But there are women who can explain it better than I, if we are prepared to listen (Eva Cox is as good a starting point as any for Google)

  76. This thread has brought some fantastic views and certainly has broadened my outlook. As mentioned earlier I was born in ’46 in an environment that welcomed back the soldiers and focused upon re-building the nation. Somehow, in my social set, the role of women seemed to differ from the men. Their role was to make home and have babies whilst the men worked to provide money for the home. But that was against an historical background where roles had been fairly clearly established in the past. The war(s) saw women doing many jobs previously the domain of men only. E.g. ship building, munitions and more. Following the wars the roles seemed to revert to the pre-war norms. Maybe because there were now men to fill positions (substantial migration from Europe helped) and there was the need to re-populate. But the chance to redefine gender roles was largely but not totally missed.

    Fifty years on those norms have been rightly challenged with some success but clearly there is some way to go. One of the queries that I have is ” how far do we need to go?” What circumstances will exist before we can say that we have real equality? There are differences between men and women, when are they sexist or not. Who is the arbiter?
    I would like the issue to be properly resolved but wonder if that is likely or even possible. Despite the accelerated thrust for equality I suspect there is still a generation or so to go before true equality exists.
    Has anyone read a book that offers insight into gender equality? Not me, but perhaps it is time.

  77. John I don’t think anyone in this thread, including me, was trying to deny that some men are doing it hard. It’s just that this was a post about sexism and how it affects women.

    Imagine if Brian had written a post about prostate cancer, and I had jumped in and said ‘why are you all talking about men’s problems? Women have problems too you know’. It’s like saying ‘your issues aren’t important – everything has to be about me’.

    So many men, especially of the older generation, were brought up to think they were the centre of the universe and women’s lives should revolve around men. Are you one of those men? If not, then you should be able to accept that sometimes a conversation is about women and women’s perspectives and that men’s main role in that conversation should be to try to understand those perspectives. That’s what other men here are urging you to do.

    Also btw not trying to bignote myself, but I actually have studied feminist theory and women’s history quite a lot, so maybe sometimes it’s worth paying attention to what I’m saying, rather than just trying to show me why I’m wrong.

    One thing I have found is that many men do seem to find it difficult to believe that a woman they are talking to online might actually have some expertise in a subject. They can accept in theory that some women have expertise, but find it hard to believe about a woman they are actually talking to, it seems.

  78. Zoot: You say:

    John, the men who are doing it hard by and large aren’t doing it hard because they are men.

    I don’t agree with this. For example, many men (and women) are doing it hard because of expectations that are put on them by themselves and others. Others are doing it hard because they are different from the people they have to live and work with or some reason did not end up with skills needed to handle people well or get the income needed to avoid life being one long financial struggle.
    I really think that there are a lot of people out there doing it hard. In some cases they are doing it hard because they are “not men” or “not women”. however, it would be more productive if we all understood that the opposite gender faces special problems and that many problems aer shared problems.
    Arguing about who is doing it worst is not productive.

  79. So many men, especially of the older generation, were brought up to think they were the centre of the universe and women’s lives should revolve around men. Are you one of those men?

    Well I can say I’m not.

    I was 90% ” brought up by ” women ( my Mum and older Sister ). Any of those thoughts were quickly put down. In fact I was always taught to treat girls better than boys. Always have and continue to.

    I suspect Johns upbringing may have been similar given my analysis of his comments over quite a long period of time.
    If anyone should be a target for feminist vitriol, it’s not John Davidson imho.

    [Jumpy, “vitriol” is not the most apt word. There has been no vitriol here. But I’ll let the comment stand as you’ve penned it – Brian]

  80. I think we have a train wreck.

    John will forever be caste into outer darkness in the universe of feminists. Val has her answer to the question asked back here.

    Val, there are some, females amongst them, who feel that the modern wave of feminism has stuffed up, basically by the strategies they use.

    I’m agnostic about it, but I would suggest that there is not a united universal point of view amongst feminists. For example, I have read a post by a blogger proclaiming herself as a radical feminist who clearly hated men.

    Joanna Bourke in What it Means to be Human makes the point that other cultures do not accept the Western version of feminism. I don’t know enough to have a view on that. Interestingly she also calls the fe/male dichotomy, amongst others, “tyrannical” and in need of challenging. At that point the argument gets very philosophical and hard to follow.

    Val, I’m truly sorry you’ve felt hurt by what has been said here, but the alternative would be to censor views honestly held. Yesterday I heard Maajid Naweez tell Richard Fidler that no-one has the right to demand that others refrain from behaving in a way that makes them angry. But I’d rather it didn’t happen on my blog.

  81. Brian, I don’t think it’s a train wreck. Also I don’t think John’s comments are hurtful to the degree you should feel bad – anyway it’s up to John and it’s an opportunity for John to think about why his comments might be hurtful. So it’s a learning opportunity which is what I think blogs like this are for. I don’t think John is or should be cast into the outer darkness etc

    I think the situation is very similar with sexism and racism – if as a person affected, you talk about the situation, how it feels or how it came to be (which is my interest as a historian), there seem to be always some people who will react personally and defensively and accuse you of being mean or hating or being ‘vitriolic’ or ‘rabid‘. I guess my aim is to not react to that with anger (therefore becoming something like what you’re accused of being – which as you will know can be one of the effects of stereotyping) but just to stay true to the evidence and my own experience.

    I think that what you – Brian – understand as feminism, or western feminism, is still a bit limited. Just think of it as women trying to respond to a society that has treated them as subordinate for thousands of years, and you might understand it better. How would you react? Clearly there’s a whole range of ways, and none of them are necessarily ‘wrong’.

    If you’d rather let the subject go for a while, I’m happy to do that, but I think there are some points here that deserve further discussion from other perspectives – including some of John’s and Jumpy’s. The important thing I think is that people should get over the attitude of ‘feminism is wrong’ and start trying to understand it as a movement to free us all – men included – from patriarchal society. Obviously individual feminists, including me, don’t get everything right, but surely people can support the goal. And if they can’t, why not?

  82. Val, I’m not upset, just concerned that you would walk away. I find your response very encouraging and if you want to add to our understanding, we’ll give it a go.

    My own knowledge is patchy, but in putting forward Joanna Bourke’s view I was seeking to add something of interest which at a more informed and theoretical level seemed to lend some support to what I think is behind John’s view. Personally I think Bourke attends too much to fuzziness at the boundaries of concepts. It’s fine with me if people want to analyse the relationship between the sexes currently and historically, noting that generalisations usually do not preclude exceptions.

    I’ve pointed out before that David Anthony whose work I posted on in Deep origins: language reckons that societies became patriarchal if they weren’t already with the adoption of herding. Bourke herself, following Derrida, characterises our European society as carno-phallocentric with deep origins. I read in Norman Davies’ account of the Burgundians in the first millenium that they had penalties for ‘stealing girls’. Obviously girls were treated as possessions. Tom Holland in Millenium. He talks, inter alia, about the role of women in society during the late first millenium, also about people being sold into slavery to the Saracens, women for sex, males were castrated and had their penises lopped for good measure. Apparently some died, but it increased the value of the surviving stock.

    Peasants, who comprised about 95% of society, were ‘owned’ by the landed gentry.

    Hobsbawm, quoted above, says that until the late 19th century, women overwhelmingly were only regarded as famous in relation to some man, as wife, mistress, mother etc.

    So patriarchal society was problematic for both sexes, but women had a shocking time. This from a review of Bourke’s book:

    One man who had plucked out his wife’s eye was sentenced to four months in prison. Another had killed his wife by deliberately pushing her under a passing carriage and received a three-month sentence. A third had punched another man on the mouth and stole his watch and received a sentence of seven years and 40 lashes.

    That was in the 19th century.

    My biggest knowledge gap is in what the suffragettes did in the late 19th and early 20th century. They were obviously successful, but I’ve got no basis for evaluating their strategies against those of later feminists.

    So I’m happy to learn, but I avoid feminist sites. Put one foot wrong and suddenly you are part of the problem, and made to feel so.

  83. Actually the latter thing you mention has happened to me on feminist sites so you are not alone! I’ve read some literature on why feminists can be hard on each other (as well as others) – it’s a common problem though I think for groups that have been subordinated , they can be just as hard on each other as the dominant group is.

    In relation to Jumpy’s comment above, men were actually taught to be nice to women. Of course this was usually because women were seen as weaker and it only lasted as long as women behaved themselves as men thought they should (I know Jumpy might disagree in his case, but that was the general principle)

    Blanche D’Alpuget (whose feminist cred is very sus, but who can write a good line) once wrote that as long as women were seen as inferior, they were at least treated kindly, “like pets”. Once women asserted their equal status, even that got taken away!

  84. Arguing about who is doing it worst is not productive.

    John, if you think I was arguing about who is doing worst I have obviously failed to express myself clearly and unambiguously.

  85. What I really wish that people like John would do is take the historical evidence about patriarchy seriously and consider what that has done to make life hard for people in the way he is concerned about.

    Being concerned about people doing it hard is a good thing, but refusing to look at how structural inequality (such as patriarchy) contributes to this seems to me a form of denial. A lot of people do it though, I have had women who call themselves feminist say to me that they don’t really ‘believe’ in patriarchy. It’s amazing to me as a historian, like they are choosing to ignore all the historical evidence because they don’t like it. To use an analogy, it’s like they are saying ‘I don’t really believe that slavery ever happened’ or something – just because they don’t want to believe it.

    Of course some people will say that whatever the formal legal and political structures were, life was always more complex, and I certainly agree with that! I don’t think women were ever actually powerless and I am sure that women exerted influence and had a crucially important role in all societies, it’s more about whether that was (and is) acknowledged and valued.

  86. Val, to some people (I’m not one of them) history is another country. It’s the present and the future that count.

    In that case it’s not a matter of denying what happened. The argument would be that it’s gone, finished.

    I believe that the past lives on in the present to some degree, without getting theoretical about ‘time’, and how we build up our experience of reality.

  87. I need a little help from a historian.
    Has there been a patch of dirt on Earth that has not been under the total, all powerful rule of a female at some point in history.

    I’m struggling to find one ( obviously I’m a shite googler )

  88. Jumpy, I’d say you’re standing in it on the basis that Gillard was not all powerful and Queen Bess doesn’t actually rule us!

  89. Has there been a patch of dirt on Earth that has not been under the total, all powerful rule of a female at some point in history.

    I’m struggling to find one …

    Why are you bothering to look?

  90. Why are you bothering to look?

    Why do you ask zoot ?

    ( see, this avoiding answering by asking a pointless question is easy. [ as it passed mod I’ll assume it’s fair for all] )

  91. Forgive me if this appears off topic but please indulge me by going to the last line.
    Canada…..What a cabinet:
    Minister of Health is a doctor.
    Minister of Transport is an astronaut.
    Minister of National Defense is a Sikh Veteran.
    Minister of Youth is under the age of 45.
    Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is a former farmer.
    Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was a Scout.
    Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development was a financial analyst.
    Minister of Finance is a successful businessman.
    Minister of Justice was a crown prosecutor and is a First Nations leader.
    Minister of Sport, and Persons with Disabilities is a visually impaired Paralympian.
    Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian Coastguard is Inuit.
    Minister of Science is a medical geographer with a PhD.
    New titles include
    Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees was an Immigration critic.
    There are scientists in the cabinet, and it is made up of 50% women.

  92. Val: I have never worked for a woman but my wife has worked for both men and women. Her experience was that both men and women could be good or appalling people to work for.
    The other point my wife and I would make is that real power is often quite different from what position charts suggest. Just because a man was king doesn’t mean that his wives or other women didn’t have real influence and power.
    I am a bit like Brian. I think we need to solve the problems of our times.

  93. Why do you ask zoot ?

    Because I’m struggling to understand what possible merit there is in the search.

  94. I am a bit like Brian. I think we need to solve the problems of our times.

    Yes, but let me be clear. Institutions, social structures, laws, attitudes, values, practices persist over time. The present carries many of the features of the past.

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