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The problem with men

The predominance of men in hierarchical positions in religion, politics and business cannot be denied.

In 1950 years, we have never had a female Pope and are most unlikely to ever see one.

In 285 years, the US has never had a female President.

With 28.7% of lower house seats, women remain significantly under-represented in the Australian parliament, ranking us 50th in the world, well behind many African nations.

In 2016, women held a paltry 4.2% of CEO positions in America’s 500 biggest companies.

Aside from the obvious inequity, there are greater implications from allowing males to make all the decisions.

As we have seen in the Royal Commission into institutionalised child sex abuse, men considered the reputation of the church more important than their duty to protect the children entrusted to their care.

In giving evidence today, the Archbishops said part of the problem was that Bishops were “company men” with a passionate life-long commitment to the institution who were more interested in the body corporate than the individual. They described the culture as more monarchial than pastoral.

Tony Abbott was a prime example of this. When writing of his reasons for leaving the seminary, he expressed his disappointment at attempts by the Church to become more empathetic, compassionate and consultative.

“A “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure. The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless. l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”

Interestingly, when asked today what they had done to change the nature of the response to allegations and meeting with victims of abuse, two of the Archbishops said they had employed women in senior positions to support the abused and their families.

Another area where men seem to be making all the decisions is in our response to climate change and future energy sources.

In 2015, the Climate Institute published research showing that Australian men are more likely than women to believe climate change is not happening, and to prefer nuclear and coal as energy sources.

Women, meanwhile, are more inclined than men to support wind and solar power, and take the view backed by the vast majority of the world’s scientists – that climate change is real.

Ian Dunlop, a former international oil, gas and coal industry executive who is now a director of not-for-profit think tank Australia21, said gender differences were a “fundamental issue” holding back climate action.

“The male incumbency in the business and political world have not been prepared to engage with that discussion,” he said, deriding a dominant culture of “macho short-termism”.

Mr Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and former chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, said women were more likely than men to see climate change as an “existential issue”.

“The male approach to this thing is [often] saying it is all nonsense, it’s all just alarmism,” he said.

As we listen to a procession of conservative male politicians and businessmen tell us that coal is good for humanity, it seems apparent that their only concern is short term profit. Gina Rinehart is the only female voice adding to the chorus, motivated solely by her legendary greed. She is an aberration whose total disdain for poor people is well-documented.

Together, men and women can be a formidable partnership in dealing with problems and finding solutions. Men on their own, not so much. The sooner they recognise the importance of including women in decision making and the insight that different perspectives can provide, the better off the world will be.

 

154 comments

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  1. susan

    Good article and the examples could go on and on even to the figures that show Pauline Hanson attracts more male voters.

  2. roaminruin

    Any figures on how many climate scientists are men?

  3. Kaye Lee

    roaminruin,

    I would imagine that the majority of climate scientists are men but the men who are making the decisions won’t listen to them.

  4. Deanna Jones

    The evidence is well and truly in, if resources are placed in the hands of women, their entire community benefits. With men, not so much, they tend toward self interest. The dilemma is how to reduce male power.

  5. Matt

    Maybe it is a good testament to women that they are not power hungry enough to climb to the top then seek to preserve their status and power by resisting any kind of change. I am pretty sure that many of people in power in our society (and I am sure there are a few women amongst them) are somewhat sociopathic or otherwise deranged (Surely sane people would not preside over such destruction of the planet and human society?) . I would be quite happy to say I am nothing like them – I hope I am not.

  6. ozfenric

    Normally I agree with almost everything Kaye Lee writes. In this instance, though, I am forced to wonder about the motivation. I suspect that attempting to tie unethical or ignorant decisions in the church and business to the gender of the people making them is a cheap shot, generally unsupported and unworthy of Kaye’s typical offerings. Having more women in positions of influence would inarguably lead to better outcomes, but this is not because men are more inherently selfish or ignorant.

    As a man convinced that climate change is *the* existential issue for our species and our world, married to a woman who accepts that AGW is happening but doesn’t consider it to be an issue of first-order importance, I doubt that climate skepticism has anything inherently to do with gender. It seems more likely that the kind of men who attain positions of influence in politics and in business are the ones susceptible to the “macho short-termism” described than the majority of us. If males truly are more likely to be climate skeptics, does that come down to leadership from the system and from “the patriarchy” – i.e. does the skepticism of politicians and business leaders “rub off” on males who would aspire to be like them? As I know many women who doubt the significance (or existence) of climate change, and many men who are energised by the threat AGW represents, I would like to know the relative percentages.

    On patriarchy and the relative dearth of women in important roles, there can be no argument. It could potentially be argued that the system is as much an impediment as any deliberate or subconscious hiring / electing bias: that the kinds of women who can succeed and rise to high positions in business and politics are in a minority for the gender. I very specifically am *not* talking about ability to do the job – women typically make better CEOs than men, and women may well be better at generating good policy. Rather, I’m talking about the male-dominated hyper-competitive environment where succeeding means, frequently, being an unethical psychopath. Unethical psycopathy (specifically the behaviour, not the psychological condition) is statistically linked to gender. See http://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/pedi.1996.10.1.41.

    Kaye, do you have a link to the Climate Institute research? I’d be very interested in examining the actual questions asked.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Matt,

    I agree I have generalised. There are greedy women and compassionate men. I think if we had a better gender balance in the decision makers that we would have a better chance of listening and making better decisions. But I could be wrong. Perhaps women offered the power that men enjoy would be similarly corrupted.

    ozfenric,

    No. My info came from this newspaper article.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/men-back-nuclear-women-like-solar-climate-change-gender-divide-found-20150809-giv5vk.html

    I found this….not sure if it is their source. There is a section on gender.

    http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/verve/_resources/COTN_2016_Final_WEB_260916.pdf

  8. Kronomex

    Surely you aren’t suggesting that women get equal treatment? Just think of the horror that would create for the church and big business which are run quite well enough by men who know what’s good for these upstart women who belong in the kitchen. These same men who, if you dug deeply enough, would find that they are shit frightened of losing their hold on power.

    As long as there thousands (if not millions) of Trump’s, Abbott’s, Rupert’s and religious nutters still lurking nothing will change. I think I read somewhere that men are slowly dying out and may well become extinct in the future.

  9. Sean Stinson

    Patriarchy and capitalism go hand in hand. Women for most of human history have been considered chattel. To get anything even approaching gender equality you have to challenge traditional ideas of property and ownership. Cuba and Scandinavia come to mind immediately. Not sure how well the Russian Federation scores in gender equality lately, but last time i looked into it the participation rate was something like 49% women in executive positions. Of course labour is only one aspect of empowerment, and Russians, in my experience anyway, tend to be more socially conservative.

  10. wam

    the story shows the weakness of women. Why ‘as soon as they…’
    The three religions of the west all believe women are deliberately made to be not the equal of men. The women in those religions are taught that they are not equal to men. Despite constant examples showing equality is real, the majority of religious men and women just BELIEVE,

    The septics never a woman in 300 years the poms 2 pm but 3 queens in a 1000 years plus boudicca.

    The time to elect a woman is often the result of men not being game to take the chance on failure. Thatcher.
    Shipley and Clarke in NZ Meir

    At home, the power and skill of gillard outshines many PMs but until the green white and purple gets its act into gear and enough women forget their indoctrination to form a block, it is unlikely the boys will allow the critical mass for equality to develop.

    My bias is showing but the loonies have become the diludbransims – QED

  11. Kaye Lee

    I must stress that my beef is with the inequity at decision making level, not with men. I am in awe of the research and practical good done by people regardless of gender.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Sean,

    According to Forbes, Russia tops the list of individual countries with 45% of senior roles held by women, followed by the Philippines at 39%, where only 9% businesses have no women in senior management.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/dinamedland/2016/03/07/todays-gender-reality-in-statistics-or-making-leadership-attractive-to-women/#98e764762558

    They don’t fare so well on politicians ranking 128 with only 15.8% female lower house seats.

    http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

  13. helvityni

    Finland and the other Nordic countries are doing pretty well when it comes to gender equality in any area.

  14. ozfenric

    KathySutherland – yeah no. Not gonna happen. Every time there’s a vacancy the usual suspects pop up and the bookies go mental, and there’s only two things certain: nobody whose name gets put forward as a possibility will be the new Doctor, and the new Doctor will be male and white.

  15. Miriam English

    There was a possible Pope Joan, according to popular culture, though because record-keeping was so terrible during the Dark Ages nobody can tell with any certainty if it was a popular myth or whether she was real. She supposedly gave birth to a child during her reign as Pope, outing her as a woman. (Which means, if the story was true, that at least one man knew she was a woman. 🙂 It’s notoriously difficult to get pregnant without a man… or a turkey baster.)

    I always thought it hilarious that the Abbott government had less women in it than the government of Afghanistan.

    Years ago I read of a study reported in New Scientist dissecting the causes of one of the big stockmarket crashes. The research analysed men working in the stockmarket. As things became more stressful their testosterone levels increased and they became more competitive and took more and more risky chances. After the crash their testosterone levels dropped dramatically and they tended to become more careful again. If I remember rightly, the article suggested the addition of more women into that profession might help to balance its boom-bust pathology. Now the stockmarket is largely conducted by predatory computer programs with lightning-fast reflexes and calculations. It might be an improvement over the insanity that used to rule the floor of the stock exchange, but still doesn’t leave room for caution or ethics.

    It is depressing that after so many years women still have so little say in their own society.

  16. Susan

    Another great article Kaye Lee

  17. Kaye Lee

    Finland is indeed doing well in female political representation with 42%.

    Perhaps you would be surprised to learn, on lower house seats, they are behind Rwanda (61.3%) Bolivia (53.1%) Cuba( 48.9%) Iceland (47.6%) Nicaragua (45.7%) Sweden (43.6%) Senegal (42.7%) and Mexico (42.6%) all of whom are a long way in front of us.

    Sadly, a female Dr Who would not add to the ranks of decision makers but it would be a welcome concession. George Christensen would have pups. He loves his Dr Who.

  18. Miriam English

    I’ve mentioned before James Surowieki’s book The Wisdom of Crowds, in which he carefully shows why any homogenous group of people is pretty-much guaranteed to make stupid or even insane decisions, whereas a diverse group can make decisions that are smarter than the smartest person in the group.

    Our government is a perfect example of an insane group making utterly stupid decisions.

  19. Jai Ritter

    I agree whole heartedly. Men have screwed up the world for way way too long now. The lack of women being in positions of power and decision making in this country is one of the reasons we will struggle to progress as a nation. I’ve recently changed careers from working in male dominated kitchens as a chef to last year getting my cert 4 in community services, this year my cert 3 in disability and about to start working in a female dominated occupation as a disability and mental health support worker.

    I was one of 5 males last year in a class of 40.which dwindled down to 15 females and 3 males by the end. All my teachers were female as well.

    I honestly couldn’t be happier and after working with mainly males it’s a nice contrast and you really get a different view of the world. Well, having the same views and values already helped especially when we share a similar outlook on the world, hence the reason we were all drawn to community services but the women in my class and my teachers just have such a softer empathetic logical approach to certain situations which I found really refreshing.

    Just to add, my 3 teachers have around 100 plus years of experience in this industry and have a hand in social changes, policies and been advocating for social equity for decades. These women to me are my heroes and if we had more women like this in the world, it would definitely be a much better place

  20. Kaye Lee

    Miriam, I agree with the concept of the wisdom of crowds and that individual inadequacies or gaps in knowledge are compensated for by numbers. This would work to our great advantage if people were presented with the truth but they aren’t. I should have included the media along with religion, politics and business though the many women in media seem unable or unwilling to take a stand – perhaps having ingrained in them that they must present both sides with no personal judgement. They aren’t the decision makers. Our media report but seldom critique and so they repeat a load of crap. How can people make rational decisions when they are fed lies by vested interests? How can the power imbalance be addressed?

  21. Matters Not

    What ozfenrick said @ 7:58 pm.

    The records show that many of the women (nuns with various titles) who ran ‘orphanages’ (in particular) turned a blind eye to what we now call child abuse. While gender played a significant role – and still does – any deep analysis must go beyond the gender dimension. Important as it may be.

  22. jimhaz

    I think the problem might be that when you’re up against bullies and sharks, on this now global stage, you more or less have to become a bully yourself.

    Perhaps that is partly why Clinton had the attitude she is said to have, warmongering. She needed to demonstrate publicly that she could bully in that international domain.

    Women as high public importance leaders have the same problem that all things coming from lower power position do. Lower power bases can do combinations of three things – strengthen themselves; weaken the higher power base; or pierce through with sharp attacks. By the latter I mean grow balls – our genitals tell the story – femininity envelops, whereas masculinity is a pointed affair.

    Strengthening oneself can mean education, mentoring, networking – but it also means increasing assertiveness. Unfortunately for you that assertiveness also requires masculinity, and in doing so you become a part of the inter-male competition, coming in at the lower rank. You also need to accept the consequences of assertiveness as any masculine actions involve greater risk and can be easily broken. Anyone appointed in a way not seen as the male version of merit, ie without adequate balls, will face a hard time.

    Some women have somewhat masculine personalities by nature, or are raised in environments that facilitate competence, confidence and more career based assertiveness. They do pretty well. Sheer competence counts a lot.

    Some women are now brought up in feminine environments and expect that to be everywhere.

    Some women have just had enough of male violence and stupidity – which I think eventually will to be rephrased as masculine rather than male.

    More women however are feminine in nature and I expect that to be the case for a while.

    The presently higher male power base is weakening quite rapidly, more due to technology than anything else. We are not giving it away gladly, we are weakening ourselves. Technology is masculine in what it can do, but feminine in what it does to you – there is less need for acts of masculinity. For women technology frees them from domestic and organisational burdens they would otherwise have, thus dramatically opens up opportunities for masculine acts, and they increasingly want the same as men.

    If I was a young man I’d miss this loss of femininity in the majority of females.
    Maybe that is why there is so much anger in society. It’s only natural, and by that I mean it can’t be any other way.

    We are seeing the rise of the alpha male – who is this modern feminised world arose from devious actions rather than true masculine experiences – entities appalled and in fear of the weakening lower status male base and the rise of the masculine and aggressive females constantly stabbing into the male ranks. They fear your castration by some unseen sword, or if not that, the progressive smothering all maleness.

    The best males are those who have bested the skills of masculinity by overcoming hurdles, doing righteous actions (remaining moral and caring) and then being mellowed through wisdom. I’m not seeing much of that at all lately in the public or business domain (and certainly in the religious one, outside of the latest pope). The males we might have seen here are being replaced by business sycophants. In the public service sphere I’m seeing more moral actions from women than men, and I think this because when one is in a weakening trend it decreases confidence and makes one withdraw inwards and be more defensive, whereas it is the opposite when in an upward swing as females are.

    (bit of an over the top post, but hey why not)

  23. Matters Not

    jimhaz, I am lost for words. You can’t be for real.

    There’s a whole host of potential PhDs in trying to unpack the above. Best of luck.

  24. michael lacey

    Patriarchy and capitalism go hand in hand. Sean Stinson is closest to the mark!

  25. Matt

    I think we need to be really careful here – one feature of capitalism/neo-liberalism is competition and division. It thrives on conflict – setting the young against the old, the weak against the strong and women against men. I think there are some fairly universal values regarding what is good behaviour and what is not (eg: selfishness is generally not seen as desirable, although capitalism/neo-liberalism tries to raise this to a respectable status). Perhaps we are better to talk about what sort of attributes we think our leaders should have, and decry those who do not demonstrate these attributes regardless of gender? Maybe that is the real problem here.

    I continue to note that one of the main issues behind the women’s liberation movement was to stop women being seen as sexual objects. On this front it seems virtually no progress has been made – if anything the pressures for girls to be beautiful have grown – look at one in the media and you will see the most unnatural beings. In this sense neoliberalism has won – as this is the commercialisation of women’s appearance, and it loves to commercialise everything. This is perhaps far more damaging to women and girls than their lack of leadership representation. But it seems that rather than tackle this issue we have moved to who holds power. I am less interested in whether this is a man or women and more interested in whether they are noble or base in their behaviours.

  26. Miriam English

    michael lacey, while they do tend to go hand in hand in the world today I don’t think it must be so. I can’t think of any aspect of patriarchy that might be good… except perhaps when defending against an even more ravenous patriarchy. However I think there are certainly ways to operate capitalism to the advantage of all. I think the main reason capitalism has gone so sour is that it is operated by pathological patriarchy.

    In places where it is kept in control by a democratic socially responsible system capitalism benefits everybody. It might be possible to have a nimble society without capitalism, but which still supplies us with what we need when we need it, but I don’t think that’s ever been achieved. I don’t quite know what it would look like. Sadly, communism quickly deteriorates to corruption pretty-much everywhere I’ve heard of it being tried, and that’s the only real alternative I know of. Communism also has problems with centralising everything — that can never be as effective as decentralised systems. Feudalism, aristocracy, theocracy, dictatorship, military rule, all those begin with corruption and just get worse, unless by pure good fortune a good person oversees it, but they always die and tend to be replaced by a corrupt person.

    I do have dreams of a kind of sharing society like that being produced by many computer programmers and artists nowadays, and I hope that it will eventually eliminate money. Without money, it generally produces many of the best computer programs, writings, music, and visual arts in the world at the moment. I don’t know if it can take over from capitalism; I know it won’t do it forcefully though. I also know many capitalists see it as a real threat and are actively trying to kill it off — this is why we have laws against sharing, and why the leaked Halloween documents detail Microsoft’s plans to destroy Linux and the Open Source community.

  27. Ella Miller

    Kaye Lee, a great read.

    One sad comment on some women …they DO bring up these men who appear to have a right to rule mentality.

    Tony Abbot’s mother comes to mind. She felt that he would either be a Pope or PM.

    Perhaps we as women need to take our sons off the pedestal and teach them humility and empathy.

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    It makes fundamental sense that as the world is made up of 50/50 women and men, all decisions are made with 50/50 input from women and men.

    That is the benchmark that Australian standards should apply and support. If not complied with, there should be built in penalties in legislation and other checks and balances.

  29. Ella Miller

    Jennifer Meyer -Smith,
    Whilst I agree with what you have said.
    Legislation won’t change attitudes.

    Until attitudes change , legislative change is cosmetic.

    How many women who have tried to break the glass ceiling have had their efforts thwarted by
    the dominant male attitude?

  30. Oscar

    My ex English Girlfriend use to comment that she felt sorry for Australian men in society.The culture of Stoicism, bravado and drunkenness still exist’s.Then there are the ruthless well educated types that go into the corporate world.Not sure if they teach kindness in University? It’s our culture as much as chauvinism is to blame and bad parenting and unchecked ego’s.

  31. Ella Miller

    Oscar, I agree.
    Perhaps we need to have an ethics component to all education…

  32. helvityni

    My parents understood this; there were no golden first-born sons like in China, or Italy of olden days, we learnt to do all chores around the house; my brother’s ironing was miles ahead of mine, another brother knuckled down to peg the washing, colour co-ordinated…..

    All that equality business starts at home and continues at schools, universities , work-places and politics…

  33. Kaye Lee

    I agree that Aussie men are under pressure to be stereotypically macho. Look at the paranoia that emerges in discussions about homosexuality or gender fluidity. Look at the high suicide rate in Aussie males, some of whom buckle under the pressure of being the “provider”.

    We must learn to be partners supporting each other, contributing based on our ability rather than on outdated gender roles.

    I often tell the story of me having a hissy fit at my husband early in our marriage. As I yelled and ranted and raved about the latest triviality, my husband just looked at me quizzically waiting for me to run out of steam before saying “Hey, we’re on the same team here.”

  34. Oscar

    We are all on a journey.Some seem so scared of getting to know themselves which requires the most work of all.Many seems do a check list tick of attachments as an indication of their success and happiness.This includes their choice of a partner. Iv’e met many a Trump-like women.

  35. Johno

    Thanks Kaye, interesting article and insightful comments.

  36. Cynthia

    Miriam’s “Our government is a perfect example of an insane group making utterly stupid decisions”. Love it – haven’t had such a good giggle in a long time. Thankyou.

  37. Sam

    Cynthia: Yes: could there ever be a sadder and delusional character than Tony John Abbott? He really needs a team of psychoanalysts working around the clock to cure his ailments. Though I don’t want to let the “delusions of grandeur Mr Malcolm Turnbull” of the hook either?

  38. Matters Not

    Tony Abbott advanced some great policy ideas:

    scaling back immigration to help take the pressure off house prices, scrapping the Human Rights Commission, ending subsidies for renewable energy and stopping all new spending.

    Now Turnbull’s policy options are somewhat lessened. Because of Abbott’s calculated outburst, Turnbull can’t reduce immigration, can’t abolish the HRC, can’t abandon the RET and can’t introduce a horror Budget. Well of course he can – but only if he wants to be seen as Abbott’s puppet.

    Thank goodness that Abbott promised: ‘There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping’ . As always, Abbott’s word is his bond. Go Tony – but better still – hang around Tony, Labor wants and needs you. Besides, you’re a great believer in resurrections

  39. Jack Straw

    Yes if Abbott can’t have it; he’ll blow the house up.You could always join ISIS Tony.

  40. Matters Not

    Laura Tingle didn’t miss:

    The shame of it is that, as is always the case, Abbott leaves a stinking pile of loopy policy ideas steaming on the footpath – ranging from cutting immigration to the renewable energy target – that others will have to go to some considerable trouble to avoid, or, worse, being the sort of populist nonsense they are, be adopted by those profferring simplistic solutions.

    A stinking pile of loopy policy ideas steaming on the footpath. While Kenny might be well known as a ‘dog botherer’, Abbott might be remembered as the ‘policy defecator’.

    http://www.afr.com/opinion/tony-abbott-even-his-friends-now-say-he-is-a-liar-and-a-clunkhead-20170224-gukkca

  41. Sean Crawley

    Kaye,
    I agree with everything you have said in the article. I just don’t like the headline/title.

  42. Kaye Lee

    Sean, I understand your objection. Sometimes a controversial heading gets people thinking, other times it can be unintentionally offensive. I hope the article and subsequent comments clarified what I was trying to say.

  43. Deanna Jones

    Wam, this is classic victim-blaming: “At home, the power and skill of gillard outshines many PMs but until the green white and purple gets its act into gear and enough women forget their indoctrination to form a block, it is unlikely the boys will allow the critical mass for equality to develop.”

    Maybe the ‘boys’ should get their act into gear and stop f*cking oppressing? Since when are oppressed peoples responsible for stopping their oppressors? You must include an analysis of power here.

    Matters Not@11:42

    Your comment is also lacking any analysis of power. Nuns are in a subservient position to priests. Priests have power over nuns. Only abusers are to blame for their abuse.

    The elephant in the room here is male violence. The prevalence of male violence against women and children, as well as the constant threat of it (ladies, don’t walk at night, don’t wear that skirt, don’t provoke him, smile on cue! But don’t talk too much!), is the primary factor in maintaining the status quo in patriarchy.

    Unfortunately, the non violent men are irrelevant in the feminist struggle against male tyranny and violence. They have proved themselves over and over, to be utterly ineffective in preventing all this violence. Most of them don’t even like to be reminded of it. Some of them seem to intuitively get that all the violence is how they maintain privilege, even if they themselves are not perpetrators.

  44. Matters Not

    Deanna Jones An interesting response that invites a logical response:

    Your comment is also lacking any analysis of power

    Yep! Can only agree. But it’s hardly the forum for such a deep and significant conversation. Nevertheless. But you do go on:

    Nuns are in a subservient position to priests. Priests have power over nuns

    Then. Yep. But now? When do the sins of the past end? When ought the ‘tense’ change? From the past to the present? Your continued use of the present tense (‘are’ and ‘have’) suggests that you believe that nothing has evolved re power relationships between men and women in the religious context. And you are possibly correct. But who should be held accountable for that? Only the men or do the women bear some responsibility as well?

    These words might be worthy of further analysis:

    Only abusers are to blame for their abuse.

    Indeed! At the superficial level at least. But what about those who just ‘sat back’ and watched it happen – knowing full well what was going on. What about the women, then and now, who remain silent, knowing full well the abuse which was just considered ‘normal’?

    Or does the unequal power relationship excuse that? And if so, then what about the unequal power relationship that existed within such institutions as well.? No simple conclusions from this end.

  45. Miriam English

    It seems to me that humans generally are broken. It is a very rare human who can resist the urge to bully when given power over another person.

    Yes, many men bully women. Is it because men are intrinsically more prone to being bullies? Or is it that they have the powerful position in society making them more prone to the corrupting influence of it to bully more often?

    If society was changed so that women had all the power would they bully men? I suspect they would, because humans are so terrible at handling power. Would they be as bad as men? Perhaps their bullying wouldn’t be as physically obvious — testosterone makes men indulge in more risky behaviour and makes them more prone to aggression — but women have different ways of bullying. Is a different way as bad? How do you judge? Are physical scars worse than psychological scars?

    Do women bully as much as men? I honestly don’t know. I’ve experienced severe bullying from both males and females at various points in my life, and I’ve had the very great pleasure of knowing gentle, giving males and females who are totally opposed to bullying.

    We only have one society so it is difficult to draw sensible conclusions from a sample size of one.

    What we can do is suggest ways to improve. I think we should be working to change our children to eliminate bullying wherever its ugliness rises. One way to do that is to ensure equality of opportunity for all, regardless of sex, skin color, intellectual or physical advantage, and so on. I don’t mean that a weak person is to be made as strong as a muscular person; I’m saying everybody should be able to seek out a fulfilling life and not be prevented from that because they are physically weak or they are blind or they are stronger than others or because they are female or gay.

    Regardless… society definitely is improving. Bullies used to rule everything. Now people become flabbergasted when a bully gets away with it. It is no longer normal. It still happens far too much, but it is declining. We need it to be lessening faster, though.

  46. Matters Not

    Great questions Miriam. But don’t worry, Deanna will be along in the morrow to provide the definitive answers (Just jokin … But I suspect it won’t be constructed that way.)

    Such is life!

  47. Miriam English

    We all hope that we won’t succumb to misuse of power, but statistically it doesn’t look good for us. I feel certain that I wouldn’t become a bully, but I can never really know until the situation arises and as I say, the statistics don’t give much comfort.

    Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment showed that normal, well-educated, well-adjusted people quickly became dangerous bullies in the right circumstances. The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse and torture showed how few people resisted being drawn into that.

    We humans really are badly broken. We need to fix that. Perhaps men are more broken, certainly they murder more women than vice versa. Perhaps women are just as broken, but show it different ways, I don’t know. (Though it’s difficult to argue that the worst psychological scar is as bad as death.) The point is, we need to fix it everywhere. All bullying everywhere should be unacceptable.

    Women should have equality of opportunity, as should all people. That should be obvious to us all.

  48. silkworm

    Humans generally are broken, which means, biochemically, they have an endocannabinoid deficiency. That can be treated with exocannabinoid therapy.

  49. Miriam English

    silkworm, that is so wrong it shouldn’t even need to be refuted. It is merely a rationalisation for addiction.

    Cannabinoids are addictive, even though they are widely regarded as non-addictive — and I don’t just mean psychological dependence — they produce physical withdrawal. It is subtle, but real.

    I noticed it decades ago when I used to consume cannabis. When deprived of their regular intake cannabis users become exceedingly impatient and volatile, and become easily bored. It is especially noticeable in driving behaviour, when they will drive dangerously fast and take unnecessary risks.

    Humans are broken in the way they like to exert power over others. This is not lessened by cannabis use, but the impatience and aggression of withdrawal could easily make it worse. Humans are broken in other ways too, such as inability to visualise some things like exponential change, and finding it difficult to understand how drugs alter their decisions, and the way we all too easily jump to conclusions and are selective in our use of data to support our pre-existing beliefs.

    Not one of those broken aspects is improved by muddling our thinking processes. Our only hope is in learning more, in education. All drugs unbalance our barely balanced brains by distorting the functions of our existing neural structures. That doesn’t make us less broken. It breaks us even more in other ways, complicating the problem.

  50. silkworm

    Sorry to say this, Miriam, but your ignorance on this subject is profound. Do you even know about the endocannabinoid system? Every vertebrate on this planet has one.

    Do you understand the difference between recreational and medicinal cannabis?

    You have Google at your disposal. I suggest you use it.

    P.S. Even with recreational cannabis, it is not addictive, and there are no withdrawal symptoms.

  51. Miriam English

    Actually I do know about the cannabinoids’ actions in our brain. Due to my half-century long interest in artificial intelligence (AI) I have an excellent understanding of the many neuronal pathways in the brain served by different neurotransmitters. Please don’t assume ignorance on my part in this topic. A long time ago I used cannabis regularly along with most of my friends. I noticed withdrawal symptoms in them, and even though I always used considerably less than my friends I noticed the same symptoms in myself too.

    Like I said, it’s subtle. It isn’t like the cramps of opiate withdrawal or the convulsions and death of alcohol withdrawal. It’s easy to see why it’s normally overlooked when most people will insist they don’t have withdrawal effects from caffeine. It is of course is impossible to avoid the headache and mild flu-like symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. The fact that cannabis withdrawal symptoms are subtle makes them extremely easy to overlook, but it doesn’t make them any less dangerous when making decisions or operating machinery.

  52. Deanna Jones

    Miriam: “If society was changed so that women had all the power would they bully men?”

    Perhaps we could could trial it for say, a couple of thousand years, then if men have a problem with it, we’ll talk.

    Oppressed groups often engage in lateral violence and it’s usually encouraged by the oppressor group because it serves their interests. I’m thinking of tropes about women being bitchy “ooh the claws are out!” that are used to justify oppression, “see, women are their own worst enemies”.

    MN, I see you’ve managed to develop the art of simultaneously obfuscating and mansplaining. Aren’t you clever? Silkworm has outdone you, though.

    PS: Miriam, the nightmares from giving up weed are horrendous.

  53. Miriam English

    silkworm, I should point out that there isn’t just one cannabinoid system in the body, but there are at least 3, possibly 5. Their effects are as yet incompletely understood, even by those studying them.

    Withdrawal results from some system in the body changing its actions to compensate for artificial addition of an external chemical, and then the removal of that external substance catching the compensated system short so that it has to suddenly ramp up production or cut back on production, depending on how compensation worked.

    For example alcohol retards the action of all the cells in your body. Your nerve cells use more energy than any others so are affected more strongly. They compensate by becoming more sensitive to stimulus. When alcohol is removed they are suddenly too easily set off and cause cascading firing that can result in hallucinations, convulsions and death.

    Opiate withdrawal works a different way. We have a natural opioid nervous system in our bodies. It works to inhibit certain other nerves. If we use opiate drugs much then the opioid pathways compensate for being over-stimulated by reducing their sensitivity. Removing the external supply of opiates means the inhibitory nerves are no longer damping the action of other nerves properly causing all the uncomfortable (but not life-threatening) symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

    Any system in the body has compensating systems that adjust to circumstances. This is why everything appears to be drifting downward after watching the credits scrolling up on the screen at the end of a movie.

    Your body also adjusts to addition of cannabinoids to your system. It probably reduces its sensitivity to them.

    The fact that we have a natural opiate nervous system in our bodies doesn’t mean it is a good thing to dose ourselves up with morphine.

  54. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Deanna,

    I can’t help but agree that I’d like to see the tables turn for a couple of millenia too (but in a more humane, life-sustaining and environmentally sensitive way mind you).

    ……………………………………………………………………

    Ella @ 9.31 am yesterday,

    you are 100% correct that attitudes need to change but having correct expectations written into legislation and fully enforceable by the strong wording of that legislation causes those expectations to flow out into the community. (I’d like to see anybody try to argue that it is not correct to treat women and girls with 50% respect and opportunity!)

  55. Kaye Lee

    Deanna,

    “women are their own worst enemies”

    I struggle with this because I think there is an element of truth in it.

    I have just listened to Kellyanne Conway telling the world that she is not a feminist in the “classical” sense of the word, a sentiment that has also been expressed by our first female Foreign Minister and our current Minister for Women.

    WTF? So does that mean they are against women having equal rights and opportunities?

    They make ridiculous statements – Conway saying feminism is anti-male and she is definitely not anti-male, Cash saying that she “likes men”.

    Look what women do to look “pretty”. You could argue that it is expected of us by controlling men but I am constantly told by women that I would “feel better about myself” if I would just get my hair done (I have long hair pulled back in a plait that has never been dyed). That makes no sense to me at all. I feel good about myself when I help people, when I achieve things.

    We harm our children (both male and female) with this constant barrage of what we are supposed to look like and how we must act to attract a mate. Can we move away from this shallow peacock mentality? Imagine what could be done with the billions spent on the beauty industry.

  56. Miriam English

    Deanna Jones, “Perhaps we could could trial it for say, a couple of thousand years, then if men have a problem with it, we’ll talk.”

    That made me laugh aloud. Nice reply. 😀

    I actually think a matriarchy would probably be better than a patriarchy, but I’m certain neither would be as good as equality. (I think you agree, too.)

    I’d forgotten about nightmares. Doesn’t match the nightmares of opiate withdrawal, though. I speak from personal experience that they are unbelievably terrifying. I’ve never used alcohol over any length of time, but I’ve heard that alcohol withdrawal nightmares are the absolute worst. What I’ve read about the “daymares” (hallucinations) of the poor bastards withdrawing from alcohol is awful — the feeling of insects burrowing under their skin, overwhelming fear and paranoia, seeing things that aren’t there — horrifying.

  57. Jack Straw

    Yes I agree with you Kaye Women are the problem.

  58. Jai Ritter

    I think the problem is that the definition of feminism has been hijacked by mostly the right wing religious white men and some women. Its the insecurities of men mostly who feel they are being attacked when they aren’t being attacked at all.

    Alot women have apologized me when talking about domestic violence and equality for women as though they need to apologize or make it clear all the time they aren’t meaning all men are domestic violence perpetrators or women are still not quite equal to men in the 21st century. Although I know the facts surrounding these issues women still face, I can see why they feel they may need to continually do that.

    Education is always going to be the key to equality and we need to start from a young age.

  59. Matt

    Deanna,

    Your example of nuns and priests is perhaps not the best. Your are talking about a religion in which people can choose themselves to believe or not believe or to participate or not participate. No-one is forcing nuns to join churches (not these days anyway). If they wish to participate in a religion which has such hierarchical structures, then that is their choice, and if you are going to accuse men of oppression using this example then they are enabling and participating in this oppression (if it is oppression) through ther own choices. There is a lot more to say about this, but I would rather make another point. Someone above has claimed that women look after commons better than men (with the implication that men are less or incapable of this). Can I point out that the commons systems of most Indigenous cultures (even Western cultures) were maintained sustainably for centuries under patriarchal systems – including this country. On the other hand the evidence of women’s success in these matters is somewhat lacking – I have been trying to think of one example – but cannot – if anyone can provide one that would be good – all that comes to mind is Thatcher (neoliberal) Queen Elizabeth I (colonialist and shareholder in exploitative East India companies etc, quite prepared to use state power for her own enrichment). Please if we are going to tackle society’s problems – let us clearly identify the problems. From what I can tell the sustainable systems of our society have fallen apart along with industrialism – and the corruption of money on leadership. I cannot see any evidence that women are less susceptable on this front. Kaye’s argument was reasonable in relation to participation in leadership (even if the title is somewhat offensive and patronising itself), but some since have taken it much further.

  60. Kaye Lee

    “Jack Straw
    Yes I agree with you Kaye Women are the problem.”

    I’ve been verballed!

  61. Deanna Jones

    Miriam, I believe the Mosuo had a pretty good system. And no word for “rape”. Imagine.

    Kaye, I refer you to my earlier comment about lateral violence. Also, hegemony works. There are also lots of examples of organisations imposing dress codes on women that include forcing women to be ‘well groomed’ (odious term). The beauty industrial complex goes to a lot of trouble to tell women how flawed and incorrect we are.

    Jai, indeed. I believe a right wing radio head in the US first used the term ‘feminazi’ and John Laws quickly adopted it. The ‘not all men’ is a constant weapon used to shut down discussions of male violence.

    There’s that elephant in the room again. That constant threat, always looming, at state, institutional, community and individual levels. We are not our own worst enemies. Quite the opposite.

    Matt, if you read back you will see that it wasn’t actually my example. I was addressing something someone else said.

  62. helvityni

    I tend to agree with Ella’s comments here…

  63. Matt

    Since my earlier post I have thought of one other example of female leadership in history – Deborah (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah) – I think she might have been ok – although she did start a war. However, my prefered style of leader – male or female is the one who seeks not to lead at all – one branch of the Apache were very succesful with this approach – being the last of the Indian tribes to survive colonialism – they had no hard and fast leadership succession policies – if their leader was killed, they simply adopted someone they thought was worthy. This inability of the colonialists to take over a people by taking out the leader meant that these Apache resisted for a century or more than the other tribes. Apparenty they were never actually defeated, in the end they were bought out – the promise of land and wealth if they would give up their tribal ways (see http://www.starfishandspider.com/)

  64. Kaye Lee

    Feminism is about choice, a fact that anti-feminist women seem not to understand, Take this typical example from a woman in Kentucky who thinks none of us should be feminists…..

    “It is okay to want your boyfriend to ask for your father’s blessing before proposing to you. But listen carefully when I say that you are not called to submit to any man but your husband. I do believe that the man is the head of the household. The man is to be the provider, protector, and leader of his family. That is a lot of pressure. And I don’t understand why feminists want to take it on. Why would you want that? God did make women as fragile beings. And while you are in your period of singleness, it is okay to be independent. But when you get married, you don’t have to be. And that is thought of as a bad thing, when really, it is a gift. It is a weight lifted to have a husband you can lean on.”

    https://www.theodysseyonline.com/it-is-okay-not-to-be-feminist

    Matt, re your propositon that women can’t “look after the commons” (odd phrase but I am guessing you mean lead) could I point to Angela Merkel as one successful contemporary example.

  65. Miriam English

    Matt, just to nitpick for a moment, it is a myth that first nations people were sustainable in their use of the land. All people can be tracked in their movement over the planet in the extermination of animals and plants. When the Aborigines first came to Australia they wiped out all the large animals and radically changed the landscape, possibly being responsible for its desertification and the drying up of the inland sea. Sure, they wreaked damage more slowly than the white invaders subsequently did, but that’s only because of lack of technology. Now they hunt dugongs in outboard motorboats and hunt kangaroos with rifles and have become every bit as efficient at slaughter as whites.

    Humans are humans. We are all destroyers. The patriarchy of “first nations” people was no better than the patriarchy of “first world” people.

  66. Matt

    Yes, but Mariam and Kaye – I accept that perhaps the maintainance of the commons has not been perfect – but I am not sure all of the blame for failure (or success) can be laid on men. I just wanted to make the point that patriachal systems need not be quite so destructive as our current system. I asked that someone provide examples of females doing better – that was all. I am sorry but Angela Merkel does not cut it at all. I am not saying that women cannot look after the commons (or cannot lead in this regard) – I am convinced they can – the right women that is – but just as the right men could also – thus I have no issue with Kayes suggestion of higher female involvement in leadership – but the critical thing here – is not just any women – the right women – and not just any men either – the right men. Thus to me – as I stated before – the core competetency required is not a gender – but decency. I am more than happy to subject myself to the loving care of a compassionate and wise woman who can lead – please direct me to her so I can declare my fealty to her (after God)!

  67. Deanna Jones

    Miriam, they didn’t do it for ‘profit’ though.

    Kaye, I don’t go along with the ‘choice’ rhetoric of liberal feminism, it’s very misleading. Choices don’t exist in some benign vacuum, nor are they a values free zone. The goal of feminism has always been to liberate all women from male power and the attendant violence, exploitation and discrimination.

  68. Jack Straw

    Just Kidding Kaye “Hey, we’re on the same team here.”

  69. helvityni

    Jack, I knew you were only kidding. I have learnt to add a smiley sign to indicate when I’m not being serious…

  70. Matt

    Deanna,

    The only way it is possible to liberate all women from all forms of male power is to elimanate men (i.e women can never be employed by them, in relationships with them – can be manipulated etc – , under their control and direction in the case of fires, wars or other emergencies, etc) – then that still leaves God – who – depending on the various flavours of paganism some people subscribe to – may or may not be male. If male, then I am sorry but women are stuck under the power and authority of a least one man, no matter what.

  71. Deanna Jones

    Matt, what an extreme comment. Maybe men could just cut it the hell out with the rape and the other violence. Are you saying you can’t do that?

  72. Kaye Lee

    Jack, it was said with a smile. 🙂

    Deanna,

    “The goal of feminism has always been to liberate all women from male power and the attendant violence, exploitation and discrimination.”

    I would not phrase it that way though that is an important part of it. Advances in medicine have also aided feminism through contraception and safe abortions. This helped facilitate the right/choice to pursue education further advancing liberation.

    “Choices don’t exist in some benign vacuum, nor are they a values free zone. ”

    I am not entirely sure what this phrase means. Do you mean women are judged for their choices? That is often true but only because people want to impose their values on others and that can go both ways. For me feminism means an equality of rights and opportunities but also the freedom to choose the life that suits you and your family best without others judging you. Shortly after having my second child, I went back to work while my husband cared for our two babies for example.

    I do understand that I am pontificating from a position of security here – I have never felt afraid of the men in my life and if I had endured what many women do, no doubt my perspective and priorities would be different. Stopping violence, and the self-conferred power that excuses it, must be a priority at every level of society.

    PS Just saw Matt’s comment. Religion has a LOT to answer for in this debate. Sorry if I refuse to be scared of a man-made myth. Ya gotta love a system that allows a man to sin and then say “Hail Mary full of grace shoot us off to outer space” three times and all’s well until next confession. One of the archbishops at the RC said he still wouldn’t report it if someone confessed to him that they had sexually abused a child.

  73. Miriam English

    🙂 Kaye, in religion it begins with a man eating of the denied tree of knowledge and when caught, blaming the woman.
    “She made me do it.”

  74. Matt

    Deanna,

    Suggesting that I am rapist and violent is in itself rather extreme. Deanna – women are not the only ones who suffer from rape and violence – male friends of mine have suffered that – and not just from other males mind you – but I will not go into that as event I refer to is extremely distasteful and I don’t want to discuss it.

    Kaye,

    Can I suggest that without religion ideas of justice mean nothing. If there is no God we may have concepts of justice and injustice but ‘blind’ nature says nothing on the matter. There is no justice in blind nature – just blind forces – strong prevail over the weak , if men rape and are violent – than that is just nature’s way,and as much as people would like to change that well and good – but there is no ‘natural’ justice – beyond ideas in your or other’s heads. Thus there is no point in Deanna or you getting upset over this as – from a natural perspective there is nothing wrong with men’s behaviour (it says nothing on these matters) – it is just the way men behave – as the statistics seem to show. If women behave the same way no one can indict them on ‘natural’ justice grounds. If there is no religion justice is whatever you want it to be – there is no authority on justice beyond oneself or common opinion. C.S Lewis describes this:

    Also if there is justice – then it unjust to blame God for the actions of men in His name.

  75. helvityni

    Matt, the imaginary man/woman ,god/goddess, is least of my concerns, after all he/she did not prevent thousands of innocent children from being abused by his representatives here on earth. Things might change if we let women to take their place, or at least have 50/50 male/female priests.

    Allow them to marry too if they so wish, having their own children might also make them less predatory….

  76. Kaye Lee

    I don’t blame God for anything at all. God is a man-made concept. The idea that some mythical man in the sky is the only thing that is making us be “good” is just silly and a total abrogation of personal responsibility.

  77. Deanna Jones

    Matt, you’re all over the shop, mate. But in just four posts you have managed to reveal your true position.

    Kaye, I don’t believe you have never, for example, felt uneasy walking alone at night. That’s nice that you have never personally felt afraid of the men in your life (yet). Do you ever raise the issue of male violence in their company? Surely, never experiencing something yourself doesn’t prevent you knowing about it. Surely you don’t think you are somehow living outside of the context of patriarchy and it doesn’t affect you in any way?

    This was why I lost interest in liberal feminism, it always seemed subjective and more about liberalism than any feminism.

    I also comment from a relatively privileged position: I am independently financially secure and am not beholden to a male breadwinner as a lot of women are. I can speak frankly.

    I have to disagree about contraception and safe abortion. These were never for us. The pill was all about eugenics. We always had free access to abortifacients until modern male medicine actively started to suppress traditional women healers and midwifery. And there would be little need for either if rates of sexual assault were not so shameful, if women had no need to appease a male breadwinner in order to live, if this were not patriarchy to begin with.

  78. Kaye Lee

    Deanna, why would you say such things to me? Of course I am aware of the violence against women and children as you very well know. I worked in a homeless youth refuge for years. And yes I have had bad experiences with men – you would be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn’t – but none of them were family members – I have always felt safe at home is what I was getting at. I find that whole paragraph terribly condescending.

    I completely disagree that the pill was about eugenics or that sexual assault is the main reason we need contraception. The idea that women only have sex to appease a male breadwinner is not some universal truth.

  79. Roswell

    That’s nice that you have never personally felt afraid of the men in your life (yet).

    Yet?

    That’s an odd statement.

  80. Deanna Jones

    I really meant no condescension, Kaye. I thought you were minimising a primary issue because it hasn’t impacted you personally. You’ve clarified that you’re not. All good.

    The emergence of the pill in the context of the eugenics movement is reasonably well known. The liberation rhetoric was an after thought.

    I think we are much on the same page as far as where women need to get to, we just differ in how we think we’ve gotten to where we are now.

  81. helvityni

    This article is called ‘The Problem with Men’. I’m sure we all have encountered many bitchy ,vindictive, problematic women on our travels…

    Some women also seem to have a knack to know how to really hurt their ‘sisters’….going for the jugular…

  82. Jai Ritter

    Don’t want to make this into a competition Matt but how many men do you know personally that are victims of rape and domestic violence? It’s ridiculous to say the numbers even come close to the sexual abuse and violence women face daily. Not to mention the deaths of women associated with domestic violence. I know it’s difficult for some men to admit men are the main perpetrators here, but that is just a fact.

    And bringing god into these conversations is even more laughable. What’s he doing while these women are being sexually abused and beaten to death? Is god getting off on it or does he just not really give a shit? Or the simple answer is, there is no God or maybe there is and he’s just as sick in the head as his followers.

  83. Deanna Jones

    Jai, I wasn’t going to bother with Matt’s cliche anti feminism, but thanks for addressing that. The vast majority of male victims are abused by other men (or boys). Inconvenient truth.

    Helvi, it’s a bit of a stretch to compare individual women being mean to each other (did you read my comment about lateral violence?), with a vast system of oppression.

  84. Matt

    Jai,

    I didn’t want to bring in my own experiences – because everyone has their stories, and that was not the point. If you must know I have male friends who have been buggered (if you like) by friends of their parents, I have male friends who have been abused in other ways – all against their will. My own father was very violent to me – both physically and emotionally – another friend of mine was horribly abused by a close female family member in an appalling betrayal of trust that lead to him trying to take his own life – I can go on and on – but what does it add to our discussion? What are you trying to prove – that suffering is a purely female experience – I am afraid to tell that is just not true. To be honest, I was quite resentful for a long time of the women and girls in my life – how violence to me was ok, but violence against them appalling – about how people cared for them and looked after them, but boys are supposed to be tough and independent – I think there are lot of people out there who need to consider views and experiences of others – not just their own. Just because you or someone you know as been ill-treated does not give them a monopoly on ‘the right view’ or special status – so many people I know have been damaged in appaling ways – and nearly all of them – surprise, surprise – are male! I am hardly aware of any women I know who have been treated as poorly as these.

  85. Matt

    Deanna,

    I don’t know what happened to you – if it means anything I am sorry and I hope you heal emotionally. But the world is not so simple as all men are devils and all women are angels. Despite what happened to me I have resisted succumbing to anger and hatred – it certainly was a massive struggle, but if I had then the destruction of me would be complete. Then would turn into a fuming raging devil, and sure in such a situation I would be capable of violence. But why should I let other people determine how I feel? Why should I let them destroy my love for others – to me that is a worse evil than whatever else anyone could do to me.

    Matt

  86. Jai Ritter

    Well what it does prove is that males are the majority perpetrators as you’ve just said in your own comment. I’m not denying these issues don’t affect men in the slightest especially when in comes to mental and emotional abuse, I’m merely working off the fact I have qualifications to work in this area, I’ve met and talked to people who work with with these perpetrators including psychologists, case workers legal aid and police from domestic violence units. 71 women died last year at the hands of men due to domestic violence. In my local Area alone population of 40 thousand just at one agency there were just over 4000 cases last year, 11 of those men.

    How is this all relevant to Kayes article? It’s all about control and power for men, which tends to be more prevalent among religious white men, especially in Western nations. Until these men can actually see their unhealthy obsession with power and control, then I don’t see how we can really progress as a society.

  87. Ella Miller

    Kaye Lee,
    My name is Cody.
    do you remember that i wrote a letter to PM.
    My grandmother told me to that if i get a letter i should answer.
    here is my reply.
    Dear Prime Minister,
    Thank you for your letter on the 6th of February.
    I didn’t understand all the bits about democracy.
    What i did understand is that you didn’t answer any of my questions.
    My first question was why don’t the rich people have to pay more tax.
    My other question was why do you make life so hard on the people that can’t or don’t have a job and don’t make any money for the family.
    Best wishes
    Sincerely,
    Cody
    P.S Did you write the letter or did your workers do it for you?!

  88. Kaye Lee

    Atta boy Cody. Keep asking questions. We have to keep them honest somehow and you deserved a more considered response than you got the first time. Good luck. Perhaps you could take over from Leigh Sales on the 7:30 report in a few years.

  89. Kaye Lee

    Matt,

    Violence against anyone is unacceptable and I am sorry for what you endured. It certainly isn’t a competition but, had the services been in place to support your mother, she may have been better able to protect you.

  90. Ella Miller

    Kaye Lee,
    thank you for your response.
    Maybe if I’m good enough you might see me on there one day, with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work.

  91. Miriam English

    Kaye, Deanna, Ella, Cody, helvityni, and other women here, I’m meeting with other members of the New Democracy Party in a few minutes. We meet online all over Australia once or twice a week. We need more women to achieve the gender equity that we want. Would anybody be interested in visiting?

    If so, please email me mim(at)miriam-english(dot)org

    New Democracy Party has a lot of very cool aims. Read about them at:
    https://newdemocracyparty.org.au

    It’s still in its early stages, but it is intended to be a very inclusive party, not only of women and men, but conservatives and progressives, tech-heads, and bushies, city folk and farmers. It is a bit different from most parties.

  92. Matt

    Thanks Kaye,

    Look I appreciate that. But I dealt with these issues by myself, own my own a long time ago, after much struggle.

    Jai,

    but it is not me that keeps taking things down this path – we try to discuss an issue like leadership and end up talking about male violence and how horrible men are. Can nothing be discussed outside of this context? Really if the only lens that some people can look at the world through is the one of male voilence then I cannot see us making much progress on other matters. What do you want from people like me – an admission of guilt for all the sins of man? A promise to make everything better? How can I or any man do that? Good God – take some responsibility – these are complex social issues – they are result of both the actions and attitudes of both women and men – women raise their sons, they have an influence too – as long as they want their sons to be successful (i.e competitive) and tough (not sooks) then they get what they wish for – brutalised men, raised in a brutal system in which they are supposed to be tough and not emotional. Well they are emotional beings – and be damaged just like anyone. If men are so brutal and unable to emphasise -as you claim with whatever qualifications you have – my question to you is why? Surely the condition is not incurable, nor inevitable – otherwise humanity is doomed. You think the system has not brutalised men? Years of working in coal mines, being sent to war, being beaten by their fathers, generation after generation, as their supposed helpless mothers watch on? What do you expect of such a system?

    Matt

  93. Matt

    Here is another thought for you Jai,

    If things are so bad for women – and have been for such a long time – that they can neither defend themselves or their sons – then why haven’t they taken power? Isn’t this failure to take action then the fault of women? They are letting the current system continue when they claim they can fix it. Why haven’t they risen up and taken power if they think they can fix this? Or are they waiting for the men to give them power? If men give them power – isn’t then their holding power at the behest of men? I.e isn’t men’s power underlying their own power?

    Unless you can explain this failure of women to act and fix this system – which they say is so broken, then I suggest you start thinking of ways to work with men to fix it rather than just laying blame whilst offering no solutions.

    Matt

  94. Kaye Lee

    Matt,

    That is the whole point. To ask why haven’t women risen up and taken power shows you have no perception of the problem and have completely forgotten the subject of the article.

    Men have viewed women as their possessions – vessels and vassals. Rape in marriage was not even a thing until relatively recently. Women were socially isolated and financially dependent. They were often the sole care-givers to their children and felt stuck. The overwhelming number of sexual and physical assaults are perpetrated by men yet you blame women for their behaviour in not raising them better. What a cop out.

  95. Jai Ritter

    Jesus, you just don’t get it do you Matt and until you do, theres no point repeating myself. Are you sure you’re not part of a alt right men’s group? You seem to keep twisting it to make it like men are the biggest victims here. I offered a solution which you clearly ignored. But I’ll repeat it again.

    Men in high powered positions need to relinquish their control and obsession with power. Men who aren’t in high powered roles also need to stand up as well.the change has to come within. Women have been marching for their rights for decades. When have men ever had to march for men’s rights?

    Once again, if you can’t see that already, then no one can help you progress any further.

  96. Miriam English

    Matt, I don’t think you’ll find anybody here who thinks that all men should continually apologise for the sins of men. I think it would be nice when talking about how much of the problem can be laid at the feet of men they wouldn’t suddenly get defensive and hyperventilating. If you read carefully what people have written here it amounts to:

    – men are statistically more violent and given to bullying
    – women can be bullies too, though certainly nowhere near as dangerous, statistically
    – it is difficult to equate murder with a scathing tongue, but verbal bullying shouldn’t be tolerated either
    – a matriarchy would probably be better than a patriarchy, though true equality would be better than both
    – women want equality of opportunity

    Now, please stop over-reacting.

    As for your next post framing men’s power and refusal to let women in as some kind of fault of the women, that is pure victim blaming. It’s like saying the person raped was asking for it. No. Men hold power through collusion, ignorance, and misogyny. Women have been trying to get into the “club” for hundreds of years. Blaming them for not being able to is a big, big mistake, and incredibly dangerous.

    By the way, your suggestion that without a god there is no right and wrong or concept of justice is completely wrong-headed. Atheists have no problem leading good and moral lives, usually considerably more moral than religious people. And when you speak of a god, which of the thousands of gods are you speaking of? The one that presumably approves of his agents raping young children? The one that says dying in the act of killing other religious people is a legitimate way to heaven? The one that thinks a promised land is okay to commit mass murder over? The ones of the Hindus? The Norse? The Romans? The Greeks? Its Zoroaster’s god? It is the gods of Wiccans?

  97. Deanna Jones

    Miriam, don’t forget the Lizard King. And I am interested in your online meetings (although conservatives? How does that work? Are you sure you want a badass radical feminist in that mix?), and I will email you.

  98. Deanna Jones

    Thanks for the faux concern, Matt, but I’m all good, and I find the fact that you have apparently considered the idea that nasty things have happened to me, extremely creepy. I suggest you don’t do that to women. I also suggest you read up on some women’s history and even some feminist theory, before you make such outlandish and erroneous comments.

  99. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Miriam,

    I like the fact you’re promoting a new party which sounds like it’s a Centre party. The more, the merrier for The ALLiance of Left, Centre Left, Centre parties to replace the antiquated duopoly domination on government.

  100. Fifi

    I’m not so sure that this is so much a gender issue as an issue of context.
    Male CEOs of Insurance Companies believe in climate change and have been figuring for decades, on the rise in climate related disasters and the associated increase in the costs of claims.
    Females who hold power in Mining Companies or Fossil Fuel enterprises would argue against science to sell their product.
    Males and Females on the conservative side of politics will mostly argue and vote against measures that would reduce climate change.
    Both Genders in the more progressive camp will mainly argue and vote for policies to address climate change.
    If a politician of either gender believes in climate change, but their colleagues don’t, then that politician will argue and vote against positive change.
    Alas, it doesn’t seem to matter what many of we plebs and probably some politicians believe, when the men and women with the power to change our course, argue polar opposite views in the name of profit and power, we will go nowhere fast.
    While they probably won’t be able to make a dent in this adversarial system, of course there should be many, many more women in positions of influence and power in Australia.

  101. Miriam English

    Jennifer, yes. It is, in many ways, a center party, but in other ways very progressive.

    Jennifer and Deanna, when I mentioned conservative, I meant true conservatives, not the screwball radicals who pretend to be conservatives today. A true conservative doesn’t want Australia to change from being the tolerant, well-educated, democratic nation with a bearable climate we all grew up in. Fake conservatives are trying to radically alter Australia, making it into a kind of dictatorship ruled by a small number of wealthy, leaving everybody else with few rights and little money and the climate dangerously transformed. It gives genuine conservatives nightmares.

    The existing pretend-conservatives that farmers traditionally vote for have no concern for the people on the land. If they did they wouldn’t be ruining the climate, poisoning farmers’ water with fracking, sucking up billions of litres of water for coal mines, tearing up prime farming land for unneeded coal mines

    You’d be very welcome there. Please do email me. 🙂

  102. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Miriam,

    I am interested from the viewpoint of The ALLiance
    … and for a dramatic change from the duopoly flipflops aka Lib/Labs

  103. Matters Not

    doesn’t want Australia to change from being the tolerant, well-educated, democratic nation with a bearable climate we all grew up in

    Must have missed the tolerant, well-educated, democratic stage in my ‘growing up’. But then again I grew up in Queensland where ‘tolerance’ was defined in terms of how much alcohol one could consume without passing out, where participation in secondary and university education was well below the Australian average. As for the democratic bit, all I remember was a gerrymander of gargantuan proportions – first by Labor – then perfected by the Country Party – now the LNP.

    Perhaps you might be pursuing an ideal that never existed?

  104. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Probably truer MN, than some of us including me want to think.

    However, our current climate is definitely less tolerant and democratic, and the well-educated bit is very dubious.

  105. Miriam English

    Matters Not, I was born way out in country NSW but grew up mostly in the bush about an hour’s rail journey north of Sydney. Most of the people I knew while growing up had a very modern and tolerant approach to the world.

    When I first lived in Queensland for a few years in the early 1980s I was shocked that things were rather backward, but even during that time most of the people I knew had enlightened views about the world.

    When I lived in Melbourne for a couple of decades almost all the people I met had a modern, enlightened outlook.

    I’ve since moved back to Queensland and have lived in a country farming community for about one and a half decades. It is slowly becoming infiltrated by artists and writers, but even the original residents like to think of Australia as a modern, well-educated country full of opportunity.

    Perhaps the “golden Australia” we remember is largely an illusion. I’m not sure it is, but even if it is, that doesn’t really matter. What most Australians want this country to be is not what the fake conservatives are trying create. When people have a chance to leave their Pauline Hanson-inspired irrational fears at the door and talk calmly about what they want I think you’ll find we all want opportunities and peace and a good life for us and future generations.

  106. Matt

    Kaye-Lee, Miriam, Jai and Deanna,

    My comment about women rising up was not meant to be taken literally – I am pointing out that simply repeating the mantra that men are violent is not going to help the cause unless it goes beyond this, and you are offering no way beyond this. Simply putting up posters everywhere about male violence is not going to solve this problem – it needs much more than that – so I am simply asking what is your plan? To say that I cannot comment on these issues unless I have studied feminist literature is really going to exclude a lot of people from contributing to solving this problem – is it to be left to the feminist experts to deal with this?

    Look I am going to leave this now – I have nothing but goodwill and good intentions – if you refuse to engage with me, how are going to engage with other men of goodwill to fix this? There is no point in trying to change the psyhcopathic men – its only by working with the others that progress can be made. Calling people who mean well ‘creepy’, and accusing them of hyperventalting about an issue which is very serious, and to which they have personal experience – and quite frankly have watched their family members suffer terribly form overt and covert violence and lack of empathy – suggests to me that not much progress is going to be made on this issue.

    As I say, I mean well, and I wish you the best, but it clear that we have nothing to offer each other on this front. Good luck to you all.

    Matt

  107. Ella Miller

    Miriam-English, sorry could not reply earlier…busy with Cody.
    Yes I am interested thank you.

  108. Kaye Lee

    “To say that I cannot comment on these issues unless I have studied feminist literature is really going to exclude a lot of people from contributing to solving this problem”

    I did not suggest that at all Matt. I linked to an article that I wrote some time ago about the fights women have fought and won to even be employed. My grandmother, mother and I were all teachers. My grandmother was forced to resign when she married. My mother filled the gap during the war years only to find herself cast aside after the war, having to fight to even get temporary work. Even during my years of teaching, men were employed in front of women. The article tells this story and links to a couple of videos that show the attitudes and struggles women faced. To say we did nothing about it is wrong. We have been fighting for our rights from the beginning of this nation.

  109. Matt

    Deanna,

    Sorry one more thing. When you made the irrational accusation that I should stop being violent and raping, I mistakenly assumed there was some deep emotional trauma behond that. Apoligies that I was wrong, clearly it was just an irrational statement with no good reason. Also, to suggest that a man showing empathy is ‘creepy’ is very unfair of you.

    I will leave you now to await your glorious feminist revolution which wlll 1. Deliver all power to women and 2. Result in women solving all the worlds problems without the help and input of men like me.

    Matt

  110. Jai Ritter

    Matt you should’ve just left it at the last comment. Youre just making a fool of yourself now.

  111. Miriam English

    Matt, you are saying women blame all men. Nobody here, other than you, has said this. You belittle women’s efforts by saying we want to simply put up posters everywhere about male violence. What we do and what we want to do goes far beyond silly token efforts. Nobody said you can’t comment on these issue without first studying feminist literature. That’s a ridiculous thing to say.

    You say you have nothing but good will, which is a good thing to intend, but you haven’t actually shown any. You’ve been ultra-defensive of men when it is pointed out how much violence comes from them. And then you turn it around to try to insinuate that women are responsible for their own oppression somehow.

    We all know a small number of men are killed by women, but we also know the majority of women are killed by men. We also know most murders of men are by other men. Yes, men are both perpetrators and victims of male aggression. We know this. But we’re mainly talking here about the inability of women to gain equality of opportunity. It’s a bit like a car manufacturer injecting into a conversation about the dangers of road travel a comment about shark attacks. The connection is tenuous at best and at worst a diversion.

    Why would you say we refuse to engage with you? Several of us responded directly to you. That’s an odd thing for you to say. There are plenty of men of goodwill who discuss this topic rationally and are interested in realistic and useful solutions.

    I said you were hyperventilating because your response was close to hysterical. You launched into an extended piece about men as victims, entirely missing the point. As I said, we are all aware that men are victims too. The point is men still get the keys to the kingdom whereas women are largely locked out.

    A pity you’ve closed discussion. Perhaps you were never going to hear what was being said anyway. As I say, that’s a pity. It would benefit every man to have women as equals beside them to share the weight as well as the potential of the world.

  112. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Matt,

    your insights are important to the People’s Movement (which significantly includes Feminism and Equality for Women). and for acknowledgement of wherever and whenever injustices occur.

    When recognising these are the instances of injustice that need eradication, it is also imperative to acknowledge the proportion of the wrongs experienced by groups of people.

    Nobody is devaluing the wrongs perpetrated against you and other men but fair minded people should recognise that for every 1 wrong committed against a man, there would be 10 committed against a woman.

    This is the case when all socio-economic injustices and crimes are taken into account, including employment opportunities, economic advantages, sexual exploitation, historic recognition .. you name it, there are 10 times more examples (and I’m probably under-estimating the 10).

  113. Miriam English

    I should explain that I spoke of murders whereas most people here spoke of violence. My reason is that violence is difficult to quantify as some people will say under-reporting distorts the figures, but there is nothing ambiguous about murder figures, and they’re a good indicator of pre-existing violence.

    In Australia men kill about 6 people per 200,000. Women kill about 1 per 200,000. This would imply that men are roughly 6 times more violent than women. About twice as many men are murdered than women, which means that most violence is male-male.

    The thing I find really interesting is that whereas men mostly die at the hands of male acquaintances, almost all murders of women are committed by their intimate partner — male acquaintances and strangers are pretty insignificant threats for women.

    If you are a woman who is in a kind and loving relationship you’ve struck gold. If you’re a man, surround yourself with women. 🙂

    There is some evidence that many of the murders by women are attempts to end violence by their partner.

    It is to everybody’s advantage to reduce male violence and aggression — male and female alike.

    As I said before, it would benefit every man to have women as equals beside them to share the weight as well as the potential of the world.

  114. Matt

    Miriam,

    Ok, well I am sorry if I offended you or belittled the position of others. That was not my intention, and if I went too far I apologise. I was not trying to be difficult I was trying to tease out what seemed to me like logical inconsistences – I thank you all for your patience and your responses to my discussion. But please do not take even my last comment to Deanne as an attack against her personally, I am simply stating what appears to be her stance to me – it is not a statement about anyone else’s stance. I really do hope we can work this out – I have vision of men talking to other men about this problem and how to tackle it – and I am not the only one, a mate has started a men’s group in our area where men meet and talk about these problems. But really my vision is one of men and women working together to solve these problems in a loving, caring way – these are our partners and children we are dealing with here – and I just cannot see how power politics is going to help here if there is just blame and anger – we need to move past that and listen to each other’s stories and viewpoints. If I have failed at that here – then please let me reflect on it and improve next time. It just seemed that I was up against some fairly strong resistance to the side I was trying to present – once again if I went too far I apologise and hope people can forgive me.

    Matt

  115. Matt

    By the way – I recall a story by the author of Shantaram (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shantaram_%28novel%29) Gregory Roberts – he was a bank robber who escaped Pentridge and went to India – he lived in the slums for while then got involved in the war in Afganistan. He was caught and locked up as a terrorist in a German prison. He talked about how there he helped other terrrorists with forms and letters (as he could read and write German). There was one terrorist there who was the most feared of them all. This man had taken a plane hostage and had walked up and down shooting people randomly. Greg talked about how at one stage this terrorist ended up crying on his shoulder and talking about how his family were shot in front of him when he was a child.

    Anyway, I heard this story from Greg just after 9/11 – when everyone was hell bent on invading Iraq and destroying all terrorists. Greg was on the radio around this time and he was asked – as someone who spent jail time with terrorists – what the solution was. In contrast to everyone else at that time he said ‘love’ – then he told the story above.

    That terrorist – after Greg listened to him – completely changed and started helping other people in the jail and protecting them . He even saved a guard from other prisoners I believe. So it seems there is hope for even for the most hardened criminal – with the right approach.

  116. Kaye Lee

    Matt,

    I too hope that by continuing to listen to each other and to offer help where we can we might be able to make the world a more caring place.

  117. Matt

    Thanks Kaye – after years of exploitation we need it – and I know some people for whom I fear too little has come too late and it is such a great shame. One person is now in his own personal hell, and it seems no-one can help him, no matter how hard they try. He has never been violent – although a few people have claimed they are afraid of him because they fear he might. Having known him his whole life I can tell them their fears are completely unfounded.

    Matt

  118. Deanna Jones

    Matt is not arguing in good faith here. He is monopolising the thread and demanding (albeit passively aggressively) female attention. This is male power/privilege in action. He is demonstrating the problem with men.

  119. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    What do you say to Deanna? Are you arguing in good faith?

  120. Miriam English

    Deanna, I can see how you think that, but can you see that that puts Matt in an impossible position? If he shuts up he’s closing off; if he continues dialogue then he’s dominating?

    I think he genuinely is interested in change, regardless of his earlier panic about male victims being ignored. If he can help spread positive things in men’s groups (there certainly seem to be a lot of those these days) then that would be a good thing.

  121. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Matt needs to understand that most women are not out to get him and blast him for every word he utters.

    He has a very good chance of making a reply without being bomb-blasted..

    I for one, am interested in his response to the last few comments.

  122. Matters Not

    Yes there’s ‘facts’ – ‘like dominating a thread’ – then there’s the meaning(s)/interpretation(s) that might be given to same. Should be no surprise that when one starts with a particular ‘world view’ (theory) certain ‘facts’ will become ‘obvious’ (to some and not to others) and, more importantly, it should be no surprise that certain ‘meanings’ are then given to same.

    The evidence is:

    This is male power/privilege in action. He is demonstrating the problem with men

    .
    Got that: He is demonstrating the problem with men. Oh, the ‘meanings’ that could be given to that statement. (Duck head and runs away.)

  123. Bacchus

    Deanna Jones never argues in ‘good faith’. She has an agenda to pursue – Dog forbid anything rational get in the way of that agenda 😉

  124. ozfenric

    Matt has not been allowed to make a statement without being bomb-blasted. For what it’s worth, I think he has some good points. The title of this article, and the tenor of much of the ensuing conversation, has been that there is something “wrong” with men, and/or superior about women. You might firmly believe this to be true, but if that’s the starting point there’s not going to be much of a conversation. If women really are superior then you back men into the corner of relying on the elements of their being that are stronger than in women – for instance, their physical and domineering attributes and their testosterone.

    Deanna, do you truly think that male dominance in business and politics all boils down to violence? I can’t see it myself. To me it seems like a logical progression. Patriarchy emerged in the distant past, but it wasn’t just women who were subjugated: slavery, the controlled behaviour of children, the general misery of the poor. Society has always been founded on people playing their expected roles. From our very earliest evolution, men have regarded women as prizes to be captured and fought over, and while we may think we’ve grown up, this is still the case. Society’s obsession with women’s appearances ensures that every decision is cast in terms of women being objects of desire, and women being in competition for that desire. It would be nice to think that we’re getting over that, but the truth is that sex still sells.

    Women’s emancipation has only been a thing for a couple of generations. The men who sit at the top of our power structures still predate it, and largely I think they are the old guard who are slowly coming to understand the change the world has undergone, but attempting to preserve things as they know them. They’re the ones who maintain the old boys’ clubs, and guard the portals to C-level roles. To the majority of people on awards wages, gender isn’t a consideration. Our younger generations simply don’t understand why gender is even a factor in employment. Given enough time, perhaps it won’t be. Gender equality in politics and in upper management is coming, but I suspect it’s a matter of generational change. I’m not sure how you can accelerate it, but accusing men of being inherently flawed is probably not going to have that effect.

    I think we can agree that violence and oppression – regardless of its form, regardless of the genders of oppressor and oppressed – are bad things. It is inarguable that males commit more physical violence, towards both women and men, than women do. This may be mediated by testosterone, or it may reflect the macho expectations and lack of alternative approaches that some males are brought up with. That is not an attempt to excuse it – understanding something and tolerating it are two very different things. Understanding it, we might see that the solution lies in how we bring up our sons and daughters, and berating the men of the current generation will actually be counterproductive.

    At various points in this discussion it has been insinuated that “men” are not doing enough. Putting aside the generalisation that paints all men with the same brush, the question has been asked: what would you have us do? Understand that the vast majority of “men” do not sit atop company boards and have no say in women’s employment or remuneration. Understand that most of us are aghast at the idea of violence towards a weaker human – and that certainly includes some of those who might, at some point, find themselves employing it.

    If we can’t even take part in a discussion like this one without being accused of “seeking female attention”, what other response is there but for us to back out of the conversation and await the revolution?

  125. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I would like you to support the stance that there is affirmative action in all walks of public and private life that demands equal representation and opportunity for women and girls.

    I would like you to support the premise that all relevant Australian legislation explicitly states that there will be equal representation and opportunity for women and girls, so that any non-compliance by industry or institutions or community organisations is deemed illegal and punishable.

    I would like you to demand that parliament has 50/50 women/men political representation in every political body by the next election.

  126. nurses1968

    Have to agree with Bacchus and ozfenric here.
    Matt has valid points and deserves to be heard.
    I go from ozfenrics “I think we can agree that violence and oppression – regardless of its form, regardless of the genders of oppressor and oppressed – are bad things” and from comments I certainly agree with
    BacchusFebruary 26, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Deanna Jones never argues in ‘good faith’. She has an agenda to pursue – Dog forbid anything rational get in the way of that agenda

  127. ozfenric

    I agree with equal opportunity regardless of gender, not equal representation. Equal representation is a goal and an ideal, and in a perfect world where men and women competed on an even playing field it should be the logical outcome. I acknowledge that there can be unconscious biases, boys’ clubs and other impediments to the progress of women and we need to address these, but equal opportunity legislation needs to consider the availability and suitability of contenders for positions, not just eventual numbers.

    I work in the field of information technology. It is a sad truth that men outnumber women in this field by a substantial margin. Legislating equal representation would not be practically possible here, so you would either be crippling the field or forcing companies to hire illegally. This is hardly the only industry where the pool of participants is not equal.

    Equal opportunity should not trump merit. I want the best possible people as my doctors, surgeons, pilots, funfair ride maintenance staff. In many fields, “best” is identified through qualifications and experience. Any legislation that ends up in a great male surgeon being overlooked in favour of a mediocre female applicant is flawed legislation.

    In politics and business, “merit” is a more tenuous construct. Particularly in group environments, a more representative group will have better outcomes than a homogeneous one. On company boards and in political parties, the merit lies in the group, not the individual, and in this case some form of affirmative action seems legitimate. Thus I agree with Labor’s quota system although arguably it is not set high enough. Just another reason to vote for the parties with higher representation – Labor and the Greens – rather than the Old Boy’s Club that is the Coalition.

    So, absolutely: legislating for equal opportunity is something I support, and I would have no problem with making boys’ clubs and glass ceilings and inequitable pay rates punishable by law. Legislating for equal representation is more problematic. I want my daughter, when she enters the workforce, to be able to compete fairly for jobs and promotion, but I wouldn’t want special treatment for her. That wouldn’t be fair to her competitors and I don’t think it would be fair to her either. I don’t think I am alone in these positions – I suspect that a large proportion of men would instinctively agree with them.

  128. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ozfenric,

    equal representation by affirmative action is a ‘necessary evil’ for a period of time, so that there are equal numbers of women and men in diverse fields to provide the critical mass that will grow a culture of continued equal opportunity based on merit and fairness.

    I’m glad you agree that legislation should be effective with enforceable consequences, if employers, or other institutions don’t comply with equal opportunities for women and men.

  129. havanaliedown

    A lovely young lady I know has been inducted as a fire fighter under “equal opportunity”. I would rather be carried from a burning building by a burly bloke.

  130. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    havanaliedown,

    I think you’ll find the fire fighting authorities have sound practices in place to ensure sufficient human resources are available in such an incident by engaging teamwork.

  131. havanaliedown

    They have lower physical standards for female graduates. And by “teamwork” do you mean the males will cover for the physical shortcomings of their female colleagues? That’s why “equal opportunity” is ridiculous in some occupations.

  132. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’m going on what how I heard a female firefighter respond to the same question and I understand that there is special equipment these days to do such arduous emergency work.

    Equal opportunity is not ridiculous any time. With advanced technologies available in the 21st century, there should be no reason why women and men are not entitled to equal opportunity in all walks of life.

  133. Miriam English

    havanaliedown, that seems a rather anti-woman thing to say.

    How do you know she’s weaker than the average male? I know some extremely muscular women and some very weak men. Why do you say they have lower physical standards for women? I remember reading a little while back about a big load of crap in the “news” media and in social media about a woman who graduated to be a US Marine. They were saying that she had been allowed in by relaxing the standards. It was entirely untrue. Her fellow Marines and commanding officer stood by her, saying that she had passed exactly the same tests as the men and was superior to most of them.

    Have you considered that there may be other advantages to a woman being a firefighter? A lighter and smaller person could rescue people from spots larger, heavier people couldn’t go. Women also have a much greater ability to withstand pain than men.

    havanaliedown, when considering the problem with men it seems you should probably look in the mirror. You are showing exactly why men are so quick to reject women out of hand.

  134. Miriam English

    I feel compelled to point out that I’m taller and stronger than most men, though a tiny bit shorter than my brother.

  135. ozfenric

    Merit aside, equal representation is simply not possible in many instances. Take my field of employment, IT, as an example. The exact numbers are difficult to get, but women make up somewhere between ten and twenty percent of workers in technical fields. We’ve all heard about technology courses with one woman. So assuming the top figure of 20%. If you enforce gender equality, that means only 40% of workers in IT are able to be employed (the full 20% of women, plus a matching 20% of men). The other 60% cannot be employed. This certainly entails half of all IT businesses being unable to comply and either being in violation of equality laws or not being able to operate.

    IT is possibly an extreme case, but similar situations would occur in plumbing, bricklaying, engineering and a multitude of historically “male” occupations. In order for an equal split, you would need a large proportion of women currently in the workforce in other industries to switch to industries they might not be interested in, let alone qualified for.

    The corollary is also true. Equal representation in male occupations is only possible if males are equally represented in historically “female” occupations. Nursing, childcare, secretarial and personal assistance, librarianship… the list goes on.

    To be clear, I don’t approve of “male” and “female” occupations. I am a qualified and experience librarian and a male relative of mine is a nurse. A female relative is an award-winning auto mechanic. Gender domination in specific industries is nothing to be proud of or supported, but we must acknowledge that it is the truth and will take a long time to change. And this assumes that there is nothing in the underlying biology that suits and attracts a particular gender to a specific industry – an assumption that I am not certain is warranted.

  136. ozfenric

    I don’t know anything about the entry standards for firefighting – the CFA website says “All applicants need to achieve certain fitness benchmarks to progress through the recruitment process . It’s important to be aware these are the same for everyone regardless of age or gender.” But if there are set standards and requirements for entry to a position, they should not be waivered for anybody. Lowering standards to allow employment of a person for reasons of quotas (gender, race or infirmity) unfairly penalises those of higher capability who might otherwise have been given the job, reduces the capability of the employer to do its best work, and opens the beneficiary up to all manner of workplace abuse – “You only got the job because you’re a woman” sort of thing. I am not at all defending such abuse, but it would surely happen.

  137. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ozfenric,

    we have already had a long time to change and we’re not doing too good at it when left to the market to decide. That’s why affirmative action is necessary so to get things moving and to build up the critical masses in each field. This in turn will encourage women and girls to look wider than the existing and obvious traditional roles.

  138. havanaliedown

    “Emergency Equipment” = male colleagues

    Ozenfric – this does not refer to CFA which is voluntary. I’m referring to the NSW Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

  139. corvus boreus

    Funnily enough, neither Fire & Rescue NSW nor the Vic Metropolitan Fire Brigade specify separate PAT levels for females on their websites, but simply detail uniform tests for standards of fitness, strength and competency.

  140. Miriam English

    havanaliedown, regarding your comment about emergency equipment, stop being an asshole.
    You’ve utterly discredited yourself.

  141. ozfenric

    Jennifer, there are no barriers to women training for roles in information technology. My employer would love to employ a woman (we’ve never had one apply). It’s not just market forces at play here. So long as women have a real equal opportunity to be employed in any role, that would seem to me to be an appropriate goal – not that we artificially try to force women into industries they’re not interested in. You haven’t addressed the practical constraints of supply and demand. Simply put, there are not enough women working in specific fields to allow for equal representation.

    In which specific field are we “not doing too good at it”? Do we not already have industrial relations legislation that penalises discriminatory employment? The change is happening. Attitudes are changing – again, look at the opinions of the current generations compared to the Baby Boomers and Gen X.

    If we’re talking about unequal opportunity, we’re discussing the issue at higher levels of seniority. The barriers are within the upper echelons of management (which, to be fair, is more relevant to the topic of the original article here). Seeing as governments of both stripes have been scrabbling to remove all relevant constraints on business management for decades, attempting to introduce equal opportunity legislation to a system where there is currently no practical legislation of any kind seems like an uphill task.

  142. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    An uphill battle maybe but one that must be done.

    As for the practical considerations, for example IT, obviously there needs to be a short interim period allowed for any shortfalls to be filled with available candidates.

    However, right now there also needs to be incentives such as scholarships to encourage higher representation of female graduates electing to do IT, engineering, and other fields under-represented by women.

    …………………………………………

    Also, ‘the merit argument’ does not really work as a defence against affirmative action because the critical mass of women has never been able to be built up high enough for equal representation to apply, as it has been harder for the lesser number of women to be successful in competition with the greater number of male counterparts.

  143. jimhaz

    “affirmative action” – the flip side

    Our education system is regarded as in a declining trend relative to international comparisons.

    In the teaching profession close to ¾’s are women, therefore to create equality we need to remove 1 in 3 female teachers and replace them with any semi-qualified male who might be interested.

    Perhaps males will do better.

    (I’m not serious about the above – just making a point)

  144. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    jimhaz,

    it is not the quality of the teaching at fault with any perceived declining standards. Class sizes, lack of support staff, insufficient teaching resources, challenging home environments, lack of departmental support on the ground, insultingly low salary levels for experienced teachers and the list goes on.

    As for the barb about female teachers being replaceable by semi-qualified males, your comment simply demonstrates your lack of credentials to comment.

    You might be interested to know that in secondary teaching the statistics are far more even between genders. Teaching is not a good example to use to make your predictable sexist jibes.

  145. ozfenric

    Jennifer, I understand there are efforts to increase women’s involvement in IT (I’m not sure about other fields, as I’m not as involved with them). I’m all for increasing opportunities, particularly if women are currently being constrained. By all means, we should support any woman who is interested in pursuing such a career. But as far as scholarships go, who’s going to pay for them? And is money really the limiting factor? It’s not as though IT is a low-paid menial profession. If the employment opportunities and potential remuneration aren’t enough to attract women, perhaps there’s more to it? Perhaps (gasp!) many women just don’t find computers interesting? That is not any form of criticism, by the way.

    As always, this does not discount individuals. There are some very talented women working in IT. But the lack of IT graduates at university does not come down to a lack of places, or any kind of discrimination. It comes down to women choosing not to study and work in that field.

    It is certainly true that women in a male-dominated workplace or classroom have to deal with blokey culture (including, often, subtle forms of harrassment). Perhaps this is dissuading some women who otherwise might be attracted to these fields. I’m not convinced that a school leaver choosing their university courses is thinking about the possibility they might, six years later, be the only woman working in an office full of men, but if that is ever a barrier to a woman choosing a particular career path then it’s something that should be addressed.

    This kind of change comes about by evolution, not revolution. More women working in engineering might, possibly, make it easier for other women to consider a career in engineering. But, even assuming that there’s no validity to the thought that women and men have different preferences and interests, I suspect that your “short interim period” might be a matter of 20-40 years. That’s time enough for a couple of generations to pass. By that time we might, conceivably, have a more equal society where more women choose to work in technical professions, enough that equal representation might be possible. But that assumes that 40 years from now we’ll still look at employment in the same way we do now, and I’m not sure this is the case.

  146. silkworm

    I also know Havanaliedown from Bob Ellis’ Table Talk, and just like here, he has never argued in good faith. He is and has always been a troll whose aim has been to attack the Left and disrupt left-wing blogs. It is pointless to engage with him/her.

  147. silkworm

    For evolutionary reasons, men tend to be object-oriented and women tend to be people-oriented. Education goes some way to correcting and equalizing these biological differences, but the underlying tendencies cannot be denied. It is for this reason that men dominate engineering and women dominate teaching. The obvious solution is more education.

  148. havanaliedown

    It’s a shame Bob started progressively deleting his blog articles, as it would show a rich history of abuse heaped upon any individual that dared to open a window on the fart smellatorium – starting from the first time I ever posted there, Bob declared (I do miss him) that I was simultaneously:

    1. A Liberal
    2. A CIA agent
    3. Gerard Henderson
    4. Rude ladyparts

    I was proud to tell Bob that he inspired me to join the Libs – if you are going to be labelled one, why not become one?

    Additionally, after being banned – Bob asked me to re-enter with a new pseudonym (prove that I lie), when we chatted… I still have his number in my phone… let’s see… 0405 134 XXX

    He was courteous, amusing and delightful to speak with. And what fun to be called rude ladyparts.

  149. Kaye Lee

    Men used to overwhelmingly dominate the teaching profession. It has only been in the last few decades that that has changed, partly because the work entitlements and flexibility make it attractive to women trying to juggle their many roles, but mainly because the pay and future prospects aren’t good enough to attract men. They can earn more elsewhere in far easier jobs that attract a lot more status.

  150. Miriam English

    Women used to be the “computers” for technical professions before we had electronic computers. Such calculations were considered beneath men, fit mostly for women. These days the view has changed and women are considered intrinsically not suited to technical work requiring calculations. Silkworm, it isn’t about evolution. It is about fashion and what people (mostly men) decide that women should be allowed to do. What horrifies me is that women adopt and internalise these irrational restrictions.

    I’ve always been very object oriented, have taught myself more than 20 computer languages, built my first computer with a soldering iron (I still have it and it still works), and have modified almost every computer I’ve owned. I’m not a very social person, but I loved going to a computer club when I lived for a time in Melbourne. One day I was listening to the radio and two young women were talking about how they were trying to force their way into exclusive men’s clubs in Melbourne city. I rang the radio station and put this question to the girls: instead of trying to go where they’re not appreciated, why don’t they come along to a computer club — they would be adoringly received by many of the brightest male minds in the country. Their depressing reply? “Sounds boring.” But here’s the thing: they had no clue how sparklingly wonderful those meetings were. They’d simply been convinced by fashion what they should like and what they shouldn’t. They thought they were pushing boundaries, but they were still sheep.

    That is what we’re up against.

    The problem is the men, but it is also the women. Thank dog it’s changing… slowly.

    We need scholarships, role models, affirmative action, pay equality for women, and more.

    One great thing about lesbians is they are doing a good job of making entry into “male” professions easier for women.

  151. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Miriam,

    once again the voice of reason and inclusion, which is what this article was all about in the first place.

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