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antifeminism apex fallacy citation needed entitled babies gender swap grandiosity homophobia imaginary backwards land imaginary oppression kitties mansplaining men who should not ever be with women ever misogyny MRA oppressed men patriarchy patronizing as heck pedophiles oh sorry ephebophiles pig ignorance playing the victim reddit that's completely wrong TyphonBlue

In MRA-land, women have never been oppressed, but men have been "disenfranchised" by having power over them

Somehow, we doubt that MRAs would appreciate this kind of "protection" for themselves.
Somehow, we doubt that MRAs would appreciate this kind of “protection” for themselves and their fellow men.

One classic bad argument against feminism is the disingenuous claim that “we don’t need it any more.” In the bad old days, proponents of this argument would concede, women may have faced some pesky little obstacles, but now that they can vote, and own property, and briefly work as the executive editor of The New York Times, there’s just no need for feminism any more. Problem solved!

But these days the great minds of the Men’s Rights movement have moved beyond this bad argument to a worse one: feminism was never really necessary in the first place, because women have never been oppressed.

The other day a Redditor by the name of cefarix earned himself a couple of dozen upvotes by posting a version of this argument to the Men’s Rights Subreddit.

I often see feminists make the claim that women have been oppressed for thousands of years. What evidence is there to back up this claim?

Personally, I don’t think this could be the case. Men and women are both integral parts of human society, and the social bonds between close relatives of either gender are stronger than bonds with members of the same gender but unrelated. So it seems to me the idea that men would oppress their own close female relatives and women would just roll over and accept this oppression from their fathers, uncles, brothers, sons, etc, for thousands of years across all/most cultures across all of humanity – and not have that society disintegrate over the course of a couple generations – is ridiculous.

This is so packed with such sheer and obvious wrongness that it’s tempting to just point and laugh and move on. But I’ve seen variations on this argument presented seriously by assorted MRAs again and again so I think it’s worth dealing with in some detail.

Before we even get to the facts of the case, let’s deal with the form of his argument: He’s arguing that history cannot have happened the way feminists say it happened because he doesn’t think that could be the case.

Trouble is, you can’t simply decide what did or did not happen in history based on what makes sense to you. History is history. It’s not a thread on Reddit. You can’t downvote historical facts out of existence the way, say, Men’s Rights Redditors downvote those pointing out facts they don’t like.

Cefarix follows this with an assertion that’s become rather common amongst MRAs: men can’t have oppressed women because no man is going to oppress his wife or his daughter or his mother, and besides, they wouldn’t have put up with it and it wouldn’t have worked anyway.

It seems to me that if the core of your argument is the notion that men would never harm members of their own family then you’ve pretty much lost the argument before it’s even begun. Husbands batter wives, fathers abuse children, boyfriends rape their girlfriends, and so on and so on; all this is not only possible, but it happens quite regularly. And only quite recently, historically speaking, has any of this been regarded as a serious social problem worthy of public discussion.

And so the idea that men might “oppress their own close female relatives” is hardly beyond the pale.

Of course. history isn’t about what could have happened; it’s about what did happen. But the evidence that the oppression of women did happen — and is still happening — is everywhere. Indeed, it takes a certain willful blindness not to see it.

History, of course, is a complicated thing, and the ways in which women have been oppressed have been many and varied over the years. Nor, of course, has the oppression of women been the only form of oppression in history, which is not only, as Marx would have it, a story of “class warfare” but also of ethnic warfare, racial oppression, and many other forms of oppression, some of which are only now beginning to be fully understood.

So if cefarix is genuinely interested in evidence, let me make some suggestions for places to start.

For a history of patriarchy that looks in detail at how it developed, whose interests it served, and the various complicated ways it was intertwined with class and other oppressions, a good place to start would be Gerda Lerner’s classic The Creation of Patriarchy, and her followup volume The Creation of Feminist Consciousness. Here’s an interview in which she goes over some of the points she makes in these books.

To understand some of the hatred of women that has been baked into Western culture from the beginning, I’d suggest taking a look at Jack Holland’s highly readable Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice. Meanwhile, David D. Gilmore’s Misogyny: The Male Malady offers an anthropological take on the same subject.

Alas, after going through his commenting history, I’m not sure that cefarix will be open to changing his mind on any of this, given how wedded he seems to be to a number of other rather appalling opinions — like his contention that homosexuality is a “disease” and his belief that “the whole age of consent thing is a modern Western aberration from what is considered normal for our species.”

Of course, if you look at the discussion inspired by cefarix’ post on Reddit, you’ll see that most of the Men’s Rights Redditors posting there don’t seem much interested in looking at facts that challenge their beliefs either. Most of those dissenters who pointed out the various ways women have been oppressed throughout history found their comments downvoted and dismissed.

Consider this amazing exchange — and notice which of the two comments is the one with net downvotes.

Little_maroon_alien -2 points 1 day ago* (1|3)  Women weren't allowed to own property or request divorces in most countries until the last 80 years. That is pretty oppressive. China didn't allow divorce or land ownership until the 1950s. Women in the U.S. only got to start owning property in the mid to late 1800s if their husband was temporarily unavailable (they couldn't "control it" though). Women coulldn't request a divorce in Great Britain until 1857, two years before women were allowed to teach in Denmark (wayy before Austria allowed it) or attend college in Russia (but not Sweden, Japan, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, etc) and 10 years before New Zealand women could own property in their name.  In 1865 Italy allowed married women to become the legal guardian of her children and their property if abandoned by her husband. How progressive!  How is this not both oppressive and possible? It was very widespread for a very long time.      permalink     save     parent     give gold  [–]tactsweater 1 point 1 day ago (2|1)  Are cats oppressed? They can't own property, or decide who they get to live with.  None of what you're describing is oppression. Sorry.  Throughout most of human history, we had a couple of hard truths that needed to be faced. The strength of a society is largely based on its population, and women can increase that population, while men can't. This meant that if a society needs to lose one or the other, they're going to send the man off to die nearly every time.  Another hard truth throughout most of human history is that overt power makes you a target. Leadership meant assassination attempts. Property ownership meant you had something to lose. Since the cost to society was greater if a woman died, men were forced into taking those roles just as much as women were forced out of them.  Maximum protection comes with a cost of freedom, and that doesn't at all imply oppression.

That last bit, about men being “forced” into having power, is quite something. But I’m still stuck on the whole cat thing. I mean, I like cats and all, but cats are not people, and it really wouldn’t be appropriate for me to lock a woman in my apartment, feed her on the floor out of a can, and make her poop in a box, even though my cats seem quite content with this arrangement for themselves.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of the comments that won upvotes.

Someone named goodfoobar suggesting that men have always been the slaves of women, because women live longer:

goodfoobar 3 points 1 day ago (3|0)  A woman made the claim of thousands of years of slavery to me a few months ago. Did not have a good response at the time. I have a response today.  Slave masters have a better quality of life than slaves. Life expectancy is a good measure for quality of life. Over most of history the average female life expectancy is longer (historical exception during child bearing years) than the average male life expectancy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Gender_differences[1]

And our old friend TyphonBlue. who turns not only history but logic itself on its head by arguing that men are “disenfranchised” by … having power over women.

typhonblue 5 points 1 day ago (5|0)  When you expect a group of people to be in a position of power because of human psychology (look up moral typecasting) you remove their ability to command compassion from others.  The expectation that men assume leadership positions was, in itself, disenfranchisement of men.  When we put a crown on a man's head we no longer care as much if his head gets cut off.

Yep. The most badly oppressed creatures in history are the ones wearing crowns on their heads.

I’m really not quite sure how Typhon manages to avoid injuring herself with all of her twists of logic.

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hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

Lea: we gave TX five years, it’s time to go (for a multitude of reasons). If you ever visit, let me know.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Thanks! I will.
I’ve been in KY most of my life. The charm has been wearing thin for a while now. We have friends who keep talking about moving back to Washington State and others who used to live on Lopez Island. The more they talk about the northwest, the more I’d like to see it.

Ally S
6 years ago

@gillyrosebee

Long time no see! And yeah, I’ve been meaning to read The Archaeology of Knowledge to gain a better understanding of Foucault’s conception(s) of discourse and archaeological analysis. It also seems a little easier to digest than Discipline.

Thanks for the Canguilhem book suggestion! I got the PDF, and after Archaelogy I’ll definitely try to read it.

Ally S
6 years ago

Oh, and I’m also still trying to finish Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin. I would have finished it by now if it wasn’t so triggering. I have to take a lot of breaks from that book in order to digest it smoothly. But it’s such a great book.

Cat
Cat
6 years ago

LOL MRA proves that we need feminism. If there are men that still think it is fair to give women same right as cats have then our society does need feminism! I didn’t see a lot of discrimination based on gender in my life so I almost was convinced that maybe we did progress forward far enough that we can leave feminism in the past. But MRA proved me the opposite LOL. Last arguments about men being slaves of women just made me laugh and I’d like to say them “Dudes, what a problems then? Give me your freaking crown and take back your freedom! We don’t want your super protection!”

Fibinachi
6 years ago

Books, books, books.

I just finished Norman Cantor, In the Wake of the Plague (Thank you historophilia), and will now move on to one of the other 49 library books that all arrived at the same time because, hahaha. that’s just how the postal system works these days.
I’m running out of shelf space.

Wake of the Plague was short an interesting, and dwelled into the economics / sociological impacts of the pestilience on Europe and England in particular. It’s a really quick read and offers some really cool historical tidbits (For instance, related to the topic at hand, that the mortality rate of pregnancies tended towards meaning that men went through multiple wives on account of the first few dying. Sure that’s not a sign of oppression).

Stiffed, by Susan Faludi was really cool and neat and interesting, and can be summed up pretty much as “Where’s the Father’s At, Yo?”, except it’s not a angry refrain, it’s that everyone keeps excusing their shitty fucking behaviour with some old trite bullshit about how “Oh, my father never loved me, so all those women are too blame”. It’s impeccably researched and also fun, and if you read it along with Why Men Are The Way They Are (Warren Farrell), The Myth of Male Power(Warren Farrell) and The Manipulated Man, Esthar Villar, because you like suffering, you’ll quickly realize just how hilariously wide the gap between actual researched scholarship / investigate journalism and “Angry polemic about how women suck” is. Despite all of those ostensibly dealing with the same topic. It’s… It’s a thing of beauty.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Maragaret Atwood, is short and easy to read, and pretty much a dystopian MRA fantasy come true (And combines well with the above mentioned books, if you feel like weeping in despair),

Why Does He Do That, Lundy Bancroft is a cool look at the dynamics of abuse (And has been recommended several times), so enough said. It’s interesting and I recommend it.

Backlash, also Susan Faludi, is depressing / interesting in that you begin to realize that, well, things haven’t changed all that much. It’s also a fun exploration of angry people and misogyny.

The Face of Battle, John Keegan, is an interesting historical exploration of the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, from the perspective of the people fighting it. It’s one of the more interesting books I’ve read, because it dwells into a lot of stuff that common historical writing sometimes gloss over – why do people fight, what does it actually feel like, what kind of pressure can make someone kill someone else and so on. It’s not so much a “Killing and war is glorious and cool and here’s a fancy battle with SO MANY TANKS IN IT!” as it is a kind of meditation on the impact of and the mechanics behind battle across time periods.

The Western Way of War, Victor Davis Hanson, is essentially the same thing, but focusing on exploring infantry tactics and economics in “Ancient Greece”, tying it in with the development of democratic ideas (as they were at the time) and the ideas of citizenship and so on.
Also it really, really, really makes you appreciate just how fucking heavy metal armor is. And how lugging it around is just dreadful.

Achilleus in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the undoing of Character, Jonathan Shay, is an exploration of the effects of the Vietnam war as expressed by veterans and also a fairly insightful analysis of the Oddesey, combining the two into a kind of literature scholarly psychology… thing. It’s brilliant in that instead of really being about “Vietnam”, it’s about how people percieve, deal with, and work on through trauma of any kind, using Homer’s work and the stories of veterans as an example.
I really, really liked it.

The Golden Bourough, James George Frazer, is kind of a comparative study of religions and cultural themes of religious influence. It’s a fucking slog, but I also found it very interesting and remarkably readable at the same time. It was published 1890 the first time, so expect to laugh a little at a lot of the ideas, but I still recommend it. Summing it up as anything but an “exploration of the ideas of myth” is difficult.

Collapse, Jared Diamond – I couldn’t personally finish Guns, Germs and Steel, and I’m not super keen on The World Until Yesterday, but I quite like Collapse, which is an exploration of the many and varied reasons for societies throughout the ages have “failed”, or suffered great hardships – but also a great exploration of why decisions taken at other times can change many things. The viking colonies of Greenland is sort of my go to example of combined hilarity / horror (Essentially, by insisting on using some husbandry animals pretty unfit for the environment, the nutrients available were brought to a level below replinishment but the viking colonies persisted for another two generations, getting steadil smaller and then just… dying out. They were killed 70 years before they actually died(.

The Black Company,Glen Cook, is a long running series of fantasy focusing on mercenaries employed by various people, and I quite like it because it deals with a host of interesting issues and is very well written, while still being remarkably humane in its approach to everything. These are people employed by wizard-kings to do battle with wizard-kings, and they’re just normal people with little but a mean streak and some luck to work with. There’s a few facepalm moments and a lot of somewhat questionable stuff, but the entire thing is just so… great. Everyone is an asshole, but at the same time, everyone is not, because they’re just… people, doing things!

The Black Company Campaign Setting, for d20 systems, is a product for running roleplaying games in the Black Company world ,and it’s pretty much the go-to manual for extra rules that I use whenever I play D&D because it changes just enough of 3.5 / pathfinder if you mess about with the rules, that I stop hating it with the irrational fury of ten thousand suns. Rules for suprise round death! A fighter that doesn’t suck! A magic system that’s brilliant in its execution and profound in its capabilities! Classes that are thematic and cool! RAndom generation tables for the mutative effects of terrible Change-Storms! A system for running massive battles that doesn’t make me want to weep blood! You want rules for mental shock and the ongoing effects of sanity problems / trauma? THEY’RE IN THERE TOO! How about actually useful action points? Have them!

Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer – the title says it all; “The Art of Remembering Everything”, is an exploration of memetic techniques and also a pretty fun exploration of the entire concept of human memory, plus some interesting anecdotes about life and the world and the brain. Read it.

Drawing on the Artist Within, The Art of Seeing, Betty Edwards – you ever said to yourself: “I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler”? Read this book, do the exercise, done. Now you can. The brain-science is kind of “eh”, but it’s really readable and you learn something useful and it’s just… so much fun, I guess.

Sea monsters on medieval and renaissance maps
Chet A. Van Duzer
If you ever wondered why maps were full of dragons and kraken and mythological beasts? Read this. It’s kind of a combination of folklore, cartography, cryptozoology and history.

The Thousand Names, Django Wexler.

I read, in a burst, the books, A Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign (Both Brian McCellan), A Darkness Forged in Fire (Chris Evans) and the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfield, and if you want to read just ONE book wherein flintlocks feature prominently and people say odd stand-ins for curses, read The Thousand Names, because it is so much infininitely better than the other examples above. It’s fun, and it’s cool, and the maincharacter is a woman who ran away from an orphanage and joined the army in NotNapoleonicFrance, and there’s mystery and magic and a subplot about the dynamics of abuse in the military that’s actually just… fucking amazing, and female characters that aren’t just throw-away jokes / sexual gratification and AT THE SAME TIME, it’s also a great introduction to musket warfare.

Okay, so the setting of “army in a desert struggling with a religious jihad” is a little bit of a cliche, but I’ll forgive that. It’s just so good.

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Ally, Archaeology,/i> is definitely more digestible than Discipline and I found that reading it helped prep my thinking for some of his less digestible works *cough*Birth of the Clinic*cough*. I found the Canguilhem really insightful and interesting, and I might even still have my notes, so when you read it let me know.

Good luck with the Dworkin. Valuable, yes, indispensable even, but very hard to sit with. I could only ever read a chapter at a time, and even then I’d have to take long breaks to clear the palate.

I’m hopefully back now. I’ve been in kind of a hole lately in general and I am trying to make myself do the things I used to like with the hope that I might like them again and start to do them because I want to again. Jury’s still out for now.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Fibinachi,

I’ll definitely check out Wake of the Plague. It sounds right up my ally. If you’re interested in epidemics and how they impact culture I recommend The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. It’s about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London and John Snow, the doctor who first discovered it was a waterborne disease.

Don’t read it while you’re eating. It describes in great detail urban life before the days of sewage treatment and it’s rather disgusting. I always think of this book and the also graphic description of Chicago in Devil in the White City (another great book) when people romanticize the good old days and how much more simple and nice life was. I’ll take modern sanitation, thanks.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

And I was just sitting here, thinking about finding some books about city infrastructure because I was wondering how it all worked and how it all used to work and, there we go.

Get out of my head, weirwoodtreehugger. I hardly have enough space for me in there! :}

Also, thanks to historophilia, who recommended me this entire list of awesome historical fiction. Which I can’t find right now because I’m on my phone. I’ll get the book mark later.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

Oh, also-also.

“Men are the oppressed class. Men have always been the oppressed class. Any evidence to the contrary is the work of Emanuel Goldstein.”
– George Orwell, 1984.

q:

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Oooooo! City infrastructure books! There’s also Paris Under Water by Jeffrey Jackson. He’s got a higher opinion of his own writing than is completely justified, but he managed to get his hands on a bunch of cool sources to tell a pretty compelling story of the 1910 Paris flood.

cloudiah
6 years ago

I also heartily endorse Ghost Map and Devil in the White City.

Why won’t someone pay me handsomely to sit around and read all day? Life is unfair!

Ally S
6 years ago

@cloudiah

That seriously sounds like the best job ever.

ALLY S – PROFESSIONAL READER

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

cloudiah, think there’s startup money for that? Maybe a kickstarter? ‘Cause I could rock that job offa the planet!

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
6 years ago

The way the lands are divided and the treaties and negotiations are conducted keep you thinking – weeell, perhaps they could have done it this way or another or some other way entirely. But the whole concept of two modern Americas dealing with each other as equal and powerful entities is entirely absorbing.

I love alternate history! Have you read Steven Barnes’ “Lion’s Blood”? What if the Black Death had killed off even more Europeans, and the “new world” was colonized by North African Muslims and their Irish slaves? The story itself isn’t great, but I’ve always loved me some “what if Europe wasn’t a big deal?” speculation.

There is a great book discussing some of these issues by Michael Kimmel called Angry White Men. It even goes in depth into the MRAs.

Didn’t David write a review of that?

Seconding Valerian’s recommendation of the Dresden Files. It has lots of great supporting characters, many of whom are badass women. Also, vampires that are actually scary, which is a nice change from the current trends in vampire literature.

I really liked the Dresden Files for a while, but then they descended into Notes From Harry’s Boner and every woman in the series being both hot and hot for Harry and I started getting neckbeard cooties from reading them.

The Boss by Abigail Barnette (blogger Jenny Trout’s pen name) has the same basic concept as 50 Shades of Grey (average woman hooks up with kinky billionaire), but without the grammatical errors, misogyny, and abusive dynamics. You can download it for free at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Or, if one is into kinky sexytimes with more consent, one might consider the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. They’re alternate history/epic fantasy, and pretty romance-heavy, set in a magical alternate-France where everyone’s pansexual and poly and sex is sacred and also all the gods are real, including YHVH and Jesus, which is why the not!French are all descended from Angels. I have no idea if I’m making this sound awesome or ridiculous, but I promise it’s awesome.

The Golden Bourough, James George Frazer, is kind of a comparative study of religions and cultural themes of religious influence. It’s a fucking slog, but I also found it very interesting and remarkably readable at the same time. It was published 1890 the first time, so expect to laugh a little at a lot of the ideas, but I still recommend it. Summing it up as anything but an “exploration of the ideas of myth” is difficult.

While I appreciate the historical and anthropological import of this book (I studied religion in college, and this book pretty much created the discipline), I have huge problems with his methodology and conclusions. He basically started with a thesis and combed the world’s mythologies (as described mostly by missionaries, who are not noted for their ecumenicism) for tidbits that supported said thesis. He didn’t do any field work, and his attempt to define an evolutionary process for religion (animist-polytheist-monotheist-atheist) doesn’t hold water and is kinda…I don’t want to say “racist”, but it’s certainly consistent the colonialist European mindset of the time.

That seriously sounds like the best job ever.

ALLY S – PROFESSIONAL READER

Jobs where you can do this include: editor, book reviewer, library catalog writer or collection developer, bibliographer*, person who reads books and summarizes them so talk show hosts can talk to the authors. See also: this book.

*There’s a guy who works for the Smithsonian, reading and categorizing every book ever printed in English about Antarctica. Which leads me to believe there are quite a few bibliographers employed by the Smithsonian, if their subject areas are that narrow. Just a thought for aspiring professional readers.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
6 years ago

And now, thread: any recommendations for someone who would like to learn about the…part of Japanese history with the samurai and the shoguns? As you can see, I know next to nothing, and that bothers me. An overview of Japanese history in general would also be useful. Manga/comic or film/TV versions are welcome.

Ally S
6 years ago

@emilygoddess

You might like the Rurouni Kenshin manga. The anime is good, too, but only up to the third arc, which completely deviates from the rest of the story.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Oh, if only collection developers got to read all day. Very few librarians have time to read books. Mostly they set up approval plans which set parameters for types of books they want to acquire, and then have to hope the publishing houses will follow those parameters… Of course, I only know the world of academic libraries, so maybe things are different in other sectors. (I’m sure children’s librarians read a lot, but they only get to read children’s books–fine for some, but not my ideal.)

But editor — Ally, I could totally see you as an editor.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

If you want samurai history from a modern perspective, there’s a really great director who did a great trilogy of modern samurai movies.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0351817/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0442286/?ref_=tt_rec_tti

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0483578/?ref_=tt_rec_tt

Love and Honor is the weakest of the three, as well as the least feminist friendly, though it did allow me to finally get why so many women love Kimura Takuya so much (it’s the vulnerability). The Twilight Samurai otoh is just flat-out awesome, with a really interesting female lead and a male lead who’s all about being a good father (both leads are great actors), and The Hidden Blade also has a lot of stuff about class issues under the samurai system packed in there (and again, a fantastic lead actor, whose other movies are worth checking out too).

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

For an old-school take on the whole samurai issue and associated class stuff, I’d also recommend The Seven Samurai, which is a good point of entry into Kurosawa’s movies in general. I was initially put off by the WTF levels of violence in the aptly named Throne of Blood, but there really is a reason so many other directors fawn over him (and having a woman writing most of his screenplays helped too).

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
6 years ago

Very few librarians have time to read books

I was more thinking of the people who write the catalogs librarians use…but those might actually be written by the publisher, anyway.

But my friend the teen librarian manages to read a shitload of both teen books and comics, as she’s in charge of both collections (related, because I know we have a lot of Bostonians here: Brookline has a goddamn incredible comics collection)

Ally S
6 years ago

@cloudiah

Ally, I could totally see you as an editor.

I would love to be an editor. Maybe if I have the academic credentials for it some day I can do that alongside programming. (I have other ideas for supplemental income, but they’re pretty risky and hit-or-miss) Thanks for giving me a great idea.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

I really liked the Dresden Files for a while, but then they descended into Notes From Harry’s Boner and every woman in the series being both hot and hot for Harry and I started getting neckbeard cooties from reading them.

That’s one of the fun things about the Dresden Files – You read them, and they’re actually decent-ish, and there’s plot and things happen and it’s all somewhat interesting, but the main character keeps getting in the way. I actually like the universe as described, and some of the side characters, and a lot of the ideas behind it – and, to give Jim Butcher credit, he manages to write about an on-going, large-scale conflict / war and just keep it in the background while still having fairly significant plot influence and development over 5-6 books, which I found super impressive, but, holy fuck, dear god, Harry Dresden, just, shut the fuck up man. Synaptic cleft. Just… go. Go away.

Also the mind-rape vampire sex thing.. is oddly thematic for his writing. Same thing in the Alera codex, props up. Definitively not nice things.

Speaking of urban fiction, I recommend Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels, Midnight Mayor, Neon Court, Minority Council.
———————-

Samurai?

I am oddly fond of The Book of Five Rings, which is essentially about kenjutsu.

I second The Seven Samurai, it’s a very remarkable film.

You might like James Cavell’s Shogun, which is actually based on the story of William Adams (Of which I think you can read William Adams: The Englishman Who Opened Japan for a somewhat euro-centric view of things).

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

Thanks for recommending The Willows. I found it on audio book and have been listening to it. It made our long walk through a flooded forest much more fun today. 🙂

Fibinachi
6 years ago

While I appreciate the historical and anthropological import of this book (I studied religion in college, and this book pretty much created the discipline), I have huge problems with his methodology and conclusions. He basically started with a thesis and combed the world’s mythologies (as described mostly by missionaries, who are not noted for their ecumenicism) for tidbits that supported said thesis. He didn’t do any field work, and his attempt to define an evolutionary process for religion (animist-polytheist-monotheist-atheist) doesn’t hold water and is kinda…I don’t want to say “racist”, but it’s certainly consistent the colonialist European mindset of the time.

Yeah, it’s pretty much that. I guess I like the approach and overview and idea of the thing more than the actual book. I agree with everything.

Interestingly, on the topic of comparative religion, what would you recommend?

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
6 years ago

How academic are you looking to get?

Fibinachi
6 years ago

I like to consider myself a smart boy with access to Google.

Sort by what you found most interesting / worthwhile. I can always find the secondary source material required to understand the material presented (or the tiertary material to gt the secondary material to get the primary material…. and so on, in an infinite spiral of caffeine tainted book binging)

Also I read a danish book a while ago about samurai specifically, but it hasn’t been translated. Sorry.

But I do remember that I read The Taiheiki a long, long time ago (Like, years. YEARS). It was neat and informative and interesting. Here’s one version.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Taiheiki-Chronicle-Medieval-Classics/dp/0804835381

My list of Books-To-Read include The Taiko,
http://www.amazon.com/Taiko-Novel-Glory-Feudal-Japan/dp/1568364288

which seems right up your alley, but I have not yet had the time to read it myself (Well, I haven’t been able to find a copy), so I can’t make any statements about it other than that amazon seems to like it.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Also worth seeing, although I really wasn’t expecting it to be – Miike Takashi’s version of 13 Assassins. I was expecting to hate it, because he can be so schlocky, but then I saw that Yashuko Koji was going to be the lead and figured, hey, he has pretty good taste in projects, so we threw it on the Netflix list and yep, this one is less yet another case of Miike trying to shock shock shock viewers with that shocking behavior, and more like what he did with Great Yokai War, but for adults this time.

Plus Yashuko is one of the best actors in the world right now, so even if the plot isn’t your thing he’s always worth watching.

Fibinachi
6 years ago

Anyway, since I’m up and unable to sleep on account of nerves, I might as well recommend some more books.

Mitochondria: Power, Sex and Suicide, Nick Lane, is a book about mitrochrondia. The title is a laughable affectation towards the epic, but the book itself is interesting and offers a remarkably compelling insight into everything from cellular mechanics to mitrochrondia to evolution to chemistry.

The Road to Reality, Roger Penrose, is the book if you want to read 1100 pages on mathematics and physics, and covers everything from Plato to space-time vortexes and topologically diverse universe models. Can’t say he’s a brilliant writer, but the stuff is interesting.

The Book Thief, Markus Zuzak, is about someone who steals books. In Nazi Germany. It’s narrated by Death.
It’s really, really good.

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter, is about confusing your reader with recursive loops cognition, mathematics and music. It gets pretty meta, but that’s kind of the point, I guess.

Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History, Dorothy H. Crawford, is kind of an overview of, well, microbes and death and how bacteria really sucks. It’ll make you desperately want to bathe in something sterile.

A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick – So there’s this guy on drugs, and he takes drugs, and it’s about drugs, but also not, and it’s in the future, but maybe not, and everything is all weird, maaaaan.

q:

grumpycatisagirl
6 years ago

Of course, I only know the world of academic libraries, so maybe things are different in other sectors. (I’m sure children’s librarians read a lot, but they only get to read children’s books–fine for some, but not my ideal.)

Speaking from the public sector, no, it’s pretty much the same here. Actual book reading takes place off the job.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

everything is all weird, maaaaan.

Well, I mean, it is Philip K. Dick.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
6 years ago

Who was asking about historical fic? I haven’t read it yet, but my friends won’t shut up about “Code Name Verity”, which is a teen book about a female WWII pilot whose plane goes down behind enemy lines.

Fibinachi, you might enjoy Seven/Eight Theories of Religion (depending on the edition). It gives you a brief overview of 7/8 influential theorists and how they shaped religion as an academic discipline, starting with Tylor and Frazer. The comparative approach isn’t my favorite, but my professor/advisor/department chair, William Paden, was into it and has a couple of books out (Religious Worlds was common in my intro classes, and Interpreting the Sacred is his version of the 7/8 Theories book).

I’m now working my way through Stephen Prothero’s God Is Not One, which is notable among “world religions” books for its inclusion of both Yoruba religion and the rise of atheism. I’m finding it very readable, and I’m learning a lot (which is a tad embarrassing to admit. People seem to expect me to be conversant in “world religions” and I’m really not)

Fibinachi
6 years ago

That’s why I stick to the rhyming. People never get their expectations up about my abilities then.

Thank you for the recommendations.

wordsp1nner
wordsp1nner
6 years ago

If you like urban fantasy like the Dresden Files but want a series without boner notes (and I love urban fantasy and hate boner notes) I recommend the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews–the first is shaky, but by the third they are awesome. It also has a recurring secondary character who is a were-honey badger. Who is hilarious. I also really like World of the Lupi and InCryptid, which suffer from the lack of were honey badgers, though they make it up in other ways (like having Madam Yu. Madam Yu makes up for a lot.). They are not free of… issues (notably, the love interest in the Kate Daniels series has a tendency to break into her house), but better than most fiction.

kittehserf
6 years ago

I mean, I like cats and all, but cats are not people

MISCATTERY!

I am currently standing up and working on my computer using one of those breakfast-in-bed trays and a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica because one of my cats has decided that my desk chair are belong to her (she’s recovering from having a couple of teeth pulled).

See, cats can’t be the oppressed because cats ARE the oppressors! They force us to go out and work so that they have toys and food and clean litter and desk chairs, and then when we come home we must feed them, scoop the litter box, scritch them, rub bellehs, feed them again, scoop the litter box, throw the feather toy, no not the mousie toy the feather toy, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, throw it again, what do you mean you are tired of throwing the toy? THROW IT AGAIN NOW, okay if you don’t want to throw the toy then feed me again, I DON”T CARE THAT I JUST ATE I WANT MORE FOOD

…ahem…

So, because I work and my cats don’t, I am oppressed by my cats. And women like cats, like, a lot, so women identify with cats, women are JUST LIKE cats, therefore women ARE cats and THUS because all cats are oppressors and all women are cats, therefore all women are oppressors, QED.

QFT and gillyrosebee wins the entire internetz.

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Why, thank you! And here’s me not having gotten you anything!

Except… …I hate to be picky… …and I know it’s not very eco-conscious of me… …but would you be terribly offended if I just binned some of the grungy bits? Like Stormfront and A Voice for Whiny Crybabies and The Washington Times and a few others?

I’d much rather someone go get more beer, because I am out and Housemate has taken his to a luau (seriously who has a luau in Massachusetts in May?) and now it’s just me and two cats, one of which is on prescription painkillers that negatively affect bladder function and the other who is on edge because she clearly feels that her sister has been catnapped and replaced with a grouchy cat-shaped being that looks like her but smells like the place where BAD THINGS happen to poor, defenseless cats who can’t AT ALL be held responsible for getting up on the counter and eating seventeen and a half rubber bands, and I even have leftover pizza from the party last night but alas I have NO BEER!

mildlymagnificent
6 years ago

Seconding the recommendation for The Face of Battle. John Keegan is a top notch military historian, and this is probably his best for a general readership.

As for urban life before modern amenities, anyone who wants a brief look at the topic should just watch these four minutes from Richard Alley’s How to Talk to an Ostrich series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwhfsqfMcmk

Anyone who tells you about the ‘good old days’ should watch this.

kittehserf
6 years ago

Except… …I hate to be picky… …and I know it’s not very eco-conscious of me… …but would you be terribly offended if I just binned some of the grungy bits? Like Stormfront and A Voice for Whiny Crybabies and The Washington Times and a few others?

Oh, absolutely. It’s your internetz, you may do with it as you will.

Hmm, I rather like that idea. Gillyrosebee for Editor of the Internetz!

Seventeen and a half rubber bands? O_o

… I’m afraid I can only send virtual beer.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

So what you’re saying is that your cat thinks she’s a dog.

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Gillyrosebee for Editor of the Internetz!

EXCELLENT! Honestly, I think all of our downloads would go more smoothly if I permanently deleted all racist and misogynist sites, and do we REALLY need Reddit, because I’m thinking we can do without.

So what you’re saying is that your cat thinks she’s a dog.

Both my cats think they are horribly, terribly mistreated and in constant danger of starvation (despite getting fed four times a day). And so they tend to eat random things they think *could* be food, like corks, yarn, ribbon, some paper, most houseplants and, whenever they can get their paws on them, rubber bands and hair elastics.

The box said 50 rubber bands, and there were 32 and a half left, so we figure something like 17 and a half may have ended up going through her.

And that’s my girl. All I can say is at least she’s cute and very sweet, because she definitively is NOT a rocket scientist.

kittehserf
6 years ago

All kitties are onna brinka starvation all the time. Well known fact.

Just look at this empty bowl that Maddie had to have refilled lately.

http://i.imgur.com/pS6zKc4.jpg

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Poor Maddie. You can clearly see a patch of bowl, therefore she is indeed on the very edge of immediate starvation!

kittehserf
6 years ago

That’s it! Famine strikes the land all the time in this house. Look at how starved she is. She’s so weak with hunger she’s just c’lapsed.

http://i.imgur.com/gWpvY2x.jpg

BTW is that the eater-of-rubber-bands in your gravatar, or one of the other kitties?

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Yep, that’s my Adora!

kittehserf
6 years ago

Pretty tortie!

KathleenB
KathleenB
6 years ago

I enjoyed Ghost Map quite a bit, but the first chapter or so took FOREVER to get through, because the descriptions of ‘sanitation’ during the period are horrifying beyond words.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Kathleen,

Anyone who has ever hated their job can read that book and feel better. Can anything be worse than collecting night soil or sifting through sewage with your hands for valuables?

I think the 19th century might be the worst time period to have lived in, maybe it would be OK in the country if you weren’t a slave. Only the black death years can compete.

KathleenB
KathleenB
6 years ago

weirwood: Yeah, I’ve long been convinced that cities in the late 19th century were hell. London, especially, sounds awful.

katz
6 years ago

I haven’t read it yet, but my friends won’t shut up about “Code Name Verity”, which is a teen book about a female WWII pilot whose plane goes down behind enemy lines.

It was excellent but I complained all the way through it. (It’s one of those books where they tell you right at the beginning who’s going to die.)

melissaangelik
6 years ago

@Tracy I’ve heard about that book but haven’t got it yet. Will have to check it out.