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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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Skye
Skye
6 years ago

Urban fantasy stuff: has anyone here read the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire? I’m rather fond of them.

I also like most of Neil Gaiman’s work

Jessay (@jessay)
6 years ago

I CAN NOT!

moldybrehd
6 years ago

Urban fantasy stuff: has anyone here read the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire? I’m rather fond of them.

I love the October Daye series, though I though I had trouble with the first book (still working on why…)

I also love the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, in part because it manages to avoid the ‘strong woman because of rape’ trope. I get really tired of that being the standard background for strong female characters.

Historical fiction recommendations – normally I don’t go for historical anything, but I really enjoyed the Delphic Women series by Kerry Greenwood.

Most recently I tried to read as many of the Nebula nominees as I could, and I can’t recommend Ancillary Justice enough! (and woohoo, it won!)

croi
croi
6 years ago

(Boggles at cat comment)

I was reading some ancient history this morning. Solon of Athens passed a law preventing a man from selling his daughter or sister, ‘unless he finds she is no longer a virgin’. I guess no need for feminism in those days then, Solon had it covered…

christopher allman
6 years ago

Crowns? Like, queen Victoria, a woman of such enormous power and influence that the Victorian era is named after her? Or Marie Antoinette.The queen of france whose public excesses led to the French revolution (including the death of her and her husband). Or the Queen of Spain, who gave Christopher Columbus the money and permission to sail. And also signed the order opening the slave trade.
Or Jane Austen. At the bottom rung of the elite, yet spent her days playing the piano, writing, and directing her servants. To speak of the master and the servant in the same terms seems an offront to servents and slaves throughout history. Which isn’t to say women had it perfect. And that there weren’t some really shitty laws, like those not allowing them to initiate divorce, but I don’t think it was as black and white as is often portrayed.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Are you the banned troll John Allman?

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

Like, queen Victoria, a woman of such enormous power and influence that the Victorian era is named after her?

Who inherited the throne only because no legitimate male heirs were still alive. That rule, that women can only inherit if no men can be found is obviously super-favorable to the ladies and puts them first.

Or Marie Antoinette.The queen of france whose public excesses led to the French revolution (including the death of her and her husband).

Don’t talk about politics or history (or political history) if you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground. The causes (multiple) of the French Revolution have precisely nothing to do with Marie Antoinette. The American Revolutionary War had a tremendous influence. So did the social and economic environment of France. The progress of capitalism in Europe was a strong pressure toward revolution. Marie Antoinette was a scapegoat, and that you continue to scapegoat her doesn’t do your thesis here any favors.

Which isn’t to say women had it perfect.

No shit. Here you are, more than two hundred years later, still blaming the fucking French Revolution on a woman.

vaiyt
6 years ago

@christopher allman
Sexism denial, the “we got a black president racism is over” edition. As if we haven’t seen that argument before a billion times.
Here’s a bit of math for you to mull over. 50% of all people ever have been women. How close to that ratio is the percentage of rulers who have been women? Maybe if you reflect a little on the answer you will find out why you wasted your time necroing this thread to say bullshit.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Hi, John. Not too good at the whole respecting boundaries thing, are you?

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

That can’t possibly be John. That post was 150 words. If it were John it would have been 2000.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Maybe John has a son. Not the little one who he doxxed, but an adult with similarly repugnant views who is less long winded.

christopher allman
6 years ago

That Lerner article is pretty interesting…but European history, especially for women, is RADICALLY different than middle eastern history.
If your white, your ancestors were probably Celts. The Celtic culture covered all of Europe except southern Italy. It was an extremely egalitarian society. Women could be druids, considered higher than kings. They could be lawyers, own land etc.
In fact, when the Germanic tribes first united, against their common foe, the Roman Empire, they united under a woman, Boodica. Under her lead, they slaughtered tens of thousands of Roman soldiers. Possibly the single most badass woman in all history. If I were to guess why you’ve never heard of her, its because, as a German, the Nazi’s used her as a symbol, making her obviously problematic today.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

You know, we can see that you already posted this bullshit on another thread.

christopher allman
6 years ago

@policyofmadness Indeed it was many factors, primarily the ideals and thinking of enlightenment thinkers, including women, that was the ultimate cause of the French revolution, but the excesses of Marie Antoinette that ultimately triggered it, (and the execution of her and her husband).
Why did you not deal with my other examples?

christopher allman
6 years ago

Also, wtf? I’m not trying to troll anyone, I’m talking about women’s history…trying to show how much more power women had than they are often given credit for. I’ve not called anyone names or even used any bad words, why is it making people so angry?

christopher allman
6 years ago

@policyofmadness. It was an accident. I meant to post it here. So I guess you also saw the quote from the Turkish Ambassador? I was going to repost that here too, but not if you already saw it. Why are you so angry at me?/Showing how underrated female power and influence has been throughout history seems very positive and empowering for women. Surely discussing powerful, and under rated women in history is not mysoginistic bullshit?

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

Before going all hipster on us and claiming “oh, you probably wouldn’t know her” perhaps learn how to spell her name – Boudica or Boadicea. And yes, of course we fucking know about her.

And yes it is trolling when you trot in and mansplain at us. That you are blithely unaware of how trollish you’re being actually makes it worse.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

but the excesses of Marie Antoinette that ultimately triggered it, (and the execution of her and her husband).

That’s complete and utter bullshit. Do you know what the word “scapegoat” even means? Do you realize that you are still, 200+ years later, blaming a woman for the French Revolution, incorrectly, and thereby proving your own statements wrong?

Why did you not deal with my other examples?

Because I don’t know very much about Spanish history, and unlike you I don’t talk out of my ass. Given how clueless you are about French political history and how much you rely on assfax, I have no reason to think your knowledge of Spanish history is any better and I need not address any of it.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

Showing how underrated female power and influence has been throughout history seems very positive and empowering for women. Surely discussing powerful, and under rated women in history is not mysoginistic bullshit?

Huh. “There was a bloody conflict that ushered in decades of political unrest and economic hardship in France. Hundreds of thousands of people were ultimately killed. Here, I found a woman who was present at the time. It must have been all her fault!”

For some reason I don’t think that conversation is particularly empowering to women.

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
6 years ago

Is Boodica the name of Boudica’s ghost?

Also, there’s no way all these MRAs can seriously be named Allman. That’s like a neo-Nazi named Adolf White.

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

Funny, I didn’t even notice the name as ‘all man’. I guess that was me erasing masculinity or something.

christopher allman
6 years ago

I’ve studied the French revolution in depth, telling me she was a scapegoat doesn’t change what I know of it. That you don’t recognize her public excesses as being the ultimate trigger tells me you don’t know quite as much about it as you claim, because REGARDLESS if she was the scapegoat, she was still the ultimate trigger.
Mansplaining? For some reason I thought you were mostly men, I guess I’m wrong? I’m not trying to be hipster in thinking you may not know about Boodica (a transliteration, there is no ‘correct’ spelling.) BC my knowledge of her is relatively recent, despite several years of study about the Celts and Germanic culture..I apologize for the assumption…but holy fuck you folks are mean! I was looking for an interesting discussion on women in history and this is clearly not the place! Honestly, this is my first time here and im now pretty comfused.Unless someone has something, not mean to say, relevent to what I’m trying to say, this will probably be my last comment.

christopher allman
6 years ago

Marie Antoinette was one of a list of powerful women in history, by NO means am I trying to blame her for the French revolution, something bloody, horrible, which ultimately shut out women, but probably made all our lives ultimately, evetually better.

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

Yes, we react badly to being mansplained to. Funny how that happens. Imagine how you’d feel if every time you ventured an opinion on something other people talked over you and implied or even said you were stupid and didn’t know anything. It is NOT enjoyable.

That you think we are horribly mean that we aren’t just letting you ramble on shows just how accustomed you are to being listened to.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

I’ve studied the French revolution in depth, telling me she was a scapegoat doesn’t change what I know of it.

Really. Where is your research published? I have institutional access to a lot of journals. I’d like to look it up.

You can just give me a journal name, volume, issue, and page numbers.

Marie Antoinette was one of a list of powerful women in history, by NO means am I trying to blame her for the French revolution

Really.

whose public excesses led to the French revolution (including the death of her and her husband).

I can’t imagine where I might have gotten the idea that you were scapegoating her exactly the same way the people of the time did! I mean, you just said right there that it was her public excesses that caused the French Revolution! Totes different!

cupisnique
6 years ago

I’m very confused by why we are discussing these historical figures anyway. I mean, a few examples of women in power are good to highlight for empowerment, sure. But, this post is about the general state of women in history, a few exceptions to the rule doesn’t change anything and you pointing out the few powerful women simply comes across as a red herring.

katz
6 years ago

Boudica is so obscure she’s on the cover of my favorite gamebook.

http://meeples.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/hail_ceasar-oc-50.jpg

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

Boodica? I know it’s almost Halloween, but come on, son.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Gosh, I was just looking for an interesting discussion about how women in history were evil bitches, just like they are now, and you’re being so mean to me! Just like Marie Antoinette!

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

Is the Worst of the Web still going? If so, I nominate christopher allman’s site for it.

“I’ve studied the French revolution in depth” = we had one lesson on it in school.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

pointing out the few powerful women simply comes across as a red herring.

Yes, but it’s so interesting, the red herrings this fool has decided to pull out. Marie Antoinette of all the people. And Jane Austin. Not Mary Wollstonecraft. Not Caroline Herschel. Not even Mary Shelley. Surely this moron has heard of Mary Shelley. Nope, the choice is a lady whose main claim to being a woman of power is that she was recently in the news because of that currency thing.

The depth of research here astounds me.

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

Shit, 1998 called and wants its website back. I’m surprised I didn’t hear dial-up noises.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Her name is now spelled Boodica in recognition of how terrifying little Chris finds women with power. Run away, Chris, before she gets you.

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

Boodica can join zombie Solanas and Dworkin in the pantheon of MRA boogeywomen.

Unimaginative
6 years ago

Boudica, of the Iceni, was… German?

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

Unless someone has something, not mean to say, relevent to what I’m trying to say, this will probably be my last comment.

Are you going to stick the flounce dude? What website do you think this is – education men about women in history?

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

In fact, when the Germanic tribes first united, against their common foe, the Roman Empire, they united under a woman, Boodica.

Since when were the Britons Germanic tribes, dumbass? You don’t even know your Celts from your Saxons.

Also, wtf? I’m not trying to troll anyone, I’m talking about women’s history…trying to show how much more power women had than they are often given credit for. I’ve not called anyone names or even used any bad words, why is it making people so angry?

You’re a fucking liar, or incredibly stupid, or both. You have the hide to trot out Victoria’s name as if she were remotely representative of women’s situations just in her own country. Here’s a quick primer: women owned nothing once they were married. Everything belonged to the man. They had no claim over their children; any money they earned was legally his; they did not even own clothes they made for themselves. Divorce had to be by Act of Parliament until late in the century. It took a trial for theft in which a woman’s purse – that she’d made herself – was referred to as the property of her husband, to start the agitation that led to the Married Woman’s Property Act. Women prostitutes, apart from having no recourse to the law if a man attacked them, were rounded up, imprisoned and subjected to forcible internal examinations under so-called health acts. Women were barred from higher education, and in many cases any education. Working class women and girls ate last, after the men and boys, and were often chronically malnourished, again, moreso than the men because they were eating men’s scraps.

No wonder you bring up Marie Antoinette, who was slandered by her enemies and eventually murdered by them, and whose name has been blackened by their lies ever since. MRAs must froth at the mouth at the thought of being able to do that.

Coming in mansplaining and pretending the tiny number of genuinely powerful women in history somehow balances the fact that women have been owned by men for millennia is not “having an interesting discussion,” it’s talking the same bullshit we’ve heard time without number. You come to a feminist blog that is specifically for mocking misogyny for your “interesting discussion” – all that shows is that you don’t even bother to read the title of the site before you start telling us all How It Really Is.

Fuck off, you pretentious little loser.

Kim
Kim
6 years ago

Coincidently, I started reading The Gender Knot while I was at lunch. It deals with this very thing in the first chapter. Perhaps Christopher could read it and actually educate himself.

The essence of it is – a few powerful women don’t negate patriachy. Every system has some give in it, to make it seem like things are changing when nothing really is. And that’s exactly the way people like Chris are using these powerful women – as a distraction in their sleight of hand.

Unimaginative
6 years ago

Hmm, Victoria had the whole Victorian period named after her. Gee, how strange that there was no Georgian period, or Edwardian period. Nope, it must be all because queens are so much more powerful than kings.

Deoridhe
6 years ago

“Regency Period” is misandry.

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

No Napoleonic period, either.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Well, we all know that periods are misandry, so even one that happened more than a century ago is enough to spell woe and despair for men to this very day.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

What about Eleanor of Aquitaine? She was pretty cool! She misandered by selfishly being queen of two different countries during her life.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

In fact, when the Germanic tribes first united, against their common foe, the Roman Empire, they united under a woman, Boodica. Under her lead, they slaughtered tens of thousands of Roman soldiers. Possibly the single most badass woman in all history. If I were to guess why you’ve never heard of her, its because, as a German, the Nazi’s used her as a symbol, making her obviously problematic today.

You moron, the Nazis most certainly did NOT. She was a Briton, as was pointed out above. Plus, the Nazis were heavily invested in the whole women-at-home-in-the-kitchen schtick. The reason I know this? I’m GERMAN. And I learned my history lesson. As you clearly did not.

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

And we won’t mention that twenty years of Victoria’s reign were the period of Albert as defacto king, informally recognised as such internationally, whose death was a serious blow for many members of government. They didn’t think Victoria would be able to cope at all without him, and they knew they would miss his great breadth of knowledge and poliltical insight, things Victoria largely lacked at that period. Hell, they were afraid she would go insane with grief for him, or possibly not survive him long at all. Yet even with all this, it was a period of declining monarchical power in Britain, something else trOOlly boy ignores when he talks about how powerful Victoria was, as if it were a matter of actual legal political power and not a matter of influence.

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
6 years ago
cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

I’m British, and a Celt, and lol look at this dumbass mangling my country’s history.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Also, if you want Germans who walloped the Roman legions, you’re thinking of Hermann, who clobbered them in the Teutoburger Wald. Don’t be conflating him with Boudicca/Boadicea. Especially if you can’t spell her name.

You have been schooled…

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

Also, gobshite, everyone on this thread knows who Boudica is. We’re laughing at your inability to spell it and your woeful ignorance of the Celts.