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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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kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

M the SJR, love it! 😀

Bina
Bina
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.

And marrying a younger man and possibly having an affair with a great troubadour, too!

strivingally
6 years ago

Oh yeah, Nazi Germany was all about the brave empowered women who – oh wait, not they weren’t, they encouraged traditional gender roles.

katz
6 years ago

M: You win the internet.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Given how confused he is already I’m expecting to hear something about valkyries next. They’re German and also British, you know – in fact I’m fairly sure Queen Victoria was one.

brooked
6 years ago

Mrs O’Leary’s cow kicked over a gas lantern and started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, one of the worst national disasters of the Nineteenth century. Yet people act like cows are powerless and oppressed. Which isn’t to say cows had it perfect. And that there weren’t some really shitty laws, like those allowing them to be slaughtered and consumed, but I don’t think it was as black and white as is often portrayed.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Yeah, “feminazi” is a total oxymoron. What do you expect? It was popularized by Rush Fucking Limbaugh, who was an Oxy-moron himself.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

Was that before or after she was a lizard disguised as a human?

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

IS an Oxy-moron, rather. I don’t believe he’s really off the stuff, do you?

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Mrs O’Leary’s cow kicked over a gas lantern and started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, one of the worst national disasters of the Nineteenth century. Yet people act like cows are powerless and oppressed. Which isn’t to say cows had it perfect. And that there weren’t some really shitty laws, like those allowing them to be slaughtered and consumed, but I don’t think it was as black and white as is often portrayed.

No, sometimes it’s all black. Or white. Or red. Or red and white. Or cream- or fawn-colored. Depending on whether you’re talking Angus, Charolais, Guernsey, Jersey, Simmmental, etc.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Or of course it could be a furry, fuzzy-wuzzy cow, if it’s Boodica.

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

Given how confused he is already I’m expecting to hear something about valkyries next. They’re German and also British, you know – in fact I’m fairly sure Queen Victoria was one.

She was a German Scottish Valkyrie.

In tartan.

mildlymagnificent
6 years ago

As for the French revolution, that might just have had something to do with poor returns from rural crops ~ in money terms some years. reduction in food produced other years ~ because of climate and volcanic eruptions affecting growing conditions for several years.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/15/iceland-volcano-weather-french-revolution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laki

Kim
Kim
6 years ago
Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
6 years ago

@mildlymagnificent

The ultimate causes were a combination of poor domestic economic policy and the incompatibility of feudalism and capitalism. I guess you could say that bad harvests didn’t help anything? But bad harvests had happened before and revolutions didn’t occur.

Oh, what am I saying, it was Marie Antoinette. She was a woman, so it must have been her doing.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

<blockquote.
As for the French revolution, that might just have had something to do with poor returns from rural crops

So many conflicts have food shortages involved. I often wonder if we’re (we being people in wealthy industrialized countries) are really immune to this. A food shortage seems so improbable. We have more calorie dense food than we can handle. Yet, global warming and reductions in available fresh water could change all this. Bread being unaffordable played a role in the Egyptian portion of the Arab spring. It’s not too unreasonable to think it could happen elsewhere. It’s interesting to think about.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Saddest blockquote fail ever.

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

France was also stuck with an atrocious tax system, which they’d been struggling with for a century at least – and which the precious courts, the supposed voices of the people, were dead-set against reforming, iirc.

Now as for cows, well, obviously they had it good, because look!

http://www.boondi.lk/CTRLPannel/ArticleImages/ADAH/1606%20Flying%20Cow-%20Viraj%20L.jpg

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

I thought their nostrils were big black eyes in the still and went AAAAAAAH!

grumpyoldnurse
6 years ago

I seem to be late to this necro’d thread, again, and have, again, missed the troll. So may I just please point and laugh? Thank-you. 🙂

::points and laughs::

Also, good one, Bina Oxy-moron! Snerk!

And nice Boodica, M. the SJR! ‘Great Boadicea’s ghost’ is going to be my go-to exclamation of disgust from now on. Then I’ll giggle.

Love the flying bovines, kittehserf! I wouldn’t want to camp under a flock of those!

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

I has a sad about that song because they’re cows and the reference keeps being masculine.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

We got cows!

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

If Boodica were a cow, she’d be Moo-dica, right?

(I’ll just show myself out now.)

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

grumpyoldnurse – cripes, imagine being under a flock of those! Or them flying overhead when you had washing on the line or had just washed the car or …

Bina – ARGH

grumpyoldnurse
6 years ago

First Oxy-moron and now this! I surrender! Bina wins the thread!!

(or should I try to milk the puns a little bit more?)

BigMomma
6 years ago

someone say Boudicca?

I love Horrible Histories

katz
6 years ago

Seriously, who hasn’t heard of Boudica?

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

OMG, you guys, have you heard of Cleopatra? She’s kind of famous, among those of us with super special historical knowledge. Something about a snake and a carpet, or maybe the carpet came first, but whatever.

She was French, you know. That’s who was on all those French revolutionary posters – Cleopatra.

mildlymagnificent
6 years ago

Bread being unaffordable played a role in the Egyptian portion of the Arab spring. It’s not too unreasonable to think it could happen elsewhere. It’s interesting to think about.

There are a lot of people who say Syria’s conflict wouldn’t have happened (at the time it happened) but for a 5 year drought displacing a lot of farmers to the cities.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2703.

Check out that graphic of winter rainfall. Not nice at all.

mildlymagnificent
6 years ago

kathleen

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

All hail the great Dr John Snow. The man who turned off the cholera tap.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Snow_(physician)

katz
6 years ago

OMG, you guys, have you heard of Cleopatra? She’s kind of famous, among those of us with super special historical knowledge. Something about a snake and a carpet, or maybe the carpet came first, but whatever.

She was French, you know. That’s who was on all those French revolutionary posters – Cleopatra.

And the reason you’ve never heard of her is because the French didn’t support the invasion of Iraq, so we all consider them cheese-eating surrender monkeys and never talk about famous French people.

christopher allman
6 years ago

Genderallies.org

Jane Austen spent her days playing the piano and directing servents. Her life was one of privlidge and protection. Oppression is what her servents experienced. Or think of the Southern Belle, with her graceful beautify attending soires and the expectation to participate in her community. She had slaves whose life were in her hands.
To speak of the slave and the slave master as being in any way on par with each other, is an insult to those who have experienced actual oppression. It is no wonder black women are becoming increasingly pissed at rich white women for acting as if their histories are in any way the same. #Solidarityisforwhitewomen
When early feminists, like Rebecca Latimer Felton, who traveled freely around the country, speaking on issues she found important to crowds interested in what she had to say, saying things like ‘it would be better for a thousand negroes to be hung each week than a woman lose her most cherished possession’, they existed in a state of extreme privlidge. One can acknowldge the different gender roles, each had a pro and con, but to say women were ‘oppressed’ is an insult to anyone who has experienced actual oppression.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

What’s the matter Christopher? You’re pissed off that we didn’t visit your blog so you just had to post an excerpt here?

Oh, and quit trying to appropriate black women’s oppression for your MRA bullshit.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Also, it’s privilege. Not privlidge. When the red squiggly line appears under a word, that means you’ve misspelled it.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

I think we should sign Christoper up for some nice spam.

christopher allman
6 years ago

And it doesn’t matter HOW queen Victoria became queen, she was a fucking queen! Her life was far, far far better than 99% of the men in the country. Same with every other elite women through history. Would you rather be working in a coal mine or cutting down trees, or getting to stay at home, playing the piano and directing your servents?

grumpyoldnurse
6 years ago

Shh, WWTH! Every single white woman ever lived lives like Ms. Austen, or the archetypal (unnamed) Southern Belle. Also, feminist thought has not evolved at all since the days of Ms. Felton’s racist drivel. There is no such thing as intersectionality! I mean, it’s not like any of Ms. Austen’s servants were female. All teh wiminz took turns being the lady of the manor! Also, just because women weren’t legally persons under the law doesn’t mean anybody ever hurt them! They were protected by chivalry and manly man ethics! In fact, rape and gendered violence only started after teh wiminz got the vote!

grumpyoldnurse
6 years ago

Yes, christopher, the fucking queen had a better life than the typical coal miner. And, the average lawyer lived better than his family’s scullery maid. It’s almost like there are various forms of discrimination and privilege going on at the same time! What is your point?

shadethedruid
6 years ago

I wonder if Sir Christopher of Allmanz realises that by his logic, there’s no such thing as racism because Obama is president of the US.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Is a servent a floor vent that responds to vocal commands?

grumpyoldnurse
6 years ago

According to Wiktionary,

Etymology

Blend of server and client. Introduced by the Gnutella network technology.
Noun

servent (plural servents)

(Internet) A peer-to-peer network node which has the functionality of both server and client.

Which is kind of weird, as I don’t think the Victorians actually had difference engines. The more you know!!

grumpyoldnurse
6 years ago

Sorry for the goofy blockquote, every one!

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
6 years ago

@shadethedruid:

He probably both realizes it and intends it.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Or think of the Southern Belle, with her graceful beautify attending soires and the expectation to participate in her community. She had slaves whose life were in her hands.

Wrong. Her father, brothers and/or husband did, but she did not. Women of that era weren’t allowed to own a thing.

Incidentally, that is also the reason Jane Austen never married. If she had, she’d have lost it all. And possibly to some squandering wastrel. And there wouldn’t have been a damn thing she could have done about it, under English law.

Coverture, it is a thing. Look it up.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

One can acknowldge the different gender roles, each had a pro and con, but to say women were ‘oppressed’ is an insult to anyone who has experienced actual oppression.

Oh, you mean like Teh Menz?

BTW, black women were doubly oppressed. Once for being black, and once more for being WOMEN. It is a fact. And it was blindingly obvious to Sojourner Truth, as well as to numerous other early American feminists — who, incidentally, started advocating for women’s rights just after being told to shut up in an anti-slavery meeting, by a man. That, too, is a fact…look it up!

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Ahem…black women are still oppressed, BTW. Same ways, same reasons. Also, black feminism…it is a thing. Look it up.

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

Also, William Beckford had Fonthill Abbey and wrote ‘Vathek’, so gay men* were totally free in Recency England.

*Or, as Mr. All-Man would prefer it, ‘male inverts’.

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

Hmmm. So, basically, Christopher believes that the only kind of oppression that exists is economic oppression, which, as many people here have pointed out before, is one of the few forms of oppression that can affect straight, white, cis, able-bodied men.

Christopher Allman: Of course, Queen Victoria lived a better life than your average Victorian factory laborer. She had wealth and class privilege. Look at different sexes in the same class. Across the board, you’ll find that poor, working class women had less rights (a lot less) than poor, working class men. Queen Victoria does not erase the fact that when you control for wealth, class, skin color, etc., women still have it worse and are still oppressed compared to men.

Or do you seriously want to argue that because straight, white, cis, wealthy men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet live lives of luxury, that no men anywhere face any kind of problems?

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

What is it with MRAs and their coal mine obsession. It’s like they think it’s the only job men have ever had.