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Friday, July 15, 2011

Modes of Feminist Rhetoric

Yet another car crash:

Me: More sexism you won't see AWARE protesting: single men cannot adopt girls

Text of Adoption of Children Act: Restrictions on making adoption orders.

"An adoption order shall not be made in any case where the sole applicant is a male and the infant in respect of whom the application is made is a female unless the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which justify as an exceptional measure the making of an adoption order."

A: This is sexism's equivalent of jaywalking right here.

Me: ?

A: quite a minor crime, not like murder

Me: Well, doesn't stop AWARE protesting minor crimes on the other side. It's selective enforcement.​/aware-slams-overeasy-fill​-my-cups-free-drinks.html

A: While that is also rather trivial, it objectifies women, whereas denying single men adoption of girls does not objectify anyone.

Me: Among other things, it's not clear how objectification per se is a bad thing. I objectify the bus driver when I treat him as only a service provider.

Also denying single men adoption of girls is far worse than objectification. 377A has been proclaimed to be purely symbolic, but this law is still enforced. Yet there is lots of protest about the former than the latter.

A: In the case of the cup promotion it's a bad thing. And you should treat the bus driver like a human being, not as and object that provides you with a service. Who appreciates being dehumanized? Who thinks objectification is a good thing? why should an organization focused on advocating against discrimination against women spend time and resources on protesting adoption policies that discriminate against men? It's like expecting the NAACP to advocate on behalf of white people.

Me: It is not to say that objectification is a "good" thing, but that is is at most a venial sin, and not as bad as is claimed.

About | AWARE Singapore -​out/


A society where there is true gender equality – where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives.


To remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes...


AWARE is Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group.

AWARE believes in the rights of women and men to make informed and responsible choices about their lives and to have equal opportunities...

AWARE is dedicated to removing gender-based barriers."

Should the American Israel Public Affairs Committee condemn Israel when it violates human rights?

A: It depends what the human rights violations were and what they are using as a definition of human rights violation, and are you comparing Israel and America's relationship to AWARE's relationship to men? Are you saying men are like the Palestinians and the Israeli government are like the legislators that wrote the adoption law? Doesn't fit. Yes, there are worse things than objectification. Anyhow, I don't see why AWARE should prioritize minor forms of discrimination against men when the vast majority of gender discrimination is not directed at men.

Anyway I suggest emailing or phoning their office if you haven't already and seeing what their response is. Maybe no one informed them of the discrimination in adoption law...

B: ah, but what "use" do single men have for girls anyway?

Me: A: I am applying the same principle to both cases - that for credibility one should condemn injustice in the field one works in even if it's not injustice against the side that one purportedly champions. This is especially relevant since AWARE preoccupies itself with trivial pursuits in its pro-female cause, while ignoring more worthy injustices on the other side, despite its self-proclaimed mission of gender equality (another example: they supported the NoToFemaleRape campaign against the marital rape exception - ignoring the fact that female-on-male vaginal rape is not criminalised either, or that marital rapists have been and will be punished - just under a different section of the law)

And the legislators who wrote the adoption law (in 1972) aren't around anymore

In Singapore, as in most developed countries, the genders are not very far apart (indeed a case could be made that men are more disadvantaged). So pointing to gender discrimination in the past and in other countries is irrelevant when discussing an individual country's situation

Thanks for your suggestion. I have emailed AWARE. However I am not hopeful, given that their CEDAW Shadow Report (May 2011) quotes the Adoption law - including the section restricting single men from adopting girls - but does not highlight the discriminatory passage.

B: Presumably the same 'use' single women have for boys...

A: A case could be made that men are more disadvantaged? I find that very hard to believe, unless you are going to say that wealthy women have more advantages than poor men. I think organizations like AWARE probably don't have that many resources so they'll need to prioritize what issues they focus on, and unsurprisingly single men's adoption rights are not a priority. It seems that single men should form their own group to protest.

Me: Many of the examples of 'discrimination' that feminists point to aren't actually discrimination

For example women earn less than men because they are less qualified, have less relevant education, take more career breaks, are less risk-loving and choose less demanding jobs. This has been shown in many studies.

On the other hand it has also been shown that women are less likely to be convicted for crimes and to get lighter sentences even when they do.

- Has proclaimed that it is for gender equality for both genders
- Finds the time to protest free drinks promotions (but somehow not Ladies Nights which privilege women)

It is hard to believe that their priorities are not skewed

On Amnesty International:

"But an organisation which devotes more pages in its annual report to human-rights abuses in Britain and America than those in Belarus and Saudi Arabia cannot expect to escape doubters' scrutiny."

A: Less qualified because social pressures tell families that girls shouldn't be educated. Take more career breaks because of society telling them that they have to take full responsibility for caring for parents/kids. Less risk-loving - I've not heard whether this is true. This seems like something that only applies to finance and risk-taking isn't necessarily a good thing in finance. Choose less demanding jobs - so stuff like child care and housework isn't demanding? And many industries that are more demanding or "demanding" discourage women's participation.

Also, the whole "what about the poor, oppressed men" argument is anti-women. Yes, rape by women does happen and yes men can get raped, but are these really as serious problems in society than women being sexually assaulted? No. If the organization is focused on reducing human rights abuses in Britain and the US/Canada/Latin America, then why shouldn't it devote more pages of its reports on these places, than on Saudi Arabia, et al. Not sure what point you were trying to make with that.

Ladies nights do not objectify men like that cups promotion. Also Ladies Nights are not examples of misandry. This is like claiming that affirmative action is anti-white racism.

Also, dunno about SG but in the US/Canada more women graduate from university than men, so I doubt that they are less-qualified.

Re crimes - men accused of sexual assault and domestic violence rarely get convicted, and when they do, often get light sentences.

Me: Sure, one can say that there isn't direct discrimination against women, but that unequal outcomes are due to social pressures which affect the underlying variables. Yet that is a bait and switch, since the 'discrimination' which is railed against is direct discrimination, i.e. treating a woman differently from an otherwise-identical man. Also I note that while grand social engineering may be a treasured ambition of progressives, Communist attempts (e.g. Khmer Rouge) have shown us that such ambition is bound to cause more misery than it's worth.

In any case, in Singapore I believe more women are also in university than men (which opens up another avenue: when women have poorer education outcomes than men, there're allegations of sexual discrimination, but when men have poorer outcomes... we say nothing [except in the UK where I see people have pointed out this problem]). So it's not about social pressures against girls being educated.

Rather, girls take different courses and have lower GPAs. For example fewer finance courses, which leads to lower pay in the corporate and finance sectors. Or they take psychology or education instead of maths or engineering. Of course one could then say women are discouraged from taking finance/"harder" courses, but that is yet another separate argument. One should also consider that "single, widowed or divorced women earn more than their male counterparts" (which if anything points to discrimination against men in the workplace)

As for career breaks, family commitments are just one of many reasons for career breaks. I haven't been able to find studies on these things, but I think it is significant that of all the people I know or know of who have taken career breaks (in their 20s, too!), only 2 are men - one took the time off to do his CFA and one to travel the world. The rest are all girls. And many of them do not have children.

Also women take 4 months off (at least in Singapore) to have children. This fact of nature cannot be called discriminatory.

Yes, women are less risk-loving. This result has been consistently demonstrated in many studies. As for why this would lead to higher salaries for men, some mechanisms would include changing jobs more often and taking jobs with lower job security (and thus pay better)

By saying that I am saying that childcare is not demanding you are confusing the argument. I said that women don't take up demanding jobs - which pay better. That is entirely different. However I do actually think that childcare is not as demanding as salaried work. If it were as demanding, one would question why childcare workers are not paid more, wonder if our children were being properly taken care of or come to the strange conclusion that women are a lot more capable than men - it just doesn't show in the workplace.

I am not saying that rape of men by women is as serious a problem as women being sexually assaulted, but again you are going off on a tangent. I was referring specifically to *marital rape* in Singapore, which is a very restricted field. I don't see how the "what about the poor, oppressed men" argument is anti-women, any more than the "what about the poor, oppressed women" argument is anti-men. One should not think in such restrictive binary ways, where a win for one side is inevitably a loss for the other.

I know that the conviction rate for sexual crimes in the West is not very high, but that is as it should be. When it comes down to he said vs she said, where evidence is scarce and contested, the presumption of innocence should be maintained and result in a conservative conviction rate. Furthermore, 20% of rape samples the FBI puts through DNA testing exonerate suspects, while 20% are inconclusive. This should be very alarming, but is ignored by feminists. In any event, in Singapore is a male is accused of a sexual crime by a female he is basically screwed since women are unnaturally privileged here.

Sure I agree that an organization dedicated to human rights in Britain should concentrate on Britain, but here we are talking about Amnesty International, which I'm sure you know does not restrict its attention to the developed world. As they proclaim: "Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights". One is thus impelled to question if double standards are being applied to what counts as a 'grave' abuse in the West as opposed to the rest of the world. And one must also note that in other circumstances, double standards would be considered discriminatory and unfair.

I'm not sure how the cup size promotion was an example of 'misandry' (privileging a party is tantamount to hating it?), and I didn't say that Ladies Nights were objectifying men (rather that they also objectified women - but AWARE did not complain about that). And actually yes, affirmative action discriminates in its present context discriminates against whites - as it discriminates against allegedly privileged groups in the rest of the world.

A: "If it were as demanding, one would question why childcare workers are not paid more, " Oh sure, like people are actually paid salaries that reflect how demanding their work is. Riiiighht. Tell that to minimum wage sweatshop workers.

Now that you admit to not supporting affirmative action, it makes sense why you hold such attitudes against women. Who's up for some bingo?

Me: That's about as helpful, constructive and logical as the attitudes they supposedly diss

A: Haha, sure whatever you say oh oppressed one. What else were you saying? Women are stupid and lazy and men are smart and hardworking - or in the immortal words of Barbie, "math class is hard, lets go shopping!", women getting maternity leave is unfair to men - those who don't have the experience bringing a child to term can't evaluate how much maternity leave people need, everyone is paid according to how hard their work is - all the hedge fund managers out there are smiling.

Me: ... and feminists complain when people think they are bra-burners

A: Yeah, because no bras were actually burnt. It's a myth.

Me: Sounds like all the bingo cards

A: What? You're saying bra burning isn't a myth or what

As far as bingo cards go, you hit several on them, especially this one

C: Rachel you are getting emotional. Why don't you take a time-out session.

A: Are you sure you didn't forget hysterical as well?

C: If that was meant as a sarcastic comment, your lack of self-awareness is quite intriguing. Putting words in your opponent's mouth isn't going to help your cause.

Me: While people may not know that bra-burning is a myth, I doubt most people who use the term today actually imagine that feminists burn their bras today (references to "minor bra- burning in the early 1970s" aside), any more than people imagine that, say, "card–carrying members of the ecology movement" actually carry around cards.

I would patiently explain why many of the points on that bingo card are misrepresentations or actually even correct, but it would appear that that would not be a good use of my time.

Suffice it to say that anyone can make bingo cards and throw them out. Whether what is on the bingo cards is really justified (in their use as satirical tools) is another matter.

Example from the other side:

Liberal reaction to logical arguments bingo

A: Yes anyone can make an argument about anything and some arguments have more merit than others. Who was claiming otherwise. I interpreted the other "go take a midol type" tone argument comment about being emotional as sarcastic so I responded in kind. If the emotional comment was serious it makes it a worse comment. Saying women don't work as hard on their careers is basically saying they're lazy, saying they're not educated, not qualified is basically saying they're stupid. Saying child care workers are compensated according to how demanding their work is is saying that people are paid fairly according to how demanding their work is, which is certainly not the case and classist, putting all faith in the so-called invisible hand on the free market. Saying giving women maternity leave is discrimination against men is certainly discriminatory and should not be decided by those who don't know what bringing a baby to term is like. Personally I like the Scandinavian model that provides both maternity and paternity leave. Anyway, you seem comfortable in your beliefs, though discriminatory, whether you can back them up with anecdata or real data. Bottom line, better off to form a men's rights group to protest an adoption law restrictive to single men than rely on Aware, which primarily focuses on discrimination against women. Probably won't continue this, cu.

Postscript 1: This is how more or less every disagreement with a feminist ends up - there have only been two who have been able to disagree civilly with me.

As Scott Adams observes:

"As emotion increases, reading comprehension decreases... You can see that the comments about the piece were little more than name-calling. When confronted with that sort of reaction, would it be wiser to treat the name-callers as you might treat respected professors with opinions worthy of consideration, or should you treat the name-callers as you would angry children, by not debating and not taking it personally?"

Postscript 2: I sent AWARE the following email about the adoption law on 19th June:


I was reading your CEDAW Shadow Report (May 2011) and noticed that you quoted Sections 3-5 of the Adoption of Children Act, including this part:

"An adoption order shall not be made in any case where the sole applicant is a male and the infant in respect of whom the application is made is a female unless the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which justify as an exceptional measure the making of an adoption order."

However, I do not seem to be able to find anything on your website highlighting this glaring discrimination against single men who wish to adopt.

Hope you can address this issue in the future."

Yet, I still have gotten no reply from them.

I guess they rather spend their time protesting Ladies Nights and calling for Gender Studies classes in schools.
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