Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What is Going On?

Sometime last year or this year, I can't be bothered checking I wrote a post called 'On Gaslighting' and for some reason this post generated views in the thousands. I've never written my blog with a concern for hits, viewership etc. and talking about why I write a blog is I've been assured very boring. But post this 'breakthrough' of generating high numbers next to a symbol of an eye whenever I view my posts kind of took off and not randomly. My suspicion is that the post somehow piggybacked off the post by another blog that I linked to somehow. I'm not interested enough to find out how, nor develop even the skills to find out.

But since then the pattern is to my intuitions at least, non-random, when I write about anything that could be considered within the purview of feminism, views steadily increase up into the thousands and any post not on that topic stagnates at around the double digit mark. The danger of which is that I start writing with a mind to what makes a practically arbitrary stat-counter go up, given that my theoretically most popular posts ever have generated a grand total of 0 comments. Having no impact on my life as a result, this phenomena is only interesting in so far as it seems to support some form of confirmation bias, and it also supports a stereotype of feminism/gender studies being largely academic, which is to say most of the efforts of the people interested in these issues is dedicated to reading about these issues.

And that is why my interest in gender is a morbid interest, generally what I'm fascinated by is why when ever I adopt the position of 'fly on the wall' to much of the openly accessible, readily available feminist op-ed on the internet the most negative emotion I feel is that of disappointment and not fear, perhaps fear presumes too much intent on behalf of the writers I'm judging, but there is a curious absence of any real concern that these thinkers pose any real threat to the status quo.

To expound upon the disappointment, let's talk about this abstract and loosely defined concept of 'the patriarchy', the moment I wrote this sentence I realised I need to also point out that 'feminism' is an abstract and loosely defined concept in and of itself, subsequently it is unfair to say that the stated objective of feminism is to overthrow the patriarchy - that's not a dogma that one has to explicitly believe, I believe to identify as a feminist. I would guesstimate that the generally accepted definition is something akin to 'equality between men and women' which even then is problematic but I'll get to semantics and jargon later.

Okay so 'the patriarchy' does it exist? It certainly has existed, there are moments in European history for example where you could point to a male who was openly and un-apologetically the legislative and executive branches of government, un-elected and reinforced by a patrilinial succession plan - their son was literally expected to be the next patriarch and the female members of their family were essentially living breathing property contracts, securities to be traded etc. Thus literal patriarchies have existed, I don't feel that this is a contentious topic in History.

Historically speaking though, if I, and you may want to try this yourself as an English speaking citizen of the commonwealth try to name as many English Monarch's as I can there is Queen Elizabeth the presiding Monarch, then King Henry the VIII, Queen Victoria, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Ist (that Virginia is named for) and King Richard the Lionhearted. Of course there's a trick here in so far as that if King Henry is the 8th of that name I could cheat and name 7 more Monarch's that logically must all have been called Henry, but at the point that King Arthur is more readily recollected by me than other Monarch's that I'm not sure are literary inventions or not, I'm stopping. But I feel, at some intuitive level that the 'big 3' of English history are probably Henry, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. 2 out of 3 being women.

Notice that this isn't a denial of the existence of 'the patriarchy' or that men unfairly dominate most societies on earth with respect to power and influence over public policy, law enforcement or the command of resources. My understanding is that succession in the English Royal Family has always been to the eldest son, yet look at how much more successful this rule of succession has been at elevating women to at the very least an undeniably pre-eminent figure head status in society than the world's democracies have. From a purely historical point of view, it seems the odds are much higher that the eldest male heir will be a woman than that a woman would win an election campaign for the highest office.

But what is the shape of 'the patriarchy' in the current day? Surely my female friends, including transwomen do not believe a conscious overt conspiracy of men that all pay homage to a patriarch. It's an abstract concept that might allude to a predisposition of men to cooperate at the expense of women. It doesn't have a geographic location one can go to, I would hope that people don't believe for example that the President of the United States has unlimited power. Nor that Hillary's theoretic occupation of the role would overthrow the patriarchy. Who is 'the Patriarch'? There's no one person at this point in History we can point to and say with any real confidence 'Putin, it's Putin!' or Kim Jong Un, or Donald Trump or even as thought leaders Noam Chomsky (there's just too much evidence his influence on public policy is 0, if not negatively correlated) or public intellectuals like Malcolm Gladwell or Sam Harris, captains of industry like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Phil Knight or the Coak brothers etc. and in all these non-governmental and governmental fields there are female analogies albeit less of them. (Merkal, Morrison, Rinehart etc.)

There's just a general numeracal advantage of men at the top of various heirarchies, and the more abstract concept of 'privelege' an informal version of a first class citizen that is not ensconced or enshrined in any existing laws in most of the contries liberal enough for feminism to openly take place.

The patriarchy is thus some kind of network in the modern era, analogous to Islam or Quaker beliefs where there is no central living authority at the top of the food chain. There possibly always exists people of ambition that wish to centralize and organize the patriarchary much as it seems there are communities that wish to reestablish a Caliph. Putin may have designs or ambitions that he or his named successor actually be some kind of Emperor etc. These ambitions may be more concievable than whatever 'overthrowing' or indeed 'smashing' the patriarchy may look like.

For me though, I like to consider the historic persons of Ieyasu Tokugawa, and Miyamoto Musashi who lived on the same Earth at the same time and in all probability never met, though one almost certainly affected the other. Both for example were present at the battle of Sekigahara the decisive war that established the Tokugawa Shogunate, the military government that was first to rule over a unified Japan and was a literal patriarchy. Making Tokugawa Ieyasu the patriarch of Japan. Miyamoto Musashi is the most influential thinker of that time and place and culture in respect to shaping my own ambitions though. Ambitions I regard as higher than that of being a patriarch. 

Miyamoto Musashi was free. He lived a life of self-experimentation that culminated in some rich understanding of himself and his human potential. And that's it. He was free to do so, actually spend his life being human. The society in which he was free to do this was a patriarchy and he was free simply by being not only born a man but also into the samurai class. It appears that he was able to practice martial arts and also cultivate land and practice the fine arts of sculpture and illustration. He was neither an indentured servant obliged to cultivate rice in order to feed himself, his family and meet his tax obligations to the government, nor was he at the opposite end of the spectrum where he was Shogun obliged to preside over the administration of the government to manage and nullify all ambitions to shake up the status quo and satisfy the population as insurance against rebellion and overthrow.

This then is my disappointment I feel when reading feminism op-eds. I often share common ground with the authors insofar as we are both disappointed if not horrified at the quality of political leadership, industry leadership and even thought leadership in modern society. My private hope though is that feminists aspire to the office of leadership on a basis of a desire for competent leadership and that they, unlike me might be hungry for it, perhaps for the novelty of being both female AND a competent leader. 

I would simply like to see competent leadership, perhaps to a level that illuminates my own incompetence to lead with would further confirm that my best interest is to not take a role of responsibility in our society and instead just be an artist and live the good life, having successfully delegated the job of removing a person like me's obstacles to doing so to a competent and willing leader. 

Thus I'm disappointed by most of what I read, and don't even find it threatening. In all honesty, I see little behavioral difference between the conspicuous forms of feminism that have sprung up around me in the past decade and how the girls at my high-school used to conspicuously consume cosmopolitan magazine or vogue. The details have changed but the behavior is the same, a pissing contest for displaying one's relative prowess in command of knowledge, designed much like sports to mainly impress one's standing in one's-own-gendered hierarchy. Perhaps more polarizing though because you can generally find male voices critical of how sports is glorified in sporting communities along with female ones.

This is not the case when my morbid curiosity sends me looking for who is being critical of, I must admit mostly progressive concepts rather than strictly feminist ones, but critical of concepts like Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, Microaggressions etc. and lest it get clunky, let's expand the scope to the most disappointing phenomena of all - 'progressives'. I feel like a formal logic statement might be that 'feminism is progress, progressives embrace progress therefore all progressives are feminists.' may actually hold up. It's just such a vague concept to me that I'm not confident to speak as to progressive dogma, a term progressives would surely reject because dogma doesn't sound progressive. But I would guestimate that if you identify as being progressive you would disavow being sexist, racist, ageist, you know... all the ists. You might be flexible as to whether you are morally obliged to be a vegan, because this is the most progressive dietary lifestyle and to not hold the welfare of animals as equal to that of women, jews and brown people is specist, or something.

The point being, I don't know but I'd be willing to bet that a progressive more or less has to identify as feminist. Even better though is that a white cis-gendered hetero normative male can identify and claim a place in the progressive community and even through demonstrating how 'woke' they are to their privilege hold a place of privilege in the progressive community. If I had to name the public face of being progressive, it would be Jon Oliver. I also see savvy media executives ensuring that other white men like Stephen Colbert can reach this influential sub culture by employing much of the lingo and demonstrating enough self-awareness eg his segment 'Stephen Colbert White-Mansplains Beyonce's Lemonade' I have no idea why they bothered to title this section as such but you can go watch it and see where 'mansplaining' comes into the picture. I couldn't.

Once again clawing back to what I was talking about, progressiveness stands exposed as an ironic name. It's basis appears to be that all people have a moral obligation to be conscious of the latest understandings of everything. Yet, when I observe a phenomena such as trigger-warnings being employed enough morbid curiosity will eventually be aroused to find out what they are.

I've written at length about trigger warnings in this post so skipping basically to the conclusion, trigger warnings are clearly etiquette with an overlaying of rationale, that it is somehow helping people with trauma triggers. However, on the topic of trigger warnings alone, you can objectively identify that the behavior has arisen, spread and sustained itself with no fact checking as to it's potential benefits and harms. It is the intellectual equivalent of being anti-vaccine. Albeit users of trigger-warnings have more likely never checked as to what the health authorities have to say on the usefulness of such a strategy, whereas anti-vaccine advocates (however they characterise themselves) understand quite lucidly in my experience that they are rejecting the authority of medical science. 

From this observation, you get phenomena/ideologies that arise that have the same foundation, ideas I don't really understand and don't find enough merit to not dismiss them off hand out of my own sense of consistency - 'safe spaces' 'microaggressions' and even to an extent 'intersectionality' all of which from my admitedly shallow analysis seem to require that you reject psychology as a valid science.

If I imagined the pressure to conform for a young person arriving in a progressive scene, to play out something like this 'you like progress right?' 'Yeah sure, who doesn't like progress?' 'Well if you like progress then you need to understand that this is what progress is...' blah blah blah, and I can see the new recruit to the cause of progress signing on with no real application of critical thought or fact checking. 

Consider the correlation between being an evangelical Christian and voting for Donald Trump in the Republican primaries. My source of information that this happened is admittedly Donald Trump himself, but it does appear to be one claim that was not fact checked by the media, who focused more or the fact that Donald sighted the phenomena of religious people voting for him as proof that he himself is religious. BUT, while on the one hand it may seem perplexing as to how somebody who makes fun of the disabled, is on trial for fraud and by his own testimony sexually assaults women could be voted for by those who claim to follow he example of Jesus Christ, is it so surprising that people who have dedicated their lives on gaining entrance to an eternal paradise - the details of which are vague and unspecified - voted for somebody who promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with 'something terrific'? In both directions you are not seeing any scrutiny of what it is exactly that is promised.

I believe people identifying with progressiveness are demonstrating the exact same psychological phenomena. Group think and deference. By some accounts progressives are centered around Tertiary campus life, it is understandable to me that if you come into such a social environment from the outside knowing nothing about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy etc. that it is reasonable to defer to an assumption that academics have done their research. In much the same way as if you'd never used an electric fan before because you lived in say... Northern Alaska and suddenly arrived in South Korea, you may consider that Koreans knew what they were talking about when they insist that fans have a built in timer to prevent fan-death. It appears inconceivable that an entire culture could regulate to prevent a form of death that is physically impossible.

Just-so, I'm entirely sympathetic that somebody emerging from the rigidness and general nature of secondary education into tertiary education would assume that their senior peers know what they are talking about, and don't believe in garbage. It's far easier to stand on the other side of that window and imagine that the probability that a collection of people studying similar subjects all within a 3 year age window have any real understanding of the world, let alone human conscious experience and what is best for it, is near zero even before delving into the details.

Where the question 'what is going on?' gets genuinely curious though, is when I search for dissenting voices and notice a clear pattern in what characteristics the dissenting voices all share. Consider that the most vocal and public dissent comes from people like Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, Gad Saad, Jonathan Haidt etc. and to me there is something troubling about the fact that it is only predominantly white heterosexual males that are offering dissent or even skepticism. In an effort to 'go looking' for counterexamples and out of suspicion that search algorithms might be fucking up my ability to see female and minority voices of dissent I tried quickly searching for Naomi Klein and Ariel Levy as two female public intellectuals that came to mind, I did eventually find an interview with Camille Paglia whom I've never heard of, but nevertheless appears to be an intellectual and female.

Okay so a few friends of mine was one of the hosts of a collective that ran a local public radio segment called 'Queering the Air'. Those friends of mine are no longer friends for reasons entirely unrelated to any of our respective politics, and to be perfectly honest I don't ever listen to the actual radio show, but if you are unfamiliar with Queering the Air, take a moment to imagine and form expectations as to what demographic Queering the Air would be dedicated to. If you are like me, then Queering the Air would have something to do with same-sex relationships, predominantly and 'Queer' implies it would expand to LGBT issues and representation, if considered in isolation but I at least, can imagine that this radio station might have a seperate chunk of programming specializing in Trans-issues etc. 

But over the past year and a half I would guesstimate, I've noticed from the programs posting to facebook that simply being gay or lesbian is not enough to get on the program for Queering the Air, most of the posts and call outs for contribution appear to me, to be dedicated to Queer persons of colour (QueerPOC) and I also get an impression that being indigenous ads points to being a QueerPOC. 

Which is interesting, because if I had to imagine the most marginalized member in my society it would be a disabled aboriginal trans lesbian struggling with chronic mental illness. Here what is fascinating is to consider that there might be a threshold such that once you are so marginilized from a society that contains people like me (able bodied heterosexual white males) you actually rarely interact with the society I live in through several degrees of separation. Transparently, 'my' society controls all the bureaucratic infrastructure and law enforcement as well as owning almost all the property so you more or less have to interact with it, but perhaps not socially. But the program content of Queering the Air offers my speculation that at some point in the middle you become not spurned but sought after as some kind of moral authority.

Which is of course, logically invalid. Who you are does not lend any weight, strictly speaking, to your arguments. Any individual only really has definitive authority to report their subjective experience. Provided somebody wanting to design policy is willing to listen to the reports of other people's subjective experience, they can design good policy whether they are a QueerPOC or a Straight White Male. I'm happy to concede that there is reason enough to believe that Straight White Males are less likely to have done the requisite listening before designing policy, both historically and contemporarily speaking, including myself.

Consider this article posted to fb by Queering the Air moderators. I find it so jargon heavy I find it hard to follow despite it including the phrase "I’m not a scholar, so occasionally I get left behind by academic terminology used to define my identity." if somebody writing an article that contains a term like 'intersectionality' in it's title and quotes the scholar that possibly coined the phrase or defined it says this, I can only laugh at their pretensions to non-scholarship. 

While I'm rolling on terminology, I just want to point to a basis of my impression that much of feminism behaves in compliance with fashion trend behaviors. Seasonality, buzzwords and a need to keep up. A simple hierarchy that demands tribute through adopting the latest terminology, even when that terminology can often be traced back decades to obscure research papers. Last year I had the impression that 'mansplaining' was the designated field of battle for feminists to meet the patriarchy. As of now, I feel like nobody is talking about mansplaining. Out of curiosity I plugged the word mansplaining into Google trends, it's fallen off by two-thirds since roughly this time last year. Compare that to 'intersectionality' it's spike in the zeitgeist was much more recent, co-inciding I suspect with the women's march, and when mansplaining was enjoying its hey-day it was barely spoken of at all. Of course, everything is too recent, and neither display the sheer spike and drop off in interest of Pokemon Go, if you wish to look in google trends and see a real bona-fide fad. 

Now, the importance of Jargon here cannot be overstated by me, because I don't feel that mansplaining has gone away because of some decisive victory. That the vigil can be relaxed because no future generation of man, nor man walking the earth will dare ever again to explain to a woman what it means to be a woman, nor in broader definitions of the term speak to a woman in a condescending tone while explaining some shit. I feel that the thunder of those women riding high on the moral crusade against mansplaining was stolen away by whatever issue came next. 

There's a Miles Barlow's Review (little known ABC comedy program, look it up if you must) episode where Miles reviews vanity, and depicts a process whereby Miles captures all the attention of partygoers by bringing a pet piglet that he cradles in his arms, only to be outdone by a couple with their newborn baby. As a result, Miles goes through the process of adopting his own baby so as to win back the attention of the scene. Though satire, I suspect that feminist and progressive thought leaders are subject to a similar competitive pressure to command the attention of the scene. There are others waiting in the wings to get their specific gripe on the agenda and improve their standing.

Progressives, do not look like Martin Luther King Jr's civil rights movement nor Gandhi's civil disobedience movement because there's no clear cut organisational hierarchy and no clear cut objectives and strategies where resources are mobilized to methodically achieve clear cut concrete goals, be it riding buses, attending schools, making salt or ending British occupation. 

Instead we have articles about 'Microagressions' and I can only testify personally, but in my media environment these highly specialized complaints are more visible than articles about sexual assault. What do I mean by 'highly specialized?' I'm glad somebody asked. As far as I know, one's race, gender, sexual orientation and sexual preferences are relatively independent of eachother, so consider the proportion of the population that would ever need to use the information contained in an article about enduring microaggressions from your white same-sex partner. You have to multiply a racial minority, by a sexual orientation minority, by a statistical minority of the phenomena of interracial relationships (I'm making an assumption that that is the case). So you have a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the population that at any given time could find this info useful. 

Yet in many ways the smallness of the effected population means that such specialised information is thus incredibly valuable, if you are the target market. The question is, why do I know it exists? Well simply because I'm a voyuer, and this indeed was where I learned the terminology of 'microaggressions' and most usefully, there's within an article a flow chart that explains microagressions. And where we come full circle to the importance of semantics in rejecting the science of clinical psychology.

And that's crucial because that is where 'progressive' as a statement of political orientation is almost certainly a misnomer. There are meaningful and accepted definitions of 'trauma' for example, or 'depression' or 'anxiety' and recommended ways of dealing with such that are backed by quite a large amount of empirical evidence including clinical practice. Almost all matters regarding mental health and well being are matters of a spectrum. There are few binary examples of mental health issues - hearing auditory hallucinations or not are one that comes to mind that you either do or you don't. 

However there is a large and meaningful difference between being a Sudanese refugee who was tortured by the police and now faced with the trouble of integrating into a culture where there is some measure of rule-of-law, vs the son or daughter of Chinese immigrants that arriving at University is asked by a white or black person 'where are you from?' Or a trans woman on a road trip that is asked by a store attendant 'why are you dressed like a woman?'

I am not qualified to say which of those incidents qualify for any clinical definition of trauma as opposed to less severe human emotions like embarrassment, indignation and mere offense eg. 'I take offense to that'. but chances are, neither are the authors of articles and diagrams about microaggressions. In fact of my experience there's a flagrant disrespect for clinical psychology excelled only by Scientology and Alternative Medicine. 

Do a quick search of microagressions on Psychology Today, and you'll find qualified psychologists with a dedicated column to microaggressions in everyday life. You will also find dissenting voices by qualified psychologists that argue in respect to cognitive behavioral therapy. Nobody is denying the phenomena, just the severity of its impact and whether or not it needs to be addressed. Even the column dedicated to identifying the phenomena 'Microaggressions in everyday life' does not propose any kind of activism beyond raising awareness. 

So let me once again indulge my martial mind. Allow me to hypothetically concede that a person might be traumatised by being asked where they are from by a white person. The best that I can say of a campaign to stamp out microaggressions is through consciousness raising, pointing out to the patriarchy that they are hurting the wellbeing of individuals it is assumed they care about. 

In which case, microaggressions might be a sensible strategy because you are shattering the illusions of people that profess to care about you or see you as equals. The very fact that people push back on these issues rather than accepting them indicates that people care about what the complainants think of them.

What if they don't? What if they enjoy their privilege and seek to oppress? What if there was a real patriarchal drive out there in some loosely networked sense? Well you are telegraphing a degree of fragility that is frankly laughable. You are also alienating your closest allies by shattering their illusion that they share the same values as them. Identifying well meaning people as your enemy.

This is a principle that I observe falls out along gender lines, a seemingly non-shared intuition. Us/Them divisions favor the oppressor. The privileged or dominant class benefit by having a wall drawn around their membership. Thus shoring up those walls between Us/Them is reinforcing the patriarchies rule. 

And so let me speak strategically of 'intersectionality' a tale on two hands. On the one hand, it is very logical - you don't want to replace the ruling class with just a different ruling class. An oppressive patriarchy toppled and replaced by an oppressive matriarchy, novel, but as illegitimate as the current status quo. Thus, those who would form the New World Order need to demonstrate that they are competent to address the shortcomings of the system that excludes and marginalizes other groups.

This is what I intuit intersectional-whatever to be about. What good is it to get women in power if only white women can rule? what good is it to get women in power if only heterosexual women can rule? what good is it to get women in power if only able bodied women aspire to the pinnacle? Hence LGBT has in just a few years grown to LGBTIQA+ and I haven't looked up the A yet, and I'm sure the + will not prevent further letter growth as right now, a campaign is being waged to get another letter affixed to the movement. (I couldn't resist and just looked it up, there is now a P on the end before +)

Tactically speaking, purely, sociopathically, amorally speaking in pure tactics, this Intersectionality reminds me of the rational logic puzzle the 'Pirate Game' it relies on all the players being rational, rather than emotional and stipulates strict rules but it can illustrate how gross inequality can arise counter to our intuitions. When pirates are proposing how to divide up the loot, with failed proposals resulting in being thrown overboard. Please just click the link and read yourself up, it's better than anything I've written in descriptive power. However my intuition is that if you are the Pirate Captain, or Pirate A, you would have to offer everyone an equal share of 100 coins, so 20 coins each for the proposal to be accepted on grounds of fairness. However it turns out you have Pirate A getting 98 coins, B gets 0, C gets 1, D gets 0 and E gets 1. 

It's not realistic, nor historically accurate. Typically the Pirate captain got something like a 2 share, the first mate and navigator 1.5 share and everyone else a 1 share or something. You can find the pirate charters, Pirate ships were also some of the first functional democracies in the modern sense, so who knew.

But where the Pirate Game is relevant is that the person closest to power is robbed of their power by the person under them, and so forth down the chain to pirate E who is truly in every simulation, powerless. Thus can you envision, in the abstract how the patriarchy, able bodied straight white males get to enjoy most of the worlds resources and sleep soundly knowing that their women are under attack by women of colour, who in turn may be under attack by queer women of colour, who may in turn be under attack by disabled queer women of colour. 

the implication being, that there are so many canaries in the cage for the patriarchy, which first has to have it's tyrannical values and ideologies overthrown within an incredibly marginalized group in order to validate the trust and support of an even more incredibly marginalized group. Just imagine being an indigenous physically-disabled lesbian, who has to first champion the rights of a indigenous physically-disabled lesbian with chronic mental illness before you are free of the charge of hypocrisy to fight against your own oppression. 

My intuition would be, that if white women got rid of white men, then the world would be an incrimentally better place for everyone except white men. Now, it may be that this places white men in the best position to overthrow the new order, that depends on how much prejudice the patriarchy is terminated with. 

Which brings me to the greatest tactical oversight I perceive, I can only perceive it because I'm Miyamoto Musashi, not Tokugawa Ieyasu, I have no motivation to put down the rebellion but I can ridicule its execution. Anyway that is the employment of 'privilege' as an ad hominem attack. Which is to say, dismissing dissenting views because they come from people with privilege. 

Imagine that you wake up tomorrow to hear the inevitable media recap of presidential tweets and one of them was 'catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion, I'm concerned talk of microaggressions is symptomatic of this distorted thinking.' this would be amazingly coherent for the president, but just because it A) disagrees with you and B) comes from a privileged individual does not render it an invalid argument. Because it comes from Trump, you would probably want to fact check it, and find out that yes, catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion often treated with CBT, and that by the definition of catastrophizing believing that a microaggression may traumatize a person leaving them psychologically scarred for life, would seem to fit. But you can't just assume that an argument is invalid because one of the most privileged people to ever live said it. Much less the many reasonable things that people with relative privilege utter all the time. 

This tactical error is no more apparent than when you watch a panel of leading scientists gathered for some massive event. Where giants of the industry sit around a stage like Bill Nye, Neil De Grasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins ... we know why the leading public intellectuals are all men - privilege. However we have to also concede the Matthew effect and indeed Halo effect, that imaginary advantages can and tend to translate into real advantages over time. Men of this age were educated in a system that excluded women and for the most part people of colour. The best funded and leading educational institutions on earth were almost solely located in the United States, the wealthier nations of the Commonwealth and Europe. Thus the odds that the world leaders in any scientific field would wind up being white men were very heavily stacked in their favor. 

Crucially this does not invalidate that they are the leading experts in their fields. It doesn't mean that Bill Nye is not a competent engineer, or that Lawrence Krauss and Neil De Grasse Tyson are not competent astrophysicists. Nor does it mean they have any desire to maintain the status quo and only have male successors. 

One of the most fascinating statements I've heard all year was (and I paraphrase) 'many women don't like evolutionary psychology because they find it condescending to women' I cannot empathise with the experience of hearing a description of evolutionary game theory in which an evolutionary psychologist says 'male or small sex cell organisms have less sexual investment and female or large sex cell organisms have more sexual investment and so they have to be selective. Hence males are going to tend towards focusing on their ability to command resources in order to be selected by females...' I do not know what it feels like to hear such a theory of gender roles and not like it. But what takes the teeth out of feminism is a suggestion that upon hearing lines of inquiry they don't like, they simply ignore it. 

I'm of the martial opinion that strength and weakness do not so much matter intrinsically so much as your ability to accurately appraise it. The concepts of advantage and disadvantage are pretty fluid if you can stand far enough of an emotional remove to incorporate the lay of the land. To concede that a position of privilege is not arbitrary, but may have a long history behind it, is not the same as conceding that it is just, fair, legitimate or ethical. 

I feel I've said everything I have to say on gender and progressive politics, feminism in general. This should tie me over for a few months at least. In conclusion, when I close my eyes and imagine that I am 'the man' sitting in my palace and hearing reports from my scouts as to the state of the rebel forces opposing the patriarchy, nothing I see or hear calls for any countermeasures to be enacted. Hubris perhaps, but that's how I'd bet.

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