Gender Agnosticism

I’m proposing a new way of looking at the relationship between the genders based on aggressive neutrality. Feel free to criticize and comment.

This is also going to be my last post for a few months as I am scaling back my involvement in the gender sphere to focus on my meditation practice and other projects in my life. See you in a few months. Don’t kill and eat each other.

Fundamental Principle of Gender Agnosticism

Owing to the interconnected nature of male and female roles in society, neither men nor women can be said to benefit more or be more to blame for gender dynamics within a culture.[1] This makes gender oppression fundamentally different from and incomparable to oppressions that spring from tribalism such as slavery, apartheid and genocide.

Principle of Gender Equity

All humans are pack animals and pairbonders, this means that while male and female behaviors may differ, their goals and ultimate fulfillment do not.

Pair bonders want:

1)   A suitable mate.

2)   To raise healthy children with a suitable mate.

3)   To ensure the protection of their family.

Pack animals want:

1)   To feel like they are part of a pack.

2)   To feel like they are essential to their pack’s survival.

3)   To engage in behaviors that encourage pack solidarity and delineate pack territory.

Principles of Gender Agnostic Analysis

When a gender experiences Y undesirable outcome:

A)   It is often because of Z inequality in how society treats that gender relative to the other

B)   It is almost always accompanied by an opposing but equally negative undesirable outcome for the other gender.

When a gender engages in X undesirable behavior towards the opposite gender:

A)   It is always due to socialization that is equally damaging to the gender engaging in X undesirable behavior.

B)   Is never a result of one or the other gender being innately sociopathic.

In the future I will be analyzing situations using the principles of Gender Agnostic Analysis, and comparing the results to mainstream gender theory.

[1] Looking at the most extreme case from the western perspective, in the Middle East men have more personal freedom but far greater risk of violent death; women have fewer personal freedoms but are insulated from the majority of violence in the public sphere.

Alison Tieman
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Alison Tieman

Artist/Writer at Xenospora
Alison has been researching men's issues since her mother gave her "Princess at the Window" by Donna Laframboise in 1994 when she was 16. She's taken part in men's rights communities since she started posting on soc.men in 2003. Since 2011 she's run the gender apostate blog Genderratic with her pal Gingko the wonder leaf and she founded Honey Badger Brigade in 2013 with Hannah Wallen and Karen Straughan. According to Vice the pony she most resembles is Fluttershy.
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  • Erenthia

    I’m sorry to do this to you, but it looks like my comment is going to have nothing to do with the majority if your post.

    I will miss you. I know you aren’t going away forever, but still. I will seriously fucking miss you, Typhon.

    The most insidious form of misandry I’ve ever had to confront was the misandry within myself. Focused at other men, but most of all focused on myself. Spending most of your life denying your own humanity is a horror I can’t even begin to describe.

    That’s why the women of the men’s rights movement are so important. Just because some of us guys have woken up to the reality of our situation does NOT mean that we immediately and thoroughly excise all of societies negative imagery about men from our identities.

    So I guess now you know my secret. As apt and intelligent as your analyses are, the real reason I look forward to your articles and your videos is because they help me remember I’m a person.

    I don’t know how to even begin to say thank you. You’ve made me a better father, a better husband, and you’ve helped me start to care about my own life for its own sake. Of course there were others, but you were one of the most important.

    Thank You.

  • http://valeriekeefe.livejournal.com Valerie Keefe

    Yeah, I can’t buy that argument. I can buy it in societies where political power is not a function of gender, like Western nations, but there’s restriction of freedom and then there’s restriction of freedom backed up with incredible amounts of state-sanctioned violence, which your reference to a Wahhabiist society leads.

  • Typhonblue

    @ Valerie

    “there’s restriction of freedom backed up with incredible amounts of state-sanctioned violence, which your reference to a Wahhabiist society leads.”

    Take a look at this post at feminist critics.org:

    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/06/22/getting-everything-wrong-noh/

    When you live in a tribalist system with incredible rates of violent death, it’s a sensible choice to forgo personal freedom in exchange for security. We do the same thing all the time in the west, just not (as much) along gender lines.

    @ Erenthia

    Not sure what to say in response. Thanks and glad to be of assistance. The ‘official’ start of my sabbatical is tomorrow. And I will be back, hopefully purged of some emotional clutter.

  • Galt from SYG

    Have a useful and refreshing break, Typhonblue. I always enjoy reading your posts.

  • http://valeriekeefe.livejournal.com Valerie Keefe

    When you live in a tribalist system with incredible rates of violent death, it’s a sensible choice to forgo personal freedom in exchange for security

    I can grant the argument, but the consent has to, you know, sorta be there, and reaffirmed. You can’t argue a Saudi woman has ever had the opportunity to consent to her treatment. And there’s a direct correlation between political equality and social equality. Look at Virginia after the Readjusters lost power.

    Again, your theory holds in Thailand, your theory holds in Ghana, (and you can see a direct correlation between family planning and economic output), but your theory doesn’t hold up in a country where women don’t exercise any political power. I don’t mean hold office (there’s other reasons for the gap in elected officials). I mean hold the franchise, be able to protest, discuss, organize, all basic acts of political freedom that, even at their most moderate, can be used to reaffirm consent to a multidirectionally sexist system. There are instances where that does not exist.

  • Typhonblue

    @ Valerie

    Unfortunately when you talk about consent you have to allow for the fact that men aren’t asked their consent in the system either (btw, Saudi is a monarchy, it’s only been recent that anyone has had a limited right to vote.)

    There are different kinds of enfranchisement. There is political enfranchisement and then there is social enfranchisement. Social enfranchisement is the right for an individual to be provided for and protected by society. When a group of people appears to be politically enfranchised (and we’re talking only a small number of men here), they lose social enfranchisement–they lose the right to be protected and provided for by others in situations where they are vulnerable.

    Political enfranchisement does not happen in a vacuum, it happens in the context of human emotional systems. You cannot be seen to gain power without losing social enfranchisement; conversely you cannot be seen to have no power without gaining social enfranchisement. (In every situation where one group oppresses another, the oppressed group is first painted as somehow having more power then the oppressing group: black peril, yellow peril, jewish banking conspiracies, etc. In every situation a truly oppressed group has to first fight against the perception that they have somehow acquired hyperagency–that their effects on others are disproportionately monstrous.)

    The people worst off in the political enfranchisement/social enfranchisement dichotomy is actually the very large group of men who has neither political nor social enfranchisement.

    Thus the incredible rate of violent death of civilian men in the middle east. Five times that of civilian women.

    Look at this:

    http://www.genderratic.com/p/700/a-map-of-how-awful-men-arerevisited/

    Notice how ‘legal enfranchisement’ of women corresponds very closely to those cultures that are both white and wealthy. But instead of simply concluding that white, wealthy people are more moral then poor, black people, perhaps there is something about _poverty_ itself that makes enfranchising women a difficult proposition.

    Here’s an explanation on the differences in female enfranchisement around the globe that doesn’t conclude with ‘rich white people are just better people’.

    Poverty stricken areas are also extremely violent regions. Men in those regions have the social role of providing for and protecting their families and in regions this public role of men is extremely dangerous, leading to five times greater risk of violent death for men.

    In order to both justify and excuse the disposability of men, those regions adopt cultural attitudes of male hyperagency–women are not free to move about in the dangerous public sphere so men are obligated to do so for their benefit; men have more power in the public sphere therefore the perception of their public hyperagency excuses society’s indifference to their disposability.

    When a society becomes rich enough that violent competition over resources is no longer an issue, women become more free to move about in a no-longer-dangerous public sphere. Thus the enforcement of male hyperagency is no longer as crucial.

    This explains several phenomena. 1) Why women in these poverty-stricken regions are often the ones enforcing social codes on other women–they know that violating them means a reduction in security for all women. 2) That while the enforcement of hypoagency on women is severe in these societies; the enforcement of gender norms against men is even more severe–men who ‘pretend’ to be women are punished very harshly. 3) That black people aren’t less moral then white people, but are more likely to be poverty stricken thus explaining the association with dark skin colour and female disenfranchisement.

    Further, if we want to talk about enfranchisement as an indicator of oppression… Men in the west do not actually have the right to vote.

    A right is inalienable; a group of people have the right to vote if when they turn the age of majority, they are capable of voting without qualification.

    Men in the US and many other western ‘democracies’ do not have the right to vote as the vote is only accessible to them in exchange for either service to the state or the promise of service to the state. Men only presumptively have the right to vote in those democracies that don’t ether have a draft(or its equivalent) or selective service(or its equivalent.) I say presumptively because the moment it is in these countries best interest to reinstate a sex-selective draft or service obligation, they will. Until the deeply ingrained cultural expectation that men exchange wartime service for citizenship is changed, men’s right to vote in those countries where they have it is conditional. Men also won the right to vote many generations _after_ women won it in those countries where men have the right to vote.

  • Clarence

    Well, we could argue whether your initial premises even hold true.

    ‘ALL’ humans are ‘pair-bonders’, Typhon?
    ALL humans are pack animals?
    I see you are still over-reliant on your wolf-pack ideas from last year.
    Humans aren’t wolves. We are some sort of MIX between a wolf and an ape in terms of behavior, and we don’t yet know the full range of human traits or even what particular type of primate most resembles the primate parts of our behavior.

    That being said, there is no doubt that cissexual human beings (the most common type of human being) do , indeed, share some of those behaviors and proclivities.
    Thus, your argument isn’t falsified simply because you don’t encompass the full range of human behaviors, but it does have to be modified if you want it to be more universal.

    As an example, how does any of this apply to a hypothetical gay man who has always tended to be a loner?

    The principles of “Gender Agnostic Analysis” are good, but only for traits that are more cultural than biological. You seem to assume all such things are, which I find ridiculous. Psychology has a biological component as you, yourself seem to admit when you talk about humans being inherently this or that – but then you go and say that whenever something “undesirable” occurs (hardly a scientific or rigorous psychological term) it’s always due to ‘socialization’.

    I find most of your actual posts and points to be excellent -and as you know, I usually agree either totally or , at least, mostly – but your ability to build a theoretical underpinning for this stuff seems very limited at this point. It’s not necessarily a fault of yours – I contend we don’t yet have enough knowledge to build a truly unified account of all of human sexual and biological behaviors and to distinguish between culture and biology.

    I hope you know that I criticize you with the utmost respect for you as a person.

  • Schala

    “(In every situation where one group oppresses another, the oppressed group is first painted as somehow having more power then the oppressing group: black peril, yellow peril, jewish banking conspiracies, etc. In every situation a truly oppressed group has to first fight against the perception that they have somehow acquired hyperagency–that their effects on others are disproportionately monstrous.) ”

    So that’s why trans women are presented as the oppressors of cis women? They (radfems) say we want to redefine womanhood to be a caricature of the 1950s, do so from the inside, and rape all women (by existing). Too masculine trans women are “really men”, and too feminine trans women just prove that theory right.

  • Typhonblue

    @ Schala

    Yep. In order to justify the marginalization of transwomen, radfems have to ascribe hyperagency to them.

    By their very existence they oppress women.

    In fact accusations of hyperagency or ‘out-group peril’ seems to follow exactly the same pattern.

    Group X has Y immense power which justifies their social exclusion/legal controls over them/their segregation/their imprisonment/genocide against them.

    In the hysteria over ‘out-group peril’ no one ever stops and says ‘if the out group had so much power, why can’t they stop us persecuting them?’

  • Ginkgo

    Clarence,

    “We are some sort of MIX between a wolf and an ape in terms of behavior, and we don’t yet know the full range of human traits or even what particular type of primate most resembles the primate parts of our behavior.”

    That would be bonobos and chimps, and we knoew something but not all about them. Chimps live in some pretty ferocious packs. The real difference between hominid and wolf packs is not degree packiness, but levle of organization. Wolf packs are very heirarchically organized to optimize focusing a pack on the fly. Chimps are just vicious in groups to non-members, and pretty damned hard on members too. Bonobos just want to make out all day.

    Neither of them are pair-bonders, unless you consider polyamory a form of pair bonding.

    Now we do have to take into account a lot of uncontroversial eviolutionary differences between humans and other hominids, if yoyu agree to calling them hominids. Menopause and the resulting grandparenting is one such change. The mutations in brain structure and function that make language possible are another. So a mutation toward some degree of pair bonding is not too farfetched – maybe not conclusively demonstrated, but it’s not a wild claim, given that the eveluotionary benfits of pair bonding in a long childhood species are at least as great as grandparenting. Oh, and this may also explain the evolutionary adaptivenss of homosexuality. Oh wait, you allude to that:
    “As an example, how does any of this apply to a hypothetical gay man who has always tended to be a loner?”

    That is exactly what I mean and even if he is not a loner but in a commited couple, eh isn’t fathering kids of his own.

    Oh, and there are even some mutations that have either arisen as a result of cultural forces or which have spread due to them. One is the use of fire and cooking, with obvious effects on our dentition and digestion. It is nearly impossible for humans to live on raw food in the wild in almost every environment, and certainly in east Africa. and then there is lactase persistence – four unrelated mutations in four populations, with the most common one being foundmin its highest incidence among Basques – who got dairying last of all in Europe and thus needed it last and least – but which still was so advantageous that it has spread like lightening throughout Europe and eastward.

    All that said, your point about staying cautious with conclusions is well-founded. However for typhon’s thesis of gender equity, all she needs to establish is equal tendency to pair bond and live in packs, not an absolute behavioral trait.

  • Jupp

    Interesting stuff. Just some questions:

    “Owing to the interconnected nature of male and female roles in society, neither men nor women can be said to benefit more or be more to blame for gender dynamics within a culture.”

    1. What does it mean, that neither gender can benefit more from gender dynamics in a culture? Both genders have advantages and disadvantages. How would (even theoretically) one compare those advantages and disadvantages to reach a verdict of whether a gender has it benefits?
    Assuming there is a formula (or a procedure) to decide this question, how could anybody know or discover this formula (or procedure)?

    2.Isn’t blaming a gender for anything always an intellectual and moral failure?
    Explanation: Gender usually isn’t chosen, but is assigned by biology or other people. Leaving ones gender is not a possibility for most people. Neither the gender men nor the gender women act as groups. So blaming a gender amounts to blaming people for characteristics, that they were assigned by exterior forces, or for the mischiefs committed by people with whom they share some characteristics.

    “When a gender experiences Y undesirable outcome:
    It is almost always accompanied by an opposing but equally negative undesirable outcome for the other gender. …”

    3. How does one compare the negativity different kinds of undesirable outcomes? Why should the negativity be equal? (Is this some law of nature?)

  • Jupp

    Corrections of my previous post:

    1. … How would one compare those advantages and disadvantages to reach a verdict of whether a gender benefits?

    3.How does one compare the negativity of different kinds of undesirable outcomes?

  • typhonblue

    @ Gingko

    “maybe not conclusively demonstrated”

    Dude, how much more ‘conclusively demonstrated’ does it need to be? We have the same hormonal profile as other pair bonding mammals. Male humans go through hormonal changes during pregnancy. (There are studies that show inducing the same hormonal changes in non-paternal males will make them into fathers.)

    There are other anatomical adaptations to pair bonding besides the ‘pair bonding hormonal system’. The human penis is adapted to prolonged intercourse by losing it’s spines; the change from muscular to vasocongestion based erections means a slower, more complex arousal pattern (Chimps get erect quicker and easier); the absence of estrus(year round sex) is an adaptation to make pair-bonding more attractive. Without an estrus, animals in promiscuous or polygynous mating systems would never have heterosexual sex. The fact we have an interest in heterosexual sex without going into heat or must, is possibly a result of sex becoming an extension of affection within pair bonding.

    Not to mention the fact that anthropologists, based on the large size of our most recent ancestor’s children, believe that pair-bonding arose an evolutionary step _earlier_ then the earliest true humans.

    @ Jupp

    I suppose you could call this a declaration of ultimate unknowing.

    Going through your points.

    1) “Assuming there is a formula (or a procedure) to decide this question, how could anybody know or discover this formula (or procedure)?”

    The answer is ‘you can’t.’ And in the absence of an answer the best way to approach the situation is to assume no one benefits over anyone.

    2) “Isn’t blaming a gender for anything always an intellectual and moral failure?”

    Yep. So blaming a gender is right out.

    3) “How does one compare the negativity different kinds of undesirable outcomes? Why should the negativity be equal?”

    It’s a ‘opposite but equal reaction’ situation. However, you’re right, it’s almost impossible to compare negativity, so the best way to approach gender dynamics is to assume equal detriment and equal benefit.

  • typhonblue

    @ Gingko

    “maybe not conclusively demonstrated”

    Dude, how much more ‘conclusively demonstrated’ does it need to be? We have the same hormonal profile as other pair bonding mammals. Male humans go through hormonal changes during pregnancy. (There are studies that show inducing the same hormonal changes in non-paternal males will make them into fathers.)

    There are other anatomical adaptations to pair bonding besides the ‘pair bonding hormonal system’. The human penis is adapted to prolonged intercourse by losing it’s spines; the change from muscular to vasocongestion based erections means a slower, more complex arousal pattern (Chimps get erect quicker and easier); the absence of estrus(year round sex) is an adaptation to make pair-bonding more attractive. Without an estrus, animals in promiscuous or polygynous mating systems would never have heterosexual sex. The fact we have an interest in heterosexual sex without going into heat or must, is possibly a result of sex becoming an extension of affection within pair bonding.

    Not to mention the fact that anthropologists, based on the large size of our most recent ancestor’s children, believe that pair-bonding arose an evolutionary step _earlier_ then the earliest true humans.

    @ Jupp

    I suppose you could call this a declaration of ultimate unknowing.

    Going through your points.

    1) “Assuming there is a formula (or a procedure) to decide this question, how could anybody know or discover this formula (or procedure)?”

    The answer is ‘you can’t.’ And in the absence of an answer the best way to approach the situation is to assume no one benefits over anyone.

    2) “Isn’t blaming a gender for anything always an intellectual and moral failure?”

    Yep. So blaming a gender is right out.

    3) “How does one compare the negativity different kinds of undesirable outcomes? Why should the negativity be equal?”

    It’s a ‘opposite but equal reaction’ situation. However, you’re right, it’s almost impossible to compare negativity, so the best way to approach gender dynamics is to assume equal detriment and equal benefit.

  • Ginkgo

    “Dude, how much more ‘conclusively demonstrated’ does it need to be? We have the same hormonal profile as other pair bonding mammals.”

    Maybe I have a die-in-place standard, too high. mammals fuck around a lot, more than real mate for life bid species. But really iwas just doing the qualified statement thing rather than really doubting the reality of pair bonding. I do not doubt it at all. falling in love is a hormonal process. I guess I take accpetance of that for granted in these discussions.

    Your other examples, anatomical examples, are solid too.

    The age of pair bonding – I bet you can date it right to the point where childhood started to extend beyond weaning. And that is probably considerably older than actual H. sapiens.

  • http://valeriekeefe.livejournal.com Valerie Keefe

    Typhon:

    Trans women is two words, and you’re reaching back to Hobbes for your argument that a society that exists always exists as a result of an affirmed social contract. Regimes that repress discussion and dissent tend to not govern with the consent of the governed, but rather the situation is that of a whole nation engaged in Flood and Dresher’s classic Prisoner’s Dilemma.

  • Ginkgo

    Valerie, by “affirmed” do you mean consciously agreed upon? I can’t think of very many societies at all, like none, that fit that defintion then. It’s one thing to come to some kind of consensus in a society that soem aspect has to change, but that’s a long way from designing a society consciously.

  • Aych

    TB: I do hope you will come by more often than less.

    What I can’t help but wonder is: how can men be good husbands and good fathers when a large slice of society seems hell-bent on trying to bash them and undermine them?

    It’s demoralizing. You can’t stand up tough & strong & fearless when faceless miners are continually trying to dig the soil out from under your feet.