Driving Women’s Agency Out of a Culture

Typhonblue’s law is that he core of the gender role divide is that men are actors and women are acted upon. Has it always been this way in our culture?

When I say “our culture”, I need to specify. We are English-speakers and our culture is Anglosphere culture. That culture derives from an ancestral British Isles culture influenced by 2,000 years of hegemonic Latin culture. It turns out there has been an interesting development in gender roles in that culture and that change can be tracked in its early literature. That literature comes down to us thanks to the work of monks recording their own cultures’ oral literature stretching back hundreds of years into pagan times.

Medb – Let’s start with one of the monuments of Irish literature, Táin Bó Cúailnge. The main character in this epic is the queen of Connacht – although it’s pretty clear she’s really a goddess – named Medb. The actual story starts when she assembles and army of disparate elements, often by offering their chieftains her “friendly thighs”, to go on a massive cattle raid to take an incomparable bull to head her herd. As far as agency goes, Medb has it in buckets.

Deirdre – Before the story gets rolling there are several “fore-stories” to explain subsequent aspects of the main story. In one of these stories Deirdre has been raised to be the wife of Conchobar at Emain Macha in Ulster, but when she gets to his court, she decides instead to take up with one of his warriors, Naoise. He initially refuses but she coerces him by putting him under geas. (Rape culture goes deep in our history and it has always targeted men, whoever else gets hit too.) The couple has to flee and the rest of story consists of their roamings. Eventually they are lured back to Emain Macha with promises of safe passage. Naoise is killed, treacherously, and Deirdre is faced with forced marriage to Conchobar. She kills herself instead.

Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne – This theme of the love triangle centering around the woman shows up again in a later story, Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne, The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne. In this story Grainne is intended to marry Fionn mac Cumhaill but instead chooses one of his young warriors, Dairmuid ua Duibhne. She puts the whole dinner party to sleep with a sleeping potion and puts the moves on Dairmuid. He refuses at first but she coerces him by putting him under . Fionn and the Fianna pursue them all over Ireland and eventually many years later contrive Dairmuid’s death.

Tristan and Iseult – Next this theme shows up in a story recorded in France but set in Cornwall. It is almost certainly of Welsh origin. This time an Irish princess, Iseult, is intended to marry King Mark of Cornwall. Her mother packs a love potion in Iseult’s baggage so that she will fall in love with Mark. One of Mark’s knights, Tristan, escorts her back to Cornwall, and on the trip over Iseult has her maid bring something to drink. The maid mistakenly serves the love potion and Tristan and Iseult fall in love instead. Tragedy ensues.

Guinevere and Lancelot – For me the least gripping part of the whole Arthurian legend was the treasonous love affair between Guinevere and Lancelot, and I think it was because the characters seem to be sleep-walking through it, or seemed that way to me. Then I ran across a note that said in a French version of the story Guinevere comes of pretty badly as a vamp who initiates and pursues the affair.

Aha, back on familiar ground.
So why was Guinevere so boneless in the familiar English version of the story? Well, that love affair tore Camelot apart. Showing Guinevere in her rightful role puts a hell of an accusation on her. That may be what’s going on, but why bother to protect her reputation.

Or perhaps Guinevere really was a lot more Romanized in real life – assuming she ever existed in the first place – a lot more like Calpurnia than like Dierdre, by the time the Arthurian stories are supposed to have taken place. Well, why suddenly get all historically accurate in this one instance? Medieval story tellers are not known for that at all. Something else is going on.

I think it has to do with the tastes of the audience, and with the changing taste of the audience, and that this steady trend of ties into a broader cultural shift that had been occurring across Western Europe. That trend was the spread of Latin cultural values as a function of governments adopting Christianity, if only for the administrative skills that a literate clergy could offer. These were not specifically Christian values, they were Roman values, but in northern and western Europe, that was often the same thing.

The trend we see in these stories is in the first a woman is making a move on a man (which he is not permitted to refuse, by the way), the same thing in the next, although this time she uses a sleeping potion to drug all the witnesses, next the sleeping potion has turned into a love potion, so the woman has no responsibility – or culpability – when she falls in love, and then finally a story where it’s not clear who is zooming who, probably to hide the woman’s initiative in an illicit love affair. It’s a trend from female agency to female passivity. And this last form of the story line is the one that had all the influence in later centuries.

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  • Wudang

    My mother told me that during the middle ages sometimes priests and monks would (and others?) would accuse a woman of having used magic on them to make them attracted to her. They where trying to be pure and not feel sexual desire and wen they did it was caused by the woman not by themselves.

    I´ve read stuff that shows a view of women in the east and in the west in previous times as both both being passive, indirect and directed upon in one sense but also using precisely those indirect means very purposefully to achieve goals (sometimes sinister). Some of this stuff came as advice and cautions about women’s devious ways and some of it is more basic yin yang dynamic where yang appears the active but in reality is controlled more by yin. I read about a study recently that found that when studying men trying to seduce women the researchers found that they could not predict a woman’s next move by what the man did. He could try to escalate physical touch or go for a kiss etc. but the responses of the women where unpredictable. However, they could predict the behavior of men from the behavior of women. IF a woman used a certain body language, used her eyes a certain way, touched him certain places or a lot etc. They could predict well when a man would do certain escalation moves. The male moves were very direct and obvious escalations of the interaction closer towards the goal of sex. The women’s moves were indirect moves that drew the man in or subtly signaled and OK to increased physical escalation. The women’s moves all had plausible deniability. In all likelihood very few men would have understood that they where acting upon signs signaling and OK to escalate, most women would probably deny their told and many would truly not understand it. But the reality, no matter how indirect it seemed, was that the women escalated the seduction not the other way around. Certainly the men tried to escalate on their own initiative but not successfully. So for a woman saying that HE just did so and so and seduced me seems implausible.

    Women use a massive range of indirect signaling in their daily lives and all that signaling is active but seems not to be. When a woman plays the offended victim card without asking anyone for help or commanding anyone she has in fact requested help and sent an attempted command for action on her behalf because she knows playing this role will make people volunteer for help and feel compelled to act. So the benefit is to not only get your way but seeming like you did not even ask for it. Agency without responsibility or accountability. Western people think power is only about being able to give very direct orders that are followed almost always or of being able to with certainty directly PUSH people to do something but seem unable to understand that PULLING people in or DRAWING them in to do something is just as much about power. In fact it is even more effective and since it has plausible deniability it comes without any responsibility and little consequences and so very little cost. The amount of power you get for the same price (responsibility and consequences) by buying direct power is much less than the amount of power you get from buying indirect power as it comes wit almost zero responsibility and consequences.Yin and yang theory state that yin is far, far, far more powerful than yang.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Wudang, unfortunately what all that leads to is… women like me, very direct and in-your-face, can yell outright: “I think you suck, you asshole!” and the man concludes… you must really like me! (extreme example for the sake of brevity)

    Or, “what is she REALLY saying?” or “I wonder what she *really* means?” It is maddening. You try to be as honest and direct as you can possibly be, but since women are fundamentally judged to NOT be honest and direct, well, I must really mean something else, or even the opposite of what I say.

    I learned in male-oriented political groups as a young woman, to say exactly what I mean and there can be no misunderstandings. In politics, this has helped me. I think in my marriage, which has lasted a loooong time, it has also helped me: No subterfuge, games, or similar bullshit. He knows he can trust what I say.

    But in other contexts, being very plainspoken and direct as a female, I think has hurt me. You will routinely be accused of acting like a man or being a bitch.

  • TheBiboSez

    My Dearest Beloveds –

    As a man, it too rare a treat for me to find a woman who is honest in an interpersonal sense – I’ve been quite successful with chicks by openly disbelieving any claims she might make about what she wants in favor of simply going by the contradiction – “no” means “yes” (oh, horrors).

    Indeed, understanding the triad that “No” means “yes”, “Yes” means “maybe” and “Maybe” means “no” will save a man a lot of grief, heartbreak, money and misunderstandings when it comes to dealing with a woman that the man is attracted to.

    Of course, revealing an insight like this will cause a firestorm of angry responses (whatev’s) by women who fear that their trade secrets just got exposed.

    Oops. SOOOOO sorry about that. My bad. I suck. Sob.

    Next.

    And that is what the Bibo Sez.

    Bless you!

  • dungone

    “No” means “yes”, “Yes” means “maybe” and “Maybe” means “no”

    I found that “No” means “maybe”, “Yes” means “maybe”, and “Maybe” means “I’m not telling you.” Either way, trying to out-manipulate a manipulator, whether it’s easy or not, takes all the redeeming value out of sex and relationships. Meaningless sex is meaningless.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Bibo: chicks

    Honey, I have identified your problem. You are trying to have relationships with chickens, which are pretty stupid feathered animals, rather than human beings. Try real WOMEN next time, instead of animals. And hey, no judgement! I understand that people are into all kindsa weird stuff! I just mean, it can be hard to relate to birds, since they have really tiny brains and mostly are interested in relationships with other birds.

    Try women next time, instead of birds. And good luck!

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Dungone, why are you choosing these kinds of women in the first place? Unless they are choosing you?

    If appearances are most important to you (and your comments here have indicated to me they are very important), you can expect a person (of either gender) that has learned to manipulate. That is what “appearances” ARE, after all.

    Physician, heal thyself.

  • dungone

    Dungone, why are you choosing these kinds of women in the first place? Unless they are choosing you?

    I was sort of just making a little joke about the other comment. I was making fun of The Rules: The Man Edition ™.

    If appearances are most important to you (and your comments here have indicated to me they are very important), you can expect a person (of either gender) that has learned to manipulate. That is what “appearances” ARE, after all.

    That’s a very sad outlook but perhaps you’re right about appearances. I would like to think that people who care about one another will strive to appear attractive for each other as well as for themselves personally. I think that attraction can be built up similarly to the way trust can and that when someone puts effort into looking nice, it can be done in a way that conveys trust and fidelity. Or it can be done to achieve the complete opposite. What I see people doing in real life is the opposite – they try to stay attractive and fit just long enough to land a hot husband/wife and then they let themselves go. They dress up when they want to impress others and dress down when they’re around the person they’re supposed to love. They give good looks a bad name!

  • Erenthia

    >Honey, I have identified your problem. You are trying to have relationships with chickens

    That’s kinda funny. You call him out for referring to women as “chicks” and refer to him as “Honey”

    Now, as a fellow South Carolinian, I understand the culture this comes out of, but I also had a friend from florida who was offended by strange women calling him “Honey”. (To be fair, I sometimes slip and use this term myself on the internet, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it while trying to police someone else’s speech.)

  • Ginkgo

    Florida – every state has two or more antagonistic halves, but usually they are at least contiguous. Florida is the only one with one part in Dixie and one in New York. He misunderstood “honey”. Even out here on the West Coast we understodd that usage, although it helps if the lady is pouring coffee in a truck stop, for disambiguating context.

  • Clarence

    Geez, whats up with that Daisy chick, trying to police language?
    Honeys like her drive me up the wall.
    😉

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Erenthia: That’s kinda funny. You call him out for referring to women as “chicks” and refer to him as “Honey”

    Glad you caught the joke.

    Dungone: I would like to think that people who care about one another will strive to appear attractive for each other as well as for themselves personally.

    Well sure, but that is different from valuing appearances just to “catch” somebody.

    I probably would have cut my hair a long time ago (its waist length and often, quite literally, a pain in the ass) if my husband didn’t like it so much… and likewise, he keeps his awesome beard primarily for me. We both try to stay in good physical shape, but that is as much because we enjoy hiking together as it is appearances.

    But these are pretty cheap and simple things, really, compared to what I see (particularly young) people putting themselves through these days. The clothes especially!

  • dungone

    But these are pretty cheap and simple things, really, compared to what I see (particularly young) people putting themselves through these days. The clothes especially!

    Depends on what you value I guess. What you’re talking about might be cheap but it takes a lot more effort than the people who just buy some fancy clothes. My favorite part of any relationship I’ve ever had was when my cohabiting girlfriend became my running partner. We’d run 5 miles down to the beach almost every single day, sit on the lifeguard stand staring at the moon, and both of us looked great. It beat the hell out of what working out was like in the Marine Corps.

  • Dungone

    @Gingko, I think that as time goes on we are undoubtedly going to uncover many more patterns like this. The important takeaway from this runs contrary to the theories espoused by many modern feminists, namely that at one time we had glorious matriarchal societies where all was right with the world. Modern feminists have a very difficult time contemplating female agency and are in many ways beholden to the “women can do no wrong” view that has evolved in our culture. Every time someone says “if only women were in charge, this wouldn’t have happened,” they should read some of these stories to find out what female agency really looks like. But this doesn’t mean that women haven’t had any agency for hundreds of years. It just means that our culture chose to cover it up in order to view women as these pure, godess-like beings. And ironically, feminism has done more to reinforce these notions instead of working to dismantle them.

  • http://operatoroscillation.wordpress.com/ operatoroscillation

    Daisy, if it’s not too personal, how did you attract your man?

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Operator, a saucerful of assumptions there.

    You mean, how did HE attract me and why did I first approach HIM, right?

    Otherwise, not sure I understand the question.

    Sounds like you need some good jams: That’s right, the women are smarter

  • http://operatoroscillation.wordpress.com/ operatoroscillation

    “You mean, how did HE attract me and why did I first approach HIM, right?”

    According to Ginkos blog post, it’s the women that are doing everything and making the decisions. So no, what I said is exactly what I meant.

  • TheBiboSez

    You are such a DARLING, Miss Daisy – I daresay you can cluck with the best of them. So adorable. So edgy.

    Be still my fart.

    But the fact that the chickenshit shaming language poluted the thread right after I gave away the trade secret says a lot more in support of my point than not.

    Here, chick-chick. Buck buck buck-et. Quick, before the wymynflock waddle by.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Where did I “shame” you? I distinctly said NO JUDGMENT! If people want to be with chickens, I have no objections. I’m not as dogmatic as Peter Singer, who thinks bestiality is coercive of the animals and therefore immoral. I am not nearly as hard-ass on animal rights as he is, you really should give me a break.

    I just meant, if you want an ongoing relationship, that is probably a lot to ask of a bird. As I said, they have tiny brains and usually prefer other chickens. I was just offering some advice, but if its chickens you want, go for it. Its certainly better than cooking and eating them, after all.

    Bibo: wymynflock

    Wow, some spelling! You are far more politically correct than I could ever be. I stopped using “y” in “womyn” way back in 1979.

    Bibo: Be still my fart.

    Sorry about the farting, though. (Question: In preparation for your future relationship, are you eating a chicken’s diet with high grain content? That WILL give you gas!) Have you tried digestive enzymes? Enzymedica is the best brand in the USA. Your creative spelling makes me think you are elsewhere though…? I don’t know the international brands. I have only sold the ones made here.

    You should avoid “Beano” and that stuff, which is a total rip off.

    Glad to help out! :)

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Operator: According to Ginkos blog post, it’s the women that are doing everything and making the decisions. So no, what I said is exactly what I meant.

    None of that applies to me and my relationship, so I really don’t know how to answer you. I did the approaching, and it was up to him to accept or refuse.

    I approached him because of what he was reading. Our first conversation was about Harlan Ellison. It turned into a LOOOONG conversation. (Technically, weeks long.) We both had read everything by him, and therefore correctly concluded that we were made for each other. Never looked back. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary in November.

    How about yourself?

  • http://operatoroscillation.wordpress.com/ operatoroscillation

    “None of that applies to me and my relationship, so I really don’t know how to answer you. I did the approaching, and it was up to him to accept or refuse.”

    The reason I asked is because people on this thread are debating things like “no means yes, yes means maybe, and all that happy shit.” So I figured a female who’s bringing up her boyfriend or husband might have experiences to bring to the table about that kind of stuff involving her boyfriend.

    “I approached him because of what he was reading. Our first conversation was about Harlan Ellison. It turned into a LOOOONG conversation. (Technically, weeks long.) We both had read everything by him, and therefore correctly concluded that we were made for each other.”

    Just think, if he was the only one who came to that conclusion after having that conversation with you about that shared mutual interest, he would be sandbagged by the skepchick community as a creep, pervert, somebody who sexually objectified you, a masogynist. After all, places where people read books are innappropriate places to hook up and therefore we need sexual harrassment policies to make the environment safe.

    “How about yourself?”

    Could you be more specific?

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Operator: After all, places where people read books are innappropriate places to hook up and therefore we need sexual harrassment policies to make the environment safe.

    SCI FI books… not just ANY books. 😉

    Scifi people are superior, as most people here will attest. So already, we are talking about a better class of people.

    Me: “How about yourself?”

    Operator: Could you be more specific?

    I was asking, how did you meet your partner? I was nice enough to share… your turn.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com Stoner With a Boner
  • http://operatoroscillation.wordpress.com/ operatoroscillation

    “I was asking, how did you meet your partner? I was nice enough to share… your turn.”

    Which one? My ex whom I don’t have sex with anymore but we’re best friends? Or the girl whom I could text right now with “hey what are you up to at this hour? wanna hang out?” but I won’t because there isn’t anything else to do with her besides have sex? Or maybe the “tranny” I recently hooked up with?

  • Ginkgo

    SWAB,
    That’s par for the course – 10%. Something came up about that on r/mensrights and I was thinking of doing something on that. That link is a help. Thanks.

  • Copyleft

    I’m starting to think dishonesty is essential to human civilization. Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed how often “traditional” women carefully train the men in their lives to be dishonest, by punishing male honesty? (Only to complain that men “never tell the truth.”)

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Operator, I said “partner” as in life partner. Not momentary or sometime-partner. I take it you have none, then? Just asking, since you asked me.

    And “tranny” isn’t a word I thought was acceptable to say? Is it okay now? I can barely keep up. I am accused of “language shaming” and yet other people here can say “tranny” with nary a negative response?

    Interesting.

    Taking notes, as always.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Typhonblue’s law is that he core of the gender role divide is that men are actors and women are acted upon.

    Didn’t Simone de Beauvoir say this about 60 years before TB did? When did this get credited to TB alone?

  • Ginkgo

    ‘Cause Typhon is not a stinking froggy? I don’t know; I heard it from her and besides she’s one of us so she gets the credit. Anyway, thanks for the correction.

  • Ginkgo

    “And “tranny” isn’t a word I thought was acceptable to say? Is it okay now? I can barely keep up. I am accused of “language shaming” and yet other people here can say “tranny” with nary a negative response? ”

    I misunderstood that reference or I would have said soemthing. If it’s a reference to a trans person, then I would appreciate people not using it. It insults trans people, trans people tell me.

    I though it was a reference to a transmission. Remember Daisy, not everyone is as vanilla as us. I personally can’t really envision whatall it would entail, but that’s just me.

  • EquilibriumShift

    It is interesting, isn’t it, how the men in these stories who were raped were later killed by other men (- I assume from your descriptions)? I don’t have a working theory as to why that is, but I assume it is because the killers were trying to reinforce some social contract. A couple possibilities:

    > A warrior shouldn’t sleep with his bosses’ betrothed, [i]no matter what[/i].

    > A man doesn’t refuse a woman’s ‘friendly thighs’ – interesting implications here

    > A man who is raped by a woman has lost his “man-card”

    Although if anyone has a more detailed reading, I would love to hear it. Also, I am curious as to when these stories were recorded/originated, specifically, pre or post-vikingization. Since most of these Celtic/Breton areas were “legitmately raped” by the vikings, which included the founding of cities and sharing of culture, I wonder how these stories were influenced by the northern red-heads.

  • Ginkgo

    The way the young men die is a study in itself. Naoise is lured back with promises of safe conduct. Killing him stains the king’s honor – Conchobhar, his king – and adds a little complexity to the character.

    Diarmuid is killed by the boar he is hunting, but it is clear that even if he had killed the boar he would have died, because he was a wild boar himself in essence. Kind of a spirit animal thing. It’s a very deep theme of the hunter and prey being ultimately the same being, and it’s really old. The cave painting of the Sorceror shows this them:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sorcerer_(cave_art)
    It’s not obvious to modern eyes, but that little backward thing on his ass is in fact the penis of a large cat, so it’s an image of a stag and a lion fused. Male disposability through and through.

    I think both Tristan and Lancelot get killed some way or other that is untimely

  • Ginkgo

    “Also, I am curious as to when these stories were recorded/originated, specifically, pre or post-vikingization. Since most of these Celtic/Breton areas were “legitmately raped” by the vikings, which included the founding of cities and sharing of culture, I wonder how these stories were influenced by the northern red-heads”

    I am pretty sure the Tain was written down before the raids started. Paddy Brown could confirm that. It has only the thinnest Christian veneer to it. I think the same is true for Diarmuid and Grainne.

    The Norse influence isn’t really very obvious to me, not in any of the stories. Justy read a saga or two to feel the difference. Even on a purely nuts and bolts level, there are no story elements I recognize from those sources.

    The Norse entry and settlement wasn’t really a rape of those areas. It was not like Euro-Americans pouring over the Appalachians. There weren’t that many Norse and they assimilated pretty fast. I forget her name, but a historian did the numbers on church and library burnings and found that as many or more were at the hands of rival native kings. Do you hear that, Tamen??????

  • http://paddybrown.co.uk Patrick Brown

    Ginkgo:

    I am pretty sure the Tain was written down before the raids started. Paddy Brown could confirm that. It has only the thinnest Christian veneer to it. I think the same is true for Diarmuid and Grainne.

    The first Viking attacks on Ireland were at the end of the 8th century. The Ulster Cycle stories (the Táin, Deirdre) seem to have started taking their familiar shape in the 8th century. There are elements of them alluded to in poems of the 7th, including Medb tempting Fergus to betray Ulster and Scáthach’s prophesies about Cú Chulainn, although significant parts of the stories seem to have changed since then, new stories were being written and old ones reworked as late as the 15th century, and some of them contain seafaring enemies from “Lochlann” (Scandinavia). But the Ulster Cycle certainly began before the Vikings, the main stories are pre-Vikings, and the essential characters of Medb and Deirdre were established before the Vikings.

    Diarmuid and Gráinne are rather later. The story as we have it is as late as the 16th century, although it certainly contains older elements. There’s a poem called “Finn and Gráinne” dating perhaps as early as the 9th century, in which Finn carries out an impossible task for the hand of Gráinne, but she doesn’t like him and is unhappy in the marriage to the point of being ill, and he eventually realises and divorces her. There’s no sign of Diarmuid.

  • EquilibriumShift

    Hmm, looks like a few of my impressions of the vikings as a highly-destructive force might be a little overblown. I had a feeling my hypotheses were far too modern when trying to understand these stories, but without knowing more about the stories, I couldn’t really come up with anything. Thanks for the education!

  • Ginkgo

    Paddy, thanaks for that. I wonder how much actually survives in any kind of riginal form form those first few centuries when things were beng written down. the version of the D&G that I read was from the 1200s, I think.

    “Hmm, looks like a few of my impressions of the vikings as a highly-destructive force might be a little overblown.”

    ES, you are right, that image of the Vikings is seriously superficial and sensationalistic. The raids were destructive but their presence was not. They assimilated pretty fast for one thing, and for another they put Ireland in touch with every region they traded in. And remember, contact between the islands and Scandinavia did not begin with the Viking raids. Those contacts go back at least as far as the Bronze Age, when southern Scandinavia was a major center of culture.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUv02VxAcNU MaMu1977

    http://jezebel.com/5938483/cheat-on-or-with-a-guy-in-the-military-and-you-will-get-shamed-on-facebook

    In less than three days, a group of feminists were able to shut down this Facebook page. Justification for doing so was rife.

    Conversely, the proprietors of Don’t Date Him Girl were able to slander men for four years (with Supreme Court protection), even in situations in which the “hims” in question were of incompatible orientations (gay men, happily married men, gay men, men who didn’t mix races, gay men, men who didn’t live in or had never visited the city of the claimant, men who were accused of transmitting STDs despite having clean bills of health from doctors, and did I mention gay men?) To this day, the website hosts profiles for every man who had ever been entered into their database.

    I guess agency means different things to different people.

  • Ginkgo

    “I guess agency means different things to different people.”

    It’s self-serving double speak. I have been noticing a surge of young women coming onto r/MensRights saying how they were formerly feminists and heard about that sinkhole to misogyny and came to look and have started to get real sceptical about their feminism, or have already dumped. This si the kind of infanitilizing special pleading that is driving them away frorm feminism.

  • Tamen

    Gingko: Do you hear that, Tamen??????

    Finally my ancestors are being exonerated!
    I’ll just let you know that you are slowly pulling youself back up in my good standing after that disgraceful comment about all galls looking alike a while back :)

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com Stoner With a Boner
  • Ginkgo

    Tamen, glad to back working my way into your good graces.

    I realized afterward that I was playing on a specificially American form of ethnic humor that doesn’t always travel well simply because it’s not widely known. There is this form of teasing where you intentionally mistake someone’s ancestry for something else, and in the context of a hierarchy of who doesn’t like to be mistaken for whom.

    So for instance, if someone lolls Scandinavian, you never, ever , ever ask if they are Swedish, you ask if they are Norwegian, because a Swede dosen’t much care if you get it wrong but a Norwegian will not be pleased to be mistaken for Swedish. (Of course Americans of your or Xakudo’s generation don’t much give a shit one way or the other, but this is for older people.) You also never ask if someone is Japanese; you always ask if they are Chinese. And if they turn out to be Korean, that is stiill the safer bet. Anyway.

    And of course, I assumed a Norwegian would get indiganat at being mistaken for German.

    As far as looks go, I am noticing how very easy it is to tell Norwegians from Swedes – often rather smaller and a lot less morose, so some of it is cultural showing up in affect – and I wonder why there should be so much difference. Settlement patterns a long, long time ago, I guess.

    SWAB – PacWest Widows, indeed!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUv02VxAcNU MaMu1977

    http://satwcomic.com/the-world

    Everything that I know about Scandinavian culture, I learned from here.

  • Ginkgo

    MaMu, those are great. I love a comic that has a bite but no teeth. Cute little characters.

  • Tamen

    As a Scandinavian I approve of SATW :)

    As for the hierarchies of mistaken nationalities Gingko’s mentions I guess I as a Norwegian am privileged as my impression is that both Swedes and Danes would rather be misidentified as a Norwegian rather than as a Dane or as a Swede.I suspect there are certain historical reasons for that.

    Some of the elderly would perhaps have a negative reaction to being mistaken for a German based on memories and experiences from the German occupation of Norway during WWII. There are however few left of them now and certainly not many of them on blogs in the gendersphere :)

  • Ginkgo

    Indeed there are historical reasons. The time I spent in Sweden, it struck me how little national consciousness or sense of national identity they had compared to Norwegians, for whom it had been a very live question until recently; for the Swedes, never.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    To bring up a more recent (but still, I believe, culturally relevant) version of the Arthur myth, both Arthur and Lancelot are raped by women in The Once and Future King, although none of the analyses I’ve read refer to the incidents in question as such. Arthur, in particular, is drugged at a party and raped by a much older woman while he is passed out on the floor. She does this with the specific intention of getting herself pregnant and using the resulting child as a tool to further her political aims (she is also an abusive mother).

    If anyone wants to know why I haven’t been around in a while, I’m back at school in the States and almost every moment of my time is taken up between my thesis and a class schedule so full that I had to file a petition to be allowed to take it (on the plus side, three entirely different languages at once is much more manageable than I thought it would be).

  • Neptus 9

    The terror of actual personal responsibility with no escape such as beauty or childbearing is the source of today’s feminist insistence on all females as victim. The ultimate source is women’s repeated demands for male social roles combined with technology that makes muscular strength less necessary and delivers reliable birth control.

  • Fay

    ———-.i like me honeybadgerbrigade ——- —————– Keep Reading

  • H. E. Pennypacker

    Nice article Jim. I particularly like the historical approach because there seems to be a tendency amongst people who try to theorise gender from a non-feminist perspective, particularly among those who advocate for men to assume that gender roles have remained unchanged for thousands of years, which is obviously woefully inaccurate. I’m not an MRA or MHRA nor do I consider myself an anti-feminist, but I like to see proper ideas being generated by those critical of feminism because although I don’t dislike feminism as much as most on this site I can see the obvious problems it has as a movement.

    The idea that men are seen as agents and women as objects is common in feminist writing as well, although there the negative aspects of being an agent are obviously rarely examined.

    One thing that I think is normally left out of this male=subject female=object is that women – at least women of a certain social class – have usually had the power to define how men should behave towards them through the way in which they present themselves*.

    In almost any historical time and place, walking through the streets unaccompanied wearing (for the time and place) revealing clothing would open a woman to all sorts of attention.

    Conversely, sticking to the conventions of polite society (obviously not an option open to all women) would mean that men would have to relate to her in particular ways: certain behaviours would be required of him (pulling out chairs, opening doors), certain topics could not be discussed (particularly anything sexual, or vulgar), and there would be unspoken rules about how much eye contact he could make and what parts of her body he was allowed to let his eyes wander over.

    These are things that play themselves out within feminist debate but without (to my knowledge) much acceptance that women have historically often defined how men can treat them through their clothing and behaviour. I think it becomes particularly complex when it comes to chatting up in bars/clubs.

    Obviously no woman wearing revealing clothing is trying to send the message “rape me” but many of them are consciously sending the single “I want to meet a nice man”. There is a common insistence from feminists that what a woman is wearing does not indicate that you can look at her or that she wants to be approached, despite the fact that many women do dress in particular ways to signal their availability or to try to attract male attention. They seem to be at an impasse insisting that clothes send no signals when it’s painfully obvious when they do.

    As people regularly point out there are very few females who embrace agency when it comes to dating. Even the vast majority of feminists will expect the man to be by far the most active. Maybe we need a few more Medbs (but not Deirdres and Grainnes).

    *This rather comes out in some of the stories you mention, particularly with Deirdre and Grainne who assert their right to determine how certain men will act towards them.

    • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

      Re: the clothing… look at the kids. The children are now wearing “sexy” clothes, and they aren’t thinking, “I want to meet a nice man”–they are wearing what JC Penney tells them to wear. The question I would have is: why are women so much more susceptible to fashion policing than men are. Most women just wear what the fashionistas tell them to wear.

  • Gayle

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  • Andy C

    Symptoms of the roman cult of the vag popping up perhaps … sorry just sort of skimmed but given the last story there, and the thing about latin speaking culture … pretty much same as christian .. they both come from the same place, except one is more open about its presence and influences (not completely, just more).

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Please stop calling it TyphonBlue’s law? Simone de Beauvoir came up with that “law” in the 50s in her landmark book THE SECOND SEX. I think the reason you don’t want to admit that (even though I have corrected yall several times) is that SB was feminist. hmph.

    • BASTA!

      Yes, we *take* SB’s analysis for ourselves. She is unworthy of owning it because she used it to exclusively blame men and hold women 100% innocent, thus reinforcing the dynamic, which is what feminists do.

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