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February 18, 2005

Sexism and "Civility"

Update: Fred Vincy also wrote his opinions on this topic. He wrote the following:

At the core of the angry exchanges was the claim by half a dozen or so women (and the active participants in this exchange broke down along sex lines) that civility was, essentially, a tool of oppression. At one level, this seemed to me like a suprising claim -- at least in the context of a feminist blog's message board -- because in this context I have seen far more incivility used as a weapon against feminism than civility. Just off the top of my head, anti-feminist posters (virtually all male) have stalked and threatened This Girl, implictly threatened a commenter on Trish Wilson's blog (and probably Wilson as well), hijacked Feministing threads with pointless and vulgar abuse, and mocked Hugo Schwyzer and implied that he is a child abuser for, essentially, playing with his niece and nephew. Even this blog has been linked to by a private message board associateed with a vile and sexist "Ameriskanks Suck" (one can only imagine what the message board says).

Yes, I and some of my commenters have been attacked on my blog numerous times. That has been easy for me to see. It wasn't until I saw Bean's post that I realize my comments on occasion have been taken off track by posters, mostly male but sometimes female.

---


Bean has her own blog now. I was especially interested in her post about "Civility, Feminism, and Communication (Oh My!)". It's no accident that I won a silly blog award for "Most Psycho-Loon Commenters." I have some real doozies who post here. I have asked in the past for people to please not attack each other and to not attack me. Commenters don't always abide by my wishes. One of my commenters who posts with a pseudonym has had her real name posted here with neither her permission nor mine. I've removed those comments. I've tried to ban the offending commenter, but he posts with a different IP address every time so all I can do is remove his posts when they pop up. It's annoying, but I won't have my commenters attacked here. Nor will I allow myself to be attacked.

I had not thought of civility as a sexist attempt for men to take over a conversation until Bean and her commenters had pointed it out on her blog. In the real world, as Bean pointed out, "men tend to interrupt women more often than other men, and far more often than women interrupt either men or other women." It's a way of taking control of a conversation. Theoretically, that isn't likely to happen in the blogosphere. However, one way that some men (and men do seem to do this more than women) is to derail a conversation by changing the subject in comments. Bean described the practice in this manner:

In practice, however, it seems that men have simply found a new way to interrupt -- the all too common "thread drift" (or "derailment"). Now, I'm not saying that thread drift, to one extent or another, isn't natural (in many cases it is). Nor am I saying that women never engage in it (directly or indirectly). But, in my experience, the most egregious offenses have been done by men. In fact, I pretty much gave up posting any threads about a month back (and then went on to create this new blog) because I was so sick of the flagrant disregard for what I was saying, and the constant need to dramatically drift the thread onto an entirely different subject within the first couple of posts. Admittedly, this was due to a particular man at the time, but it made me take a closer look at other instances where it had happened, and sure enough, it was primarily men. Some of the men were self-proclaimed anti-feminists, others were self-proclaimed [pro] feminists.

I had a troll in my comments about a domestic violence shelter in Maine being under attack by men's rights activists who tried to derail the conversation down the thread-worn and tired path of the myth of men and women being equally abusive. "Adam" wrote the following:

As numerous studies have shown, women abuse men as often as the reverse. Feminists claim to have "discredited" these surveys, but that is a lie. They "discredited" one such survey, the strauss-gelles survey. But pretty much every other unbiased survey has come to the same conclusion, and these surveys have used widely varying methodologies. Personally, I've frequently seen women hit men, but I've never seen a man hit a woman.

I briefly posted a link to my web site that debunks that myth. I wanted to nip that nonsense in the bud before it had a chance to take off.

I knew he was trying to change the subject. The subject was whether nor not a shelter for abused women should admit men. I don't believe it should. If men rights activists want to help abused men, they should research the problem, come to conclusions about how to help that particular population, and seek funding to help alleviate the problem in the best and most appropriate manner. Men's rights activists don't do that. They target women's shelters by having men pose as victims of abuse with the knowledge that they are unlikely to get housing in a shelter designed to be used by women. When they are refused admittance, they file a lawsuit claiming discrimination, and they seek to attack funding the women's shelter receives. Men's rights activists have done this in California, and they have failed. The women's shelters have prevailed. As I have repeatedly stated, if men's rights activists want to help abused men, they need to do the proper research and search for funding to help the men. They have no business attacking domestic violence centers that serve women.

Commenter Silverside kept the topic on track. She didn't allow herself to be taken off track by Adam. Here is what she wrote:

It isn't a question of only accepting evidence that supports my views, or "feminist" views, whatever that it. It's standard procedure for trying to document the existence of particular homeless subpopulations. When I used to do HUD Consolidated Plans, HUD used to ask for data like this all the time. The Census only reports visible people on the street, so it's pretty useless. You have no choice but to go with surveys that are done by homeless service and shelter providers, the VA, soup kitchens,point in time counts, etc. If, as you say, these battered men don't call shelters or the police, and they don't report dv as a reason for their homeless, than how can I or you or anybody else document their existence?

Frankly, I think a lot of this boils down to a "me too-ism" that does not serve homeless men. Many years ago, I attended a meeting having to do with gay and lesbian health issues, and one lesbian presenter was discussing the importance of raising AIDS awareness in the lesbian community. Had grant money to do so. The fact that very few lesbians then (or now for that matter) acquire AIDS unless they were bisexual or IV drug users didn't phase her. The fact that there was apparently no money or interest in major factors affecting women or lesbian health and mortality rates (such as heart disease, lung cancer/smoking, breast cancer) in favor of something that was more or less a phantom seemed ridiculous to me. (The situation regarding AIDS and women, especially black women has changed tremendously since then).

In the same way, I have worked on issues related to homelessness for years, and it's important to really examine why men and women in your area are homeless. It is silly to go after funding for a subpopulation that barely exists when there are other homeless populations that do need services. If most of the homeless in your area are families, why would you build single room occupancy (SRO) for individuals that will go unused? Why would you build facilities for homeless persons with substance abuse problems when most of your local homeless population is being generated by skyrocketing rents and gentrification?

In other words, if you are truly concerned about homeless people, men included, it behooves you to pay attention to the real reasons they are homeless rather than attach yourself to a MR fad. Let's help the homeless men (and women) with the problems that they do have and say they have, rather than the problems we find it politically expedient to say they have with no documentary evidence.

Or chasing some agenda related to trashing women's homeless/dv shelters while actually ignoring homeless men and their needs.

If "Adam" tries to go back to the "men and women are equally abusive" nonsense, he's not going to get far because he won't be allowed to go off topic. Granted, "Adam" was more antagonistic than other men I've seen try to derail a converation by changing the topic. That said, he was still trying to change the topic as well as make other commenters feel defensive. It didn't work.

I'm still reading through the comments at Alas, A Blog about "Feminism and Feminist-Friendly Only Thread: Civility, Alas, and Feminism." Ironically, Barry had to shut down the comments of that thread about derailing conversations because the conversation became derailed early on by Rad Geek and FoolishOwl.

Cry T mentioned something that I've noticed in "civil" commenters who derail threads - they take on a condescending tone as they continue to attempt to change the subject. Funnie was much more outspoken in taking on that tactic:

Either the thread drift is distracting or it isn't. How very goddamned male to go ahead and DO WHAT YOU WERE JUST ASKED NOT TO DO in order to get a word in and then SUGGEST THAT YOUR OPPONENT BE THE FIRST TO PLAY BY THE RULES.

So civil! So polite! No personal attacks in Owl’s posts, nosirree! Just the classic war of attrition against women, in which space is taken up by "reasonable" men who say things like I don't think it makes sense to argue that civility or debate are inherently patriarchal, or otherwise inherently oppressive and then politely continue doing whatever the fuck they feel like doing, wherever and however they feel like doing it.

I've seen numerous blog threads in feminist forums continue to remain derailed even after the offending posters were told to stop hijacking the thread. They remain "civil" while doing so. One of my commenters, Steve, tried to take my post about mediation off topic by bringing up abortion. It was already off topic when the conversation turned to parental sanctions for visitation interference. He wrote, "Morally, anyone who doesn't parent their kids is scum; however I do not agree with jailing them (for a start imagine the tax cost). Also, since women assert the right to abort when they don't want a child it is a bit inconsistent to say a father must parent or serve time in choky."

That had nothing to do with the issue at hand - mediation and (in comments) sanctioning fathers who don't abide by visitation agreements as much as mothers who won't abide by visitation agreements. I had told him that abortion was off topic. I knew if I allowed it to continue that the comment thread would be seriously derailed. The last thing I wanted to do was to get into yet another heated abortion argument. He ignored my clear request in responding with "I also didn't think my comment about abortion was "off-topic". Basically women can decide whether they become parents or not. Men cannot (well, unless gay or celibate or "qualified to run for the geldings plate")so its a bit much to say the state should allow women a choice on parenthood but but make parenting compulsory for men, upon pain of incarceration."

I did not want the thread to go so far off topic by discussing abortion. Thankfully, he did not bring it up again. He had also attempted to bring up adoption in a similar manner, but the thread seems to have died down.

Now, thanks to Bean, I see how men (it seems to be mostly men who do this) derail discussions in comments by bringing up something off topic, yet all the time remaining polite and "civil." Sometimes they are condescending. If a discussion is derailed, it is next to impossible to bring it back on track. Feminists seek space where they may discuss their issues without being derailed by male commenters who repeatedly bring up unrelated topics. I will try to be more aware of this tactic as I see it in my comments and on other blogs. Men, especially men who claim to be feminist, need to learn to listen to what women say rather than take over an entire discussion thread to a topic that suits them. Granted, most of the problems I have in my comments have to do with ad hominem attacks coming from trolls, but I have seen "thread drift" in my comments as well as comments on other blogs.

Posted on February 18, 2005 at 09:48 AM | Permalink

Comments

Thanks for a thought provoking post, Trish. When I'm paying attention, I do like to keep things on topic. But being human, I can see that I drift sometimes, too. Or at least inadvertently contribute to the drift after it has already started. Thanks for bringing this issue to the attention of all of us.

Posted by: silverside at Feb 18, 2005 10:41:12 AM

Good post Trish - what kind of weather do you think we're gonna have this weekend?

Posted by: Steve at Feb 18, 2005 10:55:24 AM

I noticed comments going off topic, Silverside, but I never recognized the tactic for what it was until Bean pointed it out to me. Her post really opened my eyes. I usually get the nasty trolls, and they're easier for me to spot because they're so obvious and belligerent.

Cute, Steve.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 18, 2005 10:59:34 AM

The incident I posted about was indeed the one where a commenter posted another commenter's real name without permission, which I saw as both harassing and potentially threatening.

My post didn't deal with off-topic comments, because I haven't thought much about them. (Mostly, I chalk them up to self-absorption and ignore them.) That said, you are clearly right that changing the subject as an argumentative tactic is intellectually dishonest and, if done under the guise of civility, an abuse of what civil discourse is supposed to be about.

Posted by: Fred Vincy at Feb 18, 2005 1:19:19 PM

I figured that was what you were talking about, Fred. I today had to delete two posts by a man who came here to attack me in the most vicious way possible. He's another one with a roaming IP so I can't outright ban him. He just posts with a new IP address. While his comments are gone now, I still have the e-mail copies. I'll be deleting them shortly.

Men's rights activists get their jollies from harassing feminists. This guy is no exception.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 18, 2005 2:17:02 PM

Hey Trish, I posted my own little angry rant on this particular issue too. It feels so good to vent :-)

This is a very volatile discussion on civility, feminism, and sexism.

Posted by: Pseudo-Adrienne at Feb 18, 2005 2:48:16 PM

"The incident I posted about was indeed the one where a commenter posted another commenter's real name without permission, which I saw as both harassing and potentially threatening."

Yes it definitely was an implied threat but you know I think that doing things like that is the 'end game' in what Trish is talking about...which is forcing people off topic...and when you can't do that politely and with civility, then the next step is the threats...

So I think what the poster was trying to do was shut me up...and probably Trish as well, since he writes aimless posts here against her very frequently filled with filthy language...

Many women WOULD just close up shop after having that happen a few times and probably explains why so FEW women blog about controversial issues UNLESS they are under the umbrella of another larger entity...like all those women who do articles at mensnewsdaily...even that Wendy McElroy closed her own blog down (or took herself off it) due to some attacks against her, but stayed writing at mensnewsdaily...

So maybe start something like that with women bloggers but that might get boring rather quickly too if we try to monitor what people say too much...

I don't know what the answer is really.

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 18, 2005 6:01:24 PM

First of all, I don't see how I was trying to change the subject. I was merely supporting my point. Since women attack men as often as men attack women, it stands to reason that some government funding should go toward helping abused men. So I *DID NOT* change the subject. I used valid research to support my point, and my point was DIRECTLY related to the subject.

I also find it funny how you accuse others of being uncivil, while you attack me personally, post lies about me, say I'm a troll, etc. All because I believe that women abuse men as often as men abuse women. How is that "trolling?" How is it s "myth"? It's not a myth, it's an opinion that is supported by strong evidence.

If you want to accuse people of being uncivil, perhaps you should look in the mirror.

Posted by: Adam at Feb 19, 2005 5:08:21 AM

I'm also amused that whenever someone disagrees with a feminist, the feminist accuses that person of being "sexist." It is neither sexist nor off-topic to argue that abused men should have services. And it is neither sexist nor off-topic to support this view by demonstrating the need for these services (which is what I was doing when I was pointing to the entirely valid statistics on female on male DV).

Posted by: Adam at Feb 19, 2005 5:22:36 AM

Adam, you came here attacking me and yes, you changed the subject. You are changing the subject now. I have already addressed how the men's rights notion that men and women are equally abusive is a myth. While there are men who are abused by women, they are greatly outnumbered by the women who are abuse by men - the vast majority. I don't have the time or desire to debate that with you. This post is about sexism and civility, not "equal abuse." If you want to talk about the "equal abuse" myth, take it outside my blog.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 19, 2005 7:33:13 AM

NYMOM, I know of lots of women who won't post on bulletin boards because they don't like the nasty tone the posts have. I know that I have a lot of lurkers who feel uncomfortable posting because of the heat here, but they are glad I keep this blog going.

Regarding Wendy McElroy leaving her own bulletin board because of attacks by "masculinists," I read later that she started up a separate, invitation-only board called "Inner Sanctum" for people who wanted to post without being attacked. I still think it's ironic that the very people she publicly supports in her articles and on her bulletin board are the very ones who have attacked her.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 19, 2005 7:41:12 AM

Important objections have been made regarding the research criteria that men are battered as much as women (e.g. fails to account for patterns of abuse/intimidation/control, fails to account for severity of injury, etc. etc.). In addition, the MR people are not able to establish that this "signficant" number of battered men show up in any noticeable way in adding to male homelessness, other than conjecture. No hard data at all.


Homeless AND battered are the criteria that must be used when evaluating whether someone is admitted into a battered women's shelter. We have also discussed the practical difficulties of admitting men. We have discussed why other approaches to the problem WHEN AND IF it exists may be more useful: Sheltering a man in a homeless men's shetler and connecting him to all the services he needs. Adam changes his tune slightly and says something about equal access to federal moneys (as opposed to shelter). Well, shoot, if government funding is available for case management services and a male homeless client mentions dv, than I assume the issue will be addressed. Why wouldn't it be? Adam, I haven't seen ANYONE say that a battered man IF OR WHEN HE EXISTS should not receive services, so you are really changing the topic. The original question is whether they should receive SHELTER in a facility designed and set up for battered women.

Again, I think you are obsessing on an issue (battering) that affects a miniscule number of homeless men, while ignoring the major factors that produce homelessness among men. When you support MR organizations that divert critical dollars to frivolous lawsuits, that is money that these organizations will NOT be able to use to set up their own outreach programs to whatever battered men exist, or to set up their own homeless programs, or to support the programs of existing non-profits who do REAL work with providing homeless men with MUCH NEEDED substance abuse and mental health services.

Posted by: silverside at Feb 19, 2005 10:52:58 AM

"Adam, I haven't seen ANYONE say that a battered man IF OR WHEN HE EXISTS should not receive services,"

Exactly. I am showing that battered men exist (in large numbers). That is the only way to support the argument that battered men should get services. Since that's the topic we were discussing, my post was right on topic, and I certainly was not changing the subject. The problem is, Trish apparently can't handle it when people disagree with her.

She has a thread about whether battered men's shelters should exist. If men are frequently abused by women (or if they are not), it affects the shelter issue. So, my post was on-topic. It just went against Trish's point of view. Trish is simply trying to silence any alternate opinions (which she has a right to do, but she should be open about it rather than trying to falsely accuse people of being sexist and changing the subject). I'm not trying to "silence women," you're trying to silence men. And no, this post is not changing the subject either. Because the subject here seems to be unjustified, uncivil personal attacks against me by Trish. I'm merely defending myself against the lies in the original post.

I believe Trish owes me an apology.

Posted by: Adam at Feb 19, 2005 11:51:56 AM

"Again, I think you are obsessing on an issue (battering) that affects a miniscule number of homeless men, while ignoring the major factors that produce homelessness among men. When you support MR organizations that divert critical dollars to frivolous lawsuits, that is money that these organizations will NOT be able to use to set up their own outreach programs to whatever battered men exist, or to set up their own homeless programs, or to support the programs of existing non-profits who do REAL work with providing homeless men with MUCH NEEDED substance abuse and mental health services."

Why doesn't somebody finance a study on how many battered MEN (and I mean battered by WOMEN, not other men) show up in hospital emergency rooms?

This would be an EXCELLENT way to measure the NEED...

The $200,000 or so MRAs spent on trying to get into womens' shelter might have financed that study...

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 19, 2005 1:27:01 PM

Adam, the thread was about whether or not men should be admitted into women's shelters, not about "whether battered men's shelters should exist." The answer is that men should not be admitted into women's shelters. Silverside described in detail why not. There are already legal cases decided where the courts ruled that women's shelters do not have to house men. It's not discriminatory against men.

If I wanted to "silence men," your posts wouldn't be here. Don't even go down that road.

I don't owe you an apology. That's a silencing tactic I've noticed in real life and on blogs when men who don't get to determine the track of a conversation get peeved when they aren't allowed to get their way. It doesn't work on me. You don't control the thread content here, and I won't apologize for it.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 19, 2005 1:27:42 PM

"I don't owe you an apology. That's a silencing tactic I've noticed in real life and on blogs when men who don't get to determine the track of a conversation get peeved when they aren't allowed to get their way. It doesn't work on me. You don't control the thread content here, and I won't apologize for it."

100% correct...

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 19, 2005 3:46:52 PM

Again, let's make a distinction between different forms of documentation.
No. 1, there are the general studies of domestic violence, some of which are seized upon/misinterpreted by men's activists to say that abuse is equal.

No 2, there are critiques of this literature, which I haven't seen Adam address yet.

No. 3, there is the locally generated data which will support the development of an actual facility. In other words, it's nice if I can tell the VA that 30% of homeless are vets. They're going to reply, yea, but how many of your LOCAL homeless are vets? Why should we funds you as opposed to someone else? I better have data from shelter surveys or SOMETHING to back up my project or I ain't gonna get diddly.

We have had big debates about 1 and 2. On 3, you simply tell me that all these battered men don't disclose. They apparently don't tell domestic violence counselors, they don't tell the police, they won't tell caseworkers who are trying to connect them with all the services they need even when it's quite apparent that they are homeless.
You assert that all these men are getting their "butts kicked," but when I ask you to show me where these people show up in actual body counts of the homeless, we can't find them anywhere.
Not only that, to take it out of the context of what feminist say, or what men's rights people say, I can't find any mention of battered homeless men when I look at the literature generated by the national groups concerned with homelessness. Should be a relatively neutral source. No mention.

Just don't get it.

Posted by: silverside at Feb 19, 2005 4:14:21 PM

"I don't owe you an apology. That's a silencing tactic I've noticed in real life and on blogs when men who don't get to determine the track of a conversation get peeved when they aren't allowed to get their way."

What "silencing tactic" are you talking about? you're making up nonsense in your attempt to attack me personally (with lies). How am I trying to "silence" anyone? And no, I'm not trying to "determine the track of the conversation;" I'm bringing up valid data that supports an argument that relates directly to the topic being discussed. You are the one trying to silence men's rights advocates by resorting to false, personal attacks. It's amazing that in a post about civility, you act extremely uncivil. It seems hypocritical to me. I should note that while I am not personally attacking you, you are personally attacking me. It's clear who is being uncivil, and it's not me. I'm just defending myself from your unjustified personal attacks.

I'd also urge you to do more research into these studies (all of them, not just the strauss gelles survey) before simply dismissing them as a "myth." Your link certainly does not disprove most of the surveys; they only criticize one type of survey. If you're going to come to accurate conclusions about society, you have to look at both sides of the debate.

By the way, a battered woman's shelter is supposed to be temporary, isn't it? Permanently homeless people are a different group. You're comparing people to need temporary shelter/protection to people who are continually homeless.

Posted by: Adam at Feb 19, 2005 10:57:18 PM

"By the way, a battered woman's shelter is supposed to be temporary, isn't it? Permanently homeless people are a different group. You're comparing people to need temporary shelter/protection to people who are continually homeless."

There is no such thing as permanently homeless...ALL homelessness is temporary...

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 20, 2005 1:20:03 AM

You're feeding the trolls again.

"The fear that men will be angry if you withdraw your resources from them is a realistic one. (...) The fear that feminism will suffer if we withdraw our resources from men is not realistic."
--Joanna Russ, _What Are We Fighting For?_, p.93

Posted by: Ide Cyan at Feb 20, 2005 3:40:54 AM

Good God, it is so very nice of Adam to provide such a stunning example of what you are talking about! Why, it is almost like he's on topic by accident.

I guess the only thing I'd disagree with is the conflation of thread diversion with civility. I don't think many people would mistake Adam's ridiculous attempts at thread diversion on this thread for civil behavior. For that matter, I didn't notice FoolishOwl and RadGeek's exchange as being the same sort of silencing thread diversion (for one thing, FoolishOwl was actively participating in the on-topic portion of the thread at the same time that they were arguing off topic with each other, and they were making no attempt to pull anyone else into their argument), but I did think it was kind of annoying and verging on being rude.

On the other hand, it is definitely worth seperating out as its own category of incivility to watch for, since it doesn't necessarily partake of any other forms.

Posted by: Charles at Feb 20, 2005 5:52:18 AM

Back to topic (but still paying attention to trolls... sorry)

Can I ask you Adam and silverside to answer some questions: Let's take it as
given that many feminists on various feminist blogs are expressing a desire to
escape interruption, derailment, etc. They are saying that they want a productive
discussion about the nuances of various feminist topics, and not a
constant defense of the basic foundations of feminism. Why do you suppose they
feel this way? Do you know of other groups where this kind of feeling is expressed,
and the reasons they feel that way? Do men's rights discussion board participants
ever express this sense of being beseiged by women? If not, could you even argue that
this happens? Does anyone ever want to discuss the nuances of "masculism" on men's
rights web boards?

If you answer these questions, I believe that this would remain on the "civility"
topic. If you have something to say about domestic violence (or any other topic)
I suggest that you post it in a forum of your own and provide a link (which I can
choose not to click). This would be civil. It would allow those who are actually
interested in what you have to say about these topics to follow you there.
If lots of people click to you, then consider yourself "not silenced". If no one
follows, consider yourself "uninteresting".

Thanks so much!

Posted by: Barbara Preuninger at Feb 20, 2005 8:49:19 AM

"For that matter, I didn't notice FoolishOwl and RadGeek's exchange as being the same sort of silencing thread diversion (for one thing, FoolishOwl was actively participating in the on-topic portion of the thread at the same time that they were arguing off topic with each other, and they were making no attempt to pull anyone else into their argument), but I did think it was kind of annoying and verging on being rude."

What you've written is why I didn't recognize "thread drift" as a silencing tactic until Bean pointed it out - sometimes thread drift is a perfectly natural and expected occurrence. It happens on my blog and other blogs all the time. I didn't think what they did was all that bad - and I didn't think they were intentionally diverting the thread. What I thought was ironic and sad was that a post about civility became very heated very quickly. In the end Amp closed the comments on that one. I think it's important to point out the differences between normal thread drift which happens all the time in comments from the thread drift tactic of purposefully trying to change the subject to something you would rather talk about, and place yourself at the center of attention. The latter is rude and condescending.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 20, 2005 9:50:31 AM

I think it's obvious to any non-feminist that I am not trying to "silence" anyone. What I am doing is this: I'm providing an alternate view to the topics being discussed. Some people may not have heard this other viewpoint, and they might be interested in hearing the other side. Now, anyone who isn't a feminist would understand this. But feminists like to attribute everything to sexism, so it's no surprise that they think that anyone who disagrees with their views is part of some patriarchal oppressive silencing tactic. It's a very feminist thing to think.

Posted by: Adam at Feb 20, 2005 1:37:54 PM

Keep it up, Adam. You're proving my point beautifully. ;)

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 20, 2005 1:50:23 PM

proving what point? You personally attacked me and I am merely responding to your lies. How can I be "changing the topic" when my posts are a direct a response to your lies and personal attacks? In any case, I assume that I win the argument, because you have failed to prove that I am trying to "silence" anyone or anything like that.

Posted by: Adam at Feb 20, 2005 2:49:35 PM

"It's a very feminist thing to think."

So you're an expert on feminist theory and women's psychology now? So where's your Masters or doctorates in the said fields? And where's the data you collected from every single feminist in the entire world when you asked what are their viewpoints on gender-related issues? Oh wait....

" In any case, I assume that I win the argument, because you have failed to prove that I am trying to "silence" anyone or anything like that."

Do you enjoy being the classic definition of insanity, Adam? Repeating yourself ad infinitum despite the clear lack of interest in your attempt to turn the original focal point of the topic into a "woe is me versus these mean ole feminists" stanza. Apparently yes. And you are proving Trish's point.

Very typical that you would assume that *you* won the argument. Because everyone is "oppressing" your so called "alternate p.o.v.," right?

Well actually, what little argument is left anyway. All I see is pouting and complaining on your part. Wow Trish! You have a knack for attracting these kinds of guys. Sorry for feeding the trolls, but hey--it's fun.

Posted by: Pseudo-Adrienne at Feb 20, 2005 4:49:17 PM

Adrienne: "Do you enjoy being the classic definition of insanity, Adam? Repeating yourself ad infinitum despite the clear lack of interest in your attempt to turn the original focal point of the topic into a "woe is me versus these mean ole feminists" stanza. Apparently yes. And you are proving Trish's point. [...] All I see is pouting and complaining on your part. Wow Trish! You have a knack for attracting these kinds of guys. Sorry for feeding the trolls, but hey--it's fun."

Feeding the trolls is a fun thing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, isn't it? Let him whine. He's just angry that he doesn't get to determine the content of a discussion on my blog.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 20, 2005 5:03:52 PM

Just a point of clarification. Emergency homeless shelters, from what I understand, house people for 30 days or less. After that, you either have to enter transitional housing, which continues to offers various supportive services (counseling, case management, etc.), or for those who are more stable, permanent housing if available. Sometimes the more hardcore homeless will tend to end up back on the street. From the research I have seen, for most people, homelessness is a situation generated by financial considerations (loss of job, medical problems, skyrocketing rents and lack of affordable housing.) For some with serious and persistent mental illness and/or drug/alcohol problems, it can become a semi-permanent condition. When you think of the muttering pandhandlers on the streets of our major cities (most of which are men, by the way), you're seeing the semi-permanent homeless.

The point I was trying to make in all this is addressing the problems that exist in your community by running the data and asking experienced people in a position to know. Rather than bland assertions that all these men are homeless and "getting their butts kicked," we look for the evidence. Not there. But we do see HUGE numbers of men who are homeless due to untreated mental illness and lack of effective and appropriate drug/alcohol treatment. Adam and friends tell us how much they are concerned about men, yet when you point out the huge majorities of homeless men that do have particular problems, they have no interest whatsoever. Probably because addressing these issues doesn't involve trashing feminists, but involves real work and funding.

I don't think of my position as particularly feminist at all. I am simply committed to using scarce resources in an appropriate and efficient way.

To take it out of the dv context (just for argument's sake), let's say Trish, NYMOM and I were on a committee making funding recommendations for AIDS education grants. Let's say we received one application from a non-profit in the Boston suburbs that was going to design a public education program tailored toward white, middle-class married women in the suburbs. When we looked at the documentation of need part of the grant, we saw reference to some white woman with AIDS who spoke at the Republican convention 6 years ago or so. Our grant applicant also says something in general terms about suburban women getting "hammered" by AIDS, and the documentation is totally anecdotal: My dentist's sister got AIDS from her husband who visited a prostitute. OK, that's one application. Let's say we have another application looking at innovative ways to do outreach to young gay men, where AIDS rates are truly skyrocketing and in a way that's easily documented with CDC data. We also have a third application from a non-profit wanting to extend public education efforts in the African American communities in Boston, especially among black women, where the rates are documented to be 20X as high as rates among white women. I know that NYMOM, Trish and I are women and identify ourselves as feminists. I suspect that all of us are white as well. Yet I think we would agree that grant application #1 is pretty dubious, and that the AIDS education money we have available should go to grant application #2 and/or grant application #3. Those applications represent where the documented need is. To fund #1 is basically pork. It's a make-work silliness for someone in the burbs who is looking for the money for the sake of getting money. It's setting up a project with an absolute minimal need, and taking money from populations that really do need the education money. I don't think the fact that we are white or women would blind us to that fact. Because I do believe apart from our politics or race or gender that we are capable of rationally analysis of what constitutes a genuine priority.

The point is to look for the issues that really affect the population you are interested in working with. Not playing up marginal to non-existent stuff, while absolutely sidestepping the major problems affecting the people you are working with.

Posted by: silverside at Feb 20, 2005 9:27:45 PM

Interesting. I always knew there was something fishy about going "off-topic", and why it's always been so frowned upon on the net. hehe.

Of course, I still think that even in the case of people being jerks, they probably don't do it very consciously, it's probably just second-nature to them... Ingrained behavioural techniques or whatever.

That said, I think there are times when conversations go off on tangents and include topics that aren't directly related to the blog post or first post in a thread on a forum, and there aren't any sinister motives, conscious or unconcious, and there aren't any detrimental effects to it.
Thread drift is particularly common on very active comment threads or forums. And occasionally it's interesting and positive. (I can think of one blog in particular with very active comments, that's particularly civil considering how many comments, and often the thread drift is more interesting than the original blog post. hehe.)

But regardless of whether it's deliberate or not, or detrimental or not... I think the moderator or blog owner has the last word & defining opinion in declaring what's off-topic, & what's detrimental or unwanted, whether influenced by his/her favourite commenters or not, and regardless of whether the commenters agree or not.

The problem I have with this premise though...
I don't think going off-topic is civil at all, if it's against the rules (written or unwritten) of the site in which the thread is taking place.
It's considered a very crude version of 'the straw man' or 'red herring' logical fallacy in a debate.
Changing the subject can also be called "diversion" and is considered a category of verbal abuse.
So I have a hard time understanding why this is considered civil, and therefore why it would follow that civility was detrimental to women.
???
Who would claim flouting the traditions & rules of a particular venue is civility???

WHEN IN ROME...

PS: I just skimmed through the other comments... And I've noticed quite a bit of thread drift. hehe.
And just to participate in that thread drift...
I happen to have known man who was the victim of domestic violence. Well, I met him (he was in a few photos I took), but I didn't actually know him personally, but a few of my friends were friends with him, so I know all about it.
He was murdered by his abuser.
And his abuser/murderer had fooled police into not searching for his body, by the abuser claiming that this guy (the murder victim) was actually the abuser and attacker. From what I understand, the police didn't take the victim's friends very seriously when they claimed that he was the victim, and likely injured or dead.
But I don't think this case would be of any interest to masculinists or whoever and their arguments, considering BOTH the victim and the abuser/murderer were men.

Posted by: Chloe at Feb 22, 2005 3:36:40 AM

How about that chap whose girlfriend (Ms. Tran) tied him up and chopped off his chopper? This is becoming something of a craze, is it not. I no longer keep anything sharp in the house just in case the missus is feeling peeved about her shopping account or anything.

Posted by: Steve at Feb 22, 2005 7:29:58 AM

Anecdotal data. Doesn't prove the need for integrating the women's dv shelters or setting up a battered men's shelter.

If I comb all the newspapers in this country and their archives, I could probably construct a strong anecdotal case for 2-4 year old children killing people. The toddler menace! Toddlers with guns! Before you know it, everyone will be convinced there is a preschool killer spree based on the fact that I reported in gory detail every single case of a toddler killing someone over the past 10 years. What percent of total killings this represents, of course, I wouldn't reveal.

Posted by: silverside at Feb 22, 2005 8:29:50 AM

Your comments will be small comfort to Ms. Tran's boyfriend.

Posted by: Steve at Feb 22, 2005 8:55:49 AM

Yes, but essentially an emotional argument. There would be plenty of grief where the three-year-old picked up a gun a shot a playmate, too. I have empathy for anyone who is grieving the death of a loved one. But the fact remains that every tragedy that happens in this world does not necessarily demand a federal program or new laws to meet it. There has to be the numbers that justify a program.

In a town near ours, a woman was raped and murdered by a teenage thug (a boy, by the way). There was outrage when they realized that our state would not put him in prison for life because of his age. So there was a great flurry of new laws that really came out of the heat of the moment, and may not particularly serve the reality of what most juvenile crimes involve. So we as a society are increasingly treating all of them as adults all the time, and it's largely driven by the press playing up sensational cases. The number of kids committing "youthful indiscretions" who will be locked away for incredibly long periods of time, when they would have outgrown it over time is ridiculous. I know so many successful, stable professionals, all very moral people, that will sometimes confess to doing some vandalism or smoking a little pot or something as a kid (mostly, but not always boys, by the way). They outgrew it, they regret it, they moved on. But because of new laws, these kids will be treated as hardcore criminals.

Again, you can come up with men who were murdered by their girlfriends. I haven't seen the evidence that this approaches a Social Problem that Must Be Dealt With. As we have chewed over endlessly before, we see no hard count data that any measurable number of men are homeless because of domestic violence committed against them. We do, on the other hand, see that the homeless literature saying that some men may be homeless because they have been abusive to family members (parents, brothers, sisters, spouses, etc.)and that this is one reason they don't get family support.

Again, anecdotal and emotional examples do not justify the development of a new program unless it is simply a catalyst for supporting real data that there is a problem of measurable proportions.

Posted by: silverside at Feb 22, 2005 10:04:44 AM

"How about that chap whose girlfriend (Ms. Tran) tied him up and chopped off his chopper? This is becoming something of a craze, is it not. I no longer keep anything sharp in the house just in case the missus is feeling peeved about her shopping account or anything."

Oh Please...it's happened TWICE in about ten years I think...

Some craze...

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 22, 2005 12:03:59 PM