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Subject: Re: Who wants a fight?
From: mike brown <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:mike brown <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 14 Jul 1999 16:31:07 +1000

text/plain (275 lines)

Nice to see your back, Neil. Personally, I've had to work non-stop so a
holiday to Nova Scotia sounds about right.

>>>From one intelligent guy to...a Canadian. Based on your observations of
>>life, the cartoon world I live in seems alot more realistic than the Mary
>>Poppins world you exist in (I asked who wanted a fight!).
>   Well Mike, if the gloves are off...

You have to admit that a bit of mental-jousting is good for the soul

>... may I ask how extensive is your
>acquaintance with people of African descent, given that they are not
>numerous in either Wales or Australia?

Extensive enough to know that structural racism exists. I grew up and went
to school with many blacks. Cardiff is a port city with one of the oldest
black settlements (ghettoes) in Britain. I also served with American blacks
in Berlin (who chose to hang out with us (Brits) because colour for us was
less of an issue).

> When you refer to them being
>lynched all the time (!) are you not actually attempting to refer to
>blacks in North America, and if so, could you tell us exactly what you
>know about life of any sort in North America, other than what you see
>on the telly?

I don't believe that I stated that blacks in the US are lynched "all the
time", but even so, all the books I've read, all the pictures I've seen and
all the documentaries I've watched all show blackmen hanging from trees -
not whitemen.

Further, are you implying that the only form of knowledge on a subject can
only be valid if you've seen something firsthand? For example, I've never
been to Tibet, but I know that the Tibetans are oppressed by the Chinese etc

>>I'll admit that the concept of 'power' can be problematic - there are many
>>different theories.
>   How very heterodox of you!  Almost open-minded, but not quite.

Open-minded *and* well-read.

>>However, the concept of it that I'll stick with here is the one
>>which tackles your assertion that there aren't any classes with it, or
>>without it. This is clearly absurd. You can walk home from a night-club at 3
>>in the morning in a totally different frame of mind to that of your
>>girlfriend, sister or mother.
>   How so, given that as a man I'm twice as likely to become a victim of
>violent crime as a woman is?  (Check the stats).

Check what the women on this list are telling you - far more valid than stats.

>>Likewise, if a women is sexually assaulted the
>>legal system (dominated by men) takes over and defines what rape is etc.
>   Yes, and the men insist on a lot of nonsense about the rapist being
>innocent until proven guilty, due process of law etc.  The bastards!

My point is that it is men who define what 'rape' is and what is an
acceptable defence (see all those cases which rely on what a women wears as
being provocation etc).

>>Men dominate all forms of discourse in our society (do you dispute that
>>knowledge is power) such as science, philosophy, religion etc.
>   I do dispute that knowledge is power -- access to knowledge is not the
>same thing as access to power.

When you are the person who names and hence defines something - then you
control that thing. For example, psychiatrists have defined 'madness' and
have tremendous power over their clients and what defines madness/illness in
our society. It doesn't take too much imagination to see how this can be
applied in all forms of social life.

> Ultimately power rests on force, and force
>is not necessarily going to yield to a superior education.

Now "force" is an interesting word. We have a police "force", but most
citizens follow the law for reasons other than fear of the force which might
be applied to them eg, social contract; obligations etc. Superior education
and knowledge are not necessarily synonomous. Knowledge can be gained from

>  As far as men
>"dominating" discourse, what exactly are you referring to -- that they set
>the preconditions that the vast majority of women appear happy to go along

They set the preconditions, certainly. But many women are not happy. For
example, within the scientific field many women are criticising just what
constitutes a scientific subject. This has traditionally been the preserve
of men - its not that science is subjective (ie physics), but that what has
been viewed worthy of study has been set by men.

>  I don't notice that huge numbers of women are substantially unhappy
>with "science, philosophy, religion" etc. (there seem to be more women than
>men in churches and universities these days for example).

See above. And when it comes to numbers of women in university etc., then
yes things are changing.

> I suppose they're
>all suffering from "false consciousness",

Male hegemony.

> like those Welsh voters who won't
>support Plaid Cymru?

They're not Welsh!

>>Brother, the language you and I both speak puts women into the margins
>(eg. >'man suckles his young from an early age' type of language).
>   Nonsense.  This is a literary device known as "metonymy" and is used
>extensively throughout the English language -- referring to QEII as "the
>Crown" doesn't mean we're marginalizing the head and shoulders she puts
>the crown on, when we say "all hands on deck" we're not asking for a series
>of bloody amputations, and similarly nobody who talks about "the future of
>mankind" is referring to a world without women.

These examples are not all gender specific, so I can't see their relevance.
But it's not difficult to see how a sentence construction like, "the
policeman stopped the motorist" excludes the chances that the *"police
officer"* is a women.

>>You will no doubt be thinking of exceptions, such as having a third dan
>>black-belted sister who carries a sub-machine gun. But the reason or symptom
>>that causes fear in women still exists.
>   What on earth makes you think that women, on the whole, are more scared
>of life's problems than men are -- or have more reason to be scared?

I don't. I just believe women when they say they have more reason to fear
men than we do of them.

> Isn't
>it actually the case that when the casualty rates are totted up, it's more
>dangerous to be a man than a woman in our society, and that if men aren't
>continually articulating their fear and despair it's not because everything
>is A-OK for them but because they are not encouraged to do so?

I don't dispute this, but it's certainly not the case that all our fears are
the same (men and women), but men just don't articulate them.

>>Likewise, you say that you have no power and want no power. This choice is
>a >form of power itself.
>    Having no power is a form of having power -- what was that I said about
>"heads-you-lose, tails-I-win" logic?

That's just the way it is. As a white middle-class male you have a distinct
advantage over others if you choose to excercise certain choices. That you
personally don't succeed does not negate the advantage you hold (no-one said
a win was guaranteed).

>  As it happens, I'm making exactly the
>same choices as my wife is making -- and she was a woman last time I checked.

Well, I hope you haven't got that wrong!

>>Can you really argue that if you decided to aim high in public/commercial
>>life, that you wouldn't enjoy a significant advantage over many
>marginalised >groups?
>    Can you really argue that I would?  Again, this is where thinking of
>people as belonging to monolithic racial or gender groups has led you
>astray.  There are important *personal* reasons why I would never succeed
>in public or commercial life, for example because I have a low tolerance
>for stress and small talk and submitting to authority.

Isn't that a new category in the special Olympics? These personal
idiosyncracies might well inhibit your chances of promotion or success in
getting a job etc. But they are not *inherent* to your gender. Women,
however, get pregnant - this is one well known factor in job discrimination
that goes beyond personal factors.

> So if I were to
>"aim high" I would never succeed, because it would become very apparent
>that I couldn't do the job required of me.  I know this and am quite
>content to live a quiet happy life instead.  Now, are you honestly going
>to allege that the only reason that there are white men out there who are
>unemployed or poor is because they're not trying hard enough?

No, this is a class and social issue. There aren't enough jobs to employ all
men who want to work. However, full time unemployment is higher amongst
women and other marginalised groups than it is for certain others.

>Are you
>actually a Thatcherite where white men are concerned?

Why compare me to Thatcher? Thatcher was a white male.

>>Life is a struggle for most of us. Otherwise, how do you explain the many
>>civil right movements in our society (not many white middle class male
>>activist groups though).
>    Well there are, but of course they are known as "hate groups".  They
>are however activist in the sense that they have a predetermined list of
>political aims that they are working towards.

Such as the "Keeping women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen" movement.

>>Just because you had a female Jamaican boss doesn't prove your argument
>    And just because you never had one, or just because they don't fit into
>your Grand Unified Theory of Oppression, doesn't prove your argument either.
>>(I hope your professor didn't teach you how to prove the
>>norm by citing the exception - that's a law professors trick!).
>    By "the exception" I take it you believe that I'm the only person in the
>history of Canada ever to have had a black woman as a manager?

No, just that you're the only person in Canada to believe that you face
structural problems in equal measure to her.

>>How many female Jamaicans are there in your parliament?
>    Two I think -- which is proportionally just about right.

And how many women? Would that number be proportionally right - ie half?

>>Back to things celtic. This comes round full circle. I still stand by my
>>assertion that to be a Gael and anti-English is not the same thing (in terms
>>of political/cultural consequences) as it is to be English and anti-Gael.
>    It is the same morally.  What is your conception of morality, >Mike?

What do morals have to do with this statement/fact?? I submit that
English governments have (and have excercised) the power to cause cultural
grief to her neighbours because it has the power to do so. Conversely, the
Celtic nations cannot reciprocate because they don't have the same power. I
don't advocate that they should have this power to do the same thing back -
just the power to sort out their own affairs. Hardly a morally bankrupt

>That if they do it to us, it's evil and they're bastards, but if we do it
>to them, it's OK and we're the Chosen People?  This is the recipe for
>conflict and chaos, and always has been: see for instance Northern Ireland.

Well, we are the Chosen People, but what has Wales done to England - except
survive against incredible odds?

Cofion gorau - Mike.

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