Sunday, 13 July 2014

How to Present Men's Issues. Part I: Give credit where credit is due.

There is an especially active feminist cohort at my university; consequently, I've had, and have made use of, a number of opportunities to discuss the advocacy of men's issues with the people most likely to oppose it. In so doing I've learned a number of useful techniques for effectually presenting the subject. The next five entries will describe those techniques.

Part I

I noticed two things about my first debate with a feminist about the merits of men's issues advocacy:
  1. She seemed to want me to concede that men's behaviour had harmed women more than women's behaviour had harmed men. 
  2. I seemed to want her to concede the opposite.
Essentially, our conversation was a winner-take-all zero-sum game. I had never seen anyone concede the truth of anything when doing so involved publicly admitting absolute defeat, so I shouldn't have expected one of us to succeed.

Perhaps more interestingly, most of the feminists with whom I've discussed men's issues advocacy have asked me why I wanted to destroy feminism. I wondered why they suspected that I wanted that. I had never wanted that, so the question surprised me. In any case, it seems that many feminists fear that the advocacy of men's issues will harm their sub-culture.

I've succeeded in allaying the aforementioned concerns by expressing my appreciation of the historical accomplishments of feminism, such as
  • the abolishment of laws that denied fundamental liberties to half our population, and 
  • the attenuation of gender roles which increased the number of socially acceptable ways that men, and women, might participate in the commercial and domestic economies,
and by acknowledging the importance of contemporary feminist undertakings, such as
  • promoting women's entitlement to their human rights in jursidictions where women do not enjoy them, and
  • ensuring that women constitute a proportionate number of our law makers, thereby ensuring legislation benefits men and women equally. 
Moreover, acknowledgement of the importance of these undertakings produces a set of premises that both parties accept; without such a set of premises, agreement is a logical impossibility.

In Part II, I will describe how these premises imply the importance of men's issues advocacy.  

1 comment:

  1. In every difficult conversation there are 3 conversations:
    - "What happened": I'm right, you're wrong, it's your fault.
    - "Feelings": Ignore them or make all the conversation about how hurter you are.
    - "Identity": Protect and all or nothing image of ourselves.

    Facing a feminist from a MIA perspective is a difficult conversation and you will find yourself facing those 3 conversations.

    What you deal in this article is the "What happened" part. Arguing there doesn't let anyone reach any agreement. But *exploring* those points help to understand each other.

    Sharing information about each other points it is necessary for each one to see where the other stands and what view of the world they have. You can embrace both stories. Curiosity is the way to the discussion.

    Adding information to the what happened part is an important point to make the other part understand us while at the same time we learn where they stand.

    But still we have missing the feelings part. In one side we can try to leave feelings aside, but they will burst into the conversation. It is not about being "offended" it is about what one feels about the other.

    Feelings end up in judgements, attributions, characterisations and problem solving other's issues. Not good.

    Try to get feelings into the conversation and negotiate them. Do not "vent" them, express emotion without being emotional.

    And the third one is about identity. Many times we believe that if we are wrong in one issue, all our discussion is wrong. We end up suffering: denial (NO!) exaggeration (YOU F** MYSOGINIST!!)

    We need to make the other person understand that:
    - We make mistakes.
    - Our intentions are not simple to explain because life is complex.
    - We have contributed to the problem.

    This will ease the white or black feeling when discussing something. But it doesn't assure you that the other person will do it. Anyway don't measure the conversation by how "soft" it is but if the ideas communicated are the right ones.