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I'm not going to lie: the distinction between these two concepts (qualitative and quantitative) was lost on me for a number of years after it was explained to me.  Granted, it wasn't explained very well, but there was a barrier to the explanation.  Namely, quantitative information is given a kind of privileged place in this culture, even in so far as it often replaces the qualitative.  How often have you been in this argument with your SO: "No, I love you more!" "No, I love  you more!" "No..." (and so on)?  

"More" is a quantitative word.  In this context, it indicates that there is a capacity (in some physical way) for love, and that one can be more full of love than another.  This is a dangerous game, because it implies a sum-zero equation.  To say nothing of the polyamory community, what happens when a child is born into a family and there becomes a great need to love it?  If there is a sum-zero capacity for love -- like maybe we all have some kind of cistern of love -- then wouldn't the love in the family be inversely proportional to the number of members?  Sum-zero love equations also tie love up in time-spent-with, which is clingy, needy, and leans on emotional blackmail.  

To avoid this, I've taken to a more archaic expression for love: "I love you better."  This, incidentally, doesn't ordinarily result in the kind of cutesy power struggle that "I love you more" tends to.  "I love you better" suggests something very wrong in a relationship, or it can be a personal statement of improvement.  (Though not a very good one.)  But the point is this: to question what can be determined by numbers alone.

And now we come to the crux of the issue.  Recently there have been men's rights activists at large in my hippy-dippy, crunchy-granola, lez-friendly community.  They put up posters with the express expectation of having them torn down by the angry young feminists that abound around here.  It's bathetic, really (and no, I'm not misspelling that).  Here's a link to their website on the most recent day of activity, complete with pictorial (trigger warning for douchebaggery): http://masculism.ca/blog/mens-rights-are-not-human-rights-apparently/ 

If you read far enough down, you'll notice that they're using Statistics Canada (StatsCan) self-reported research on the five years preceding 2009 to show that men suffer domestic violence at the same rate as women do.  And, honestly, they're not particularly lying (Except for Newfoundland/Labrador and Prince Edward Island): http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/2010000/ct001-eng.htm.  That's in the official report.  There is, apparently, a similar report by Simon Fraser Univeristy (which has been known in the past for its feminist activism) stating something quite similar.  But the problem is, domestic violence is a very broad category, and breaking self-reported domestic violence down on only one axis (male-female) is problematic.  Why?

Your wife might call you names.  When she's angry, she might hit you with something: a book, a fly swatter, rolling pin.  This is not okay.  And, in fact, a man is far less likely to do something like that.  (trigger warning for sexual violence) What a man seems to be statistically far more likely to do is to rape his wife at gunpoint: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/2010000/ct002-eng.htm.  (That's from the same report, by the way.  Please note that this chart is about self-report from the survivor's end, not from the perpetrator's end.)

I just want to express this in a more open forum than I've allowed my Facebook to be.  I mean, there may be women suffering domestic violence (which really, against women, looks like domestic terrorism) who come across the above article, or something similar, and think that these men's rights activists have her interests at heart as a member of humanity.  There may be a man out there who finds this site and begins to think that his experiences with domestic violence, difficult though they may be, are comparable to that of the woman who's just found the same website.

It's a shame, really, that human rights are viewed on the same sum-zero spectrum that we tend to view love.  Legality is tied up in economy, which is tied up in money, which is a sum-zero game.  In order to file a civil suit, you have to be able to prove that you experienced "loss" expressed in monetary fashion, thus rights are granted on a monetary basis.  Thus, rights are granted on a sum-zero basis.  When one group gets rights, it takes rights away from another group, who has been determined to have more rights than the group who's just gotten rights.  So, to the top group (say, straight white men) it looks like they're being oppressed because they suddenly have fewer rights. But when it comes to determining quality of life, ease of access, forum for voice, and legal protection the top group still has a better time than those under it.  Heck, even the bad times are better for them.

(Because this is my first blog post, I feel like I should be signing off with something like, "John, I'll see you on Tuesday."  Which I won't, of course.)

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Tags: domestic violence, gender, men's rights groups bad, statistics

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