Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Lost Men

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  • mark taslov, in reply to Walter Nicholls,

    I'm sorry Walter I missed the inference there.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Walter Nicholls,

    Yes, but more accurately it shouldn’t be subject to argument. Also note the recurring language issue in that the individuals get primarily labelled by their externally-assigned sex at birth (e.g. "a man we should treat as a woman"), rather than by their self-identified gender (e.g. "a woman") – thus relegating the latter to some secondary or optional status.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to linger,

    Absolutely – tolerance and normalisation of casual misgendering is the issue. That second example had me pondering whether it was in regard to cis-women undergoing testosterone therapy until the pronoun – then wondering why – in either example – are they not using “trans woman” and “trans man” respectively? Why would you choose to make statements about gender that may be construed as congruent with fascist positions ?

    This month, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary banned university-level gender studies programs, declaring that “people are born either male or female” and that it is unacceptable “to talk about socially constructed genders, rather than biological sexes.” Now the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services wants to follow suit by legally defining sex as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”

    so it’s always cool when bits and pieces of these discussions accommodate science.

    There has been a lot of new scientific research on this topic since the 1950s. But those looking to biology for an easy-to-administer definition of sex and gender can derive little comfort from the most important of these findings. For example, we now know that rather than developing under the direction of a single gene, the fetal embryonic testes or ovaries develop under the direction of opposing gene networks, one of which represses male development while stimulating female differentiation and the other of which does the opposite. What matters, then, is not the presence or absence of a particular gene but the balance of power among gene networks acting together or in a particular sequence. This undermines the possibility of using a simple genetic test to determine “true” sex.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to ,

    I hear you.

    And it’s up to each individual to decide how they would like to be addressed

    That is assuming they know, if they’re even told or figure it out:

    For Sterling, the pieces didn’t fall into place until the late 30s.

    • Bearing in mind how deep our complicity (inadvertent or otherwise) in perpetuating this binary system runs

    • Acknowledging that there are those on both sides of the ledger for whom maintaining these binary “sex=gender” narratives at the expense of erasing trans and intersex lived realities is their bread and butter;

    proposed that men should be required to get permission from certifying consultants before getting prostate checks, as women seeking an abortion have to

    • Accounting for these erasive narratives and this dissemination of ignorance as not only helping some folk pay their bills, but as part of an incredibly lucrative industry and method of social control– then absolutely this, as very much a best case scenario:

    And it’s up to each individual to decide how they would like to be addressed

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Rahr,

    Mpledger - Dunno about the US, but in many parts of the UK death rates have stopped improving and in a few parts they’re actually getting worse. Over there it’s being blamed on austerity (in social services, health, and the bits that fall between) by academics. Maybe there are some equivalent effects in the US?

    Since Nov 2018 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to ,

    Putting myself in your shoes isn’t easy,
    but its well worth making the effort.

    Shod by both sides?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger, in reply to Alex Rahr,

    Yea, I'm a little out of date because I first came across this stuff a couple of years ago.

    Since Oct 2012 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Russell wrote: "while suicide rates in most western countries have decreased over the past two decades, in America, the rate is up by a third. And one group is driving the increase: white, middle-aged men... Men, who have lost jobs, status, security and identity are killing themselves... it's impossible not to feel that the American problems forced into everyone's face this past week run very, very deep."

    I first complained about the lack of theoretical basis for identity politics on my website in 2011, then on various blogs since, pointing out the tacit concession of psychologists that they can't figure it out. I'm currently reading Fukuyama's "Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment", published last month. He's filling that vacuum left by the incompetence of psychologists!

    In his preface he reviews his exploration of the nexus where history, culture, politics, mass psychology and personal identity intersect that first made him famous in the aftermath of the Cold War. "I noted that neither nationalism nor religion were about to disappear because, I argued back then, contemporary liberal democracies had not fully solved the problem of thymos"

    "Thymos is the part of the soul that craves recognition of dignity; isothymia is the demand to be respected on an equal basis with other people". So this is the very deep factor Russell intuited. Non-christian readers can replace soul with psyche, and we can acknowledge our right as citizens to function in society on an equity basis. When social conditions prevent us thus functioning, the result is identity crisis and psychological dysfunction. White male american suicide syndrome being the latest newsworthy manifestation.

    "Demand for recognition of one's identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today." This is so obviously true, and has been for so long, that we can only wonder what, in their collective ethos, is preventing psychologists from waking up to it!

    "It is not confined to the identity politics practised on university campuses, or to the white nationalism it has provoked, but extends to broader phenomena such as the upsurge of old-fashioned nationalism and politicised Islam. Much of what passes for economic motivation is, I will argue, actually rooted in the demand for recognition and therefore cannot simply be satisfied by economic means."

    He's right. Neoliberalism, now exiting stage right, shared the same conceptual flaw that saw socialism exit stage left more than 30 years ago. Equity requires a sufficient share in the economy, but that does not suffice for democratic participation. We need that right of parity that recognition of dignity provides.

    “Individuals throughout human history have found themselves at odds with their societies. But only in modern times has the view taken hold that the authentic inner self is intrinsically valuable, and the outer society systematically wrong and unfair in its valuation of the former. It is not the inner self that has to be made to conform to society's rules, but society itself that needs to change.”

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Well, I tried the instructions for italicising text that this site provides under the `post your response' window - but as you can see it didn't work! Why not?

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Thymos is the part of the soul that craves recognition of dignity

    Cf. the concept of “face” in politeness theory (Brown & Levinson 1987), which distinguishes two aspects of identity:
    positive face = need to be valued, liked, accepted as belonging to a group
    negative face = need for personal freedom
    These are sometimes presented as being in tension (e.g. giving rise to a formality scale from the language of official information to personal expression of feelings), but probably need to be combined to yield “I need to be accepted as I am”.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    it didn’t work! Why not?

    What Steven said, and sometimes those keyboard code commands don’t activate if hard up against another punctuation mark before – always have a character space before starting any invisible commands.
    .__test__.
    ’__test__.
    .**bold**
    test.
    test.
    bold

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Walter Nicholls, in reply to mark taslov,

    I'm sorry Walter I missed the inference there.

    Sorry for coming back a day later .. this is the problem with keeping comments too short.
    What I meant was that you don't need "an argument for treating men who have transitioned to women as women". They literally are women at that point. It's not recognising this that needs justifying, and good luck finding a way of expressing that argument without sounding bigoted.
    I would hope the majority of the people reading this already understand this, and the thread has moved on anyway.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    fixed by doubling the underscores, as Steven suggested

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Thanks for the technical advice. I've just been reading Fukuyama's chapter 11, in which his account of the historical evolution of identity politics is converging on the present. I'll quote parts that link historic socioeconomic trends to the rise of Trump via resurgent nationalism (since the white male suiciders are just the tip of his iceberg).

    "The left continued to be defined by its passion for equality, but that agenda shifted from its earlier emphasis on the conditions of the working class to the often psychological demands of an ever-widening circle of marginalized groups. Many activists came to see the old working class and their trade unions as a privileged stratum with little sympathy for the plight of groups such as immigrants or racial minorities worse off than they were. Recognition struggles targeted newer groups and their rights as groups, rather than the economic inequality of individuals. In the process, the old working class was left behind."

    "The shifting agenda by the progressive left in the United States and Europe had both advantages and drawbacks. The embrace of identity politics was both understandable and necessary. The lived experiences of identity groups are different from one another and often need to be addressed in ways specific to those groups. Outsiders to those groups often fail to perceive the harm they are doing by their actions... Identity politics aims at changing culture and behaviour in ways that will have real benefits for the people involved."

    "By turning the spotlight on narrower experiences of injustice, identity politics has brought about welcome changes in concrete public policies that have benefited the groups in question, as well as in cultural norms." "So there is nothing wrong with identity politics as such; it is a natural and inevitable response to injustice. It becomes problematic only when identity is interpreted or asserted in certain specific ways. Identity politics for some progressives has become a cheap substitute for serious thinking about how to reverse the thirty-year trend in most liberal democracies toward greater socioeconomic inequality."

    "A significant part of the white American working class has been dragged into an underclass, comparable to the experience of African-Americans during the 1970s and '80s." "Trump was the perfect practitioner of the ethics of authenticity that defines our age: he may be mendacious, malicious, bigoted, and unpresidential, but at least he says what he thinks. By taking on political correctness so frontally, Trump has played a critical role in moving the focus of identity politics from the left, where it was born, to the right, where it is now taking root."

    "Identity politics on the left tended to legitimate only certain identities while ignoring or denigrating others, such as European (ie white) ethnicity, Christian religiosity, rural residence, belief in family values, and related categories. Many of Donald Trump's working-class supporters feel they have been disregarded by the national elites."

    "Rural people, who are the backbone of populist movements not just in the United States but in Britain, Hungary, Poland, and other countries, often believe that their traditional values are under severe threat by cosmopolitan, city-based, elites. They feel victimized by a secular culture that is careful not to criticize Islam or Judaism, yet regards their own Christianity as a mark of bigotry."

    "Since his rise, white nationalism has moved from a fringe movement to something much more mainstream in American politics. Its proponents argue that it has been politically acceptable to talk about Black Lives Matter or gay rights or Latino voters as groups that legitimately organize around a specific identity. But if one even uses the adjective white as self-identification or, worse yet, organizes politically around the theme of "white rights", one is immediately identified, the white nationalists note, as a racist and a bigot."

    We saw that here recently, as those labels were applied to a couple of visiting Canadian advocates, without any validating evidence. Some pc-drones even tried to deny Don Brash his right of free speech. The moral of such stories is that politics gets more toxic when disrespect is used as a tactic - particularly when exclusion is applied - and the level playing field is tilted in favour of some groups, to discriminate against others. Democracy becomes a sham when fairness is eliminated.

    I'm not suggesting leftists are hypocrites - just that they tend to be oblivious to the polarising consequence of their tacit group-think. Wising up to that becomes increasingly essential, to preserve goodwill, when we see extreme escalation of the trend in countries overseas!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Walter Nicholls,

    noting the correspondence between 'arguing' and 'argument' I thought that might be what you were getting at, can't be too sure these days and I'm pleased linger helped clarify my point at least, thanks for replying Walter and yes:

    good luck finding a way of expressing that argument without sounding bigoted.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to ,

    It's all good steven, it's a comparison that comes up from time to time, thank you for your reply and open-mindedness and care.

    The most thorough existing research finds intersex people to constitute an estimated 1.7% of the population*, which makes being intersex about as common as having red hair (1%-2%).

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I’ve appreciated your contributions to this discussion up to and including most of that post Dennis, but this excerpt struck me as somewhat self-contradictory:

    Some pc-drones even tried to deny Don Brash his right of free speech. The moral of such stories is that politics gets more toxic when disrespect is used as a tactic

    With regard to:

    as those labels were applied to a couple of visiting Canadian advocates

    Well shall we watch Stefen Molyneux claim Apartheid wasn’t racism? What kind of 'validating evidence' would tip the scales for you?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Dennis, if anyone's calling white nationalists "bigots", maybe it's because ... white nationalists are objectively bigots?

    That's not pejorative. White nationalism is bigoted from the first principle to the last, and entirely based on racist garbage thought about how white skinned people took over the world because God loves them and wanted them to rule over non-whites forever. It was bad for the US, it was bad for Australia, it was bad for NZ, it is still bad for everyone who tries it. Racism hurts racists too, bigotry is worth fighting against, and those guys are all bigots.

    Black nationalism is about strategies to gain equal rights (in that white people won't do it for you), white nationalism is about strategies to prevent that (because lots of white people, it turns out, will also try and stop you). If Fukuyama doesn't understand that, he might not be useful to read on this subject.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to mark taslov,

    The problem has emerged due to inaccuracy of language usage. The original meaning of racism is belief that one race is superior to the others. Back in the colonial era it was conventional to believe the white race was superior. I never saw any evidence that any of the three expressed that view during their controversies.

    I'm aware that younger generations in recent decades have tended to view and call anything they don't like racist, so as to devalue it as a technical term. A symptom of collective brain death? Not entirely; seems reasonable to view some people as having tacit racism. Particularly politicians. As per Polanyi's identification of how tacit beliefs motivate behaviour, folks can easily be indoctrinated with a bias when young and carry it along in their subconscious through life, and yet be horrified if ever made aware of it.

    So reality for culture & politics is nuanced. I get why folks polarise so easily and see racism even where it isn't, but Fukuyama is explaining how both become toxic when identity politics prevents interaction on the basis of common humanity and goodwill. The extremist trend has gone too far and must be rolled back!

    As regards your clip of the Canadian rationalising apartheid, I'd just comment that I always saw it as racist. My first demo in 1970 was a march against apartheid in Auckland led by Trevor Richardson on behalf of Halt All Racist Tours. He seems to be explaining a separate development rationale. If the govt of SA did actually use such a frame, fair enough. I was the only Green Party member who stood up and supported Matt Rata's launch of a separate justice system for Maori at an Alliance meeting in the early '90s. Separate development seemed a valid rationale there too.

    I still see that SA govt as mostly racist, and their voter base likewise. However reality isn't black & white and a third political group that believe in equal rights for all races while being pragmatic enough to use separate development as a transitional stage ought not to be ignored or discounted. Media bias in favour of the old black & white polarisation routinely excludes third alternatives (or any shade of grey).

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to tussock,

    I'm aware of the origin of racism as a belief system (been reading history since the mid-fifties and watching current affairs since the mid-sixties). Fukuyama is elucidating how identity politics has evolved since the 19th century - nobody else has done this since it emerged as a political category in recent decades - and his analysis is comprehensive, lucid, and compelling. I regard his book as essential reading for anyone who blogs or comments online.

    So the conclusion you are inclined towards in inadvisable. He's going way deeper & more broadly than anyone else has. For a political scientist to break new ground is always a radical move - they normally just comment on superficialities.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    those labels were applied to a couple of visiting Canadian advocates, without any validating evidence.

    Except everything they had said before online.

    deny Don Brash his right of free speech

    There is no unfettered right to speech, especially under the NZ legal and political system rather than the US one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Had to check those stats Russell and came up with interesting and saddening theories. Indigenous Americans are more highly represented in suicide rates of 23 per 100,000 compared to white men (how is white defined in a country of immigrants from all over the world?) at 18 per 100,000. Black American suicide rates of 6 per 100,000 thousand seem light until digging down into ideas of misclassification, behaviours created by poverty and predjudice and cultural conditioning causing extreme risk and violent behaviour resulting in death.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Must read the comments ... :) But this hit me hard
    “This is a tough country to live in,” he tells her. “If you’re not a competitive person, and I’m not, it’s not easy. Americans like a winner. They don’t like people who aren’t winners. All our lives, we’re given this false notion of American superiority, that we’re supposed to be superhuman.”
    NZ is also moving the wrong way with suicide. and we've adopted this mantra - essentially since Rogernomics, but it's moved to totally occupy the subconcious/deepvalues/mindset of the nation.
    If you fail, it's your fault. Success is good. Mediocre is BAD. In effect, it's telling us that only a few people have any right to feel good about their lives.
    It's a blight.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    There is no unfettered right to speech, especially under the NZ legal and political system rather than the US one.

    Not even under the US one. Freedom of speech, as defined in the US Bill of Rights is all about the government not having the power to prevent you speaking, not that you can say anything you want, anywhere you want, without hindrance.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    NZ is also moving the wrong way with suicide. and we've adopted this mantra - essentially since Rogernomics, but it's moved to totally occupy the subconcious/deepvalues/mindset of the nation.

    It's always been this way in NZ. Mental illness was something that you hid away, in asylums or in cottages out the back of the farm. The whole "man alone" bullshit was about striving and winning against the environment, other people, the Wellington rulemakers etc. Nothing's changed except that we closed the asylums and put people on the street where they can be seen. But mental illness is still something people think they need to be ashamed of.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

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