Why Gender Mereologist?

A Gender Mereologist: is concerned with the state of being male or female (particularly with reference to social and cultural differences) within the wider context of being human.

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If you think this definition is slightly special, super serious, salient, sexy, superficial, semantic, supercilious or just plain silly then, depending on the way that you choose to look at the world, you will probably find that you are right.

If you think that it is sarcastic, sacrilegious, suspiciously sexist; sacrilegious even, or for that matter a succinctly sage salvo of sensible salubrious salutations to both sexes, you have a right to your opinion.

Clearly it has sprung from someone with an alarming alliteration affection and allow me to make ONE THING clear. It has been sincerely sculpted to be sapid, serious, stimulating and supposed to be spoken in a spirit of shared samsara.

So in plain English then, Gender Mereology is the term that I came up with to help define my personal approach to championing and talking about Gender Equality.

Gender equality: refers to the view that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not be discriminated against based on gender, unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment.

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Last December I decided to spend 2015 blogging about gender equality. The reason I decided to do is because I began to feel quite strongly about the remarkable double standards that currently exist within the mainstream gender equality narrative.

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Double standards that create what I perceive to be very obvious barriers for men.   Barriers which largely prevent and certainly discourage men from engaging in constructive adult dialogue about gender equality in ‘developed countries’ like the United Kingdom and the USA.

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The reason I felt the need to invent my own terminology is because, quite simply, when I started this project I struggled to find a term that I felt comfortable using to accurately define my own perspective, especially in the succinct and sometimes seriously subjective #140 character arena that is twitter.

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Gender equality is something I got on board with before I’d even heard of the actual term.   For me it’s a no brainer, it’s instinctual; it’s common sense, it is a basic and fundamental natural law.  BUT, as a concept it can also be complicated, contradictory, confusing and, crucially, considered almost interchangeable with terms like women’s rights or feminism.

‘Feminism: is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes.’

I broadly got on board with feminism from the outset also.  From an early age I understood that the woman who brought me into this world was (funnily enough) a woman and therefore, fair play to her and the possibility that she might prefer to receive equitable treatment to the men in her life .

I say broadly because let’s face it, EYE is bloke, which can make things slightly complicated and, indeed, confusing.

On the one hand, some of the self identifying ‘sisterhood’ come across as a tad man hatey and would not appear to welcome me into their movement even if I had my bits done and got a certificate to prove that I had legally joined their ranks.

On the other hand, when ‘feminists’ (regardless of their gender) put their fairest feet forward by taking POSITIVE action to address very REAL difficulties and disadvantages experienced by women in the 21st Century, the debate is generally framed within the context of a sometimes informative but almost always blunt boys v girls headcount in a playground where any notion of ‘diversity’ is conveniently placed to one side.

Diversity: the state or quality of being different or varied.

In the context of Equality (‘equal rights and treatment to all individuals’), Diversity means recognising, respecting and valuing the differences between people and the ways in which those differences can contribute to a richer, more creative and more productive environment.

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More often than not, in practice this means that if the girls have less % than the boys in any given area (for example number of engineering students) then this is considered a bad thing. Conversely, if the girls happen to be ahead of the boys (example overall number of university graduates) then, more often than not this is framed as a cause to celebrate, as progress, as female empowerment and the accomplishments of the ‘fairer sex’ against the odds in what the popular press often remind us is still very much a man’s, man’s world.

AND this is where I, and I think a lot of TYPICAL MEN like me, really begin to struggle. As important and valuable as feminism is, it is necessarily and (outside of echo chambers) [link] commonly understood to be centered on the dichotomy of boys v girls where little girls are generally understood to face various injustices throughout their lifetime and little boys are most often presented as somehow growing up to become responsible for and maintain these injustices.

Fair enough when it’s fair enough but it would be naive and unrealistic to frame feminism as a movement that has on the whole given much regard to the sociological and biological disadvantages of being a man.

This is one reason I felt the need to establish a wider, fresher, terminology to frame my own engagement with matters of gender equality.  Another is, I think, something that most western men will relate to.

When attempting to shine a light on some of the challenges and inequalities most concerning men, I wish to make it clear from the outsets that I in no way wish to detract from the sociological and biological challenges that women experience in their lifetime. Quite the opposite in fact.  EiB 2015

Rightly or wrongly, I’m practically hardwired to feel obliged to present such a disclaimer, or some sort of similar ‘some of my best friends are women’ statement, before daring to enter any serious discussion on gender equality. Once again, fair enough, when it’s fair enough but increasingly not when it’s not.

I don’t know what it’s like to walk a mile in a woman’s shoes (sensible or otherwise) and as a member of the human race I certainly feel some sense of collective  shame about the many obvious injustices experienced by women world wide in this so called modern age.

That said, I also genuinely believe that such injustices can only be fully addressed by giving men a decent seat around the discussion table and that this will require positive, inclusive actions from women as apposed to demonization, ridicule or ventures like the rather confusing, contradictory and, in my humble subjective opinion, slightly demeaning #heforshe initiative.

I’m not convinced that many women worry that they risk being perceived or accused of being an ignorant misanthropic dinosaur (or worse) for simply expressing their honest opinion about matters of equality. Nor should they obviously but it does begin to jar a little when men so often and so easily are.

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I can appreciate that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t really that long ago since ladies got the vote, but here’s the thing…

I’m younger than the UK Equal Pay Act. I grew up in a country where the two most powerful people where called Maggie and Liz, in a house where my mother most definitely ruled the roost. She kept a proud home and worked full time for as long as she had to. When she could afford not to she stopped, because she often hated her job and was all the happier for it.

During my developmental years I doubt it would have ever occurred to me that outside of our loving home my mother might have been considered by some as somehow inferior. There are always exceptions to the rule of course but growing up the prevailing tone of my household on any particular day seemed to be determined by her mood and her forceful personality. Sometimes bright, sometimes dark, often unpredictable and always at the centre of things.

My dad, who worked long hours in a dangerous job, generally just wanted a quiet life, the simplest solution or the quickest path. As I grew up I often found myself resenting his apparent weakness and capitulation in the face of my mother’s determination to always have the last say or get her way in sometimes simple, silly and seemingly inconsequential matters.

My older sister was always ahead of me in the household pecking order and got, at the very least, the same educational and development opportunities that my parents worked hard to provide for me. Since school I have been the minority sex in practically every classroom I have studied in. Four of my five first Managers were women and practically every environment I have worked in, from a sweaty stitching factory to a comparatively plush office has provided employment to more women than men, more often than not at every level.

One of my mates has pointed out that this is because I chose to pursue a ‘touchy feely’ career which is most generally conducted in a cushy office environment. I hasten to add that he’s the one working long hours under laboratory conditions where only 43% of his peers are female, as opposed to most of my close male peers currently plying their trades in education, medicine, social work, human resources and accountancy. That said, if you find yourself agreeing with my learned scientist friend (not a proper Doctor BTW), then fair enough, so do I as it happens. You (or your poor undervalued parents) pay your increasingly large tuition fees and you take your choice.

I’m not sitting in my relatively comfortable office with a nice view by chance, obviously there was plenty of luck involved but, at the end of the day my personality, my passions and my penchant for warm environments had a lot to do with my pursuit of a career which involves attempting to do something meaningful about addressing disadvantage, often from a soft seat and almost always with the weekend off.

Anyway I digress. Long story short, I don’t particularly feel like I’ve been disadvantaged growing up or living as a man but neither do I believe that I have been advantaged, certainly not by the state, my family or by modern society generally.

Consequently, while I’m altruistic enough to consider myself a champion of (ethical) feminism, I’m also realistic enough to understand that modern feminism isn’t a champion of me.

Which is fair enough when it’s fair enough, BUT for the record that does not include any time, in the history of EVER, when a ‘feminist’ has patronizingly told a man to go look up the (apparently inclusive or symmetrical) meaning of feminism in the dictionary.

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Feminism is certainly fair enough when it is empowering women and addressing the many difficulties and injustices that they can individually and collectively experience. It’s certainly not fair enough when a byproduct of this activity involves very conscious (or for that matter unconscious) efforts to demonize, debilitate or dismiss myself and the fifty odd percent of humanity who can be perceived to be collectively as much a part of the problem as I am.

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So whilst I am and always have been happy to embrace (ethical) feminism, I am still left searching for a term that could reasonably define my particular cause and (self) interest.

The men’s rights movement, also known as men’s rights activism (MRA), masculism or “The Men’s Human Rights Movement,” is a movement that believes that social, legal and economic discrimination against males is present in society to the extent that fighting it deserves an organized effort mirroring feminism.

The men’s right movement is (under various banners) a growing movement, especially in America and is often presented or considered to be a backlash or countermovement to feminism.

Menimist: Another term for Male Rights Activist (MRA).

Menimist is another term that has got a fair bit of traction recently. In my humble and subjective opinion, people who identify as menimists, MRAs or Male Rights Activists deserve a place round the gender equality table even though a surprising amount of self identifying feminists appear to be horrified, scared or just plain confused about the implications of such inclusion.

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If I had to provide one succinct reason in support of this opinion it would be as follows. Pause for a moment, open whatever electronic word processing instrument you have to hand and write the following two words: misogyny and misandry. In my experience it is extremely unlikely that your dictionary / spell checker will be familiar with both of these words and as equally unlikely that it isn’t aware of at least one.

I share similar levels of solidarity to mainstream men’s rights movements as I do with feminism and I even accept that I will be perceived as a MRA by many BUT once again I struggled to fully embrace any of these concepts.

Like any movement a headline banners such as menimist will in reality represent a broad church of individuals and as is often the case in broad churches, the loudest singers can often also be the biggest dicks.

Rachel Moss’s relatively archaic assessment of the movement may be easily ridiculed but it is an unfortunate and uncomfortable truth that the misogynistic and mocking examples she cites in her article are entirely real. Based on my review of recent postings to the relevant twitter feeds, they may not be as prevalent as some like to suggest but clearly they exist and clearly they are unhelpful.

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Understandably comments such as the example below will upset a lot of people, most especially women. They also make it much easier to for others to undermine and dismiss the entire trend as simply a movement for moaning misogynists and meatheads.

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Another reason I struggle to fully embrace these movements is because many who champion them and indeed many that oppose them equate the concept of men’s rights to be interchangeable with the term ‘anti-feminist’.

‘Anti-feminist’: a person opposed to feminism.
(For example “he emerged as a racist and an anti-feminist’.)

Fair enough when it is sometimes fair enough but even before confirming the above definition, I was satisfied that ‘anti-feminist’ is not particularly something I subscribe to or desire to be associated with.

Menimists, MRAs and anti-feminists alike appear to often present their position from the perspective of a sincerely held belief that feminism has gone too far and is now creating real injustices for men and sometimes women too. I wouldn’t have to go any further than my dictionary to show that such a belief has validity BUT… While I think it’s inevitable that men will increasingly use the same language and infrastructure that has served so many other minority groups well (49% of UK population folks), I don’t personally think this is necessarily the best course of action, particularly for the large number of men who wouldn’t identify themselves as ‘anti-feminist.

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The major flaw with existing equality legislation is painfully simple when you STOP, BREATHE and THINK about it for a moment. Concepts of ‘equality’ or equal rights and treatment to all individuals’ are almost always established within a ‘them n us’ dichotomy where any parameters are almost exclusively defined by a horizontal axis.

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In plain English, everyone around the gender equality table seems to exhaust a remarkable amount of energy arguing about whatever perceived disadvantage or advantage members of their sex is collectively experiencing when compared to their immediate partner, their neighbors and ‘them ones’ a few streets away.

So much energy in fact that women and men alike so very often either forget or simply don’t believe it serves them to look around the table and consider what they have in common and what they might achieve if, every once in a while, they looked UP.

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The apex fallacy: refers to judging groups primarily by the success or failure at those at the top rungs (the apex, such as the 1%) of society, rather than collective success of a group. It is when people marginalize data from the poor or middle class and focus on data from the upper class. It was coined by a forensic psychologist named Dr. Helen Smith and is often specifically applied to feminism’s interpretation of the wage gap and power distribution in relation to patriarchy.

A popular misconception and sometimes closely guarded position presented by special interest groups like feminists is that straight, white, men of able body & mind can be seen as the dominate force in society and therefore must experience all the benefits available within that society.

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Men essentially equal ‘society’ and therefore it becomes appropriate to use them as a baseline to consider and argue for the needs of others. Obviously this is bullshit and even the most self-deluded amongst us tends to knows this deep down. Society does not provide perfectly for all men all of the time, to say the least. Just ask Harry Patch, and he lived beyond 100.

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I am the only one that got through,
The others died where ever they fell
It was an ambush, they came up from all sides.
Give your leaders each a gun and
then let them fight it out themselves
I’ve seen devils coming up from the ground,
I’ve seen hell upon this earth
The next will be chemical but they will never learn.

Harry Patch

Most of the 1% are men (not that you’ll hear their dependents complaining) but most men will have more in common with a professional footballer than we will have with anyone in the top 1% and, just to be clear, most of us will have very little in common with Wayne Rooney and his like, especially when it comes to equal pay audits.

This is the final and most significant difficulty I have with aligning myself with men’s rights terminology (and women’s rights for that matter).

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Sisters can’t do it for themselves and neither can their Brothers. Most of the time it doesn’t help either to exploit humanity’s most ancient fault line, certainly not in the long run and certainly not when it comes to addressing the needs of those in society that ‘society’ or to a lesser degree ‘the state’ should be helping the most.

The majority of workers on minimum wage are women, the majority of long term unemployed are men. The majority of victims of sexual violence are women, the majority of people sleeping on the streets tonight are men. Children in care of the state experience abuse or worse and children in foreign lands are killed by our democratically elected flying killer robots.

It may be easy to blame man for his own misfortunes and for causing a whole heap of misfortune for women and children along the way but I bet you a £500 pair of Russell and Bromley Kitten Heels that no amount of board room quotas or, increase in female politicians, is going to lead to a dramatic change in the status quo all of a sudden.

In conclusion then, my tongue may have been touching my cheek slightly when I came up with the gender mereology definition but I’m also extending a serious challenge to the feminists, menimists and gender champions of this world.

Equality Champions tend to talk a lot about some modern notion of celebrating Diversity but when it comes to gender equality the discussion remains firmly focused on the supposed ‘interests’ of one side on an imaginary two sided coin. Equality Champions know this but it doesn’t (yet) pay to say it too loudly and let’s face it, the majority of ‘equality champions’ are well paid professional educated women so would it not work against their own ‘personal interests’ to do so?

I’m not old enough to remember but I’m old enough to know that it’s not so very long ago that women couldn’t vote and men died in muddy trenches.

If the history of humanity has taught us anything in the last hundred years it is that divide and conquer tactics tend to go unnoticed by those that can’t see beyond the end of their own nose.

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