Gender-issues - a difficult topic

 
The gender-issues debate has become so dominated by inflated hysteria and 'politically-correct' thinking (if that's the right word...) that it's difficult to get back to the real issues. The basic theme of equality is simple:

"The needs, concerns, feelings and fears of women and of men are of exactly equal value and importance"

Yet it's surprising how many people have enormous difficulty with that concept...

I've explored some of these issues in depth in the Wyrd project (particularly in Wyrd Allies), based on a great deal of study and, in part, on the interview transcripts of a series of anonymous interviews, mostly with working-class men, organised by Aboriginal social-worker Bonnie Gibson in Adelaide. More recently, as a result of that, I was asked to review and revise the Duluth model for resolution of domestic violence, to create a model which, unlike the original, was based on fact and known psychology rather than a particularly myopic form of gender-politics.

I also wrote two other books on the issues - Recovering From Whiplash and the incomplete No Fallen Angels - but I abandoned both projects when it became obvious that no Australian publisher would have the courage to publish them...

Part of my earlier research was written up in two formal reports for the media-research organisation People's Equality Network ("Domestic Violence - Recent Statistics in Victoria" [Jan 1995; 31Kb] and "Domestic Violence - 'Shameful Statistics Exposed'" [May 1995; 48Kb]); for what's it's worth, I've also summarised some of my more recent understandings of the issues in the attached essay.

To my mind, few if any of the current politicised game-plays on gender-issues - whether from self-styled 'feminists' or the more recent 'men's rights activists' - actually help towards creating a genuine equality. But honesty does: and there are a few feminist heroines - real feminists - who have had the courage to stand against the tide of nonsense (and, all too often, violence) from cloud-cuckoo-land, and help to create a genuine equality and genuine empowerment for everyone. To me, they include:

  • Bettina Arndt, columnist in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, and author of Taking Sides
  • Kate Fillion, Canadian journalist and author of Lip Service
  • Nancy Friday, researcher and author of My Secret Garden, Women On Top and The Power of Beauty
  • Christina Hoff Sommers, academic/philosopher and author of Who Stole Feminism?
  • Katie Roiphe, author of The Morning After
  • Camille Paglia, art-critic, fanatical self-publicist and author of Vamps and Tramps and many other books
  • Erin Pizzey, women's activist and author of Scream Quietly Or The Neighbours Will Hear
  • Dr Suzanne Steinmetz, author of the
academic paper The Battered Husband Syndrome, which publicly acknowledged the problem - and scale - of women's domestic violence for the first time, and who promptly received death-threats to both herself and, especially, her children from aggrieved feminists for publishing such unpalatable facts...

Very few books have been written from men's perspective, but two that are worth reading are:

  • David Thomas, Not Guilty (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London: ISBN 0-297-81216-5)
  • Steve Biddulph, Manhood (Finch Publishing, Sydney: ISBN 0-646-17303-0)

Links to so-called 'feminist research' on gender-issues may be found all over the Web, and yet even the government-sponsored sites are often no more than a morass of misleading misinformation... finding genuine facts is not easy, especially from those sites. Links to sites on men's perspective are far rarer: two that are useful, and are generally methodologically sound, are http://www.vix.com/pub/men/ in the US and Stuart Birk's New Zealand site at http://www.massey.ac.nz/~KBirks/gender/ .