Gender Studies Seminar, Leeds University
4 June 2015
Okay, a bit of a long one here folks, so make yourself comfortable, I hope I will be able to keep your attention or that you will come back and finish reading this later. It deals with some, but by no means all, of my issues with Gender Studies.
One of the good things about being a graduate of Leeds University, and living not far from it, is that I occasionally get to go to free seminars there, such as the one offered yesterday by the Interdisciplinary Department of Gender Studies.
Before you flee at the mention of the pseudo-science that calls itself Gender Studies, please let me reassure you that these days it is high on my BS-ometer, but that is the reason why I feel the need to take opportunities like this to give myself something to get my teeth into as I begin my task of destroying its feeble basis and excuses for existence.
Not that I hold with the idea that sex and gender differences should not be scientifically examined. No problem with the idea, it is just that the current dominant theoretical ground on which GS stands is as firm as quicksand. In other words, it has no firm footing in scientific evidence.
Let me fill a little background. I had a good start with this subject when as an undergraduate in the seventies I was tutored by Dr John Blundell, already an established figure in the field of physiological and biological Psychology, and later to become Professor of the entire School of Psychology at Leeds University. I attended his lectures on these subjects and found out much about brain mechanisms such as the hypothalamus and its complex control of hunger and thirst homeostatic drives and so on.
By the mid seventies much had also been learnt about sex drives and how prenatal hormones had predeterminitive effects on both these and gender identity. Whatever people may think of rat studies there is an immense amount of hard data that has accrued from them over many decades and it would be foolish to ignore things that have been learnt from them.
So when we come to gender studies, one might imagine that what has been learnt about sex differences might be thought of as valuable information which could deeply inform our studies of gender.
Sadly, you might be wrong. Gender Studies may promote itself as ‘Inter-Disciplinary’, but there is no significant input from the academic discipline of Psychology, certainly not from neuro-psychology or related fields. It is taken as axiomatic that there are no significant psychological or behavioural differences between the sexes.
Had they arrived at this conclusion after studying the evidence of generations of experimental psychologists, not only in neurophysiology but in long term behavioural observation and come to this conclusion, one might disagree, but at least hope that they could provide a rationale for their conclusions with reference to the overview of the evidence they had sifted through.
No such luck I’m afraid. As I have said, it is axiomatic to academics in Gender Studies that there are no innate differences in psychology (thought or behaviour) between men and women. So the biological developmental evidence doesn’t need to be looked at. They aren’t interested and it actually becomes something they resent. My assessment of this is that it is considered politically incorrect to suggest such differences since the current political agenda seeks to equalise everyone.
But what is wrong with Equality I hear you say! Are you suggesting that we are or should not all be Equal? Well, as a Philosopher, a Psychologist and an Art Therapist, I will have to insist on quibbling about this, well, quite a lot.
The hordes of the Cultural Marxist Comintern are probably lining me up for re-education by now, but really, if this concept is so important then it needs to be clear what it means, so please bear with me.
I recall my first conversation about this with someone who is probably still as much of a Feminist today as she was forty years ago when we had this conversation. We were discussing sex differences and women’s equality, rights and feminism. I said ‘But there are differences between the sexes which go beyond physical differences, surely there is psychological evidence for this?’ ‘Yes’ she replied, ‘but we can’t acknowledge that, or it will be used against us.’ This lady was a wonderful person and I count her as a friend to this day, but that is not an intellectually honest and defensible position. Truth cannot be hidden or reversed when it has an important bearing on a subject.
Which brings me tangentially to a point which came up yesterday. The final speaker of the afternoon was Jon Mermelstein, an American exchange student in his twenties who spoke about ‘Lad culture in American Universities’. I thought he was actually the best speaker of the day, and I learnt a lot about frat houses on US campuses which I would not otherwise have ever come across, and it is certainly the case that some of the behaviour he detailed is bang out of order as some say here in Blighty. However he gave one example that I had to pick up on, the case of ‘Mattress Girl’ Emma Sulkowitz, the young lady who dragged her mattress around with her for an extended period after she claimed that a young man had raped her on it. The point about this being that it had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of her college that the young man was not guilty of rape. They had had an on-off relationship for a while but had parted and it was only some time later that she started sending him lewd texts and eventually made her allegations against him. In a case such as this one is forced to choose between the evidence and the claims of the plaintiff. I am not convinced that entirely unsupported claims of rape should be entertained without some external corroboration. I know this is an unpopular view amongst feminists, but how far should one stretch the requirements of legal proof in such an instance?
Anyway, the fact is that she never substantiated the allegations to the college, and she has won no case against him or in a court of law.
I respect Mr Mermelstein immensely for the fact that when I put it to him that this was a bogus case he immediately conceded and said that he had not been aware of it, and that he should have looked for a better example.
There was dissent against me in the audience, and I’m really disappointed to say that a young lady with whom I have been acquainted since the Occupy Leeds event in City Square in 2011 and who now is involved as a post graduate in the Department of Gender Studies spoke up against me. I am happy that she did not contest my assertion (based on facts I had researched) that this was a fraudulent case, but seemed to argue that it didn’t matter, and rather that it was justified because of other cases that were real. Or at least that was my understanding at the time, several others were speaking against me so I may not have it entirely correct, but that seemed to be the gist.
In a way this summarises my whole problem with the supposed academic discipline of Gender Studies. As I have said, they ignore or reject the objective evidence on their subject, and in this precise case, where even the person presenting the evidence deferred, others, zealots to the cause press forward.
The implications of such intellectual dishonesty are quite extensive. Firstly, the subject matter of the day was ‘Lad Culture’. As I have said, some of this behaviour, especially on college campuses is quite awful, if what is claimed to happen does indeed happen. I wouldn’t contest that.
But you have to get your evidence straight. Making false allegations of rape against an innocent young man who had understood that their relationship was entirely consensual is bad enough, but then others wanting to use this false claim as evidence in the feminist campaigns which tar men as sexual predators is completely unacceptable. Yes, there are sexual predators out there, but you have not correctly identified them, and you have instead identified an individual and by implication young men similar to him, falsely.
A question I did not get round to asking because there were too many other points to pick up, and I could tell I was already making myself unpopular with some of the more high profile members of the day’s presentation team for asking the kind of questions that they didn’t approve of, was about the MGTOW movement in the States. (Our American guest might have had something to say about that.) MGTOW to British and European readers is ‘Men Going Their Own Way’, and is apparently a phenomenon which has recently arisen in the States amongst young men who feel that Feminism has attacked men and left them with nothing.
I don’t really agree with the reaction of these young men, it sounds defeatist to me, and going into a monk like reclusion from engagement with women can only lead to none of them producing children for the next generation, so it is kind of crazy, but I can see the psychological mechanics behind this, defeatist as it may be.
False rape accusations are extremely serious. Claiming that a high profile lie should be perpetuated because it promotes a larger truth is even more dangerous. The promotion of this lie actually plays into a bigger picture which I believe is a part of the MGTOW rationale, that of false rape accusation. To even suggest that one rape allegation has ever been false is something that would probably enrage many feminists. But I have heard the possibility raised that there might be a vein of false accusations, perhaps arising from regrets about ended relationships going on. That there could be a covert, or even unconscious revenge behaviour being here enacted? We are so hobbled by Political Correctness that any examination of a ‘victim’ is seen as ‘insensitive’. This is a license for falsehood. Would a perceived ‘victim’ ever exploit their position and make false allegations?
False accusations, characterised by say, well, Mattress Girl? When a culture exists which refuses to question and analyse because it is ‘insensitive’ then the door is wide open for abuse of what one might call a privilege ~ the privilege of being above question. We hear a lot about ‘privilege’ these days, but being protected from questions or investigation and having every word you say believed fits the very meaning of ‘privilege’ ~ ‘Private Law’. They are above the law that applies to the men that they accuse, in a legal realm of their own.
So with this kind of culture of lies and superior privilege, I can’t really blame the MGTOW boys if they have had enough and back away from engagement with that kind of reality, even if it is non survival adaptive for our species.
As a Psychologist my view has to be one of evolutionary adaptation. If a behaviour or characteristic is not evolutionarily adaptive, then it will not carry on to the future. The MGTOWs may be non-survival adaptive, but so are the Feminists who seemingly make it so hard for men to have relationships with them that they give up.
We may be a little more complex than the sticklebacks that I heard Niko Tinbergen describe to a packed Rupert Beckett lecture theatre in 1976, but the biological drives which motivate us are deeply rooted in as many billions of years of cellular evolution as theirs. Everything in us is biology. Thought is biology.
Feminism is deeply ingrained with abstract idealistic ideology which refuses to take this into account, or criticises it as ‘reactionary’ and ‘bourgeois’. The Fabian Society stained glass window shows Sydney Webb about to smash the world, held in place by GB Shaw, waiting for the hammer blow. It is true that occasional catastrophes have caused the world to be remade and new layers of evolution have emerged, but these are seismic, geological, meteorological or cosmic events which we cannot avoid. To actively seek, or even create catastrophe, as Sydney Webb is seen about to do, is reckless, a dangerous act of egoism which he seems about to inflict on all humanity. I shall have to return to the theme of how Marxism has claimed the right to invade everyone’s life and change it to the will of another at a later time as this is too large a subject to allow myself any further digression, but it is a big part of all this. In one sentence, Marxism has turned Feminism into a weapon that is being used against the human race, especially the west who have been most influenced by it.
I used to call myself a Feminist, and in the days when one was still seeking empowerment this might have meant something, but in the last decade or two it has gone somewhere else. Like the academics of Gender Studies, Feminists are often not too keen on recognising factual reality. In this case, the factual reality of survival adaptation is that women need to bear enough children to replace our people. Not every woman, but enough to balance out the loss from old age. Kind of basic statement of fact one might think, but the implications are enormous. The social trends that have occurred in the last forty years or more have led to women having children at much later ages, and therefore having fewer. This is partly due to economic pressures put on the population by the international power elites, but would not be possible if the social values around this had not changed. In other words, not only providing income to make ends meet, but rather pursuing a career, which thus takes the place of a family. In her late thirties the career woman might think about when and if she will have children, but even if she does, she will probably only take a short time off for the childbearing and then be back to work with the child in day care.
So the birth rate falls. When I mentioned this to the young lady in an adjacent seat before the seminar began, she said, ‘Yes, but in an overpopulated world that is okay’. My reply was that in a world where all nations have a falling birth rate, that would be fine, but when one group such as Europeans has a falling birth rate, and the rest of the world does not, then eventually Europeans will become an insignificant minority. We are only 8% of world population, when a century ago we were 15%. The medical advances our scientists have made allow other races to breed at a faster rate, while our own people, thinking they are being responsible, decline and dwindle in number. She said she hadn’t thought about it like that. I hope she will now.
So the social change which Feminism allows also reduces the place in the world of those who practise it. Feminism is less survival adaptive than Islam. Wow. Think about it. Islam is an ideology which produces more babies than Feminism, therefore it is more survival adaptive. Pretty scary thought that? I don’t want to end up overwhelmed by Muslims, so I think we need to find a more survival adaptive ideology than the one which is a big part of the decline of Europeans world wide. In case you haven’t heard, if something doesn’t change big time, native English people can expect to be a minority in England about forty years from now. I’ll probably be dead in 2055, but I don’t want to live my declining years in a Sharia Caliphate, so we’d better start thinking about how we can prevent it.
One of the most astounding things about Feminists and Gender Studies academics is that they seem to be in favour of supporting Islam in general, or at least are so engaged with ‘diversity’ that they are entirely blind to the fact that if Islam gains an hegemony in Britain then we can say goodbye to equal rights for women, gay people and so forth. But that would only be the beginning. Britain is not a tiny banana republic. If Britain fell to Islam there would be major triumphalism and repression of the native British. To those who say this is paranoia, I would suggest they look at the history of Islam and how all fifty or so countries which follow it were converted through the sword, Jihad. This is the real terrifying outcome option which too many people refuse to acknowledge. I’m still hearing people say that it is xenophobic to not want millions of foreigners to swarm into our stable countries because we have to look after them, they are such poor victims. Feminism fails to understand the dangers in this to themselves. Well these are subjects I will have to hold over for later, as I still have a lot to say about Gender Studies.
While I’m around this area I’ll just briefly mention what was to me an egregious example of this kind of thing in action. In the first part of the event Dr Alison Phipps, Head of the Dept of Gender Studies a the University of Sussex and Dr Vanita Sundaram, University of York spoke about their work on ‘lad behaviour’. In the Q and A session after this the finding that Black and Minority Ethnic groups had a higher incidence of male sexual molestation of women came up. In a very nice demonstration of experimental confirmation bias I heard Dr Phipps excuse this away as being the result of different cultural values and the men not understanding the non-verbal signals the women were giving. It was never suggested that some of these cultures might have values which are inimical to ours or that of Feminists. Personally, I should say from my own knowledge of young men in the 19/20 age group, that many of them have very little idea about the signals women are giving off and misinterpret them for whatever reason. The bias was clearly to let BME perpetrators off the hook, but pin the blame squarely on the native British lads.
So these middle class academics cloak their results with the attitudes they wish to promote.
At the core of this is the abdication of agency and responsibility that we see. This arises from a sense of guilt which has been covertly sown amongst us and with which too many have been infected. It was truly cringeworthy to hear Michael Conroy of ‘A Call to Men, UK’ talk about how ‘men are the problem’ and how they need to be trained from birth to act respectfully. I could almost see the iron collar about his neck and the chain leading to his handler.
I would suggest that neither men nor women are the problem, but that we need to negotiate and evolve our relationships on the basis of our individual differences. So women need to respect how men are, and men need to do that to women.
An aside again to my old Occupation comrade. I spoke to her shortly before the show began, and she talked about doing her PhD on the sexualisation of men. I asked her about the influence of testosterone on this and how she would cover it. Her reply was to ask why she would need to, since some women have polycystic ovaries which produce testosterone. Well, a very small number do, and the amount of testosterone they produce varies. Some women have so much that they suffer hirsutism and severe acne. Others have only minor or no consequences due to lower levels. She then asked me what is ‘normal’ anyway with regard to hormone levels, and my simple reply was ‘What is the case with the vast majority of women’. Fortunately we didn’t have time to go into the eternal regress which Gender Studies academics are prone to, deconstructing every concept which doesn’t fit their world view, until we are in a world where everything is merely a construct and could be entirely different if we chose it to be. To them we don’t live in a world of biological bodies in time with hormones and developmental processes, but in a world of ideals, where these things are politically incorrect impositions to be resented. Reproduction as the gift of women for the perpetuation of our people is turned into a burden to be shunned as if it is the fault of men punishing women.
Neither reason nor empirical evidence is of any use to the Gender Studies academic who pursues only the correct ideology which seeks always to elevate the victim and control any threat. This is an ideology which treats people as caged animals to be controlled, but surely we all know that an animal which is caged can become dangerous when it is not allowed to express its instinctual drives. Men have strong drives which are mostly absent in women, who have other feelings and motivations. Sure, there is an overlap, survival adaptation likes that. I have to say these things because we have been propagandised that there is no difference for so long that the Gender Studies people have been successful to some degree in convincing the general population. Only where the propaganda has been run mind you, but that is ubiquitous in European civilisations.
The internal contradictions of so much of this should be obvious after a little thought. There are no psychological differences between the sexes, but men are the problem. Women can seek to dominate men with lies because men are so bad. But this is all the fault of patriarchal society apparently. The fact that all the hardest jobs in our world are done by men and that they die on average five years earlier than women of comparable class, having often supported us financially, is of no account.
I do not deny that there is an element in society, and in education, which engages in ‘lad’ behaviour for want of a better term, and some is out of order. But simple blame and contain will not do for anyone of any intellectual rigour. Men need to have constructive outlets for their energies in ways that allow them to take risks and build character and confidence. This is how our ancestors grew for millennia. It needs to be adapted to our present world, but a way must be found to express these instinctive drives, as it does with women.
As a society we need to train ourselves to be the best we can be, not just anything that we could be.
In relation to this vision of what we should be, Dr Phipps presentation was a litany of negativity. I will single out the absence of a positive and active contribution to building strength in women to deal with men on an equal level of respect. When I asked a question about how social skills and personal empowerment were important for women in how not to get into dodgy situations, or how such things could help them prevent things going bad if they have got into one of those situations, the knee jerk response which I knew would come back at me was that we didn’t want to be making it the victim’s fault if she got raped. I knew this was the reply so I had my answer ready. That on an interactional behavioural basis, every detail and nuance of a person’s behaviour contributes to the gestalt assessment of the other and so is continuously modifying the choice tree that they dyad is going down. To refuse to take a path that you could, to abdicate or deny responsibility is as much a choice as it would be to take make some proactive choice which could prevent further slippage in the situation. Isn’t this obvious?
I first began to become aware that there were problems with this model of intimate interactions as one in which women were not expected to take responsibility a few years ago when the ‘Slutwalks’ began. This is way beyond ‘Reclaim the Night’. This is provocative dressing presented as a right. ‘Whatever we wear, wherever we go, Yes means Yes, and No means No’. Okay, well, in principle, that sounds fine. But I’m reminded of Pussy Riot and their behaviour in a place which is sacred to a large portion of the Russian people. There are times and there are places in which some things are done, and others when they are not. They demand the right to provoke anytime, anywhere.
What we have here is a society where constant confrontation and coercion to certain group norms are in themselves a norm. This continually pushes the boundaries of the ‘Overton Window’ and the norms move further to the left. There was one point when I was listening to Michael Conroy when I had a distinct feeling that I was witnessing some kind of proselytising or propaganda briefing. His group ‘A Call to Men UK’ runs four day workshops which cost a cool £2,500. As I recall these are basically training exercises in how to be a good ‘agent for change’ I think is the euphemism. In other words, a mole to gnaw at the roots of everyone’s conventional and traditional beliefs so that they become good Cultural Marxists who will police and enforce the ‘Correct’ views on themselves and everyone they encounter.
There was some debate raised by my question to Dr Phipps so I said I would catch her in the break. When that came around I motioned to her across the room but she didn’t respond. Shortly, after finding the tea and snacks, I stood next to where she and another were talking. When their conversation flagged, I positioned myself in relation to them so that it was quite clear I was initiating a discourse. She barely made eye contact and was reluctant to engage with me. I raised the subject of social skills again and mentioned the work of Dr Paul Ekman (made famous by the series Lie To Me a few years ago). She had not heard of him. He is a world famous researcher in physical anthropology who has established conclusively that there are such things as universal facial expressions which correlate with mood or affect. I was introduced to this subject by Dr Blundell when it was new material back in the seventies. It has since been massively consolidated and Dr Ekman has gone on to do work with the Dalai Lama on the quality of human interaction and related subjects.
He also runs advanced training courses for crisis negotiators, psychotherapists, police interrogators and so forth on recognition of micro expressions and their understanding as ‘tells’ about whether people are lying, telling the truth or their emotional state. Dr Ekman is at the cutting edge of a well established science of behavioural interaction arising out of ethological and physical anthropological studies over many decades. The intellectual foundation is in biology and evolutionary adaptation of behaviour and communication.
What has this to do with ‘Lad Culture’ and the response of Feminists to that culture? It is an entry point to behavioural management of intimate personal interactions. If you better understand the person you are with then you not only have a better chance of predicting their behaviour, but you have a better chance also of responding adaptively in real time.
All that Dr Phipps had to offer was ‘Consent Training’. How to know when to give consent to intimate behaviour or not. I would suggest that this is far too particular, and far too far into the interpersonal interaction for it to be able to maximise benefit. My own experience as it probably is with millions of others, is that when things get to a certain point in intimate situations, then consent is something that is implicit. It is much easier to not slip down a slippery slope if you have not stepped onto it in the first place. The whole feminist ideology around this sees it as an experience to control, rather than manage, which I think is a big difference. If you properly manage your situation, then it won’t get out of control. And I not blaming the victim. I am simply discussing how to avoid disaster. If you can see the train coming, get off the tracks because it’s not going to take any notice or you.
The funniest thing about my interaction with Dr Phipps was her so clear and obvious avoidance behaviour which continued through our short conversation. She was continually looking around and didn’t pay me full attention. When I pointed out that she had made little of her ‘Consent Training’ during the speech and that I felt it needed to be part of a larger concept of personal skills and empowerment she simply said ‘Well I’m telling you now.’ The reason it was so funny was because thinking about Paul Ekman I couldn’t help be amused at how her facial expressions indicated suppressed anger through her frown, narrowed eyes and down turned mouth.
It is really such a disappointment that the supposedly multi or interdisciplinary subject of Gender Studies should have abandoned the scientific aspects of its purview and launched itself off into space with an agenda of political goals to be enforced by interpersonal challenge and policing.
One last example. Michael Conroy treated us to a short clip of Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse and another chap whose name I don’t know. It is the Fishing/Beethoven sketch. It was well observed, as are many of Enfield and Whitehouse’s sketches. Basically two of the fishermen wanted to talk about a Beethoven concert but the third would sneer at that and then the first two would be cowed and make jokes about tits and bums to get back in favour.
This was presented as an example of ‘Lad Culture’ which penetrates even to older blokes, and which must be challenged.
Mr Conroy said he was I think 46 or maybe 47 so he should be old enough to have some memory of Desmond Morris, he of ‘The Naked Ape’ fame, and ‘The Human Zoo’. Paradigm shifting works, which may be a little dated now, but are fundamentally sound in their conception. Dr Morris would simply point out the ethological basis of the three males’ behaviour.
Harry Enfield is the Alpha, for whatever reasons, but at least partly because he doesn’t care what the others think about him. They, on the other hand are afraid of what Enfield will judge on them, so they are kept in line. To step out would risk engaging in open conflict or be put down. When you see this with two male wild animals it can be messy or over in seconds when the Beta male realises he cannot win. The Paul Whitehouse character and the other Beta shrink before Enfield when he returns to the group and are afraid to carry on talking about Beethoven. This is nothing about ‘Laddism’ or ‘sexism’, it is all about keeping their places in the dominance hierarchy. It is a largely unconscious process and they don’t really understand why they do it. Should they understand, they would have to choose between carrying on, challenging the Alpha, or leaving the group. The first is the status quo, the second very risky, and the third is probably the mark of an emerging new Alpha seeking his own path. This is all ethological behaviour with clear analogues in the animal kingdom but the Gender Studies do not care if there is a deeper explanation than their political one. All they would like to do is smash the power of the Alpha. But we need the Alpha. In times of danger the Alpha acts assertively and can save the tribe. The evolutionary psychology of which Ekman and Morris represent some of the best, is almost entirely unknown to Gender Studies. Evolutionary Psychology angers them because it is incompatible with their idealistic view of how the world should be, and what they want to change it into. The realities of evolutionary adaptation are to be rejected as politically incorrect. ‘Lad Culture’ must be ruthlessly suppressed and controlled. The idea of empowered men who have found meaning and purpose in their lives through positive role models and rites of passage would be threatening to the Feminist drones who would not be able to control them. Both women and men have intuitive status hierarchies established by subtle non verbal cues. But for either to seek to be approved of by the hierarchy of the other side and rise up that hierarchy, as some in the politically approved ‘Men’s Movement’ do is to abdicate power. Both men and women have their own power, however it is important not only to recognise it in yourself, but in the other also. To deny or suppress it to mere social conformity is destructive to our spirit. We are wild creatures and need to reclaim that in our souls. Perhaps then we will find a respect and balance between the polarities.
Well that’s it for my critical analysis of yesterday’s seminar at Leeds University held by the Department of Gender Studies. Now that I have my book Waking The Monkey! out at last I shall be endeavouring to do a few more blogs on this PC Deconstruction page or my other blogs, WTM! or Cosmic Claire.
Coming up I have thoughts on:
Why do so many people fear challenging the norms of Political Correctness?
The Asymptote: 2012 and beyond. How everything we thought we knew is being reversed before our very eyes.
Political Correctness in itself. Why is it being enforced so ever more fanatically? Why are there certain topics and objective facts that the collective herd freak out about if they are mentioned?
I don’t know quite what the subject will actually be, but it will be something around these areas. The last one is a big favourite of mine and I am looking forward to tackling that one. Also there are topics around the interpretation of history where I would like to examine the attitudes of contemporary people to them rather than the actual event or material evidence for it. The limited scope of History in education these days is of great concern to me, so that will find its way in somewhere too.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read my introductory post on my book Waking The Monkey! in my other blog
I hope you’ll drop in over there, and maybe even follow the link to have a look at the book itself on lulu.com
See you soon.