Scott Adams, Echidne, men’s rights and reactionary gender-blindness

Echidne of the Snakes discusses a now-withdrawn post of Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) on his blog discussing Men’s Rights. I’m not surprised Adams took it down since it includes such gems (in the second part of Echidne’s discussion) as “The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner.”
So women’s desire for equal pay, a right to control their fertility and that the legal system take rape seriously (to name three) are equivalent to your kid demanding a Kit-Kat? And the appropriate response is what? “No. Because I said so!”
Echidne does a terrific job dissecting Adams and Men’s Rights Advocates in general (here)—pointing out, for example, that when MRAs point out the raw deal men get in some regards, their solution is not to change the system, but that men staying top dog in other ways balances the scales (so it’s only fair for women to give up on all that equality stuff).
But one thing I would like to go into in more detail is her response to Adams’ complaint about the number of women-oriented government agencies and rules: “‘The growing number of government agencies that are primarily for women’ is not a development which started from a system in which men and women were absolutely and perfectly equally covered in the functions of the government. Those agencies for women are an attempt to balance the scales. Because the traditional definition of a human being pretty well matched the traditional definition of a man.”
This is a theme which crops up a lot on the right (as I blogged about here): If the goal is equality, then any attempt to remedy discrimination by giving “special treatment” to women or minorities, or fixing their particular problems, is discrimination too. Martin Luther King wanted us to be equal, right? So if a school system happens to be overwhelmingly segregated it, taking steps to change that—which means considering race in assigning students to schools—is the real racism (an outlook sometimes called “reactionary colorblindness.”).
Part of this argument is presenting the call for equality as if it exists in a vacuum. As Echidne points out, civil rights movements—gay rights, women’s rights, black rights—arose in response to discrimination and the way society rigged the game for white straight men. “Fighting for an end to discrimination” has different overtones from “fighting for equality” because it reminds us how badly the game was rigged.
I see this sometimes in arguments that feminism has turned all the men on TV into wips and losers: Women say they want equality, right? Portraits of stupid husbands on sitcoms are sexist, right? So since women aren’t fighting negative portrayals of men, that proves they really don’t want equality!
Because, of course, there’s no sexism on TV targeting women, so what else do feminists have to do? And men’s rights groups are soooo active in criticizing female stereotypes in the media, so there you are! (That was sarcasm).
It would be nice if we lived in a world where discrimination against women was so inconsequential, feminists could relax and work on other problems.
But we’re not there yet. So if you don’t like it that women’s rights still need to be fought for, tough cookies.

3 Comments

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

3 responses to “Scott Adams, Echidne, men’s rights and reactionary gender-blindness

  1. Pingback: I like Dilbert, but I’m beginning to loathe Scott Adams « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: He should have just run « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Undead Sexist Cliches: Men are the grown-ups, women are the children | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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