Gender Politics in New Zealand
On this page:
Elsewhere on this site:
- Books on domestic violence
- Books on false sexual abuse allegations
- Books on fathers, divorce & family law
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Links to male-friendly women's websites
www.womensfreedom.org The Women's Freedom Network was founded in early 1993 by a group of women who were seeking alternatives to extremist ideological feminism and the anti-feminist traditionalism. It believes in the full participation of women in every area of American life. It celebrates the achievements women have already made, and it views women's issues in light of a philosophy that defines women and men as individuals and not in terms of gender. It does not set different standards of excellence, morality, or justice for men and women.
The CritFem-L List. "Dedicated to honest criticism of modern feminism".
Individualist feminism, or ifeminism, advocates the equal treatment of men and women as individuals under just law. The core principle of individualist feminism is that all human beings have a moral and legal claim to their own persons and property. It is sometimes called libertarian feminism.
Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and social critic, is a Public Policy Fellow at Radcliffe College and a contributing editor at the Atlantic Monthly. She also serves as President of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author who writes about social trends and political ideas.
More links to International Men's and Fathers' organisations here
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Papers on Gender Issues
In the past decade, feminist legal theory has become a formidable presence in many of
America's top law schools. Feminist activism has also had a major impact on many areas of
the law, including rape, self-defense, domestic violence, and such new legal categories as
sexual harassment. However, the ideology of legal feminism today goes far beyond the
original and widely supported goal of equal treatment for both sexes. The new agenda is to
redistribute power from the "dominant class" (men) to the "subordinate
class" (women), and such key concepts of Western jurisprudence as judicial neutrality
and individual rights are declared to be patriarchal fictions designed to protect male
Many feminist-initiated legal reforms have addressed real wrongs, such as the tendency to treat rape victims more harshly and suspiciously than victims of other crimes, and inadequate protection for victims of domestic violence. But feminist pressure has also resulted in increasingly loose and subjective definitions of harassment and rape, dangerous moves to eviscerate the presumption of innocence in sexual assault cases, and a broad concept of self-defense in cases of battered wives that sometimes amounts to a license to kill an allegedly abusive spouse.
Courts and legislatures should resist efforts to limit individual rights in the guise of protecting women as a class, and reaffirm the fundamental principle consistent with the classical liberal origins of the movement for women's rights: equality before the law regardless of gender.
Is a mismatch between family choices and government policy hurting children?
Vincent Patrick and Antonia Feitz (link to PDF)
Social equity programmes are typically assumed to have no significant ill effects. It may even be expected that an equity programme which might have ill effects on a vulnerable section of the community would never be embraced politically. However, when affirmative action programmes were adopted thirteen years ago their potential impact on families with young children was not obvious. The assumption at the time was that more resources for women would mean more resources for children. This has not proven to be the case.
Affirmative action was incorrectly based on a view of women as constituting a separate socio-economic group from men, and the belief that most women wanted to engage in full-time work while rearing children. However recent surveys suggest that the majority would prefer to stay at home with their young children. While wealth and earning capacity in Australia has undergone significant polarisation, families with young children have been the most financially disadvantaged. The authors examine possible links between policies which provide special work opportunities for women and forces which penalise families with young children. A mismatch between the preferences of parents and this area of current social equity policy is identified.
Gender, Policy and Social Engineering
Stuart Birks (link
Gender analysis is being increasingly used in policy development and evaluation. This paper: outlines the approach; considers some applications; discusses possible implications in selected areas.
There is a close link between research undertaken and policy formulation, implementation and monitoring. This applies as much to policies related to families as it does elsewhere. The growing importance of gender analysis as a required research tool is therefore of great significance. This paper considers the nature of gender analysis, its implications in shaping the available information, and its possible effects.
Issues Paper No.8 "Analytical Skills for Social Issues: Reason or Delusion" (PDF) looks at economics, social policy, psychology and law. Stuart Birks (ed), October 2000.
Issues Paper No.7 "Research for Policy: Informing or Misleading" (PDF) takes as examples the economic cost of family violence, the time-use survey and a gender wage gap study. Stuart Birks and Gary Buurman, August 2000.
Aggregation, Bias and Confusion - Distortions in Policy. Paper for the New Zealand Association of Economists conference Auckland, 25-27 June 2003. By Stuart Birks. The paper discusses general principles, but uses the example of gender to highlight problems of inappropriate analysis.
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Books on Men & Gender:
If Men Have All the Power......How Come Women Make the Rules?
(Free, Fun Book)
From: "Jack Kammer" [email protected]
Good question, eh?
It's also the title of a brief, provocative, fun and interesting book you can download for free and send to your friends and acquaintances to give them a few new things to think about (or new ways to think about old
My agent tried her best but could not find a publisher. One editor wrote to her, "The contempt this book would inspire among the women in house would be immense. I'll let one of my male competitors be the one who gets
Warren Farrell tried to get his publisher to take it, but still no luck.
Since the book touches on an array of issues quickly, it makes a good introduction to the men's movement. Maybe you have friends who know you're interested in the subject, but who don't really understand why you care so much. This book is perfect for them.
So I invite you to take a copy. It's available free on the Internet at http://www.RulyMob.com
All I ask is that you send your comments after you read it.
It can be printed or read entirely on-screen. It is light and breezy, attractively formatted, has colorful pictures and takes only about 75 minutes to read cover to cover.
I hope you and your friends have fun with "If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules." And I hope it helps spread the idea that men have important issues, too.
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Real boys: rescuing our sons from the myths of boyhood
by William Pollock
reviewed by Errol Vieth (link to PDF)
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Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality
by Cathy Young
Published by The Free Press 1999
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The Decline Of Males
by Lionel Tiger 1999
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The Divorce Culture, rethinking our commitments to marriage and family
by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. Hardcover by Knopf, (1997), softcover by Vintage (1998).
Tracing the history of shifting cultural attitudes toward divorce from the last century to today, Whitehead makes a strong case that the current radical concept of divorce as an opportunity for "personal growth" needs serious rethinking. Whereas previously society had strongly discouraged divorce because of the harmful effects on children, and as a bulwark of social stability, after the 1960s these sensible values had been abandoned in favour of a "psychotherapy" vision of divorce fuelled primarily by self-centred aspirations of women for fulfilment outside the home.
While acknowledging the validity of these aspirations for fulfilment, Whitehead concludes that we may have neglected the second half of the "for better, for worse" marriage vow, particularly where children are involved. Whitehead believes that society now needs to encourage marriage values of "solidarity, loyalty, and binding obligation", to balance free market concepts of planned disposability and political concepts of term limits. She endorses the advances of feminism for women in the workplace, but proposes that an alternate path to a more mature personal growth for both men and women may lie in a marriage concept incorporating traditional values of duty, responsibility, and sacrifice for the next generation.
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The Princess at the Window: a new gender morality
by Donna Laframboise (1996). Penguin Books, Canada.
Young journalist Donna Laframbois writes: "Feminists have merely exchanged one limited way of looking at the world for another. We've rejected one brand of dogma (men are the ultimate example of everything admirable) only to adopt a new one: (men are brutish swine)."
Described as 'a dissident feminist view of men, women and sexual politics', this is another book highlighting the extreme, intolerant and dangerous direction mainstream feminism has taken. Laframboise berates the misuse of statistics to emphasis that women are victims - "a lie is still a lie, even when it's told by feminists with good intentions".
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The New Victorians: A young woman's response to the old feminist order
by Rene Denefield, (1995) Allen & Unwin, Australia.
A freelance journalist from Portland, Oregon, Denfield asks why so many women who believe strongly in equal rights refuse to call themselves feminists. She suggests that feminism's obsession with rape, man-bashing and goddess religions are alienating young women. She argues that the agenda of today's women's movement is uncomfortably similar to Victorian puritanism. She concludes that the movement is undermining the gains of the 1970s, and that it has become 'bogged down' in an extremist moral and spiritual crusade that has little to do with women's lives.
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Forsaking Our Children, Bureaucracy and Reform in the Child Welfare System
by John M Hagedorn, (1995)
This book tells the story of the author's unsuccessful attempt to reform the Milwaukee Dept of Health and Human Services. His brief was to "fundamentally reorient" services for youth, and he began by studying what the front-line social workers actually did. He discovered that they delivered almost no actual 'services' at all, and that in fact they spent nearly all of their time investigating child abuse allegations, doing the enormous amount of paperwork required to take custody away from the parents, and attending the numerous court hearings to facilitate this.
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A Man's World; how real is male privilege - and how high is its price?
By Ellis Cose (1995), HarperCollins.
This book is written from the perspective of an educated American black professional. He discusses the negative impact that gender feminism has had on the image of black men, who typically do not experience the power and privilege they are accused of enjoying on account of being men. Cose details the rhetoric of recent decades and adds, "Novelist and essayist Ishmael Reed has similarly written about what he calls "a steady buildup of animosity towards black men." He has reserved special contempt for white, "gender first" feminists whom he accuses of singling out black misogyny "as if it were the only misogyny that exists."......"Since the leadership of this faction of the feminist movement has singled out black men as the meta-enemy of women, these women represent one of the most serious threats to black male well-being since the klan."
It is particularly interesting to read about Cose's perception of the growing men's movements. He says: "The most visible backlash is not against women's expanding role, but against what some men see as the excesses, hypocrisy, inconsistency and mixed signals of the women's rights movement - at the proliferation of programs they believe unfairly favour women and at the type of rhetoric that philosopher and political scientist Ellen Frankel Paul calls "a quarter century of flagellation of men by radical feminists."
Cose quotes lawyer Ron Henry: "How have we gone in one generation from "Father knows best" to, "all men are rapists?" While this book doesn't pull any punches, and would be a useful addition to any collection of books about gender politics, its main value is the picture of radical feminism it presents as seen from the black male point of view.
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Professing Feminism: cautionary tales from the strange world of women's studies
by Daphne Patai & Noretta Koertge, (1994), Basic Books, New York.
This is another book highlighting the intolerant and dangerous direction which mainstream feminism has taken. Professing Feminism focuses on the development of Women's Studies courses in the USA (but could apply equally to those here in NZ) and how these have become instruments of political activism and ideology at the price of academic scholarship, integrity and intellectual freedom.
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Who Stole Feminism?
By Christina Hoff-Sommers, (1994), published by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The author is associate professor of philosophy at Clark University. In this book she accuses activist women of betraying the women's movement. She wrote it, she says, because she is a feminist who does not like what feminism has become. The Wall Street Journal reviewer said the book is "....a scathing indictment of the feminist establishment. Christina Hoff Sommers exposes erroneous statistics and mean-spirited, male-bashing falsehoods.....Ms Sommers simply lines up her facts and shoots one bull's-eye after another."
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The New Men's Studies: a selected and annotated bibliography (2nd Ed)
by Eugene R. August (1994), Libraries Unlimited, Colorado ISBN 1-56308-084-2
This book consists of 1049 annotations of books relevant to men's issues. It is an education in the men's movement and men's issues generally. Books reviewed range to issues from single fatherhood, men in literature, female perpetrated domestic violence to male bonding and the father-son and father-daughter relationship. Consistent with the men's movement's commitment to a balanced examination of gender roles, August also reviews many popular and scholarly misandric books of the feminist movement. Myth of Male Power provided the men's movement with political awareness of men's gender disempowerment; Who Stole Feminism provided men with a voice in response to misandral feminist scholarship. August's Men's Studies provides a historical memory for the men's movement through this comprehensive guide to books about men's search for gender identity in literature and scholarly examinations of men's gender roles.
The guide is well written in a masculist conscious format.
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The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism
by Katie Roiphe, (1993) Little, Brown & Co.
When Roiphe arrived at Harvard in 1986, she found the feminism she had been raised to believe in had been radically transformed. The women's movement, which had once signalled such strength and courage, now seemed lodged in a foundation of weakness and fear. At Harvard, and later at Princeton, she saw the emergence of a culture captivated by victimisation, and of a new bedroom politics in the university, cloaked in outdated assumptions about the way men and women experience sex.
The first young women to speak out about the intolerant turn the women's movement has taken, Roiphe casts a critical eye on what she calls the "mating rituals of a rape-sensitive community". She shows a generation of women, fearful of its sexuality, whose values are strikingly similar to those their mothers and grandmothers fought so hard to escape from.
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The Myth of Male Power - Why Men are the Disposable Sex
By Warren Farrell PhD, (1993), Simon and Schuster, New York.
This groundbreaking book laid many foundations of the modern, political men's movement. Towards the end of the work, the author quoted a 1991 Time magazine story: "the men's movement is a misnomer. It is neither political like the civil rights movement nor activist like the women's movement."
Farrell then stated that within the next ten years Time would doubtless eat those words. He reported that by 1993 structures had already formed, political agendas were set, and men's emotional and economic pain was significant enough to motivate change. Here in New Zealand, the first discussion document proposing the establishment of Men's Centre North Shore was floated that year. Although the story of the arrival of a political men's movement has yet to appear in Time magazine, it may well do so within the predicted period. On the 7th April 1999, Australian National University reporter Tania Cutting interviewed political scientist Professor Marian Sawer, who had analysed the 1998 Federal election results. Sawyer complains:
"The Australian political landscape has become a minefield of gender division due to the emergence and unprecedented influence of 'angry white male' politics."
In a previous lifetime, Farrell was a staunch feminist, even serving three years on board of directors of the National Organisation for Women in New York. But as years passed, and most of his women supporters got divorced, he came to observe that something his feminist woman friends had in common was an increasing anger towards men. He also decided to experiment with ways of getting men in his groups to express feelings, and succeeded. He heard things he had never heard before, things that forced him to re-examine his own life and motives.
As will happen for any man who takes the trouble to really listen to other men's experiences, Farrell's experience led him to directly challenge the feminist construction of power and control as a tool of oppressive masculinity. He wrote:
"If a woman murders her husband because she feels helpless, then perhaps the man also batters his wife because he too feels helpless. For both sexes, abuse derives not from power but from powerlessness. Abuse is a temporary display of power that usually emerges from feelings of powerlessness and defeat.
The solution to abuse, then, does not come with artificial divisions between physical and emotional abuse. It comes with resocializing both sexes to listen in new ways - ways most of our parents never had the luxury to learn. It comes with resocializing both sexes to select partners who are secure enough to listen before they attack, and secure enough to leave if repeatedly attacked - either verbally or physically."
Discussing the negative effect of sexual harassment laws, Farrell pointed out:
"The women who wants real equality pays a big price. Sexual harassment legislation often creates a hostile environment; an environment of female-as-child, one that makes even female employers more desirous of hiring men. As the men walk on broken eggshells, a formerly fluid work environment becomes a paralysed environment."
In chapter 15, sub-titled 'Government as Substitute Husband', Farrell noted the rise in government programmes "competing to save the woman." He could have been describing the NZ Ministry of Woman's Affairs when he wrote:
"All this creates a huge taxpayer subsidy to look at virtually every aspect of life from the perspective of women as defined by feminism. Feminist ideology was soon called women's studies and the women's studies graduates called their ideology education. As thousands of jobs became dependant on a feminist perspective, feminism bureaucratized. Like communism, feminism went from being revolutionary to dictating politically correct ideology. And like communism, this political correctness was supported most strongly in the universities."
Farrell asked if the political parties were keeping women dependent in exchange for votes, pointing out (in a remarkable parallel with the situation in 1999 New Zealand) that:
"The political parties have become like two parents in a custody battle, each vying for their daughter's love by promising to do the most for her."
The Myth of Male Power covers subjects such as the disposability of men, both in wars and on the job. There are chapters on suicide, male health, mental illness, imprisonment, and biased family and criminal justice systems. At times Farrell seems a little over-confident in the ability of society to change male behaviour, particularly when he discusses contact sports such as football. Many people would say the propensity of young male primates to engage in physical combat of various kinds is a fact of life, and the best we can hope to do is direct that energy towards symbolic conflicts where permanent damage can be minimised. Some of his descriptions of homosexual rape in prisons were unnecessarily graphic, and it is hard to believe his assertion that as many males might be raped in jails as females who are raped outside prison. In places where prison cultures that facilitate rape are allowed to develop we are dealing with inhumane and even sadistic administrations rather than dysfunctional individuals. The two issues are hardly comparable.
Despite these minor quibbles however, this book is now considered a classic in its field, and will continue to be essential reading for any historian of the 1990's gender wars. Although some areas are (in late 1999) a little dated, there are extensive references pointing to further information, and dozens of brief case histories of men who were casualties, making the book a useful tool for understanding this period in our recent history.
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Not Guilty - In Defence of Modern Man
By David Thomas, (1993), Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London.
In 1993, British journalist, broadcaster and ex-editor of Punch David Thomas published this now classic book on the condition of men in the last decade of the 20th century. He details the genetic, psychological and social roots of masculinity, and looks realistically at the pressures and rules which govern men's lives. After discussing the negative image of men in the contemporary media, he demolishes the myths that construct men as the only violent or abusive gender.
In a chapter titled 'Absent Fathers, Violent Sons', Thomas argues that women have a strong self-interest in promoting successful fatherhood. He says:
"Good fathers, producing healthy sons, are women's best hope of diminishing the dangers they face from abusive or violent men."
The author is aware that the extremist, separatist elements within the feminist movement believe that boys raised by fathers will be "all the more deeply inculcated with the evils of machismo and the patriarchy." He also notes:
"There are plenty of educationalists and political theorists who might, I suspect, be seduced by the prospect of converting young men towards a more ideologically sound, feminine mode of behaviour."
This point of view, he says, is fatally misguided. He points out that any father who nurtures his child is bound to be a man whose masculinity is not compromised by gestures of overt sensitivity or gentleness. He argues:
"If the father is absent, a boy may create an exaggerated, over-aggressive masculinity of his own. If the father is distant or abusive, the boy will learn from that too. But if the father is loving, the boy will learn that masculinity and tenderness are not mutually exclusive and will carry that knowledge forward into his own adult life."
Towards the end of the book, Thomas discusses the formation of groups such as Families Need Fathers in the UK, and reports on a festival held in the Australian bush by the Sydney Men's Network. His writing style is easy to read, and the book doesn't get bogged down with statistics and scientific studies, indeed there are no references apart from those in the text. While it may not be so useful to serious researchers, casual readers will find this book valuable in understanding the impact of radical feminism on English-speaking countries outside the USA.
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A Nation of Victims: the decay of the American character
by Charles Sykes (1992), St Martin's press, New York.
This book explores how the United States has evolved into a society of victims who absolve themselves from any personal responsibility for their behaviour by blaming others. While people's expectations and belief in their entitlements has grown, there has been a corresponding claim to be the victim of misfortune or injustice. To be a member of an oppressed minority (female, black, poor, homosexual, unemployed, indigenous) has become an asset. Victim status is also claimed by those who suffer from co-dependency, ageism, 'lookism' (bias against the unattractive), obesity or having been psychologically scarred by toxic parents or child abuse.
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Sexual Personae: Sex, Art and American Culture
by Camille Paglia, (1990), Vintage Books, New York.
Sexual personae: art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson'. Paglia is professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her criticisms of modern feminism caused one author to refer to her as the 'spokeswoman for the anti-feminist backlash.'
Faulty beliefs about the abuse of power are disincentives to autonomous independent achievement. Paglia describes the women's movement as "having declined from a strong and effective force of eccentric individualists, to groups of self-defined victims obsessed with codes of political correctness and focused on blame".
Also recently by the same author: Vamps and Tramps.