Thursday, April 20, 2017

Visibility, Disruptiveness, and Effectiveness: What Actually Counts in a Demonstration

NPR ran this story the other day about research on which intuitions are correct about what makes a demonstration effective:

http://www.npr.org/2017/04/18/524473948/researchers-examine-the-psychology-of-protest-movements

A couple notes: while this research shows the importance of protesters' not putting themselves in a negative light, it doesn't mean they should never do anything that could make people uncomfortable. As Nick Cooney points out in his book Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change, disturbing images (as of animal abuse, for instance) may move people to action more effectively than warm-and-fuzzy ones. The key is whether the context makes viewers associate the unpleasant images with what's being protested or with those doing the protesting.

Another point: it's stated in the interview that sometimes there's a trade-off between visibility and effectiveness, with the latter being the bottom line that should determine protesters' choice of tactics. But there's also a sense in which they correlate, since the expectation of disruptive or violent tactics can reduce participation in an action. And, all other things being equal, a smaller action is a less visible one, as well as probably less effective.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An Unfunny Satire on "the MRA" Is Taken Down


After also reading the original written version of the piece, and the post on r/exredpill it was largely based on -- and as someone who has a particular interest owing to my adolescent involvement with a political cult -- I think it's important to make a distinction. People in the cultic studies field say there as many groups as there are people in the group; one member may have a cultic relationship with it while another doesn't at all. And the groups themselves are on a continuum. This is why those in the cult awareness field prefer to speak of cultic processes rather than of "cults" as a discrete category of groups.

The r/exredpill poster in question evidently developed a relationship with r/redpill (which, by the way, has basically nothing to do with actual MRAs or men's rights activists -- a common conflation in the feminist milieu) that had significantly cultic characteristics. But, as Alison and Karen point out here, this wasn't because anyone at r/redpill was using deceptive/manipulative recruitment tactics -- as are characteristic of "cults" in the strong , distinctly negative sense of that term -- but simply because he was desperate to find something that would make him feel like less of a loser. The cultic aspect of the relationship came mostly from him and not from conscious, covert manipulation by the group, as you would find in something more deserving of being called a destructive cult.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFEvB3C-YVA

Friday, April 14, 2017

Greens Play by Our Rules, Not the Establishment's

There's a story in the most recent Public Record on how some people are pushing the city Democratic Party to devolve endorsements from ward leaders to committee people, among other reforms, to address endemic corruption. I sent this letter in response:

As part of his exercise in denial about Democratic Party dysfunction, Bob Brady made this false statement: "The Republicans have the same rules, the Greens have the same rules."
In fact the Green Party does not have the same rules. Unlike Democrats and Republicans, the Green Party has no ward leaders, only a City Committee, which as a matter of policy does not endorse candidates for party nomination. The party's philosophy is that the individual Greens who attend monthly membership meetings are capable of deciding on nominations for themselves, without any need for "guidance" from party officers. All the City Committee does is inform the members in attendance of who is seeking nomination, as well as invite the candidates to appear and make their own case.
If you're a progressive who doesn't think party apparatchiks are entitled to be protected from competition with grassroots activists, as former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz openly stated, then you should consider joining the Greens.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Save Dina Ali Lasloom!

A Saudi woman who sought asylum in Australia was taken off her plane in the Philippines and is now being returned to Saudi Arabia where she faces execution for traveling without a male companion. Please join me in signing the petition to stop this!
https://secure.avaaz.org/ar/petition/mnZm_lfw_ldwly_Amnesty_nqdhw_dyn_ly_save_Dina_ali/?aQeaOjb
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/888504/saudi-woman-seeking-asylum-in-australia-repatriated-from-ph

You only need to put your email address in the circled area.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Pinky Agrees with Me

No, not the mouse. I just watched this video by Steven Pinker on why some fear the rise of Artificial Intelligence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gimu5nXWaWU

This is pretty much identical to what I wrote on my blog a couple years ago: http://stripey7.blogspot.com/2015/09/extant-has-gotten-entirely-too-silly.html One criticism: it's too sweeping a generalization to say women are a counterexample to the idea that high intelligence goes along with megalomania. I'm not even sure that it's statistically true, and there are certainly counterexamples: female cult leaders like Marlene Dixon and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, for instance.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I Try -- and Fail -- to Get a Straight Answer from My State Representative

Last night my state representative, Stephen Kinsey, held a town hall meeting featuring representatives of various government departments and agencies.

For the past couple months I've been researching the question of whether there are any shelters for battered men in Pennsylvania. A public assistance form I filled out last summer made reference to "a state program for abused women and children," but made no mention of abused men. This was not long after I had confirmed that PA has an equal rights amendment, so the failure to provide for some victims based on their sex would clearly be unconstitutional as well as unfair.

I brought a clipboard and sign-up sheet to the Philadelphia-area premiere of  The Red Pill, Cassie Jaye's documentary on the men's rights movement, on which several people supplied their contact info to stay in touch. By the first ensuing group meeting in January, I had decided the apparently non-existent services for battered men would be a good issue around which to organize, if I could confirm my suspicions about it.

What I had ascertained by last night's town hall is that, of the four agencies listed by the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence as providing services in Philadelphia county, only two provide shelter, and in both cases it's only for women and children. At this point I should compare what's provided to the level of need: according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and the Psychological Bulletin, over half of those experiencing domestic violence in a given year, and about a third of those requiring medical attention, are male. So, even if Philly had only three shelter beds, one of these ought to be for a man. And Philly is the most populous county in the state, so even if services aren't evenly distributed, we should expect to find at least some of those for men here.

So, I related these concerns to the person speaking when I arrived at the town hall, a police captain. Her response was that shelter exists that moves from place to place, but locations aren't disclosed out of safety considerations. I explained I didn't need to know locations, but would just like to know how many of these shelters there are. She said they wouldn't tell me that either.

Rep. Kinsey spoke up at this point to explain that he didn't know that he wanted to engage his staff in looking into this if it was only for research as opposed to constituent service, and also repeated the point about safety considerations. My repeatedly pointing out that safety considerations obviously weren't preventing the existence of shelters for women from being publicized on the Web seemingly didn't register with them; they just repeated the same language without acknowledging the logical inconsistency of their statements.

A moment later, when the captain had moved on to another constituent's question, a staffer handed me a note saying, "The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects information not being disclosed regarding shelters." While she was still within earshot I commented, "Inconsistently, it would appear. They're not hiding the existence of shelters for women." She offered no reply.

It appears overwhelmingly likely to me that the reason they wouldn't give me any information about the purported shelters for battered men is that they actually don't exist. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that they do, the rationale for not publicizing their existence makes no sense; you're not going to convince me that they're actually more careful about men's safety than women's. Rather, the only practical effect hiding the existence of such shelters could have is to make it less likely those who need them would know to look for them -- especially when combined with how all the advertising about this issue relentlessly frames it in terms of male perpetrators and female victims. The message an abused man gets in these circumstances can only be that he doesn't exist, or doesn't count. It's invalidating.

I will want to spend a little time checking on whether there are men's shelters in other counties than Philadelphia. If not, that makes it a statewide issue. But even if there are, it's a serious misallocation of resources to have none of them here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ottawa SheForHe: Four Women Discuss Men and Boys' Issues

Real-life gender privilege, heard on a playground and related by panelist Meg Warren: "I can punch you, and you can't punch me back!"

Something that particularly interested me as someone who's had personal experience with a cultic group was her observation, as someone who's experienced both psychological and physical domestic abuse herself, that many women exert subtle, incremental control over their male partners in a way that wouldn't be tolerated if a man tried to do it to a woman. This gradual process of entrapment sounds remarkably like the brainwashing of a high-control group.

One criticism: here, as in many other egalitarian/men's rights forums, I hear some participants describe what they're up against as "cultural Marxism." This is the sheerest nonsense and only tells me that these people know nothing about Marxism. Radical feminism is based on a kind of ahistorical, idealist sociology that has nothing in common with Marxist dialectical materialism. In terms of program, they advocate treating people as representatives of a group assumed to have a uniform experience, whereas the Marxist dictum, "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need," starts from the understanding that everyone is an individual. I hope that more Marxists will get involved in groups like this not only on the merits of their issues, but to educate the activists in a better understanding of what Marxism is; the current faulty usage is doubtless putting off some people on the left who would otherwise be open to the information they're discussing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh4XP_KeZ2E&t=1203s