Archive for May, 2010


Rise of Patriarchy?

I’m asking for your input here. Please only reply to the question at hand and not to the replies. I’m looking for reasonable responses with actual support. No hate speech please. Anyway, to the question….

Functionality of egalitarianism in small societies is not up for debate. Historically, it existed in societies worldwide, but as societies grew and humanity began to globalize, egalitarian structures failed. Through this gradual process, patriarchy slowly rose to become a dominant societal structure.

My point here is not to argue the positives and or negatives of patriarchy, but to examine WHY patriarchy arose. Why did patriarchy become the dominant structure and not matriarchy? There have been very few matriarchal societies. Predominately the one’s that have existed did so under a matriarch, but still under the patriarchal structure, in other words, the place of men was still above that of women as a whole. Again, I am not arguing the consequences of patriarchy (positive or negative) only stating historical fact.

But why? Why has larger society, regardless of geographical region, tended toward patriarchy?


Validity of Feminism

Many MRAs argue that feminism is invalidated by the many factions (branches if you will). I counter this argument by offering a breakdown of both social and hard sciences. I am not claiming that feminism is a science in itself (yet), but that, as fields of study progress to the level of a science (and by this I mean the empirical study of something) different branches actually ADD validity.

As someone pointed out in a recent discussion, with branching out to different areas of thought, comes specialization. No one person can know everything about their field of study. Branches off of a main idea offer a more thorough knowledge in any field.

Sociology-Environmental, Political, Deviance, Criminology, Functionalism, Symbolic interaction, etc…
Anthropology-Biological, Physical, Socio-cultural, Linguistic, Archaeological, etc…
Psychology-Social, Industrial and Organizational, Educational, Abnormal, Clinical, Counseling, Research, etc…
Biology-Micro, Botany, Biophysics, Ecology, Agriculture, etc…
Medicine-Endochrinology, Cardiology, Nephrology, Neurology, etc…
Geology-Mineralogy, Petrology, Geomorphology, Paleontology, etc…

Point being, there are basic foundations for each of these sciences. Sociology is the study of society, Anthropology of human cultures, Psychology of the minds, Biology of life, Medicine of healing, and Geology of Earth history.

Feminism-First, second, and third waves consist of suffrage, primarily reproductive rights, and recognition of contributing factors (respectively). Each of these waves created different branches of feminism: Literary, Masculine theory, Queer theory, Historical perspectives, etc…

But each of these branches has its foundations in the history and development of feminist theory. And thus I coin my own term…

MARXINAROLOGY: The study of marginalization.


For Feminists and MRAs alike…

Hey you,
I see you.
I see you looking.
I see you looking at me.
I see you looking at me and judging.
I see you looking at me and judging what you see.

Hey you,
You won’t know.
You won’t know who.
You won’t know who or what.
You won’t know who or what I am.
You won’t know who or what I am inside, in my mind.

Hey you.
In my mind.
In my mind is love.
In my mind is love and faith.
In my mind is love and faith and desire.
In my mind is love and faith and desire and FIRE!

Hey you.
I am more.
I am more than what you refuse to see.


Transexuality: What Practitioners Should Know

Unlike most of the disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), transexualism or “gender identity disorder” is the lone disorder treated, not with medications or psychological counseling but with cosmetic surgery. Because of this anomaly, one could suggest that transexualism is not a psychological disorder, only the wish to make one’s body look as one feels it should, as is the case with any cosmetic surgery.
While the rest of the sexual disorders listed in the DSM-IV-TR range from sexual dysfunction (such as hypoactive sexual desire disorder) to paraphilias (including pedophilia and sexual sadism) that lie outside of the socially constructed norms, transexuality continues to grow in acceptance and is gaining a wider social support network.. This indicates that social norms are once again changing, setting transexualism outside of the realm of dysfunction.
Part of the problem, however when addressing transsexualism is that the very mental health professionals who diagnose Gender Identity Disorder (GID) are also relatively unaware of the long term ramifications of treatments. Hormone injections and surgeries can be dangerous to both immediate and long term health of transsexuals, in addition to the psychological distress associated with the delay in treatment (Israel and Tarver 1997).
Defining Transexualism
A recent article published by the American Psychological Association (APA) regarding the ethical treatment of those diagnosed with gender identity disorder defines transsexuals as transgendered people who desire to live full time as members of the gender opposite of that to which they were biologically born (APA, 2006). The authors go on to describe females who wish to transition to males as “FTM” and males who wish to transition to females as “MTF”. This article, published by the APA describes the treatment for these individuals as “making their bodies as congruent as possible to their preferred gender”.
The unfortunate reality surrounding this definition includes the problem of defining not only transexualism, but gender. When the leading authorities on psychological treatment offer such an explanation, it serves to further cloud the problem due to the failure to define the most important diagnostic term (gender). Gender is not simply a matter of black and white, but rather of a spectrum of minute differences subject to interpretation (Kessler & McKenna, 1985). How then can one be the opposite of a single degree in such a wide spectrum? At exactly what point does gender identity cross from the norm for one’s biological sex to the opposite of it? These questions are left, as of yet, unanswered.
Diagnostic Criteria
As listed in the DSM-IV-TR, the diagnostic criteria for gender identity disorder include, but are not limited to the persistent desire to live as the opposite gender, the stated desire to be the other sex, dressing or “passing” as the other sex (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2007). Also included are feelings of the other sex, discomfort in the gender role of one’s assigned sex, the need to get rid of sex characteristics, or the belief that one is born the wrong sex. These criteria require that there is no intersexual (previously labeled hermaphrodism) condition present, and that there must be a significant distress to one’s social, or occupational well being. The DSM-IV-TR also requires that the medical diagnostic codes for sexually mature adults include sexual preference despite the difficulty of transsexuals’ self-interpretation of identity.

Treatment of Transexualism
The first step in the treatment of transexualism is to diagnose (Hausman, 2006). A transexed individual must go through psychological counseling and a long battery of psychological testing to receive the diagnosis of gender identity disorder that is required to continue further treatments. Ironically, this is not required for any other form of cosmetic surgery.
The second step in transexed treatment is that the individual must live for at least one year as the “opposite gender” (Hausman, 2006). This practice is to assure that the transexed individual is completely sure of his or her choice before continuing with further steps. Hormones given during this stage assist in the development of secondary sex characteristics, such as breast development in the case of MTF. There are multiple plastic surgeries carried out during this stage, including shaving of the larynx and vocal cords, and breast augmentation (MTF) or breast reduction (FTM) (Israel and Tarver, 1997; Hausman, 2006).
The third, and most expensive, step is sex reassignment surgery. For many transexed individuals this step is unattainable because of the extreme cost, as it is rarely covered under insurance (Israel and Tarver, 1997; Hausman, 2006). Simplified, in MTF cases doctors first make an incision down the length of the penis to just above the anus. This tissue is inverted to construct the vagina. The remaining sensitive tissues are used to construct labial and clitoral structures. Recovery is long and painful. After surgery, individuals must take care to assure that the vaginal cavity remains open and does not close due to collapse or scar tissue (Richards, 1992). In FTM surgeries, surgeons remove female sex organs, and then create a phallus with existing tissues, but little care is taken to insure sensation. Full erection is often not possible without mechanical assistance (Israel and Tarver, 1997). With both the MTF and the FTM procedures, further surgeries are often required to maintain results.
Cost restraints are a major factor in seeking sex reassignment surgeries. For a MTF transition, costs can run upwards of $33,000, not including labiaplasty (creation of the labial structures) or revisions of initial work (Israel and Tarver, 1997). For FTM procedures, costs range widely and can total more than $150,000. As previously mentioned, these costs are not usually covered by any medical plan and must be paid out of pocket by the transexed individual.
Ethics of Treatments
The negative ethical implications of treatment are extreme and far-reaching. While sufferers of most psychological disorders can begin treatment after relatively few medical visits, transsexuals must endure a long course of psychological counseling and testing before any physical treatments can begin. In addition to this problem, there is the choice made by the medical and insurance communities that places these individuals’ desires to correct what they feel is wrong outside of their reach due to cost. The vast majority of other diagnoses in the DSM have treatments covered by either medical insurance or state managed medical assistance. By refusing to cover the costs of sex reassignment surgeries, the medical institution is disallowing care for what they consider a diagnosable illness. This practice is highly contradictory.
In addition to the problems of treatment coverage, further ethical problems exist with denial of services until 18 years of age (Hausman, 2006). Again, the medical community singles out transexualism, this time by refusing to allow treatment prior to legal adulthood. Other DSM diagnosable disorders not only have treatment options for adolescents, but also are encouraged to be addressed early if possible to prevent further problems.
One of the most pressing ethical dilemmas is the problem of informed consent (Israel and Tarver, 1997). Doctors mislead transexed individuals with false statements regarding the possibilities to postpone treatments should patients choose to put off surgery for one reason or another. Doctors also discourage patients from seeking second opinions from other physicians or seeking the advice of transsexuals who are considering or have had surgeries.
Social Impact
Because of the nature of the treatments for transexuality, it is natural that the families or loved ones of a transexed individual are also impacted (Richards, 1992; Boylan, 2004; Hausman, 2006; Davies, 2009). Often there is resentment from parental figures and or siblings that the family member has lied about who they are. In the case of those who marry prior to diagnosis and/or treatment, there is marital strain, usually ending in divorce, if the state of residence does not require it. Children of transexed individuals have reported feelings of abandonment and perception of the loss of a parent (losing a father in cases of MTF).
Impact on the individual from the community is a larger problem. As mentioned previously, the acceptance of transexed individuals is growing, however the period of living as the opposite gender still causes a great deal of unrest (Hausman, 2006; Israel and Tarver, 1997). Employers have difficulty handling public restroom appointment, laws often block record changes such as licenses and passports, and there have been numerous murders and attacks on individuals in transition.
Policy Changes Needed
Many of the problems mentioned above can be addressed with policy changes in diagnosis, treatment, and government. Should the medical and psychiatric communities decide to maintain the stance that transexuality is in fact a diagnosable disorder, a code of ethics and laws should be imposed. As with other disorders listed in the current DSM, insurances and medical plans should be required to cover treatment expenses. These same institutions should also reduce the amount of time and effort required for the transexed individual to receive treatment. Prolonging pretreatment procedures and expenditures only delays the resolution of gender identity disorder. It is the duty of the medical profession to minimize suffering if no further harm occurs.
Many laws need addressing to acknowledge the rights of transexed individuals who receive treatment. In many states, there are laws that would dissolve marriages after sex reassignment surgery. Many states and even local laws provide no protection for individuals based on their diagnosis. Many could lose employment or housing based solely on their diagnosis and/or process of treatment. Most often, crimes against transsexuals because of prejudice is not a hate crime, thus lowering the charges and sentences of those committing crimes against transsexuals.
Areas for Further Research
Most disorders evoke the need for researching causality, but in the case of transexualism, this also is problematic. With the finding of causality comes the searching for a cure. Because most parents would not likely choose a transexed child, the implications here are obvious. Assuming a biologic cause, both genetic engineering and termination of pregnancy are possibilities.
Having argued for either the equal treatment of transsexuals or the removal of
Gender Identity Disorder from the DSM entirely, the suggestions for further research are many. Looking into the long-term ramifications on the individual including physical, emotional, and psychological well-being would give a greater picture of the effectiveness of current treatments. Finding alternative treatments that require fewer psychological tests and shorter wait times before surgery would assist in the treatment of transexed individuals. Lastly, comparing the lasting effects of treatments based on the age at which treatments first began has the potential to set the stage for treatments earlier in life. If an individual has greater results based on earlier treatment, it would follow that treatment can be started before adulthood (in extreme cases) to maximize the positive affect of treatment.
Admittedly, the arguments mentioned above could apply to the vast majority of DSM diagnoses, however the difference between those and transexualism lies in the treatment. Not until the psychiatrists and physicians charged with reviewing and updating the DSM acknowledge that there is a major treatment differential in dealing with transexualism can the ethical and social stigmas of transexualism truly be changed. Transsexuals are treated differently in every aspect of the social spectrum and medical establishments and this is an inequity that must be addressed for the good of both the individual and the credibility of the psychological field.

American Psychiatric Association. (1990). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychiatric Association. (2007). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed. TR). Arlington: Author.
American Psychological Association. (2006). Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity. [Brochure]. Washington D. C.
Boylan, J. F. (2004). She’s Not There. New York: Broadway.
Davies, E. (2009). Third Wave Feminism. Finding Ourselves: Postmodern Identities and the Transgender Movement. Whales: Palgrave Macmillan.
Fausto-Sterling, A. (2000). Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books.
Hausman, B. L. (2006). Changing Sex: Transexualism, Technology, and the Idea of Gender. Durham: Duke University Press.
Israel, G. E. and Tarver, D. E. (1997). Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information and Personal Accounts. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Kessler, S. J. (1998). Lessons from the Intersexed. Camden: Rutgers University Press.
Kessler, S. J. & McKenna, W. (1985). Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Richards, R. (1992) Second Serve¬. Lanham: Stein and Day Publishers.


Women and Violence in the US

At one time, there were a great many issues facing women and the United States. Through the work of suffragists, women’s rights pioneers, and many lawmakers who recognized gender inequality, most of those issues women once faced are no longer at the forefront. Today, however gendered violence is still a problem facing both women and men.
Women are more likely than are their male counterparts to be victimized by a domestic partner, however homosexual men are more likely to face such violence than are heterosexual men. Because domestic/intimate partner violence is most often about power, those who are outside of the gender norm (ie women and homosexual men) are most likely to be victimized based solely on their marginalized status.
While there have been a great many strides in prevention of domestic and intimate partner violence, there is still much work to be done. Laws have been enacted that protect victims after violence occurs. Most recently, the state of Kentucky enacted legislation to require certain perpetrators of domestic violence to wear devices monitoring their whereabouts should an Environmental Protection Order be in place.
The problem with the current laws is that the vast majority are reactionary. There are few programs in existence to prevent domestic violence as opposed to stopping it after it occurs, and even fewer laws to prevent initial acts of violence. The prevention of initial violence is key to reducing overall occurrences.
Also problematic is that perpetrators are incarcerated for their acts (some of the time) but are not educated in how to prevent future acts. Inmates are placed in a violent environment that only serves to increase violent tendencies, not reduce them. Instead, perpetrators should take part in educational and therapeutic activities to teach coping skills and reduce violent outbursts. Maintaining results with group therapy sessions and visits with parole officers is advisable after release.
Despite the fact that violence faces women all over the world, each and every day, there are methods available to reduce violent acts. The importance is to educate people on the signs of abusers to prevent acts and to educate and treat abusers after violent acts occur.


Kimmel (first of many)

“Of course, you will point out, rightly, that these violent ethnic nationalists and white supremacists receive significant support from women.” (Kimmel 104)

What is of interest to me in both this quote and in the article (which Kimmel fails to mention) is that women experience this same power loss of which he speaks. I believe that is why women support these men. Just as men lose the entitlement to their class rank, so do the women that are, or have potential to be the males’ mates.
Women emotionally and politically support men in every socioeconomic status, but the higher the class the more the women have to lose if that class ranking fails. I engaged in a discussion the other day that women in the upper classes have an even stronger dependence on men than do poor women. Thus, if a woman who supports the ideologies that attribute to the perception of power gain, then she also would reap the benefits of any economic gain.
While I was reading this article a friend called, frustrated about the theories of ecological racism. Between the two of us, we came to the conclusion that (for both his purposes and mine) it is all about power. Power through economics. Sexism stems from a belief that the “other” causes the problems, as do classism, ethnocentrism, and racism. The power (or as Kimmel proposes, the entitlement to power) is based solely on economic and material wealth. It is the loss of class status in which violence and hate set their roots.