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Old 08-23-2002, 11:08 AM   #1
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The middle ground has been lost

It has occured to me that in America, and maybe everywhere in the world, the idea of finding the middle ground, a place where all ideas can meet and find a solution to a problem, has been lost.

Out society has become fragmented, with many people hold very distinct, polar opposite views.

I don't discount the notion that you should be person of conviction. Everyone has their beliefs, and there is nothing wrong with having a set of values or beliefs that you adhear to.

But it strikes me as very odd that many people are unwilling to seek the middle ground anymore.

Isn't that what democracy is?

There is a problem. Each person brings their ideas to the table, debate them, and then set about to find common ground that everyone can agree on. It requires the ability to see things from the "other" side.

Yet, everyone is so scared of appearing weak, of actually challenging their own beliefs, that they adhear to their personal ideas with such a steadfast conviction that, in my opinion, more harm than good is done.

At some level, is it not selfish to be so ferverent in your personal beliefs that you alienate everyone else?

Here's an example that I know well.

I am a big believer in women's rights (I am a male btw) and rights for survivors of sexual assault etc.

Yet, many in the field have framed it strictly in a feminist way. They fear that if they admit that the problem is not just about women getting assualted, but a general problem of gender roles, sexual attitudes and the such in our society that there is a minority population of male survivors that struggle to be recognized and helped. Instead of linking the problem of rape strictly to the women's movement, why not take on the whole issue?

I mention this only because I've recently come back to this community, interference.com, and I've noticed all the hullaballo in this forum.

I'm not saying be wishywashy. I'm not saying to not have your convictions. But, before you make a statement, try and put yourself in the position of the other side. Actually get in their mind and see it from their perspective. If you're a liberal, like me, wrap yourself in the blanket of conservatism, and see the issue through their eyes. Try and see where they are coming from. Acknowledge the positives of the opposition, and what they may bring to the table.

If you can be willing to accept some ideas contrary to your own, incorporate them into your opinion, or at least recognize what others bring to the table, it seems to me more progress can be made.

Stubborness is not a good quality all the time.

I'm not claiming to be perfect or anything. I'm as guilty as the next person. But I think if we all (and when I say we I don't just mean here in this forum, but in society in general) have a more open-minded attitude, we could make great strides.

Think about it before you blast me.
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Old 08-23-2002, 11:29 AM   #2
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popkid - there is plenty of intelligent discussion of the issues, the middle ground so to speak. However, that is not the image portrayed in the media. We have created news programs built on soundbites, we listen to talkshow hosts who find extreme positions equals ratings.

When we turn off the TV, and talk face to face, I think you may find more of what you are looking for.
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Old 08-23-2002, 11:57 AM   #3
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that was a very good post

Quote:
When we turn off the TV, and talk face to face, I think you may find more of what you are looking for.
i'm going to have to disagree with this, somewhat. i agree that the middle ground is lost, which is so excellently evidenced here in FYM. the unwillingness to compromise is something i've never understood. if it's going to have to be bad for you both, why not minimalize your casualties?
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Old 08-23-2002, 12:26 PM   #4
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Lilly - while I'm fairly new to the interference boards, I've seen many on-line communities.

You are right that the middle ground can be lost in this context - we hide behind the security of our keyboards. It provides a sense of security that can be misused for the sake of making polarizing statements.

In general, I think we put a lot more thought in to our face to face converstations than we do when we post on a board...the kind of thought that leads to the compromises we all seek.
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Old 08-23-2002, 01:26 PM   #5
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There are several issues on which I'm not too likely to change my mind in the near future, but I try to understand the other side as best I can...
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Old 08-23-2002, 05:46 PM   #6
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Bugger the middle ground! I think i've become better at seeing the other man's point of view as i've gotten older, but there is a sharp sharp sharp distinction between seeing where someone else is coming from, and actually acting in compromise. Life is still about coming down on one side of the fence or the other. Sure, i understand why people support the death penalty, but that doesn't mean that the solution to our disagreement is to compromise on a practical level. If you're against the death penalty, you're against the death penalty. If you're for it, you're for it. You can't just say, 'Oh, well i guess we can kill just a few people on death row. I guess we can allow a little death penalty'. If you compromise too much you can get into a situation where you're for everyone and against nothing. You are for everyone, but no one can say you are for them, and in that situation the hallowed middle ground of politics will bring you not all the people, but rather none of them.
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Old 08-23-2002, 05:54 PM   #7
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I believe the middle ground has been lost because the stakes have been raised much higher, or have been made to appear as such.


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Old 08-24-2002, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: The middle ground has been lost

Interesting post And in the true spirit of the original post I'm going to say that I agree with both "sides" of the issue. I think there are definitely some issues we need to compromise on in order to achieve things, but on the other hand, there are some issues which are so important you just cannot compromise on them.

misterboo's example of the death penalty illustrates that - there really isn't any "middle ground" there - you're either a supporter or opponent of it (and personally i'm against it). I guess you can argue that someone could compromise their position and say they'd accept the death penalty, but only if specific concerns (say that the majority of people on death row are Black) are addressed. However, you could also argue that there is no way to make the death penalty acceptable, no matter what you do, so you have to oppose it entirely. For me personally, being pro-choice would be an example of an issue I don't think I could compromise on, not only because of my personal opinions but because I don't think it would achieve anything.

However, there are some issues you have to compromise on, or work with people you disagree with, or else you won't ever be able to achieve even a fraction of your original aims. One example I can think of is on education funding - I personally think we should have a system where higher education is free for everyone who wishes to attend (I live in the UK and this was a reality until 1997, btw). However, if I just said "I demand free education for everyone!" and refused to compromise, then I'd basically get laughed out of the room. Instead, if I were to say "I think we need to focus on making sure that nobody is denied the opportunity to attend university because of their financial situation" then people I'm talking to might agree that we should make higher education free for poorer students, while still charging those who can afford it. So neither one of us will have got the outcome we really wanted, but hopefully we'll each have got *something* out of it, if not exactly what we originally wanted.

Quote:
Originally posted by popkidu2

I am a big believer in women's rights (I am a male btw) and rights for survivors of sexual assault etc.

Yet, many in the field have framed it strictly in a feminist way. They fear that if they admit that the problem is not just about women getting assualted, but a general problem of gender roles, sexual attitudes and the such in our society that there is a minority population of male survivors that struggle to be recognized and helped. Instead of linking the problem of rape strictly to the women's movement, why not take on the whole issue?
On this particular issue, I do see why rape is an issue which is especially relevant to feminists. Women are disproportionately affected by rape - the vast majority of people who are raped are women. Therefore I think it makes sense for women to be the people who lead campaigns on this issue, because they're far more likely to be affected by it than men. But that doesn't mean that I don't think men should be involved in work on this issue - it just means that I think women should decide what the best way to tackle the problem is and what the immediate priorities are, and then men should support those decisions. It's the same for campaigns about racism - I think Black people should make decisions on that subject because they are the ones affected by the issue and so have an understanding of what methods of fighting racism could be effective.

Sorry to ramble on so long
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Old 08-30-2002, 12:02 PM   #9
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Re: Re: The middle ground has been lost

Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees

On this particular issue, I do see why rape is an issue which is especially relevant to feminists. Women are disproportionately affected by rape - the vast majority of people who are raped are women. Therefore I think it makes sense for women to be the people who lead campaigns on this issue, because they're far more likely to be affected by it than men. But that doesn't mean that I don't think men should be involved in work on this issue - it just means that I think women should decide what the best way to tackle the problem is and what the immediate priorities are, and then men should support those decisions. It's the same for campaigns about racism - I think Black people should make decisions on that subject because they are the ones affected by the issue and so have an understanding of what methods of fighting racism could be effective.

Sorry to ramble on so long
Unfortunately, what happens is that the issue of male rape is ignored. In my experiance, leaders in this field are afraid to admit that men get raped because if they do, they think the support for women's equality and the urgency of stopping violence against women will be lost.

I know you have to break eggs to make an omlett, but I think it's bullshit to pretend that the issue doesn't exist because you're scared of the reaction that will occur. In fact, by ignoring the issue, they've given rise to a really stupid movement, the "Men's Movement". So now you have these radical men claiming that men are being kept down by laws that protect women who are raped/assualted/abused etc. and crying about laws that seek out men who haven't paid their child support etc. and the worst part is; they've tacked on the male rape thing and prostate cancer and other legitimate issues to get support. So instead of moving us forward to creating a safe enviorment for ALL people, the anti-rape movement, led by the women's movement, has actually polarized the issue.

In fact, I would argue that the uncompromising, unwavering, aggressive feminist movement has failed to adapt to the changing environment. We no longer live in 1950. Yes, there are still many battles to be won, sexism still exists in many forms. But the approach to making those changes needs to be a bit less harsh. Fifty years ago you had to be a "bitch" to get your message across, because that was the only way someone would listen. Women hold an immense amount of power now compared to back then. So using 1950's tactics in 2002 doesn't really make sense does it?

I guess on this particular issue I get frustrated because it is one that is extremely important to me, and I want to support it, but sometimes I think that we've lost the plot completely. I look at Dartmouth College as a good example. Suddenly, single sex organizations (fraternities and sororities) are being attacked by the political correctness police (god, I sond like a conservative ) as being anti-intelectual. Instead of attacking these organizations on their behavior (which is probably a better argument to dismanteling them; and I say this being greek myself), they attack these organizations because they are single sex.

What is so wrong with belonging to an organization that is single sex? It's not like there are fraternities, but not sororities. It's equall opportunity. There are plenty of opportunities to men and women to interact and learn about each other in social and academic situations.

Whatever. I've gone off on a total tangent that might not really make a lot of sense.
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Old 08-31-2002, 02:34 AM   #10
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Popkid, I'm with you. I dont like feminism as whole, and I am not a huge supporter of political correctness practise that disintegrates a sense of community or belonging in so many groups in our society. So often, in an attempt to bridge gaps, all we do is highlight differences, and the cycle continues. Stupid thing is, often practices need to be put in place that are a hindrance as society as a whole still has so far to go.

Now I'm rambling and not making any sense. But I agree with you. And to think I was once a social worker....
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Old 08-31-2002, 02:02 PM   #11
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Re: Re: Re: The middle ground has been lost

Quote:
Originally posted by popkidu2
Unfortunately, what happens is that the issue of male rape is ignored. In my experiance, leaders in this field are afraid to admit that men get raped because if they do, they think the support for women's equality and the urgency of stopping violence against women will be lost.


I agree that there is a problem with men who are sexually assaulted feeling unable to get help or support, but I don't think that's due to feminism. Rape is a problem which affects many, many more women than men and so it's understandable that women play a more active role than men in fighting against it.

Quote:
I know you have to break eggs to make an omlett, but I think it's bullshit to pretend that the issue doesn't exist because you're scared of the reaction that will occur. In fact, by ignoring the issue, they've given rise to a really stupid movement, the "Men's Movement". So now you have these radical men claiming that men are being kept down by laws that protect women who are raped/assualted/abused etc. and crying about laws that seek out men who haven't paid their child support etc. and the worst part is; they've tacked on the male rape thing and prostate cancer and other legitimate issues to get support. So instead of moving us forward to creating a safe enviorment for ALL people, the anti-rape movement, led by the women's movement, has actually polarized the issue.


I don't think the ridiculous "patriarchy" movement has anything to do with feminists opinions on this issue. That "movement" is supported by a few sexist men who can't stand the idea that women are organising for themselves and demanding equal treatment, and who are motivated by nothing more than a desire to preserve the massive inequalities between men and women which have benefited men for hundreds of years. I don't think they have any credibility and I certainly don't think the way to oppose them is for feminists to back away for fear of offending sexists. And as for the child support thing - I'm against programs like the CSA (that's in Britain, don't know what the US equivalent is) because they are nothing more than an attempt by the government to take away support from vulnerable single parents.

I don't think any feminists argue that we shouldn't have a society which is safe for all people - women and men. But the fact is that rape is one reason we don't have that society, and it's a reason which affects many more women than men - I don't see why feminists should be criticised for pointing this out.
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Old 09-04-2002, 06:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony
or have been made to appear as such.


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Old 09-04-2002, 08:02 AM   #13
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Re: Re: Re: The middle ground has been lost

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Originally posted by popkidu2


In fact, I would argue that the uncompromising, unwavering, aggressive feminist movement has failed to adapt to the changing environment. We no longer live in 1950. Yes, there are still many battles to be won, sexism still exists in many forms. But the approach to making those changes needs to be a bit less harsh. Fifty years ago you had to be a "bitch" to get your message across, because that was the only way someone would listen. Women hold an immense amount of power now compared to back then. So using 1950's tactics in 2002 doesn't really make sense does it?

I guess on this particular issue I get frustrated because it is one that is extremely important to me, and I want to support it, but sometimes I think that we've lost the plot completely.
I would agree that the feminist movement was uncompromising and agressive. I think this is what they needed, at the start. But I do think there is another reason why feminism has lost the plot at the moment.

Some women think they follow a kind of modern, new, "light" feminism when they get powerful. They adept themselves to the male power structures of our business world, become managers, dress the right clothes - not sexy but attractive - and think that, because they earn more than most men (and less than male managers), are sooo independent and are really changing this world, because now its women on top. Truth is that absolutely nothing has changed. One of the concepts of feminism, if I have not totally misunderstood, was to change the WAYs business is done. It doesnīt make any difference if male-like business decisions are pushed through by women or men. It wonīt make a difference if it is Condy Rice or, say, Donald Rice. As long as she works with male rules it is totally without sense. And the few women that are in those positions, what do they do to keep their jobs? Just the same like their male equals. They didnīt change the system for better, for a more female and humane and equal society.

Thats the reason for losing the plot, not because feminists are too harsh. Sure, everyone laughs when they say our spots are full of sexism. I like Vicīs Sicīs pics as well. And the models, arenīt they well paid? They donīt give a damn about feminism, do they?

But on the other hand, look at the comfortable world that surrounds us. I canīt go from my house to the next underground station without noticing, consciously or un-, around ONEHUNDREDANDTWENTY spots. People, thats three minutes of walking. Try it out sometime. Go through a street for five minutes and count how many companys names you see. Include names of cars, include little shops etc. - fact is that you are trapped. You canīt walk one metre without your eyes being raped by Mac. Now, if ("original", not "light") feminists focused on getting all spots off and away, I would support that (even if it may seem extreme to the economists blargh how many ppl would lose their jobs if we wouldnīt blargh).

Needless to say I donīt care about political "correct"ness. But about some of the original ideas of feminism I do. Theoretically, at least (because I am a man, and thats THEIR business ).
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