All posts by Victor Zen (Sage Gerard)

South Park Pulls Punches?

I’m a huge fan of South Park, and I would never give into insecurity to argue that South Park “goes too far.”

But I will point out when South Park does not go far enough.

The Season 17 finale of South Park (The Hobbit) shows that photoshopped women hurt the self-image of girls. If you can’t see the episode, see the plot summary on Wikipedia. The most powerful scene is when Wendy Testaburger, a feminist girl, surrenders her campaign to ban photoshopped images and photoshops herself so she could be socially accepted by her peers.

The discussion on how media affects impressionable children is a valid theme of the Hobbit, but only the feminist perspective is dominant. Any conflict Wendy experiences is set such that she is a victim of men or allegedly “male” attitudes. Anyone not supporting Wendy is ridiculed.

This is not the first time South Park was sympathetic to a feminist perspective. Wendy also pulverizes evil incarnate Eric Cartman in Breast Cancer Show Ever (S12E9) because Cartman mocked breast cancer incessantly to annoy Wendy. Few discussing the episode would defend Cartman’s raunchy jokes from a free speech perspective because it means associating with Cartman. Sometimes a position is as good as the face people give it.

The Hobbit marks another time where South Park defends a position by evoking feelings of sympathy. South Park normally satirizes everything, so watching them defend something weakens the creators’ claim to “not [be] on anybody’s fucking side.” South Park stops poking fun if feminist values could be caught in the crossfire. And I don’t mean it “stops” in the sense that there was a transition. I mean it STOPS. Faceplant-into-brick-wall STOPS.

In any good conflict, both sides have a point. If only one side is reduced to a caricature to mock, the morality becomes black and white, leaving an ideological lecture.

In The Hobbit, additional sides could include absent-minded parents who don’t teach their kids the difference between reality or fantasy, or people in the mass media that use the profit-motive to justify creating a Photoshop fantasy. All of these sides are ripe for mocking, but they were excluded in favor of a feminism-versus-the-world narrative.

Such a simplistic approach expands egos, not awareness. I expect better from a champion of social commentary.

But maybe I’m an idiot for suggesting a comedy show take jokes so seriously?

Yes, I would be an idiot if I were actually hung up about jokes. But I’m talking about an absence of jokes. We are left in the realm of the serious where critical thought reigns. What happened to “we’re on nobody’s fucking side?”

South Park makes fun of Mormonism, Christianity, atheism, Scientology, gamers, blacks, whites, Mexicans, Jews, men, women, Ethiopians, Canadians, Americans, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Vatican, pedophiles, Obama, Bush, Cheny, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hillary Clinton, anti-smoking activists, pro-smoking activists, Democrats, Republicans, homophobes, gays, traditionalists, Barbara Streisand, Kim Kardashian, Carlos Mencia, Snooki, Steve Irwin, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler, James Cameron, Phil Collins, George Zimmerman, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Kazuo Hirai, Jesus, Satan, Santa, Muhammad, the Virgin Mary, John Edward, Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, goth kids, gingers, poor people, rich people, voters, non-voters, crack babies, the disabled, PETA, the NSA, Game of Thrones, Pokemon, The Hobbit, 21, memes, people from New Jersey, people who zipline, and people who like rainforests.

But not feminists. Feminists are off-limits.

Why?

USA Today Interview

I was recently interviewed by USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Monica Vendituoli. My full answers are below for easy reading, but the original source of the email conversation is also available. Monica publicly tweets her email address everywhere, so I have not removed her email address from the source files. In the interest of transparency and preserving the integrity of the source, I left my student email visible as well. EDIT: Scratch that. I have been told that I actually have no obligation to publish my own email. My email address was removed from the source, but Monica’s email address remains because it is public.

I will be answering the questions in reverse order, since my answer to the second question depends on my answer to the first.

Have you ever felt discriminated against as a male college student and if so how and if not why not?

Yes. I will start with a specific example. As a student of Georgia State University during the fall of 2012, I was subjected to ridicule and insults for suggesting that sexism was a two-way street in a Global Politics course. During one lecture, we were presented claims such as “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work for 1% of the income.” The quoted claim was previously debunked by The Atlantic, so it should not be taught to our students to begin with. When a student started voicing her moral outrage in response to the injustices she felt she was personally facing, I reminded her that men suffered their own hardships.

I intended to do two things with my input. First, I was trying to console my classmate by saying she was not alone. Second, I was asserting the seriousness of issues affecting both sexes.

I did not read my classmate a laundry list of male problems because that would mean taking the lecture off on a tangent. That, and I was already nervous about the class’ reaction. Since men are often assumed to be unequivocally privileged, my experience has been that any suggestion men suffer is met with anger, disbelief, or even laughter. Not many people know of the high suicide rates, high dropout rates, military conscriptions, paternity frauds and false rape allegations affecting men, and this is only to name a few issues. I understand Jonathan Taylor from A Voice For Male Students has connected you with sources related to some of the aforementioned issues affecting male students (if not men in general), so I trust you have pertinent data available for your research.

On hearing my suggestion that sexism and gender based suffering is bidirectional, our instructor added that women “had it worse,” and I immediately disagreed. The class reacted by shouting and banging on desks. After class, some classmates followed me out to trivialize my beliefs and make direct personal insults. My professor concurred with these students, so I faced ostracization from a classroom simply because I said both men and women suffer.

We live in a world where bigotry runs rampant, and trying to suggest that one demographic has it worse makes a competition out of suffering. There are far too many cases of hatred in our world to perfectly understand its scope, so there is nothing healthy about assuming one demographic is somehow more deserving of empathy based on cherry-picked, inflated statistics designed to alarm the public.

I endorse women rights activists who try to educate the public on issues affecting women in the spirit of humanism, but compassion for all means not putting men or women on a pedestal. We should acknowledge the importance of the issues affecting both women and men, without competing to see who has the bigger scars. To summarize my position a few words directed at any person on this planet: “You are not special, but you matter.” My completely reasonable position has, on some occasions, caused me to fear what others would do to me.

Because men’s issues are grossly underrepresented, more and more humanists like myself are deciding to specialize in men’s issues until this is no longer the case. I have also experienced discrimination as an MHRA, but that leaves the scope of your question.

For more on how men are discriminated against as students, please see the profile of Kennesaw State University I have written under the pen name Victor Zen. In the article, I demonstrate gynocentrism that affects my experience as a student of KSU. In short, my tuition dollars pay for an environment that is better tailored to women than men. I cannot possibly get the same value from my time at KSU as a woman can, even though we are all given the same tuition bill to pay. If you seek additional elaboration, please let me know.

If you cannot see links in this email, you can read the KSU profile at http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/ksu-profile/

You can also see the Atlantic article at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive…ie/273840/

Do you feel more males studies or men’s studies programs are needed?

This question needs more context. We need to address how gender studies can contribute to a more civilized and educated society. We also need to discuss who gets to be in charge of men’s studies, and why.

There are already masculinity studies courses on some campuses. One such course is even on KSU in the Social Sciences building with course ID GWST 3080. You can use this ID to find information about the course. Sadly, I have reason to believe GWST 3080 is also gynocentric. One look at the course proposal (attached) shows a reading list with books like Guyland by Micheal Kimmel. Kimmel has been criticized by men’s human rights organizations for contributing to a narrative that is harmful to young men. I will leave criticisms of Kimmel and the other required texts of GWST 3080 to your own research for the sake of brevity, although you may find some direction with this excellent review of Guyland by Peter Allemano Jr.

I do not offer you the review as a substitute of peer-reviewed research. Instead, I offer you the review to illustrate a perspective that more and more men are identifying with. I, and others like me, are witnessing misandry in academia. The people we trust to be objective are allowing their views to be colored by the bigotry inherent in gender centrism. We never suspected that men might one day be the target of hatred in the same way that we expect women to be the target of hatred. So, representation for men that would counteract such hatred is not in our colleges. This also helps explain the disturbing lack of research on violence or sexual assault against men. Gynocentrism breeds ignorance of men, and that ignorance of men is in turn used to perpetuate mindless assumptions that men are doing just fine and are in no need of help.

Simply having a study on men or masculinity is not enough. We need an environment that fosters positive social development for men, by communicating with men in ways that men understand. Given my experiences with college culture, I do not feel women’s studies follow a similar philosophy for women. My belief is that gender studies as they are now vilify men and infantilize women.

I wish we had no gender studies courses to begin with, but the existence of gynocentric gender studies courses creates a need for a balanced narrative that does not breed misogyny or misandry. We get a balanced narrative by allowing more assertive, critical thinking humanists free from the vice of gender centrism into our faculties. I think I speak for self-respecting young men everywhere when I say that I want representation from men who are sensitive to the challenges I face, and who will question his own peers in academia on questionable claims made about men. So far, I can count the number of men and women who I know would stand up for me in an academic context on one hand: Dr. Warren Farrell, Dr. Miles Groth, Paul Nathanson, Katherine Young and Jonathan Taylor. There are others who would stand up for men, but either they do not operate in an academic context, or I have yet to hear their names.

As a man, I have never acted out of hatred, but am discriminated against because people assume I am either a bigot or associated with bigotry. If I, as a male student, can get representation from men’s studies programs without hearing yet another tirade about how men are the cause of all the wrongs in the world, then I want men’s studies programs on every campus on Earth.

KSUM Commons Table Report

KSUM Table in front of the Commons
KSUM Table in front of the Commons

I sat out in front of the KSU Commons from 9 AM to 1:30 PM EST greeting everyone that walked by. It was hard work selling the group, but I got a lot of positive feedback. A woman from KSU’s Women in Technology even approached the table and said right out, “I am glad this group exists, what can I do to promote it?”

I now know for a fact there are people who want men’s rights on Kennesaw State University.

Some men were enthused enough to run off with a bunch of handouts to tell their friends. No one seemed to have trouble being recorded. Sadly, the GOPRO died in the middle of one video and I do not think the video was properly saved. I ended up with much more audio data than video data, so it is impossible to build one cohesive video. I have to spend some time looking at how to best present a status report up to this date since the footage is fragmented and out of sync with different audio recordings.

So, smooth sailing so far. I have freedom to record on campus as long as I have my little warning sign up.

The second table will be put up at the Social Sciences building, but the timeline is to be determined.

Thanks again to my donors and supporters. I am doing my best to get the MHRM integrated here in my part of the world, and your support helps make it happen.

KSUM Update 9.24.13

I have some important information regarding KSUM.

First, all materials for the table have been obtained.

For those of you expecting the tablecloth, the banner was purchased to save both time and money. The tablecloth would have taken ten days to print and cost twice as much, when all I wanted to do was make the table more noticeable. The banner has a velcro edge and came with adhesive velcro strips on the side. This means the banner can be attached to the table without issue.

I am $157.38 under budget. I plan to use the extra money for food for many KSUM meetings in the future and possibly literature, but I have not decided yet. If you are a donor, I would be happy to hear your opinion on what the money should be used for. You can review an itemization of Paypal fees and expenses in this Excel file, with links to various receipts in the first column of the second sheet of the workbook. The Excel file is hosted on MediaFire, which messes up spreadsheet formatting badly. Just click the download button at the top right of the page to grab the original file.

Next, my petition now has all the student signatures it needs to demonstrate student demand to KSU administration. Here’s a picture with names blurred to protect the anonymity of the signatories.

petition

I now need officers, so the table event will be more geared toward recruitment. I also need to finish my Constitution and follow up with my faculty adviser candidates, but those are bridges to cross later.

Next up: I sent an email (personal info removed) to the Student Life office of KSU requesting a table for 9 AM EST Friday September 27th for the first table event in front of the Commons. I am waiting to be approved. While I wait for Student Life’s response, I will continue my fight to get some level of recording rights for the event. I was recently physically stopped at the Commons for trying to record the general area to show you all what it was like. The staff had privacy concerns, and they told me to go to the KSU University Relations office for approval. The UR said that they were okay with me recording the event if the offices nearest my table were okay with it. I went over to the Social Sciences building first on a whim and left the Dean a message asking permission. The campus attorney and assistant dean got in touch and told me that I cannot record any student without their explicit, written consent. Note that I am manning a table in a public space, and cannot exactly ask for signatures that easily without setting a bad impression.

I asked the attorney to cite the policy he was referring to. I am still waiting for a response. The KSU Student Handbook and KSU Policy site do not match what he was telling me. If KSU does not actually have a policy related to this, then the next step is to check state law.

Georgia state law codified in O.C.G.A. § 16-11-62 (2)(C) states:

[It shall be unlawful for any person, through the use of any device, without the consent of all persons observed, to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view; provided, however, that it shall not be unlawful to] use for security purposes, crime prevention, or crime detection any device to observe, photograph, or record the activities of persons who are within the curtilage of the residence of the person using such device. A photograph, videotape, or record made in accordance with this subparagraph, or a copy thereof, may be disclosed by such resident to the district attorney or a law enforcement officer and shall be admissible in a judicial proceeding, without the consent of any person observed, photographed, or recorded;

There are three big questions, First, am I “out of public view”? I’d say not, given I am manning a table on a state funded university as a student enrolled in said university. Second, how inclusive is “curtilage”? Curtilage refers to the space around a property, like the street outside of a residence. Think of it as a thick “ring” around a property. Does “within the “curtilage” include the ring around the campus AND inside the ring? Third, if I keep UoT footage and pictures on my person to demonstrate that a camera is needed for my own protection, how far can “I need this camera to protect me from crazy thugs that may attend this public university” take me?

Should the conditions be right to say I need consent (which is debatable), state law does not specify that consent must be written. Given the information I have, the campus attorney looks to have just plain made that up. But I could be wrong. Time will tell.

The takeaway is that I may end up keeping the camera off to the side until someone gets nasty. If I have to pull out the camera defensively, then chances are good the footage needs to be taken. I will take a photo of the table and have my Twitter feed ready to show the event is going on, but I do not know if I will get away with just recording it flat out. We’ll see where the legal discussion goes.

Finally, I met with some student workers on KSU in a small gathering today. The men attending the event were the ones who finished signing my petition. They have been helpful and are open to my questions related to setting up a student organization, One of them actually works in the Student Life office, which is responsible for working with student organizations. I learned that since KSUM is starting as a RSO (Registered Student Organization), it will not have as much power as a CSO (Certified Student Organization). A CSO gets funding and special large space reservation privileges. A RSO gets tables and competes for space like the rest of the student body. I want KSUM to be a CSO, but this is a long-term goal that is currently far out of my reach, It is possible that I will need to trust a good set of officers to take care of that once I leave KSU.

So, we have all the materials under budget for a table event proposed for this Friday. Legal complications are muddling the mixture, but it won’t stop the wheels from turning.

Thanks for keeping up with the events, and thanks again to my supporters for making this possible.

KSUM Handouts and New Banner

I picked up the handouts for KSU Men today.  The receipts for the 50% deposit and remaining balance can be download on MediaFire.

Some good news and bad news came up during the visit. The bad news is that it will take ten days to print the tablecloth. The good news is that I chose to do a 3’x6′ banner instead, which costs over $100 less than the cloth and can be done in a few days. This will free up funds to take care of unexpected costs.