Active Thinking Topic 12 - Woman Trouble. Man Trouble. Is a Truce in Sight?

Monday 16 August 2021, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: Cafe Brunelli, 187 Rundle St · Adelaide (You must buy a drink or something. We are 'renting' the space for 2 hours)

About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding

Focus Questions

1. When does it make sense to talk about ALL women or ALL men, or even MOST of them?

2. What do you make of Rudyard Kipling's (1911) dictum that "the female of the species is more deadly than the male"? [Recited @  . Words @  . Note that Elvis Presley's 1958 song, "A Hard Headed Woman"  has much the same message]

3. Is gender ever irrelevant in male-female relationships? Yes, I know that in many, many activities, such as professional encounters, gender is formally irrelevant ... but how often is this actually the case?

4. What are some workable conventions for negotiating gender differences in this society? Such conventions have evolved somewhat in my lifetime. Sometimes in random encounters it is hard to keep track of what space people's heads might be in when it comes to gender.

5. What is the best workable solution for the child-raising/employment/career dilemma? Anyone familiar with small children knows that taking care of even one of them is a full time job. This job obviously collides with the requirements of most modern employment. Individual families, and individual societies try to cope with this collision in ways that range from awful to OK, but always involve compromise.

6 When are governments justified in helping, hindering or mediating personal gender relationships? The role of governments in personal gender relationships is always clumsy and sometimes brutal. Yet for various reasons such intervention is often considered essential.

7. What is the role of religion (or ideology) in mediating gender relationships? For better or for worse, in a huge proportion of the world's marriages there are are least three actors: a man, a woman, and some variety of god. Is this inevitable? In most instances, the god is represented by a proxy agent - a priest, imam etc - and it happens that these proxy agents are overwhelmingly old, conservative men with their own views on the role of women.

8. Is the media balance in presenting gender relationships about right, or does it favour one gender at the moment? In preparing this topic I came across many, many articles about women being abused or discriminated against. I'm sure the complaints were mostly justified. I did have a tough time though in finding articles of the "she done him wrong" variety. Why might this be? (At least in my experience, women might not generally be physically violent, but have been no less active than men in exploiting gender relationships).

9. The transition from childhood to adulthood is usually tricky and sometimes traumatic. How should children and teenagers be helped to manage successful gender relationships? What actually happens now? The evidence seems to be that pornography is a major preoccupation of all age groups, and thus provides its own version of sex education. What are some consequences of this? What is the best role of schools in guiding young people in personal relationships?

10. What is the likely future of gender relationships in societies where people are seen first as "economic animals"? Modern societies are basically set up for organized economic production. This is true for any version of capitalism, communism, fascism, oligopoly ... and so on. Human relationships, including gender relationships, are expected to fit the economic framework. For example, many leaders complain of falling birthrates leading to "underpopulation" (that is, a problem for production and welfare), yet the world is already overpopulated.

Extra Reading

Rudyard Kipling (1911) "The Female of the Species". Recited @  . Words @  . [Thor, recommended even if you disagree with Kipling :)]

Elvis Presley (1958) "Hard Headed Woman" Youtube @ [with lyrics]

Wikipedia (2021) "Gender Inequality". Wikipedia @  [Thor, comment: quite a useful summary]

Eryk Bagshaw (July 24, 2021) "Tokyo Games and Naomi Osaka lay bare Japan’s cultural reckoning" Brisbane Times @  [Naomi Osaka lit the Tokyo Olympic flame at the opening ceremony] [Quote: "Osaka said last year that one of her earlier memories as a tennis player was overhearing other Japanese players talk about her. “Oh, that black girl. Is she supposed to be Japanese?” [[Naomi Osaka has a Haitian father and a Japanese mother]] ... “I hate when random people say athletes shouldn’t get involved with politics and just entertain,” she said in 2020. “Firstly, this is a human rights issue. Secondly, what gives you more right to speak than me? By that logic if you work at Ikea you are only allowed to talk about [furniture]?”"]

Dina Cheney (May 8, 2020) "Why Women Find "Bad Boys" So Attractive, Even Though We Know They're Trouble". Good Housekeeping @

MSW (December 2, 2018) "Viking Women Warriors". Weapons & Warfare blog @ [ An interesting account Roman historians' views about Nordic women, whom Romans feared. Even 2000 years ago gender equality was much more marked in northern Europe than in southern Europe, as is the case today]
Miriam Berger (July 28, 2021) "‘Justice for Noor’: Outcry over beheading of ex-diplomat’s daughter". [Pakistan] Brisbane Times @

Sonja Peteranderl (29. June 2021) "Deploying Codewords and Fake Online Shops against Domestic Violence - Domestic violence has risen during the coronavirus pandemic, and lockdowns have made it more difficult for women to get help. Activists around the world are deploying fake online shops and codewords in response". Der Spiegel @

Lara Stemple, Ilan H. Meyer (October 10, 2017) "Sexual Victimization by Women Is More Common Than Previously Known - A new study gives a portrait of female perpetrators". Scientific American @

Hayley Gleeson (22 September 2020) "Men with nowhere to turn - There are rising concerns male victims of domestic violence in Australia are unable to access crucial support. And the coronavirus crisis may be making things worse". ABC @

Jane Gleeson-White (1 August 2021) "What really counts? How the patriarchy of economics finally tore me apart - After 10 years of writing about capitalism I saw that the erasure of women is not only palpable, it’s bound to my own flesh and blood." The Guardian @

Sheryll Cashin (June 3, 2017) "Opinion | How Interracial Love Is Saving America"/ New York Times @  [Quote: "Today the race mixing that supremacists feared is growing apace, and interracial dating, marriage, adoption and friendship are occurring at rates that were unfathomable 50 years ago... About 17 percent of new marriages and 20 percent of cohabiting relationships are interracial or interethnic. About one-quarter of Americans have a close relative in an interracial marriage. In the most recent Pew Research Center survey, 91 percent of respondents said that interracial marriage was a change for the better or made no difference at all. Whites and blacks are still less likely to intermarry — they make up about 11 percent of newlywed heterosexual couples — but acceptance is growing. For whites in particular, intimate contact reduces prejudice". ]

John Elder (26 July 2020) "Love’s nice enough, but it’s not vital for happiness, new study finds." New Daily @

Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal (August 2, 2021) "The toxic truth about my age-gap marriage". Brisbane Times @  [ Explanation: He married a white celebrity cougar and became Exhibit A, a sort of reverse trophy husband]

Michael Koziol (March 27, 2021) "‘Hacks, stacks and freaks’: Why do political staffers behave so badly?" Brisbane Times @  [Quote: "For most Australians - who have never set foot inside Canberra’s Parliament House let alone spent long sitting weeks working there - the behavioural norms on display in this workplace must seem stunning. How many people are drunkenly parading around the corridors late at night? How could a security guard leave a naked woman sleeping on a minister’s couch? Why would someone masturbate on an MP’s desk and film it for his colleagues? More importantly, why does this bad behaviour so often manifest in disrespect and mistreatment of women? And how has this culture been allowed to fester, barely below the surface, for so long?"]

Thor May (2011) "Snow Flower and The Secret Fan". The Passionate Skeptic website @  . [Quote: "When Wendi Deng (邓文迪 ), from China magically fell into the pan-national world of international business and married the media billionaire Rupert Murdoch, (who had abandoned Australia for the same stateless realm of five star hotels), at once we recognized that age old story of the gold digger and the sugar daddy. Perhaps though our belief in a simple storyline was, if not wrong, at least incomplete. Origins matter after all. As a teacher to young women in Zhengzhou, central China for three years recently, I could sense the conflicting currents of duty, ambition and the hope for love that tossed them about in relationships. The mix for each modern girl was individual, and Deng herself is a product of those choices. It is surely no accident then that Wendi Deng and another high profile Chinese-American transplant, Florence Sloan, were co-producers of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a film which deals directly, though often through a veil of tears, with just these dilemmas."]

Thor May (2000) "Amity Li" [satirical poem] The Passionate Skeptic website @

Thor May (1984) "The Price of Freedom ..the true story of a Vietnamese military officer's escape from Vietnam, and its aftermath." first published in Australian Society pp.33 - 34, Vol.3, No.10 Melbourne, October 1984 @  [Quote: "I know there is a reason for this dinner invitation ... Sang has been pursuing his conclusions with the usual military zeal: no fancy clothes, no expensive cars; a quest for profit. Thoa wants none of this. She wants conspicuous consumption, a decent flat, nice clothes. The topic, it seems, is divorce, not a subject easily dealt with in Vietnam. But the Australian law is a revelation: bigamy, de facto relationships... So is this the end of all ever-afters, when the last burnished sunset has set on romance and adventure, when the kiss is sealed and death defied? Sang and I both have much to learn about the melding of two cultures. Neither of us has a clever outline for the next exciting episode. Silently Thoa clears away the empty beer bottles. It is already very late]".


LADIES' DAY (Thor Korea, 2007) @

Those are the neon girls,
Bright flicker white, not a shadow between them,
Cool chicks without a temperature, they bleed
Soda pop sighs and have pink plastic hearts on a key chain.
Fashion is their name.

And there by the bargain bin
Come powdered ladies in kludgy coats,
Their shopping trolleys stacked with toilet rolls
And ballooning bags of potato chips.
Consumer is their name.

She pauses at the crossing lights,
Her walking frame invisible to the mobile phones
That rush by with captured brains, she wonders
How her failing heart will make it to the other side.
Forgotten is her name.


ABC News (3 August 2021) "Government moves to protect families who want to speak about dead sexual assault victims". ABC @

Richard Ferguson (August 4, 2021) "Australia Post pays Christine Holgate $1 million settlement." The Australian @  [Quote: "Ms Holgate will also have her $100,000 worth of legal costs covered for her by Australia Post after a lengthy mediation and her accusations she was bullied out of her job by both the board and the Morrison Government last year. ... Ms Holgate is now head of private mail company Global Express and a number of her former executives at Australia Post have left to join her at her new venture". Reader comment: "$1 million + costs for $20k worth of reward for landing a massive, perhaps life saving contract for Australia Post. Sounds very fair to me! When does the chair leave? And when does the PM apologise?"]

Altuzarra, A.; Gálvez-Gálvez, C.; González-Flores (3 January 2021) "Is Gender Inequality a Barrier to Economic Growth?" Sustainability journal 2021, 13, 367; Department of Public Policies and Economic History, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) @  PDF [Quote: "This study provides empirical evidence about the effects of various dimensions of gender inequalities (education, labour market and institutional representation) on economic growth. We use data from the World Bank Development Indicators database for the period 1990–2017. We initially use a large panel of 105 developing countries. Subsequently we study a panel with the sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries since this region is one of the poorest regions in the world. ... The results suggest that gender equality in education contributes to economic growth and this is a common feature in developing countries. ... The female–male ratio of labour market participation is not statistically significant"].

World Bank (May 30, 2018) "Unrealized Potential: The High Cost of Gender Inequality in Earnings." World Bank @  [Quote: "Globally, women account for only 38 percent of human capital wealth versus 62 percent for men. In low- and lower-middle income countries, women account for a third or less of human capital wealth. ... Globally, for the 141 countries included in the analysis, the loss in human capital wealth due to gender inequality is estimated at $160.2 trillion if we simply assume that women would earn as much as men. This is about twice the value of GDP globally. Said differently, human capital wealth could increase by 21.7 percent globally, and total wealth by 14.0 percent with gender equality in earnings"].

Helen Davidson (6 August 2021) "Chinese uproar as state TV host calls gold-medal winner a ‘manly woman’ - Shot put champion Gong Lijiao quizzed about boyfriends and settling down into ‘a woman’s life’. Gong Lijiao is the first Chinese athlete to win a gold medal in a field event for any Chinese athlete ever, and the first gold for an Asian athlete in shot put." The Guardian @

Katie Cunningham (8 August 2021) "‘Sales funnels’ and high-value men: the rise of strategic dating - While searching for love, author Rebekah Campbell dated multiple men at the same time because she believes dating is a ‘numbers game’". The Guardian @

Agence France-Press (9 August 2021) "Police launch investigation into Alibaba sexual assault allegations." The Guardian @  [Quote: "An unidentified female employee made the allegations against Alibaba in a lengthy internal posting quoted by Chinese media, which AFP is unable to verify. ... Sexual misconduct has garnered increasing attention in China especially since the country’s own #MeToo movement was sparked by Chinese feminists in 2018. .. Alibaba had already been under scrutiny from the government, which has launched a broad campaign to rein in the growing clout of the country’s tech giants".] [Comment, Thor: The difficulty in the PRC environment is that legitimate complaints - e.g. corruption, and now the gender issue - become tangled with CCP political agendas]

Coco Liu and Yueqi Yang (August 9, 2021) "Tech giant Alibaba fires manager as sexual assault case rocks China" Brisbane Times @  [Quote: ".. It highlighted pervasive mistreatment of female workers across companies in China, where the #MeToo movement has thus far failed to take off as widely as in Silicon Valley or elsewhere .. President Xi Jinping pledged to fight against workplace discrimination amid a shrinking workforce, even as the country cracks down on feminist activists and scrubs the web of sensitive #Metoo content".]

Michaela Whitbourn (August 11, 2021) "Louise Milligan agrees to pay Andrew Laming $79,000 in damages over tweets". Brisbane Times @  [Quote: "ABC journalist Louise Milligan has agreed to pay Andrew Laming $79,000 in damages plus legal costs after the federal Liberal MP filed defamation proceedings against her over a series of tweets suggesting he had admitted to the criminal offence of taking an “upskirting” photo of a woman’s underwear. ... While the national broadcaster did not publish the tweets and was not sued by Dr Laming, it has indicated that it will cover Milligan’s costs, citing “particular and exceptional circumstances”."]

Morela Hernandez (July 28, 2017) "The Upside of Being a Woman Among ‘Bros’". MITSloan Management Review @  [Quote: "Given an individual’s need to protect his or her self-evaluation as well as his or her public image, our findings suggest that for managers who are particularly susceptible to social comparison, subordinate voice expressions from opposite-gender subordinates are better received than are voice expressions from same-gender subordinates".]

Brittney Ingersoll (March 31, 2020) "The Upside-Down World of Prostitution: Evaluating the Gender Roles in Irma La Douce - “Love is illegal – but not hate. That you can do anywhere, anytime, to anybody. But if you want a little warmth, a little tenderness, a shoulder to cry on, a smile to cuddle up with, you have to hide in dark corners, like a criminal.” " Blog @

Caley Ramsay (July 25, 2018) "Alberta couple turns typical gender roles upside down: ‘It was an incredible learning curve’". Global News @



Woman Trouble. Man Trouble. Is a Truce in Sight? (c) Thor May 2021 

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