Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ponytail Man Likens Friendly Sons to Magdalene Laundries

 Disclaimer, the author of this post is not a member of, nor affiliated with the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick organization.

If a bunch of Irishmen host a dinner for men, then they want women to be wrongfully imprisoned, according to WILK's ponytail man.

Ponytail man is trying to allege that the same impetus that led the Friendly Sons to be a boys only club was behind the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, which were a cultural tragedy that ruined the lives of many women. This not true.

Magdalene Laundries Background
The documentary Sex in a Cold Climate covers the tragedy of the laundries. After Ireland won its independence from Great Britain in 1922, the new Irish government took over asylums formerly run by the British and converted them into partial laundries. But it wasn't just crazy people who filled them anymore. If a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, or was found to have had sex out of wedlock, or even if she was raped through no fault of her own, she could be sent to the laundries for life. A girl raised in an orphanage who did no wrong could even be sent to the laundries for the "offense" of being pretty. The only way out was either escape or emancipation by someone on the outside, since imprisonment in laundries was actually not bound by any law and was only held together by public shame. Of course, the nuns who ran the laundries worked the women extremely hard and were often shockingly cruel and abusive. Orphanages weren't much better as sometimes priests would abuse girls. A film based on true stories of the laundries is The Magdalene Sisters.
By the way, do the Friendly Sons do any of these things? Obviously no.

Why the Laundries and Friendly Sons are Unrelated
Pony tail man says the laundries and all male gatherings are caused by the patriarchal society. However, there are many things that would seem to play a larger role than male dominated societies.

One would be the strict Catholicism that pervaded Ireland during the 20th century. The idea of Catholic guilt was very strong. It wasn't Catholicism per se behind the laundries because Catholics elsewhere never founded any such laundries in the 20th century* but rather a particular brand of Irish Catholicism involving hyper self-shaming. This shame was practiced by both men and women. If it were exclusion based on sex that caused the laundries to come about, then Why was Ireland the only country to have them? There were plenty of other nations throughout the 20th century where all-male groups abounded, and none of them had Magdalene laundries. Moreover, the Irish Catholic church was not nearly as powerful in the US as it was in Ireland, so this explains why nothing similar arose in America.

Furthermore, Ireland had been oppressed by the British for hundreds of years, and maybe they took it out on their women. Blacks' proclivity to use corporal punishment on their children is often explained as a reaction to having suffered oppression from slavemasters and Jim Crow. Granted, oppression does not necessarily cause people to oppress themselves, but it may dispose them to do so. In any case, Irish in America were never oppressed like they were in Ireland and formed no laundries.

Affirming solidarity between men is not the same as oppressing women. All other things being equal, a group consisting solely of men has more in common than a group consisting of both men and women. There is nothing wrong with a group of men getting together as men, and in fact, there is a healthy masculine camaraderie which helps bring them together as a group. How someone could say this is evil is puzzling. For being a collectivist, Ponytailman seems to exclude collectives of well-off Irishmen from the realm of legitimacy. But I'm sure he'd have no problem with wealthy Arab men meeting among themselves. Furthermore, he would probably have no problem with poor men dining together as men.

Feminists want Power not Equality
Feminists complain that there aren't enough female congressmen, CEOs, judges, etc. But you never hear them complain that there are too few female garbage collectors, sewage treatment plant workers, coal miners, telephone pole wire repairmen, or slaughterhouse workers. They never complain about women missing out on miserable things men have to do--only the things that carry with them prestige or power. So this is why Ponytail man would have no problem with, say, a group of poor factory workers having an all male dinner. The epithet that Mr Ponytail is a Marxist is dead on.

What you can do
If you would like to be a counter-Revolutionary and affirm the Friendly Sons' justification in having their dinner, write them at

* One might argue that convents were sort of prisons in the middle ages where innocent women were usually sent against their will, but in many places, nuns of that time had slightly more freedom than the nuns of today and enjoyed the privileges of reading and writing which were denied to most men and women at the time.

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