“In the Beginning, It Was About Storytelling”

Tom Matlack replies to commenters on his own post, “The Feminist I Used to Know

I realize that post-modern (for lack of a better term) feminists and the MRA’s hate each other with tons of venom. The stuff said on both side quite frankly is not civil. It’s personal and ugly. I feel like I have dipped my toe into the wrong pond only to find it charged with electricity.

The MRA guys I frankly write off for the most part because at their most extreme they are just insane. I didn’t even know what the MRA was until I pissed them off and the SpearHead took aim at me.

But the feminists, well I consider myself a feminist. I take very seriously how my daughter and wife get treated by me, others, and the world. I have thought long and hard what it means to love fully. To be a good man, just for me, with regard to women.

So it’s much more difficult to take the level of personal attack, and frankly organized piling on, by so-called feminists. Sure it hurts. It hurts a lot. But that really doesn’t matter in the end. What it really leaves me asking is, “Where is all this personal bashing getting us?”

One of the things I asked in my original piece which caused the world to turn upside down is why it is that women want to talk about manhood so much more than men do? We see it right on GMP with our evangelists. The most insanely dedicated are for the most part women. Our CEO, as much as I love and adore and respect and don’t ever want to lose her, is a woman.

So we hit this divide. What is the point of what we are doing here on GMP? Is it to debate feminism? Is it to allow women to talk about their experiences with men? Is it to try to fight off the MRA? It is to have these vicious rounds of name calling in the name of gender?

That’s not where we started and not where I think we have the widest appeal. Sure it drives a lot of traffic from those interested in gender but not traffic from those who are more interested in how the heck to get through the day.

In the beginning this was about first person story-telling. Men telling their truth in a way that inspired and opened up the conversation to others. It was an attempt to find common ground among men, and women if they were interested in listening to men’s stories. When a man talks about losing his job or his wife or his child or his arm in war, feminism and MRA are no longer even part of the conversation. It is about hearing some guy talk about what remarkable, challenging, courageous, painful, joyous thing has happened in his life. It is about making men feel less alone. It’s about getting away from sports and porn and digging deep into the heart of the matter. Something for which I think many men yearn.

To my mind we have lost that thread more than we should. I don’t want to fight with those who call themselves feminists and then throw hand grenades at me. They have proven that they really aren’t interested in what I am interested in: men’s stories and goodness.

As I told Amanda [Marcotte] directly on email before her last round of vicious attacks on me, you all are way too organized for me to mount a one man campaign to try to prove you wrong. I am not a debater. That was never my aspiration. My aspiration was to sit in Sing Sing and listen to a man tell me what happened. That brings tears to my eyes and moves my soul.

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  1. Following is my 3part rambling monologue which details in explicit detail exactly the information (that I have to hand anyway, I’m sure there is much more) proving feminist activist organizations combat of fathers and men’s rights.
    I posted this in a different article back in April.

    Following are some of my wandering thoughts on why most of the fault of bad blood (between the two mentioned groups) lies with feminists. This is simply because the largest and most influential feminist organizations and the most active feminist members (i.e. those feminists most engaged and with clout to exert political will do so with the intent to) attack men’s equal rights.
    One of the arguments in this article and MANY articles defending feminists is that feminism is a big ole umbrella, and MRA’s shouldn’t be attacking an entire movement based on the actions of a few radicals on the fringe.
    The problem is that the feminists who are engaging in active hard-core fanatical to-the-death combat against men’s equal rights are not the radical fringe of the feminist movement, but rather it’s radical CORE.
    Andrea Dworkin admitted she was raped by male family members. And yet this person was seen as a STALWART UNIMPEACHABLE GUARDIAN OF EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN AND ***MEN***???
    Where was the out-cry when Germaine Greer said she liked looking at nude pictures of boys (roughly paraphrased)”Not shaved young men mind you but nude young boys”!
    Besides, if the statement were correct that it is the radical fringe, then where is the outcries of the main-stream men-loving feminists when the feminist leaders frequently attack and disparage men, and men’s rights? How can a movement be about equality when it’s MOST ACTIVE members fight to keep an entire gender down?
    Some general evidence of feminism’s active assaults upon men’s and father’s rights:
    The founding mothers statements:
    ht tp://www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/newreadings/2001/feminist_hate_speech.h tm
    A quick perusal of some of the statements of the founding mothers will quickly open ones eyes. If you put the word black in front of male or man in these speeches and they would make a grand wizard at a kkk rally blush.
    In the LaMusga vs LaMusga court case Gary LaMusga was fighting to keep his divorced wife from moving 1000’s of miles away with his kids. The trial court upheld the father’s wishes, the first district reversed, then the Cali supreme court upheld the original ruling. The previous precedent used in Cali law was the Burgess decision which basically stated that as long as the children’s environment was improving AND the move wasn’t done by the mother (ahem I meant custodial parent) in bad faith (as a punitive thing against the father—ahem NCP) then the move could go forward.
    During the supreme court case dozens of feminist-indoctrinated DV centers from all over the country wrote or signed onto an amicus brief to the supreme court urging the judges to not overturn the Burgess decision. These DV centers should not be using tax dollars to turn around and lobby government for their anti-father, anti-child agenda.
    ht tp://www.glennsacks.com/enewsletters/enews_10_9_07.h tm
    10th paragraph or so.
    In deciding LaMusga the supreme court stated that a likely deleterious impact (due to the move) on the child & NCP bond should be a strongly determining factor IN AND OF ITSELF, even so much as to change custody if necessary.
    THIS DECISION would seem to be a win for everybody concerned about REAL justice and REAL parental rights for BOTH PARENTS having custody or not and REAL rights for the child to maintain a relationship with both parents.
    What was feminist reaction to this news?
    They tried to overturn a win for JUSTICE for EQUAL rights and rights of the child to have both parents in their life post-divorce by pushing for the bill SB730 to be passed allowing custodial parents to move anywhere in the country or out of the country (over-riding LaMusga’s decision that family courts must weigh likely destruction of the father-child bond, oops I meant NCP-child bond).
    Luckily this heinous bill was defeated by Sacks.
    Here are some instances of NOW and other organizations actively fighting against shared parenting (despite the overwhelming evidence which shows that post-divorce kids who have substantial time with both parents fare better in life):
    ht tp://www.glennsacks.com/nysp/index.h tm
    ht tp://www.glennsacks.com/north_dakota_shared.h tm
    ht tp://www.glennsacks.com/enewsletters/enews_11_28_06.h tm
    ht tp://www.michnow.org/files/jointmandatorycustody.pdf
    Feminists state that fathers pushing for SHARED CUSTODY is about control, but mothers pushing for SOLE CUSTODY is *never* about control.

    • Another issue in regards to fathers is forced acquiescence. Feminists were all over the concept of forced acceptance when the discussion was women dropping allegations of rape due to fear or shame.
      But, when it comes to father’s shared custody feminists put their fingers behind their back and cross them when they say that:”95% of fathers agree to the custody arrangement.”
      Feminists know full well, that any father contemplating fighting for shared custody likely has been told by his attorney that he may pay many dozen’s of thousands of dollars only to achieve less custody/visitation than the standard alternating weekends. The “acceptance” of this custody arrangement isn’t at all indicative of what he wanted, but it is a barometer of how futile it is to fight for custody as a man. Mothers get sole custody 80% of the time and shared 14%. Fathers get shared 14% and sole 6%.
      Next issue:
      More father-hating feminists released a “journalistic report” on how abusive fathers were using false accusations of PAS to win custody of their kids. (PAS stands for parental alienation syndrome in which one parent, usually the custodial parent, engages in a campaign of trying to turn the children against the other parent often by coaching children to lie and say the other parent molested the children).
      This report was published for PBS to air on all of their affiliates.
      This “report” was Breaking The Silence. The poster-mother that they held up as a victim of an abusive father winning custody of his kids w/false accusations of PAS against the mother was Genia Shockome.
      Only problem? The PBS ombudsman said that the report contained outright distortions and did not adhere to journalistic standards of integrity.
      The program was removed from PBS. It turns out that Genia Shockome lost custody due to her fanatical campaign against the dad. It wasn’t just 1 disgruntled judge but dozens of therapists, guardian ad litmus for the children, custody evaluators (many of them feminists) who said the father should get custody.
      Genia was caught on tape in a visitation center coaching her kids to make false statements of abuse.

      Then there is VAWA which actively states (unconstitutionally) that no grants may be awarded from vawa funds to any DV center that admits men.
      Marc Angelucci won a case in California which overturned the way grants are awarded in California. This case centered around David Woods who could not find a safe haven for himself and his daughter due to the misandry of various DV centers. David’s daughter Megan is only alive because when her mother tried to shoot her with a shotgun it wasn’t loaded. What feminists don’t realize is that by committing a gender war, you also hurt women.
      ht tp://www.glennsacks.com/blog/?page_id=1784
      In this story is detailed how sheriffs were going to arrest David for punching his wife, but when finding out that he did it to save his life when his wife tried to stab him, the cops refuse to arrest her stating that David should make an appointment for her with a mental doctor. W. T. F?
      ht tp://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=4037

      If feminism is truly the movement that is the UNIMPEACHABLE GUARDIAN OF EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN, AAAAND ***MEN*** then how come grants from Vawa are reserved for only shelters that house all women (even 1 male client kills the grant).
      If feminism is here to help men, then why do no feminist organizations ever attend “From Ideology to Inclusion”
      ht tp://www.conferencealerts.com/seeconf.mv?q=ca1m0033
      If feminism is here to help men why did the leading feminist organization reaction to the boy crisis break-down as follows?
      Denial, ok minority boys have an issue, we’re not going to discuss the boy crisis because there is still a wage gap, ok boys have an issue—but it’s their fault, we have the solution we need to remake boys like girls.

    • If feminism is here to help men, then why did not one major feminist organization join as a signatory in the 1999 STOP PRISON RAPE NOW bill?
      If feminism is here to help men, then why did NOW have a closed door session with Obama to re-direct the stimulus? NOW stated that the stimulus shouldn’t be given to “sweaty men” and 41% of the stimulus (for “shovel ready jobs”) was instead given to female dominated fields in education and medicine which HADN’T been hit with the huge wave of layoffs that construction and manufacturing had? In other words, in the worst recession for men since the great depression feminists demanded (and got!) much more money to make the already comparatively better job prespects for women even a larger disparity against mens.
      If feminism is here to help men, then why is it that disparity = discrimination except when feminists say so? Feminists point to wage disparities and shortage of women in STEM fields, and women in tenured positions, CEO’s, judges as DE FACTO discrimination.
      But, when concerned people point to the fact that only 35% of college graduates are men, suddenly it’s not indicative of anything it’s just people making private decisions with their lives.
      If feminism is here to help men, then why do men like Marv Alberts, Kobe Bryant, and the duke 3 keep getting caught up in the rape bruehaha that feminists (and their today prosecutors) use as a way to shame male sexuality? Surely these women must be aware that those most hurt by prosecutorial misconduct are poor black males?
      If feminism is here to help men, then why do they keep (seemingly deliberately) conflating dysfunctionality with masculinity? Why do feminists keep pointing to men who commit acts of violence as evidence of the need for better men? These aren’t average samples of men. I could just as easily point to the 1million volunteer fire-fighters across the USA who are 99% men (strangely women don’t want to join unpaid firefighter teams) and say men don’t need to change. Or, I could point to the fact that mothers commit 70% of all parental child abuse (even when you include sexual) and we need a better breed of women.

      If feminism is here to help men, then why do they constantly attack male sports and scholarships with title ix? If a university cannot find enough interested women to field a golf team, or volleyball team then they must kill male positions/scholarships or the women can sue, even though the only issue going on is that men & women have different levels of interest in sports. This has lead to 12,000 athletic scholarships for men being eliminated—coincidentally most are poor black and Hispanics.
      The ultimate tell-tale sign that feminists are scared and are ACTIVELY trying to control the conversation about MRA issues is this web page, but also that they constantly try to delude people into thinking that any critique of feminism is an attack upon women, or misogynistic behavior.
      The simple fact is that feminism by the facts of its activists deeds and the majority of feminists (of whatever break-off denomination) who say nothing (about feminist activists war on fathers) has morphed into nothing but a blatantly evil, lying movement for female supremacy. Feminists advocate for what benefits women (even when it is UNequal or Unjust) just as big tobacco advocates for itself, just as big pharma advocates for what benefits itself, and just as big oil advocates for what benefits itself.
      The ultimate irony is that the #1 victim in this gender war on fathers is the children who grow up without 1 parent.

  2. How long does it take to get a comment out of moderation? I have a comment with no profanity, no hyperbolic bs, and no web links which has been in moderation for 20 minutes.

  3. The previous thread of Tom’s was a shouting fest.
    In my opinion this has two reasons.
    A) those women naming themselves feminists believe that there is still lots of work to be done fighting sexism against women. When told of men’s issues, a great many feminists believe that since feminists fight patriarchy and destructive gender roles if men and mra’s would just jump on the feminist bandwagon that the bullet point list mra’s carry would be taken care of.

    However, there is no proof that mainstream large feminist organizations have supported men fighting male gender roles in any substantive way.

    In point of fact, there is AMPLE proof that organizations like now typically fight equal rights for men.

    B) Many of the mra’s on this board (I suspect) ARE angry. They are angry because in most cases, they are BETTER educated in the political machinations that feminist groups are doing to attack men’s parental rights and other issues. I would suspect a lot of these MRA’s have been burned by feminist-contrived double standards (like very large and powerful feminist groups ACTIVELY fighting against father custody and insinuating children are not safe in the custody of their own fathers). While not being very productive, I can TOTALLY understand why many of these men will be very angry.

    If you have rank and file feminists who believe feminism is the one true way, then anybody not believing like you is either a liar, evil, or horribly misguided. The fact that many of these feminists are not even aware of how many large feminist organizations attack men is VERY TROUBLING.

    I will copy and paste the three posts I submitted in MRA’s and Feminism: finding a space for fathers by Andrea Doucet in April.

    Those who claim to be feminists and concerned about equality FOR ALL. Need to know what the largest feminist organizations are doing to harm men’s rights in the name of women.

  4. Neither a Feminist nor an MRA shall I be….

    I support women’s rights to vote and be treated like human beings….

    I support my right not to be shut out of a discussion because someone who has never walked a day in my shoes calls me “Privileged.”

    • And that’s where you and your views are incompatible with radical feminism. Hopefully, it will now be recognized that this site is too… and that it’s a GOOD thing.

  5. I appreciate Tom’s intentions. I think a forum for men to share their stories–complete with their thoughts, ideas, and opinions–is a good one and can serve a valuable purpose. Many egalitarians and egalitarian feminists would agree.

    The problem is that this goal is fundamentally at odds with the purposes of radical feminism, which require a permanent focus on WOMEN’s issues, placing WOMEN squarely at the center of every discussion.

    And I don’t think that conflict is one that can be resolved through discussion or debate. You can’t set up a site devoted to cats and then spend all your time talking about dogs without getting some complaints. And many of the discussions when you try will devolve into dog lovers noting “This is why dogs are better and cats suck” and the original cat-lovers saying ‘Your dog is an idiot. Will you just GO AWAY already, we’re trying to talk about cats here!”

    Tom, maybe you should clarify the mission statement again. ARE we here to discuss men’s issues? or are we here to discuss how men can better serve feminist goals?

  6. That was never my aspiration. My aspiration was to sit in Sing Sing and listen to a man tell me what happened. That brings tears to my eyes and moves my soul.

    Youre a ‘soul man’ dude.
    I was moved by the largeness of your heart.
    Tom, both this comment piece and your article were noble and humane.

  7. I’m a feminist and late to this party, thank goodness. My feminism is liberation theory, the idea that until we’re all free, no one is free. We can’t get there unless we get there together.

    I like the good-heartedness and nobility and healing focus of Mr. Matlack’s feminism. Is it perfect? Of course not. This is theory we’re talking about, people. But if the GMP is opening up a bigger space for men to be true to themselves and the ones they love, good. I want to hear those stories. Patriarchy isn’t doing any of us any favors, after all.

    And we all still have a lot to learn. That’s what we have in common–feminists, MRAs, and Tom Matlack. But when you operate from a base of fear or the need to be right, you close down your own ability to learn. It’s guaranteed that you know something another person doesn’t know, and it’s also guaranteed that they know something you don’t know. That’s the level playing field, and if you come there in good faith, you will hear and be heard.

  8. Wow, call me simple-minded but I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. (And I’m only now getting up to speed on the “controversy” that has raged here on GMP recently.) (In fact, while I’m at it, what does MRA and some of the other acronyms here mean? Is it really “Man Bra?” What does that mean?)

    To my point, why can’t it be “both/and” rather than “either/or?” Why can’t feminists be outraged at all the lingering impacts of 5,000+ years of gender oppression AND recognize today is a different day post 30-40 years of dramatic social change? Why can’t men be attuned to the realities of all that history AND recognize they don’t personally have to take on guilt and emotional baggage from it? Can both nature AND nurture be contributors to defining gender? Is it possible to be “gender essentialist” with regard to some aspects of gender determination (this is a brand new term for me so I hope I’m using it correctly) AND think there are many others largely determined by society? And, when all else fails, can’t we agree to disagree? Has our capacity to engage in civil civic dialogue deteriorated that much?

    • MRA is short for Men’s Right’s Activists, a faction of men who work to overcome discrimination against men (yes, it exists!), and whose existence is anathema to radical feminists. They are routinely disparaged and dismissed by radfems and those brainwashed into believing that “equality” means focusing solely on ways to help women.

  9. “In the beginning this was about first person story-telling. Men telling their truth in a way that inspired and opened up the conversation to others. It was an attempt to find common ground among men, and women if they were interested in listening to men’s stories.”
    Very simply, the above is why I come to this site.

    If the conflict/drama level gets too high, I’ll visiting this site. I’ve all ready dealt withand made my peace with these issues and have no desire to revisit them.

  10. Tom,

    I, too, am frustrated when personal attacks (I’ve never been called a “bigot” before! New experience for me!) but even more with dialogue and discussion that get us nowhere. It’s not that I am offended, but more that I see no forward movement, no real conversation.

    In addition, I completely understand your disillusionment, and the feeling that you lost track of GMP’s soul recently. If you choose to turn away from these dialogues, I wouldn’t blame you, nor would I think that a bad idea. I think the fundamental idea of sharing stories and finding common ground in the way you discuss here is a deeply meaningful venture, and I believe strongly the GMP will continue to make change and do good in the world. The idea of hearing male voices is a critical need in the world – and we have been muddying that pond.

    All that said, one final thought from a stated feminist who has followed these discussions: Does the GMP team want this website to be a place where we discuss what is under this backlash (because it is definitely deeper)? I believe the discussion still has something to teach both men and women, but it completely up to you whether or not this is something you want to engage. I am hearing you say no – which really is totes cool with me – but I’d invite you to think about it after you’ve stepped away from this for a bit. When we’re too close to things, we’re often at our worst for seeing what we need to – I know this from experience. I bring it up again because I think the heat of these posts and comments is more than enough to attest that this is a real part of people’s lives – both men and women. It may not be that we need to walk away from it, but that we need to find a better way to talk about it. I think there is much more common ground here than anyone can see at present – but we have some significant roadblocks to finding it. It’s up to the GMP whether or not they are the place we explore those roadblocks.

    Much love ~ Nik

    • Julie Gillis says:

      I think storytelling is great. I also think we need a space where the conversation about those stories continues. Stories need to be examined, interpreted, passed on, and I don’t want any of us to shy away from the work of social justice. That work is hard, it is. But that’s why it should be done.

      • DavidByron says:

        Yeah you could have like all the dirt behind a members only screen maybe?

        • Julie Gillis says:

          What are you talking about? That sentence isn’t clear. I like dirt behind a screen? I’m not calling for a new members only site to be created for discussion. I’m saying I’m in favor of the conversation happening here as it is. I’m not behind a screen.

    • DavidByron says:

      I expect it may have been me that called you a bigot. If I did then I was guilty of sloppy wording and I apologise. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. I have no business making personal judgments about you or anyone else that I don’t know well.

      But I do have business making judgments about the words you type here and the political opinions you express. So if I say anything which smacks of a personal attack I hope you are able to realise it is not meant personally. I am responding solely to the words of yours that I see. Those words may or may not represent some aspect of your life. I could not possibly know either way.

      Now having said that it is also possible that I just get angry and insult someone, for no good reason. The word “bigot” though is one I use a lot with a specific intended meaning (actually slightly different than the dictionary definition which just means dogmatic). I use it to mean someone exhibiting prejudice. A sort of generic term for “racist”, “sexist’ or any other kind of -ist. If I called you a bigot then I was saying that the statements you were making were prejudicial. It was not meant as a personal attack.

      So anyway… no need to make an unpleasant business more unpleasant than it has to be. I hope you understand where I am coming from.

  11. In the beginning this was about first person story-telling. Men telling their truth in a way that inspired and opened up the conversation to others.

    I think you should go back to that. Invite men to share their stories about losing their jobs or wife or children. Invite them to talk about their pain, their joy, and their triumphs. Ask men who contribute not to make the focus about politics, just their experiences. Ask your regular contributors not to play politics or try to shoot down men who experiences do not match what those contributors think men go through. I do not think you would get nearly as much traffic, but you may get the kind of discussion you want.

  12. Uncle Woofie says:

    I agree with Mr. Matlack’s sentiments here. While it is good and regrettably necessary to respond to criticism (especially from high-visibility sources), it takes time and energy away from an important facet of what THIS site’s mission happens to be.

    Like it or not, Miss L, I don’t think its too much to ask that the Good Men Project be allowed to continue its Prime Directive unimpeded by an implied guilt trip you’ve made that’s apparently designed to make the GMP responsible for implied gender inequalities covering the length and breadth of human storytelling.

    You can’t make this joint responsible for that simply because YOUR “mission statement” differs from the GMP’s “mission statement”.

    There are plenty of places on-line that address “male-dominated” issues and storytelling from the female perspective that you’re championing.

  13. “In the beginning this was about first person story-telling. Men telling their truth in a way that inspired and opened up the conversation to others. It was an attempt to find common ground among men, and women if they were interested in listening to men’s stories. ”

    As an aside, the entire history of literature and storytelling is completely male-dominated. Stories get told from the male perspective all the time, and sure some of them might be fantastical and outrageous, but pick up any 20th century “classic” and you’ll find men crying, rejoicing, going about their day; pick up any contemporary autobiography or book based on “real events” and you’ll find much of the same, but in a voice you might be a little more familiar with. Women aren’t and have never been the gatekeepers of the storytelling world.

    • Michael Rowe says:

      Good heavens, L. It isn’t even noon. Strawmen in the morning? Really? Nowhere above did Mr. Matlack say that women were, or are, the “gatekeepers to the storytelling world.” What he said was that the GMP’s prime directive as a forum for men to tell first person stories about their lives has been hijacked of late, which—as you well know—is a fact. Let’s see if we can’t get him Twitter-flamed by three p.m. with accusations of accusing women of accusations of…of….of….ummmm…..uhhhh….accusing women of errrrr…..gatekeeping, shall we?

    • Odd – I’m reading “To Kill A Mocking Bird” Harper Lee, 1960, Pulitzer Prize – Classic of modern American literature.

      I understand that there is much criticism of the book – but I always thought that the main Voice of the book was Female – and a child!

      I think the innocence of the voice may be why so many like it, and how it articulates the experiences of a world created by supposed adults! P^)

    • DavidByron says:

      That’s a new piece of victimry on me. Did you just make that up or where did you get it?

  14. “To be a good man, just for me, with regard to women.”

    Good here is interchangeable with gentle and real, depending on what era we are talking about.

    I think that we need to move on from allowing women or women’s movement to define men by how they are taking care of women, women are not children, men are not their parents.

    That position, the men’s movement position, is more reflective of what feminism is supposed to be about, as opposed to what it is about.

  15. So you write off the entire mens movement because some of them are extreme, but call yourself a feminism even though the extremes of feminism far exceed those of the mrm and call for a male holocaust and other programs designed to wipe out the Y chromosome.

    That’s not very consistent. its not a centrist position that reflects the reality of the debate.

  16. DavidByron says:

    Well if you want to kick me off the site I’m 100% cool with that. I just ask that you do so politely and not in some underhand way — I hate that stuff.

    I don’t know why you’d even talk about “losing” Lisa; she’s beautiful. You’re so lucky to have her.
    There’s no men vs women issue here. The issue is between political views. Nobody wants the women out.

    digging deep into the heart of the matter

    Um.. actually it sounds like you want to avoid digging into the why of things if you want to go back to the basics of stories told by men. You want to avoid the social justice angle or any sort of attempt to get to some sort of underlying position. But just don’t play favourites. If the anti-feminist or MRA politics have to go then so does all the feminist trash talk and guilting. If you don’t do that then you wont be trusted by (some) men, and you won’t get their stories.

    Ultimately I think just having men telling their own stories is going to be the most powerful anti-feminist act. So I don’t want to be around if you think I am preventing that from happening. Incidentally I think the other feminists agree with me about that and that’s why they are attacking you.

    Tough decision. Good luck.

  17. Michael Rowe says:

    For Christ’s sake. If we could go 24 hours on this site without hearing the term “gender essentialism,” it would be an early Christmas present for everyone.

  18. Geez, man. I understand that it is hard, when your identity is rooted in certain things (i.e., being a feminist and a “good man”), to be challenged by people in ways that call those very things into question. And I can relate to the urge to respond to all of one’s critics when there seem to be very many of them, and to defend yourself when you feel attacked. But you need to stop here, because this is not making you look good.

    Look at some of the things that you have typed here: “I don’t want to fight with those who call themselves feminists and then throw hand grenades at me.” As if those things are somehow at odds with one another. Like one of the objectives of feminism is not saying things that upset you. “So-called feminists”? You don’t get to be an arbiter of who is allowed to claim that mantle. It’s embarrassing that you are responding so defensively.

    One of the privileges — and burdens — that we experience as men is that we’ve been socialized to feel as though we must prove ourselves by refusing to back down when challenged. It’s a privilege because, often, if we simply never give up, we win — even if it’s just because we’ve tired out the other side and claimed victory in a war of attrition. It’s a burden because, when we do this, we are not able to learn from the people who are challenging us.

    Your critics — at least the ones I’ve read, like Marcotte (I’m sure someone has probably tweeted some over-the-line stuff), are mostly right here. You’re responding to this like someone who is letting his hurt feelings transform his critics into monsters (‘vicious attacks” from “so-called feminists” who are “way too organized” looks, to an objective observer, like legitimate criticism from women whose own experiences have given them a perspective that you lack, and who are enjoying a free-flowing conversation via Twitter). You are not doing yourself, your site, or — most importantly to me — other men a service by responding this way. This is childish, and it makes us look bad.

    I suspect that if you stepped away from the keyboard for a few days and stopped receiving these comments as an attack on your identity as a feminist, you would hopefully see why they are valid. You’re in a hole. Stop digging.

    • Dan

      It may be worth considering that as Tom has said “social justice was (and continues to be) the highest and most important calling in life” – and yet so many seem to believe they are Arbiters of what that Social Justice will be on GMP.

      It’s fascinating to see how One area of Social Justice is so Over Represented and so many others Under Represented – and even Dis-Represented, and all someone has to do is phrase a sentence the wrong way and they get Mis Represented.

      There is a lot of Representing going on there. Maybe some should be running for Congress?

      As Tom freely admits he’s not much of a debtor. He’s a sort of Big Heart Guy and maybe a little ponderous with words. He does business with his head and lives with a Big Heart. Others seem to live with a Big Head and do business with no heart.

      Odd how supposed friends know that but don’t act equally. Some are Allies when it serves their own interest and there is nothing mutual in the arrangement. It’s just a means to an end. Some even scream about exploitation whilst not recognizing their own exploitation of others. Some may even recognize it but they don’t care – it’s just a means to an end – theirs!

      I find it fascinating that some expect to be trusted by right – and yet they fail to earn that trust and respect it. To them it’s not a valuable coin, it gets squandered at the first opportunity with what they think it can buy them. Tom uses the big “WE” and other’s respond with the small “you”. Imbalance is like that.

      One Guy with a Big “WE” and a whole swarm of others with the small “you”s.

      I love the use of very polarized language by so many, such as “objective observer”. Tom has always had that Big Picture – Whole World view of Social Justice. Some have Objectively Observed how some are determined that only their world view is to be considered.

      They say what a lovely pie you have and help themselves to the biggest slice and then say – as we have the biggest slice we are better and we own all the pie. If that behavior was from a child, parents would be having to educate. When the behavior is coming from supposed educated adults you have to wonder at the cause of the behavior.

      You “suspect” that Tom would benefit from stepping away from the keyboard? Did you not notice that he did and then came back? Not very objectively observed there – and it does tend to make any of your views and comments Highly Subjective.

      Net Privilege is a weird thing – it leads many to seeing everything with much supposed “clarity” from a Terminal View.

    • Dan: You say Tom can’t be an arbiter of who is and isn’t a feminist, and then you write “Your critics — at least the ones I’ve read, like Marcotte (I’m sure someone has probably tweeted some over-the-line stuff), are mostly right here.” So Tom doesn’t get to say “so-called feminist” because that’s judgmental, but you have no problem as the arbiter of right and wrong?? You’re joking right?

      You say Tom isn’t doing the men on this site any favors. I say you’re wrong. I would have lost respect for Tom is he DIDN’T defend himself. Several of these men and women went WAY over the line while bashing Tom. And make no mistake, they made it personal. I was on the receiving end of Marcotte’s unprompted personal attacks myself. But you think men should step away from the keyboard and not fight back because of “privilege?” Give me a break. If I feel I’m being unfairly attacked I’ll speak up and defend myself. So should Tom. So should anyone. But to claim men should just be quiet during a flame war because we’re men is…well, it’s not smart.

      Just because you and other SO-CALLED feminists don’t like the point of view Tom is offering, doesn’t mean he’s wrong or that he should be quiet. How do you think feminists would like it if I told them they should just tone it down and step away from the keyboard?

      The hypocrisy here is stunning.

  19. SallyStrange says:

    So, uh, you stand by the gender essentialism of “men and women are just DIFFERENT” and “men get blamed for EVERYTHING” then, I take it.

    • I hope his answer is, “yeah.”

      The reason he caused such a stir is he came oh so close to stating the heresy, “boys will be boys.”

      If that happened, he might just see his way through all of the dogmatic aspects of feminism.

      Gender essentialism, privilege, mansplaining, toxic masculinity, Patriarchy. They are just words. They make a good story. They can be useful in interpreting the world in which we live.

      But, they may not be true and they may not even be the most accurate.

      But, at some level, what he said rang true to me. And, it could be distilled as “boys will be boys,” but they can’t around women. And, if that is true, some of the basic tenets of feminism crumble away. It is no wonder that feminists were so adamantly against him. They were protecting their worldview.


  20. Amen. I have found myself increasingly frustrated and frankly angered by the ‘isms, and labels.They require assumptions and unfortunately as humans, so passionate with our individual cadres of pain, and experience we may not allow as much open mindedness as may be required. People say they want equality then expect to be lifted above the rest to get it because of the unfairness of it all. It smacks of hypocrisy.

    For positive change in my life I had to listen. For me to listen, I had to hear stories told in a voice I can hear, not yelled at me or forced down my throat. I needed to think it was my own epiphany as driven by the story that offered hope, and lifted me up when I was flailing – lost. My personal “Good Man” code requires I tell the stories to the next man, woman, or child brought in my path.

    Know it or not, GMP, You , earlier on Benoit, and particularly Lisa have done that more than once for me and I thank you.

    Rock on my brother,. Let’s tell some stories, plant some seeds, and continue to give back what we have been given for no other reason than we can.

  21. Tom Matlack says:

    Thanks. That means a lot MH.

  22. Tom

    You are a guy with a big heart and as you have said “social justice was (and continues to be) the highest and most important calling in life”.

    It’s a calling for you, not something you take lightly. I wish others would treat that with respect.

    I have to say that the way some have responded has been “Gas Lighting”! Trying to convince you that you have no idea what you are doing – that you are wrong – and they should control you and GMP.

    You just be a light unto yourself and light the way for others, as you set out to do!

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