Do Men Feel the Sting of Sexism? You Bet We Do.

 Do Men Feel by Andy Bullock

We know sexism hurts women. But we need to be reminded that it hurts men, too.

___

This graphic from Imgur shows how deeply sexism stings both men and women and offers a path towards more respectful relations.

THIS makes sense.

Top photo—Andy Bullock/Flickr

Graphic—Imgur

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About Thomas G. Fiffer

Thomas G. Fiffer, Executive Editor at The Good Men Project, is a graduate of Yale and holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He posts regularly on his blog, Tom Aplomb, and serves as Editor of Westport's HamletHub, a local online news and information service. He is also a featured storyteller with MouseMuse Productions and is working on his first novel.

Comments

  1. Wes Carr says:

    You forgot to mention men being considered appliances whose only value is by what they can provide for others. Or to be sacrificed in war.

    • Allurielle says:

      Because patriarchy has influenced men to believe they must be providers and fighters. The ideas of men from warring cultures on what it means to be masculine has been passed down for thousands of years. Men teach their sons this and girls are taught they can not be fighters or providers, then the cycle perpetuates with men thinking this is their worth and women expecting this display of “masculinity”

      • Allurielle, I think the roles are evolving and more fluid than ever before. That’s what a lot of the conversation here is about.

        • I agree with you Thomas, about roles evolving and being more fluid – that much is undenaible. The trouble is that this evolution, in the same way as the evolution of species, is a very slow and gradual process. Which is why I also totally agree with what Alurielle says. Until there is a real seed change and the debate about sexism is torn away from the gynocentric grasp of the feminist movement this evolution shall continue to be slow and gradual. As a result, an end to sexism that we desire so much will never be seen by any of our generation or following generations for centuries to come.

      • Wes Carr says:

        The one mistake Feminism made was buying into the same lies men have all their lives. Unless you are at the top of the pyramid like a CEO or politician, everyone else male or female is just a resource
        to be used or sacrificed in war. A female President could just as easily send kids off to war. A female CEO could just as easily lay off workers or outsource jobs for profit.

        • Margret Thatcher didn’t think twice.

          • Wes Carr says:

            Neither would Hillary Clinton, if given the chance. Or Janet Reno, Janet Neopolitano or Dianne Feinstein.

        • Les you might need to re-read the last 4 panels of the comic. Not sure why you need to bring feminism into this – unless you’re saying that feminism benefits men too by dismantling traditional gender roles.

  2. I appreciated this article. I have a Social Justice graduate degree, and it’s unfortunate how many times in my classes “male bashing” came up. Every single time I would point out the sexism involved, and how it wasn’t conducive towards the larger goal of understanding gender expectations.

    Often, I was the only man in the class (or one of two men). It’s difficult to broach a subject like this without being called a “male apologist”. the GMP site is a great example–the vast majority of articles here have people in the comment section who decry the article it’s in as “typical male apologist syndrome”. A picture is worth a thousand words, as so aptly demonstrated above.

  3. Kashmir says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m sort-of a tomboy and a lot of my friends men and I feel like this isn’t addressed as often as it should be. Sexism is a disease to be stomped out thoroughly and I am grateful that you would come forward and speak out about it.

  4. Kenneth McGrath says:

    Yeah, so we’ve been oppressing and marginalizing women in everything from religion, politics, business sports, since pretty much the beginning of time but we should feel stung because of some backlash? I don’t think so. We don’t need a men’s “movement” unless that’s focused on improving things for women and the planet we live on. I don’t feel like an apologist for being honest with myself about it either.

    • Kenneth, Insulting a man’s masculinity isn’t backlash from feminists. It’s something women to do men and men do to each other. Also, I believe a positive, constructive movement supporting women is not one that puts down men.

    • And if you look at most of those sources that oppress and margnalize women you’ll see similar treatment to men as well.

      Thinking that all men need to do is work on helping women is a great disservice to men.

      And in addition to what Thomas points out silencing male rape victims isn’t “backlash” its something that has gone on for a very long time for its own reasons.

    • John Anderson says:

      @ Kenneth McGrath

      And yet, how many women today have benefited from past male violence? Nearly everybody who owns property in the U.S. if history is to be believed. How many feminists would return that to the Native American? Men are overwhelmingly the casualties of war. Women got the benefit without the cost. Darn oppression.

      • Lady nut says:

        Too Bad that in those instances you are talking about women weren’t allowed to be in the military. Men complain that women never fought for their country or had to deal with the draft, but you can blame law makers who created the draft for men (and not for women). Those law makers were mostly men so don’t blame women for not being included in the draft, or historically their lack of military service .

        • John Anderson says:

          @ Lady nut

          Women are 53% of the electorate, they haven’t as yet voted en masse for politicians who would make women eligible for the draft. Women aren’t restricted from joining the military nor now participating in combat. I don’t see feminists demanding reduced physical standards for women in combat as they had for police departments. Probably something about the military not paying as much as the police. Funny how that works.

        • Just because something benefits women doesn’t mean its the fault of women that its happening. There are male privileges that benefit men but were not the fault of men.

    • Michael Rowe says:

      Poor dear Kenneth. You didn’t understand one word of this piece did you? It’s not a “backlash,” it’s from the root of the exact same oppression, and it didn’t just happen. “Sexism” is a system that has had the benefit of both women and men supporting it, largely because it maintained a status quo that benefitted both men and women, usually at the expense of men who couldn’t fit into the box. Don’t worry about being “an apologist” for anything—you’re nowhere near being qualified.

    • Kenneth, you are making the same argument here that men often make against feminists: “These other people have bigger problems, therefore your problems are insignificant.” I shouldn’t have to explain what’s wrong with that kind of thinking.

      You also seem to have never considered the possibility that the problems for men which are illustrated in this comic are symptoms of the same sexism that hurts women and that feminists are fighting against. Believing that men have real, significant problems doesn’t make you a misogynistic MRA, as long you understand that what is causing these problems is patriarchal gender roles, and you’re willing to work with feminists to help break them down.

      • “Believing that men have real, significant problems doesn’t make you a misogynistic MRA, as long you understand that what is causing these problems is patriarchal gender roles, and you’re willing to work with feminists to help break them down.”

        Some male issues are created or maintained by feminists – the fact that we still get treated as “success objects” for example. You don’t need to be a misogynistic MRA to see and appreciate that.

      • Believing that men have real, significant problems doesn’t make you a misogynistic MRA, as long you understand that what is causing these problems is patriarchal gender roles, and you’re willing to work with feminists to help break them down.
        Hold up.

        Why is “willing to work with feminists” a requirement for not being a misogynist?

  5. Michael Peacock says:

    Because boys are made of “snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.” When my sisters told me that as a kid it made me ashamed of my gender. Boys are made of nice things too.

  6. gw welsh says:

    Well it has gotten out of hand, all these stereo types are one of the many problems. when dumb shows like duck dynasty hide under “good ole values” but call people sissy boys and belch out yuppies and not to mention it is fake and racist , this is media and power it is time to take the rich white money away they had it for long enough. Drop the b.s. and enjoy being here for a hundred max years whilst having some damn respect for everybody. You want to be mean to people fine be mean to the real enemy rapists, racists, and molesters, murderers and greed mongers and war mongers.

  7. “Because talking about one group’s issues doesn’t mean that we’re belittling another group”

    But doesn’t it? So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other gender acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships. I see this *ALL* the time.

    “Sexism isn’t “us vs. them” it’s “us vs. our lack of mutual understanding”” and
    “Because if we work together, we can end sexism that hurts both women AND men”
    AND
    “Because listening to each other helps all of us”

    These are the keys to the kingdom right here.

    Do we try to understand the other side? Do we try to work together? Do we listen to each other? Do we care more about being heard *first* over listening? Or do we just fester in our own pain and focus exclusively where we’ve been wronged.

    • John Anderson says:

      @ Erin

      For a while there I thought you were going to take Kenneth McGrath to task for bringing up female victimization on an article about sexism against men. I forgot that was OK because it brought up women.

      • John Anderson: I forgot that was OK because it brought up women.

        Try to keep up.

        • John, as I saw this article, it was addressing how sexism is harmful for ALL of us, highlighting the unique ways it’s also harmful for men but it was not specific to just men. Taken right from the points of the cartoon:

          “Because the same sexism that hurts women also hurts men” (That means both of us)
          “Sexism isn’t “us vs. them” it’s “us vs. our lack of mutual understanding”” (That means both of us)
          “Because if we work together, we can end sexism that hurts both women AND men” That means both of us)
          “Because listening to each other helps all of us” (That means both of us)

          Seems like you, I and Randy are still operating from a “us vs them” mentality. What can we do to change that? Being nothing but 100% sincere, I’d would love to hear your’s and Randy’s suggestions.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Erin

            I’m a flawed human being. I recognize that. I won’t be right all the time, but I do try to be fair. I hope you find I’m very consistent with my thought process. I would hope that consistency of thought would counter balance an emotional response and many times I can both see and argue nuance. I am a flawed person and there are times I take things personally. For example, much of the resentment I feel for feminists stems from the way I was treated when I initially considered feminism and entered their space. Maybe it was a bad time because feminists were just discussing male rape victims and they were still all over the place on it. I’ve seen different feminists here and that’s softened my view, but the hurt is still very close to the surface. Erasure of male victims is very personal to me.

            Oddly enough, there are times, not here, where I won’t comment out of respect for the space. On GMP I would hope men are welcome to comment on any subject broached on this site. I think what triggers an us vs them attitude is often the way things are phrased. If I say 1 in 3 women will be abused in their lifetimes. That doesn’t minimize or subordinate the abuse of men. If I say women are 67% of the victims, it makes it seem that it is a bigger problem than IPV against men. In aggregate maybe, but on an individual level probably not. It makes IPV against men sound trivial.

            The best example I can give you of something that worked was a discussion about make rape I had with Joanna Schroeder concerning male rape victims. She said we didn’t have good data on male rape victims / female perpetrators. I disagreed, but my main issue was that his gets used as an excuse not to address the problem. I’ve seen several comments from her since that discussion. She still doesn’t believe that we have good data, but she calls for action like consent education for women / girls. We found a middle ground. In fact it’s probably the part that ultimately matters, protecting and getting help for the men who need it.

            My suggestion would be to start with the language we use. Not just in the comments section, but in the original posts.

            • John, based on your post I get the impression that you believe yourself to be the voice of reason and logic amongst emotional responses. In other places here, you’ve attempted to paint my own responses as “emotional”. Painting women as “emotional” and men as “rational” is an old trope.

              The reality is that each person on GMP is an intelligent individual who has formed their opinions based on a combination of facts, life experiences and emotions. You’re opinions are not based purely out of facts. My opinions are not based purely out of emotions. It is a combination of these factors that lead us to our beliefs.

              I certainly know that I am passionate at times. Being passionate is not the same as being irrational. My ability to be passionate about a topic does not undermine my ability to be logical and rational.

              I can’t speak for all feminists. I don’t even visit feminists websites except when the occasional Jezabel piece is highlighted here. To be honest, I don’t think Jezabel is as good a website as GMP. I am sure there are many feminists that are offensive and reductionary of the male experience. This is not uncommon in websites that pander specifically to one gender over the other. Ever been to the website Spearhead? I suspect my experience there was similar to your experience with certain coves of the internet.

              You want more awareness to the abuse men suffer? Great. But don’t do it by stepping on women’s heads to get there. In that other article about the film being made about male abuse, I am totally in support of that. I don’t care if female victims are talked about there.

              You say that if you say 1 in 3 women will be abused in their lifetimes, that it doesn’t minimize or subordinate the abuse of men. But clearly it does because the men who respond and read articles about female abuse on GMP prove it more often then I would like. When GMP posts articles about the abuse of women, the conversation turns to why the article isn’t about men, how talking about women harms men, statistics about male abuse are posted..pretty much anything is posted except to show support of women. I am sure you feel just as equally unsupported by women too. I myself have shared certain things I’ve experienced with abuse. I have never received a word of sympathy or support from any of the guys here. I have rarely received any acknowledgement that I even shared those parts of myself.

              We are still having a gender battle. Men vs women. Erin vs John and Randy. You say that talking about women doesn’t minimize the abuse of men. But what you really mean is talking about men doesn’t minimize the abuse of women. Because there have been enough articles posted on GMP about the abuse of women that clearly men are not interested in hearing about and DO seem to believe that these articles take something away from men.

            • ” I have never received a word of sympathy or support from any of the guys here. I have rarely received any acknowledgement that I even shared those parts of myself. ”

              You’ll notice that is common for men too though, when I’ve seen offers of sympathy I’ve seen it more from women. I don’t think it’s because men feel less sympathy, but are unsure of how to offer it. Also there is reluctant to comment with just sympathy, could you imagine say 50 comments saying “Sorry to hear that”? Sure it’d be great to see the sympathy but it may look like it’s cluttering the page, that is one reason why I am reluctant to offer it but face to face or on facebook/etc I will offer it.

              “Because there have been enough articles posted on GMP about the abuse of women that clearly men are not interested in hearing about and DO seem to believe that these articles take something away from men.”

              Honestly, I think many men are burnt out by hearing about it. Me for example, I’ve heard soooooooo much violence against women discussion to the point that it’s massively disportionate (as in 99% of the time it feels like society only talks about women’s issues with violence). It’s nice to have a site for men, but I want to see FAR FAR more talk about violence against men here and not as much violence against women because quite frankly…VAW is discussed SOOO MUCH everywhere else and men discussing VAM often get pushed out of other spaces, it’s nice to have a space here to hear n talk about it a lot.

              I guess a bad analogy is imagine “women” are eating a 5 course meal, yet you’re in the cold looking in, haven’t eaten for days, someone throws you a sammich and then a woman wants to eat half of it (as in it feels like women’s issues push in and take over the conversation in a men’s area way too often). Do you know how often I’ve seen for instance on discussion of male rape victimization where the author just HAS to talk about HOW MUCH WORSE women get it?

              Recently Boko Haram kidnapped around 100 boys, they’ved killed 500+ men INCLUDING infant males! recently but there is sweet F all discussion about it on the media. 200 or so girls get kidnapped and it’s like the world loses it’s shit, soo much sympathy gets thrown towards women, sooo many people had the #bringbackourgirls selfies including the president of USA’s wife yet the ONLY people I see talking about the many many dead males are MRA’s and a very limited few news agencies. I didn’t see it on TV though or hear about it on radio, but the news of the girls was plastered over so many mediums.

              Quite frankly I am pretty sick of hearing about women’s issues with violence WHEN the world doesn’t seem to give much care towards men’s issues with violence. I still help out where I can, even today and yesterday I was helping a female friend in regards to an abusive ex, but on the gender issue sites I am frankly worn out and feel a sense of despair over how much attention we give women’s issues whilst practically ignoring men’s issues. Know what it’s like to know men are 1/4 the DV victims here yet pretty much all you see in media is how bad the women have it?

              The sucker punch is so many expect men to stop violence against women, ask men to stand up against it, yet pretty much ZERO expectation of women to stop their violence against men or others. It’s at the point where it’s like listening to someone say ME ME ME ME over n over, over the top of your own voice.

  8. Mostly_123 says:

    Theirs and ours. Us and them.
    Talking about one group’s issues doesn’t mean we’re belittling the others.
    Talking about one group’s issues might belittle another’s. 

    Erin said “So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other gender acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships. I see this *ALL* the time.”  

    Validation is a personal, not a collective act.
    Forgive me, but I will never understand why some people seem to view gender there like it’s some kind of team sport; Do you yourself feel such a collective notion identity and commonality with all those people (i.e. the whole male/female half of the planet) and not with others, simply by virtue of gender, and only gender? I don’t know, maybe this is a generational thing; or something about how we define our identities in the english-predominant Western democracies today. But personally, I can’t figure it.  

    Do you really feel that collective praise (or scorn, or focus) of one whole gender or another somehow distills down to any real, meaningful, authoritative praise, validation, neglect, scorn, insight, or oversight of you yourself? Is gendered affiliation the affiliation which trumps all others? Forgive me, but I have come to believe that collective identity is false identity, and this is the great lie that is at the heart of identity politics. It conflates that which is subjective as being uniformly, universally objective. 

    Were someone to claim that ‘all men are saints’ and ‘all women are devils’ (or vice versa) I personally would be in less of a position to dispute it from being able to ‘know’ a whole gender collectively (mine or somebody else’s) than I would be able to dispute it as an unknowable fallacy, and as an irrelevant generalization; because it IS a meaningless generalization, be it itself inclined towards praise or scorn.

    I may feel a bit better situated to affirm or dispute those generalizations directed more at my gender rather than someone else’s gender. But this is not because that collective praise (or scorn) has any real or meaningful significance to me as a relative & autonomous individual, and not because I feel any special collective affinity or kinship to the half of the population that shares or doesn’t share my gender, simply because of gender. Do I feel (let alone, am I entitled to feel) any significant sense of collective gendered pride (or shame) irrespective of all other demographics & relativities? I don’t think so. I’m no more inclined to or entitled to feel collective pride or kinship in Marie Currie based on a shared ethnicity, than I am in feeling it for Neil Armstrong based on a shared gender or religion. Identity politics is rife with false notions of a hierarchy of kinship based on these shared arbitrary traits.

    Frankly, as I find human nature, if someone throws misguided collective praise or concern my way, I’m less likely to be irked by that than I would be by collective scorn. If someone’s inclined to praise me by extension -whether I think it’s valid or not- I’m probably not as likely to go out of my way to dispute or debate them on the irrelevance of the extension. 

    Often, my own personal inclination would be to dispute the less-trivial generalizations: But not because the generalizations should be misconstrued or validated as meaningful comments on my own or my broader demographic identity (one way or the other), but because of the principle itself- the broader the generalization, the more profoundly felt is the lack of nuance; and nuance is everything in understanding. Breaking things down by gender alone usually becomes no more productive or relevant than saying ‘all or nothing.’ Collective validation, like collective diagnosis and collective remedy, is collectively meaningless, hopelessly generalized, and often misguided. Most human problems (and solutions) are more situational in nature than collective; despite lots of superficial collective commonalities.        

    There are a lot of divides in this world, a lot of “us”es and “them”s – but, in my opinion, it has very little to do with gender or gendered superficialities. Collective praise (or criticism) of a gender (like a race, class, nationality, age, sexuality, religion, etc) is at best a subjective & fallible generality; and at worst, bigotry.    

    But, again in my own opinion, it’s diluted (even patronizing) validation to say to someone that you respect collectively them and want to validate them collectively, based on their demographic: It’s as diluted to say ‘I respect all men’ or ‘I respect all women’ as much as it is to say ‘I respect every single person in the world’ – halving the validation from 7 billion people down to 3.5 billion is still diluted. Validation (like identity) is personal, more than collective: Our identity, our value, and our self-worth are derived from our uniqueness, much more so than our ubiquity & collective affiliation.    

    It’s not gender which unites or divides people at all- it’s values, ideas, perspectives, and ideals; and those are the currencies by which we often choose to validate (or invalidate others), and they’re never informed by gender alone, if even at all.         

    Everyone, it seems, likes to advocate from the position that they are speaking with the weight, gravity, and authority of much more than just themselves and their own subjective experiences; that they speak with collective legitimacy & authenticity of all people like them, for all people like ‘them’ (however they define what the ‘them’ is), all the time. This, I think, is at the core of identity politics; being able to usurp the collective authority & legitimacy of a collective identity as something tangible, objective, and incontestable, as they themselves choose to define it- individual variances don’t matter; only what is more collectively ‘truer’ by weight of numbers, or predominant notions.

    Using the phrasing “so many of us” (as opposed to “I” or “me” or “you”) has a lot of stuff loaded into it. So, I have to ask: Do you yourself feel any of these other following statements are valid as well? If so, are they all equally valid, or are some more valid than others? I don’t just mean ‘Do you believe that people do feel that way?’ – I mean ‘Do you think those people, collectively, validly SHOULD feel that way?’ – and should they always feel that way, uniformly? I guess it also depends too on how you define the collective of ‘us'; my point is that it’s much more relative than it is absolute:    

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other races acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other classes acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other nationalities acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other age groups acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other sexual orientations acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other religions acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’

    ‘So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing others acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships.’ 

    Perhaps; but be that as it may, the question is ‘Why do we?’ and ‘Should we be?’ I myself am typically skeptical of any collective attributions & unconditional answers. It’s always ‘yes’ AND it’s always ‘no’ – conditionally, situationally and personally.    

    • Mostly, yes, I personally do identify and have commonality with other women by nature of our gender and certain shared experiences. That doesn’t mean I can’t have commonality with men or that I have commonality with *all* women but there are certain shared experiences I do have that are very much gender based on a broader spectrum. Just as there are people of different races and sexual preferences that have shared experiences built around those factors as well. Put me into a room with all men and I will not have the same social experience as I will being in a room of all women. Whether that’s due to socialization, nature or other mitigating factors; it would be the reality for me.

      I do feel that collective praise, focus and support of one group of people over another is really important to us improving our interactions with each other. I try to be more supportive of articles on GMP about men’s collective goodness. I think it shows that I support men and want to support them. Which hopefully build’s a sense of trust and faith in us looking out for each other.

      We do not all encounter the same problems or trials but we all need support, awareness and knowledge about the different struggles we face based around social, economic, racial or sexual factors.

      I can validate friends who are homosexual by my support of them as individuals but I also can validate their rights on a larger scale by talking about common issues, bringing awareness to them and standing up for them.

      On a case by case, individual person by individual person basis, making stereotypes about one person because of their race, age, religion or other external factors is superficial and may be untrue. However, when addressing issues on a larger scale, it’s necessarily to make generalizations to discuss a broader problem. That’s at least my fundamental belief.

      Naturally we are all human beings at the end of the day first. And we are all individuals. But for as many problems arise from our differences (usually for lack of understanding and tolerance of each other), I find most people take pride in identifying with their differences in what makes them part of who they are. People take pride in their race, sex, religious beliefs and so on. Finding a way to collectively support people for who they are, giving them a platform to share their struggles for growth and self awareness for all of us and creating a supportive environment instead of a critical one, goes a long way to the collective health of any group.

      I truly believe deep down in my heart that when men feel supported by women, it goes a long way in healing things. When women feel supported by men, it goes a long way in healing things. When homosexual people feel supported by heterosexual people, it goes a long way in healing things……etc etc etc. We collectively need to support each other individually and on a larger scale. Supporting each other means giving validation, time and attention to common social problems. If we never allowed ourselves to address these things on a broad spectrum, we would never solve anything because we would get so caught up in first dissecting each individual different and counter. The larger collective voice should not minimize our differences or exploit our individuality but give us a platform to start a discussion on a group’s particular needs in a more manageble way. And lets be honest, certain groups sometimes have different needs based on our universal socialization of men, women, religion or sexual interests. This does not deny an individual’s experiences though.

      As for my comment, “So many of us feel belittled for simply seeing the other races acknowledged and given attention to their feelings and hardships”, has to do with my own personal life experience and common issue I see occur that halts a deeper discussion into any one subject. I see a very realistic pattern of discontent when any one group is asked to focus on another’s groups problems while they are facing their own set of unique problems. It often crops up in discussions that cover issues men face and issues women face. On this website alone, when one gender is asked to confront a concern of the other, you can pretty much predict that many response will express frustration, outrage and anger that something that affects them is also not being addressed at that exact point and time.

      I hope I answered you in a way that makes sense. Your comments where very thoughtful, introspective and deep.

      • Mostly_123 says:

        I appreciate you articulating your perspectives there too Erin, thank-you: I thought you wrote very candidly. I agree with what you said about the call for greater compassion, understanding, kindness, tolerance, and support for everyone, because yes, everyone needs it sometimes; and in the end we’re all better people for giving and receiving it, as best we can. 

        There’s nothing wrong with taking pride (but hopefully not inordinate, excessive, overreaching, or undue pride) in the things that define ourselves, including in those broader groups we all see ourselves affiliated with. But it’s worth remembering too: Not everyone shares the same notions of collective identity, to the same degrees, or with the same criteria & boundaries of it; or, for that matter, even accepts the same concept of its very validity. People (and groupings of people, and its members themselves) all have different component parts of their identities, in different proportions- and different internal hierarchies of how much (or how little, if even at all) any of them factor into both their own internal & external identities; relatively, situationally, notionally, and absolutely. 

        You did mention: “I do feel that collective praise, focus and support of one group of people over another is really important to us improving our interactions with each other. I try to be more supportive of articles on GMP about men’s collective goodness. I think it shows that I support men and want to support them.”

        This begs the question here though: Which men? All of them? Even the men who are partially, or even completely and diametrically opposed to what the other men want? If one were to disagree about the particular nature of ‘men’s goodness’ and/or disagree with the notion of it itself being a ‘collective’ attribute, then that support would, paradoxically, not be support for them at all, but actually an impediment.

        A person may indeed very much want to support ‘men’ – but that ‘men’ and that ‘goodness’ doesn’t really exist as one singular to be focused on and supported. And as well meaning as this may be, it still implies a certain rigid uniformity, a singular consensus in identity, attitudes, objectives, and methods that doesn’t really exist. I myself tend think that liberation (for everyone) means leaning away from, and gradually letting go of, these notions of pre-defined collective identity, and not simply refining and embracing them all the tighter. It’s well and good to want to heal the rift between men & women, and women & men; but it also presumes that this rift is both collectively real, and that it was well and truly rooted in gender to begin with.                              

        When one says to someone else something to the effect of: ‘I validate you, collectively’ it’s also saying to them that ‘I have achieved the insight to know you by extension & generality; and thus, I have the power to define you by extension, to reduce you to my notions of what I think you are, and what I think your needs are.’ -And that runs completely counter to the notion of individualism and individuality; because it uses the criteria from other peoples’ pre-existing sources & experiences and imposes them ready-made onto a new individual, rather than looking at the individual themselves.   

        The further removed we are from the actual individuals, the more notional (and, I would argue, more fallacious) the understanding of ‘them’ becomes (whoever the ‘them’ or the ‘us’ is). And isn’t that at the heart of ending prejudice and sexism as well? Neither undervaluing OR overvaluing someone else based on their membership in a larger collective, and our own (perceived) relationship to that collective? When talking about awareness and understanding breadth is no substitute for depth. Collectives, generalities, and stereotypes give us the superficial & deceptive assurances that we know a broad expanse of territory; but it comes at the cost of having no real depth of understanding.

        Praise and support, to have value & depth, shouldn’t be gratuitous or purely arbitrary. If one were to be praised or supported merely based on their affiliation with a group what does that say? And not just about the source of the individual’s value, but also the very rationale behind the support or praise itself? A group, beyond being a collection of aggregate generalities & commonalities, is never just one thing- it’s many things (often contradictory things) simultaneously, across many overlapping axes.    

        I myself just don’t think one can judiciously praise or support collectively (to any great effect) across a whole collective. It becomes reductionist. Not everyone in any given collective expects (or even necessarily desires) it, simply based on the merit of their (presumed) affiliation with the greater group. Praise is meant to be singling out, and not just averaging out, or endorsing in aggregate. Collective praise (just like collective consternation) implies that something is done together with unanimity, solidarity, and that something is collectively praiseworthy. Collective support implies a uniformity rather than a diversity (or even absence) of needs. It’s one thing for a collective to actively solicit or elicit support; from individuals or from another collective. But it’s another thing for any given member of that affiliation to expect that it will be (or should be) given to them automatically, -unilaterally, unqualified, and unsolicited- based solely on the presumed credit of their association.

        Moreover, if someone genuinely feels ambivalent I think they should proceed from there (ambivalence is a valid emotional & intellectual state too); not try to force it, put a happier face on it, or otherwise dress it up as something else: Giving someone a proverbial pat on the shoulder simply to buy credit towards one in return down the line isn’t empathy founded on integrity; it’s founded on patronization, rather than conjunction. 

        While there are many, many worse things by far, I myself do not feel especially comfortable being praised for an accomplishment I did not make, an ideal I did not espouse, an idea I did not propose, or a characteristic I do not embody, let alone whether or not I myself actually even agree with the supposed inherent merit of the accomplishment, ideal, idea or characteristic that’s being collectively attributed & praised.            

        How we collective others (and ourselves) shows us what we value, and what we have come to *consider* to be the significant demarkation lines between one and another; it doesn’t mean that they are objectively true, but rather it underscores that they are subjectively relative and tenuous.      

        Insofar as I am able define them, I myself would be inclined to believe that my own attitudes, experiences, perspectives, and idiosyncrasies are less a product any ‘sole source’ such as gender, and far more a shifting confluence of all sources; the problem is when these tangibles (like race, class, gender, age, generation, etc) interact & overlap, they lose that unique & tangible & easily definable collective quality and fidelity. One’s own masculinity (or femininity) is hopelessly, irrevocably unique; not just from the other gender, but everyone in their own gender as well. Not to speak  too broadly or philosophically here, but the aggregate similarities and dissimilarities I have with the 7 billion people on this planet just cannot be neatly and clearly halved down to 3.5 billion, simply based on gender. Relatively & situationally speaking, there are more commonalities (and differences) that transcend gender, and those that are more significant than gender. Be that as it may. 

        Not to make light here, but were you to put me in a room of all women, whether or not I would have a similar social experience (whatever constitutes ‘similar’ or ‘the same’), then that is going to be far more contingent upon other factors, irrespective of gender: Age, vocation, ideology, philosophy, culture, and significantly, a shared (or, perhaps not-shared) language – Particularly, if one of those two rooms was in, say, North Korea, and I was being interrogated by their politburo for espionage. But more seriously; and assuming all other things being equal, except the gender- then I would be inclined to agree that yes, the social experiences would be different, room to room. BUT, the same would also be true if you put me in two different rooms where BOTH of which had all different women (and/or two different rooms, both of which had all different men in each).  

        You mentioned that when addressing issues on a larger scale, it’s necessarily to make generalizations to discuss a broader problem. Generalizations are a tool; nothing more – and sometimes they are a means to an end (justified or unjustified). But their embrace, their celebration, and their cementation, in and of itself, is not the goal. Tools can be used well or used poorly to achieve something. And they can be used for constructive or destructive ends. But they’re seldom the only tool, or even always the best tool. When addressing issues, even on a larger scale, I feel it’s often the generalizations themselves that ARE the broader problem to be overcome. At least, that’s my fundamental belief, relatively speaking. I know there’s a lot of words there, and the words focus more on the differences; but within the differing philosophical perspectives I think there’s more commonality than disparity.

  9. Cynthia says:

    Maybe this toon will help me sort things out because I believe in feminist ideals (that gender roles need to be done away with) but then again, I have a problem with words like “male privilege”, “patriarchy” or even “feminism” itself; it assumes that sexism is a situation where someone wins and someone else loses while in fact everyone loses.

    Those words have become counter-productive to the very causess they want to further. Think for one second; if you tell half the World that what oppresses you is their privilege, then why would they want to lose the said “privilege”?

  10. the boy’s ‘er, whoops caught’ face in the ‘girly interests’ cartoon, always me chuckle.
    caught his expression so perfectly

  11. My God you people are long-winded! (kidding, sort of) :) Hopefully, I can take the time to finish reading some of these comments, because they seem very intelligent and insightful. I just wanted to say that.

    Also, Erin, I hope I’ve never been too defensive or dismissive with some of my comments in the past–because I can sometimes be clueless and defensive–but I do appreciate your commentary as intelligent and necessary. I also appreciate your (anyone’s) willingness to share personal information, and I sincerely hope you are well. I know why so many men who feel harmed by traditional society also feel slighted by feminism, and why we can be defensive and seemingly unsympathetic. But I think the ultimate truth is that women are essential as allies for men as much as we are for them, just like this comic suggests.

  12. There is nothing wrong with men and women who identify with classic gender roles either! My husband is happy with providing and fighting and he is not afraid to share his feelings. He is very well rounded. I am very emotional and very feminine. I love being a stay at home mama and I love serving my man. We take care of eachother in the ways that are natural for us.

  13. Mr Supertypo says:

    There are always somebody who jump in with some taurine excrement on whos to blame, who has to get all the attention and the usual ‘ man up’ and ‘ suck it up’ written between the lines. Ending with the egocentric ‘ I dont care ‘ and the tyrannical ‘ I tell you what to do ‘. In heavens name, so arrogant that is boring. Old trick to alleviate a attention deficit from childhood. Kenneth please….this is not facebook, this is the GMP. Dont forget that

  14. wellokaythen says:

    You just had to call it a “sting,” didn’t you. Not “suffering” or “pain” or “hurt” or “devastation” or “wounding,” but “sting,” like it’s a minor inconvenience that may bring slight tears to the eyes.

    I have been a loyal reader and contributor for years now, but this is one of those little but extremely irritating things I notice once in a while. I have to ignore the paranoid part of me and just assume that the slight was entirely unintentional. “Sting” sounds like one of the thousands of little dismissals of men’s feelings that men experience all the time. It is hardly any better than the awful language shown in the illustration itself.

    In fact, if I didn’t hate jargon so much I would be tempted to diagnose this as a “microaggression.”

    We are now in the centenary of the start of World War One. I think we can dispense with the idea that gender is a minor inconvenience for men sometimes or that it just makes a few boo-boos. I’d say miilions of people convinced to prove their manhood by walking towards machine guns is a little more than a sting.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Our ex friends who loved belittling everyone told me my husband (wasn’t at the time) was gay because they saw him cleaning the kitchen with a gay friend. My husband isn’t a big man, he’s quite skinny. He is better at cooking than me, he is tidier than me. The way they associated him cleaning with being gay is ridiculous and small minded. it angers me that we have to label people
    I’ve also had strangers belittle my parenting skills as I let my 5 yr old boy wear nail polish. What is wrong with people

  16. Our ex friends who loved belittling everyone told me my husband (wasn’t at the time) was gay because they saw him cleaning the kitchen with a gay friend. My husband isn’t a big man, he’s quite skinny. He is better at cooking than me, he is tidier than me. The way they associated him cleaning with being gay is ridiculous and small minded. it angers me that we have to label people
    I’ve also had strangers belittle my parenting skills as I let my 5 yr old boy wear nail polish. What is wrong with people

  17. I meant he wasn’t my hubby at the time
    Sorry three yr old climbing on me!

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