Feminism vs. Men Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

Frederick Marx prefers to look at what is noble and good about being a man. 

I don’t want to define men and masculinity in terms of doing right by women. I want socially conscious men to take the lead in defining men and masculinity in our own terms.

I grew up a feminist in a household dominated by a powerful Mom and an older sister. My father died when I was 9. The culturally derived nonsense that my uncle bequeathed me at the funeral a few days later –“Freddy, you’re the man of the house now.” — kickstarted my lifelong quest to define masculinity meaningfully.

Feminism, gender equality and fairness all made implicit sense to me, along with all other forms of social justice — race, religion, sexual preference, class. But in lessons I learned during adolescence from my Mom, like “You need to learn how to be a good husband to your wife,” there was always an implicit if not overt tone of shame. My mother and sister never missed an opportunity to recount parts of the endless list of male crimes against women and girls, against humanity in general — the crimes of patriarchy. Were these statements accurate? Yes. Was I somehow to blame for them? No. Yet I was made to feel that I was somehow to blame by virtue of being born male.

♦◊♦

In college I read Susan Brownmiller. “[Rape] is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” I also read numerous other feminists. Partly due to this education in feminism, partly because I projected the worst aspects of my father on to Type A straight males, I shrank from powerful men from my teens through my 30s. I unconsciously sought the company of women, gay men, intellectual men, and “weaker” straight men – projecting on to them an emotional openness, vulnerability, and flexibility I didn’t sense in Type A straight males. But the true bottom line was this — I unconsciously feared any man remotely hyper-masculine. I labeled them as “macho” and dismissed them.

But the true bottom line was this — I unconsciously feared any man remotely hyper-masculine. I labeled them as “macho” and dismissed them. That was the legacy of masculinity I carried until I was 40.

That was the legacy of masculinity I carried until I was 40. In the last 16 years that has changed. I now see weakness and strength in every man I meet, I see fragile, tender hearts in the toughest of men, I accept gruff and inarticulate speech as openly as I do professors’, I see unlimited capacities for love and caring among incarcerated murderers, corporate executives, soldiers, policemen, corner drug dealers, plumbers and roofers… even (and this is the greatest challenge) politicians. I have a much greater understanding and acceptance of how men can be wounded and harmed by women, including by domestic violence, I appreciate how divorce and paternity laws can hurt men as much or more than women. Just as women have been objectified and marketed to, I now see how men’s physical and psychological differences are also marketed as “flaws” that need “fixing” by doctors, medicines, and an unlimited array of products. To some extent, men are also “objects” of history. But saying that patriarchy also screws men is not news.

♦◊♦

Though I’ll do my best to combat all forms of crimes against women I’ll not accept personal responsibility for any act I myself did not commit.

Though I’ll do my best to combat all forms of crimes against women I’ll not accept personal responsibility for any act I myself did not commit. Though I’ll be there to support any woman as best I can through whatever suffering she may have received at the hands of men, I’ll not take it on emotionally as my own. I will recognize whatever systems privilege me as a white American heterosexual male but I will sharply delineate what is institutional and cultural privilege and culpability from what is personal or interpersonal privilege and culpability. I will not accept personal blame, guilt or shame for 1000s of years of women’s past and ongoing suffering.

Now that I’m unafraid of “measuring up,” I delight in the company of the entire rainbow of human male expression, in whatever context I may find men. Now that I’m less afraid of conflict, I’ll confront men when I think they’re being aggressive. Now that I don’t fear my own tears I can fall more easily into the arms of another man and cry. Now that I don’t criticize my own love of sports I can accept sports on its own terms, rather than seeing them as mindless escapes from real world issues. Now that I don’t take on shaming energy from others and I’m more averse to times when I shame myself my own heart is more open and available to both men and women.

What I will accept is the responsibility to be the greatest man I can be -– to stand with both men and women to resist all forms of sexism and misogyny, to resist sexual abuse and violence against women wherever and whenever it occurs, to resist all lingering forms of exploitation and discrimination against women, to do all this and more. But I will do it not because it’s the right thing to do but because it is part of what is great and noble about being a man.

♦◊♦

What I will accept is the responsibility to be the greatest man I can be -– to stand with both men and women to resist all forms of sexism and misogyny, to resist sexual abuse and violence against women wherever and whenever it occurs, to resist all lingering forms of exploitation and discrimination against women, to do all this and more. But I will do it not because it’s the right thing to do but because it is part of what is great and noble about being a man.

When I read articles in feminist men’s magazines I feel a haranguing tone. Is there some mother projection going on here? Probably. My mother’s tone was similar. But I don’t think it’s all projection.

Some articles just feel haranguing: “Do this because it’s right. Do this because it’s just. Do this because you should. Do this because it’s good for women.” None of these reasons are wrong of course. But it’s not just an issue of tone. They’re incomplete. They end up speaking to only half of why we as men should join these worthy battles.

The other half, the missing half, is why engaging these battles will serve me and my growth as a man. Why it will help me understand my own limitations and my own greatness. Why it will support me in my mission in life. Why it will link my heart with other hearts. Why it will fulfill me and make me happy. It’s personal rather than political. It’s poetic rather than polemical. It’s psychological rather than sociological. It’s mythic and archetypal and soulful rather than mundane and professional and altruistic.

I want to be invited to live up to my greatest potential, not scolded. I want to be called to my greatness, not made to feel somehow insufficient. I want to be inspired to be that righteous, worthy Knight I’ve always wanted to be, and I want to be celebrated for the heroic measures I already take and will take more of. In Good Men Project, in fact in all “men’s work,” I want to experience some joy at arriving at the future I am co-creating – the joy at recognizing I can and will “Be all I can be” – and have that be as palpable and powerful a motivating energy as the plea, however virtuous, to do the right thing.

Emma Goldman, one of my adolescent heroes, famously said, “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” I feel the same. If I and all my brothers can’t delight in the men of honor we are now and are still becoming, if we can’t celebrate and be celebrated for the highest virtues of masculinity we demonstrate, if we can’t revel in something sacred that binds us together as men, if we can’t define ourselves meaningfully as men without the necessity to include women in that definition, then what can we be? What will we be?

♦◊♦

Women started and to some degree have succeeded at the feminist revolution. I believe men should not define themselves through that revolution. We need to make our own.

To me that means finding a third way. It doesn’t mean patriarchy revisited. It doesn’t mean opposition to patriarchy rehashed. It means accepting the challenge to create new forms of masculinity. Forms that maybe some samurais understood, that maybe some Knights of the Round Table understood, that maybe some warrior monks and priests understood, that maybe the Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King and Ghandi and Harvey Milk and Malcolm X understood: Men finding the greatest fulfillment in life, the greatest realization for their potential as men, doing service to the realm, fighting for justice, aiming squarely for more harmony and good on the planet.

I call all men my brothers. I stand shoulder to shoulder with all men. But my heart calls out to those men who find that righting social wrongs need not be done because it’s the right thing to do but because it fulfills their greatest potential as men. That is the great beauty in masculinity. I stand tallest when I stand with those men.

photo: hohumhobo / Flickr

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About Frederick Marx

Academy and Emmy nominated independent filmmaker Frederick Marx (HOOP DREAMS) has worked 35 years in film and television. Company mission: "Bearing Witness, Creating Change." Creating transformational stories that transform lives. Visit www.warriorfilms.org for more info.

Comments

  1. I wonder if a feminist raising a male child is an act of child abuse.

    It sounds like your mom and sister taught you in terms of feminism’s original sin. Being born male meant that you were guilty of all the sins of any man in history. You as a male were inherently full of sin. But more than that. As a male you were not just born into sin but inevitably you would be become an agent of evil because that’s all men can be.

    “[Rape] is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear”

    That’s just another way of saying that all men are rapists of course. That was your mom and your sister telling you that you were just another rapist, raping them and that you were doing it consciously with the intent of keeping them in a state of fear.

    Nice way to raise a kid.
    Sick. It’s like a black kid being raised in a white household that constantly tells them how they are worthless, lazy and going to grow up a criminal or something.

    And then eventually long after you became an adult (apparently?) you rebelled against the cult that had raised you to think of yourself as worthless evil scum destined to rape women and guilty of all the crimes of history. You said to yourself. I AM NOT GUILTY.

    “I’ll not accept personal responsibility for any act I myself did not commit”

    Congratulations. But maybe it is time to reject the rest of the cult’s teachings on gender too? Like that part where they pretend feminism is about equality and fairness. Fair? Is it fair to tell a kid they are nothing but a rapist and guilty of everything? And to do so entirely because they happened to be born male? is that “equal”?

    “My mother and sister never missed an opportunity to recount parts of the endless list of male crimes against women and girls, against humanity in general — the crimes of patriarchy. Were these statements accurate? Yes.”

    No.
    They were all lies as surely as the lie that you were a rapist or the lie that everything was your fault because you were born male. Men are NOT rapists. Men are NOT criminals. There is no such thing as “the patriarchy”. These are lies of a cult.

    • No, he wasn’t being “blamed” for being born male.

      He was being told, by the one person whose job it was to raise him to BE a decent person, that women were people–AND that the rest of the world was going to tell him otherwise, overtly and covertly, in large and small ways.

      Also: there’s no such thing as “masculine virtues”. These things that have been called “masculine virtues” are simply what it takes to be a good adult. Of EITHER sex. It’s just that there are so many cultural lies about women having either NO adult virtues or “different” ones that it’s hard for people to really understand what the word “equality” means.

    • “That’s just another way of saying that all men are rapists of course.”

      I thoroughly don’t agree. And I think that assessment is shallow. Unworthy. Thought-less. Facetious. Juvenile. Defensive. I don’t know ANY woman who believes that all men are rapists.

      To point out racism, review historical events, have a conversation, to object, does not equate to saying that all Americans are racist. Or all Caucasians are racists. Or everybody hates minorities. Or that minorities hate white people. Or anything like that. Right?

      Obviously, there’s deeper philosophy and academic purpose to the original premise. You cannot just toss that off as THE explanation. Well, you can if you want to.

      Frederick Marx is getting at the heart of it. Opening that discussion. It’s great! I love it!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your valuable insight, and you hit the nail on the head. Feminism has this desire to diminish males, which is why it is so unpopular with women and men.

    I was raised to be a caretaker of and sacrifice for other people, not just women, not just men, not just young, not just old – people of all stripes. Feminism, by contrast, in my experience sees males only in the context of their wants. That is, what should be done for them by males, and what isn’t being done for them by males. Never what more they can do for anyone else. Very unhealthy outlook on life IMO.

  3. Bravo sir! Bravo! I could sing your praise to the rafters! I could shout it from the rooftops! This is exactly what I have been feeling and thinking! I will promote gender equality, but I will not be held accountable for my father’s father’s father’s sins. I believe men and women are equal, but I will NOT take punishment for a crime I did not commit.

    • {Expletive} Hell Yeah!!!

      I am not a Feminist I am a firm supporter of holistic humanity, Justice & Nobility for the sake of Nobility.

  4. Peter Houlihan says:

    “Ní h’iad pacaí an athair pacaí an mac”
    “The sins of the father are not those of the son”

    Well said :) Barricades need stormin’

  5. Feminism vs. Men Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

    Yes it is, otherwise it would have been called humanism.

    • Thanks men. This has been an issue sitting in me for some time. I’m glad to see it has resonance outside myself.

      To me it’s a fairly simple notion that as a white heterosexual American male I am afforded all kinds of privilege in a society that is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. I can see how my personal narrative fits into bigger narratives. And as a striver for justice it’s important to me to address these issues head-on. But the difference lies in being responsible TO something vs. being responsible FOR something. I am responsible TO this world being unjust; I am much less responsible FOR it being unjust.

      The key is intention, source motivation. If I take action because I’m told I’m bad or wrong, because I feel guilty or ashamed, that’s not productive for me or for the recipient(s). But if I take action because it makes me the best man I can be, it calls to my greatness, then that’s entirely different. Shame, guilt, and fear will not motivate us well, and for long. Calling to our goodness, inspiring us to be great, honest, and true, will.

      • DavidByron says:

        Could you name this male privilege please.
        I keep asking and nobody can ever tell me.

        • Julie Gillis says:

          Just a sec DB, I’ll give you some articles you may (or may not) find interesting. Given the level of vitriol in your posts, I’m not sure you are asking this seriously, but I’ll offer the article to you. It might be helpful to look at privilege not in terms of male or female but in terms of systemic dynamics in place that put one group (in general the group, not necessarily individuals) higher than another group.

          Think of privilege as the water you swim in. You don’t see it but it makes it easier for you to move in general. When someone tells you to look at it, you usually say, What? I don’t see anything! Don’t you have that? And so forth.

          This one is more of a anecdotal piece
          http://kotaku.com/5868595/nerds-and-male-privilege

          Here’s a wiki on white priv.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege
          and this one is an academic piece on social justice, diversity and privilege- it’s a PDF and it’s about 13 pages long.
          http://www.lib.odu.edu/ojs/index.php/csaj/article/viewPDFInterstitial/1/1

          Read if you want, decide what’s in there that connects to your experience and what doesn’t.

          • DavidByron says:

            I’m detecting a good deal of vitriol; from you. Why?

            • Julie Gillis says:

              My ankles hurt from running 7 miles? I don’t know DB. Seems like there is vitriol to go around. One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s hard not to take the bait in either direction. Did you find my links interesting in any way?

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Here in this post? This was a post designed to offer you information. No vitriol there. You keep posting about abuse in the other thread and haven’t answered my question about who you want modded. I’m trying to be helpful but I don’t know if I believe you actually want info. Very hard to read your tone DB.

            • DavidByron says:

              You see nothing wrong with what you said to me? For example in the second sentence?

            • Julie Gillis says:

              In the second sentence I remarked that I felt you’d shown some vitriol in other posts and I wasn’t sure that you meant the question seriously. What’s wrong with commenting about what I see? I didn’t call you a name, I didn’t accuse you of attacking me personally. I didn’t defame your family or threaten you. I really didn’t know if you meant the question seriously. Ive noticed what appears to me to be sarcasm and anger at feminism. You and I clearly disagree. If I was projecting that, then that’s on me, but I don’t think the second sentence of that paragraph was abusive. I think it was an observation and externalized question.Anyway, I’m due to go out, so I’ll leave it there.

          • DavidByron says:

            In the first link a woman and a man have an argument about nothing much and as a result three men rush to attack the man. A clear example of female privilege. But I asked for an example of _male_ privilege. Everyone knows how much women are privileged.

            The 2nd link was to wikipedia article on white privilege. WHITE is not MALE, ok? Did I say “white”? No. I said male.

            The 3rd link — shocking I know — didn’t talk about what male privilege is either.

            You wouldn’t happen to be a feminist would you?

            And frankly the idea that privilege is hard to spot is BS. If I have a car and the other guy doesn’t it doesn’t take much to see I’m better off. Rich vs poor. is that real hard to see who is privileged? No. Abled vs disabled. Not very difficult to see. Gay vs straight and on and on. White vs Black as you mentioned.

            Apparently there’s only one privilege that’s really hard to see. And apparently it’s not just hard for men to see it because women can’t see it either. Male so-called privilege is uniquely hard to see. Nobody can ever see it! It’s invisible to everyone!

            “It might be helpful to look at privilege not in terms of male or female but in terms of systemic dynamics in place that put one group (in general the group, not necessarily individuals) higher than another group.”

            Can you give any example of that that favours men over women?

            I’m not trying to pick on you; nobody can do it. I’m simply pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              “You wouldn’t happen to be a feminist would you?”

              See that’s the vitriol I was talking about ;) Or maybe it’s just sarcasm? Yep. An old school gal, liberal, humanist, all that good lefty stuff. I won’t bother you with it any more tho.

              “The 2nd link was to wikipedia article on white privilege. WHITE is not MALE, ok? Did I say “white”? No. I said male.”

              Wow, ok, did you read my post where I said I was gonna start with a different kind of priv? Just offering another option, no need to snap at me DB.

              I only offered because you asked. I don’t have a vested interest in convincing you I really don’t. You don’t seem to enjoy talking to me, that’s fine. You disagree, I don’t much care. I read articles I disagree with because I want to learn something. Sometimes I even wind up agreeing and then I have more options in my life.

              Heading out, have a nice night, and don’t worry, I won’t feminist at you any more and serves me right for trying to engage in a nice way.

            • DavidByron says:

              I didn’t ask you if you were a liberal or a humanist or a lefty.
              I am all those things which is why I oppose feminism.

              I asked if you were a feminist.

              And you did NOT try to engage in a nice way. You accused me of “vitriol” and then called me a troll. Remember? or is that how you do being nice?

              However I enjoyed your company and etc. See you around.

          • Julie, I see no reason why I should ever accept arguments about “privilege” as they are never based in empirical evidence, and those that support the theory of privilege never conduct real social science research.

            Look at it this way: I once found a $5 bill on the ground. This makes me exactly $5 more privileged than anyone else who has never found a $5 bill on the ground. Yet there is no one out there trying to root out all the people who have ever been so lucky as to find a $5 bill and “Make them aware” of their privilege.

            So why do we need to be made aware of other forms of privilege? Presumably it is because the other forms supposedly have a larger impact (i.e. being black is of bigger impact than failing to find a $5 bill). Yet without empirical studies, we have no way to know for certain that this is the case.

            In my work (economics) we frequently have looked at the effect of being female, or black, or poor, or whatever on income, hiring, savings, education, and dozens of other factors. And one conclusion has surfaced time and again (literally dozens if not hundreds of studies) when it comes to gender, personal choices make a bigger difference.

            I can show you studies demonstrating that people of different races, with similar education levels and experience will ultimately face markedly different outcomes that cannot be accounted for by other variables.

            Yet with gender, this is almost never the case. Since the 1990s, data has shown that women who choose not to have children usually out-earn their male counterparts. The choice to have children makes the difference: not the gender. Recent studies looking at young urbanites have found that women in their twenties are now consistently out-earning their male counterparts.

            While this has been going on, men have been significantly over-represented in the homeless population, the incarcerated population, they have faced shorter life spans, and have been in generally poorer health than their female counterparts.

            And despite all that data, all the numbers, all the statistics, all the hard evidence, I’m supposed to take *on faith* the arguments of Gender Studies professors who wouldn’t know math if it broke their nose? I’m sorry, but there’s a reason that the Berkeley Gender Bias Lawsuit is used as one of the most frequent examples of Simpson’s Paradox: Gender Studies is a joke and should never be taken seriously.

            • Lets take privilege at its face value: “the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.” We will take this a step further and say that extra economic benefit from personal choices, that others would not receive, is a ‘privilege’.

              From this we can define either having or NOT having children as a privilege, to the extent that members in certain groups receive more benefits than others in each choice.

              Then, might one consider being, pardon the term, ‘allowed’ to have progeny a male privilege? That childless women out-earn childless men is not, in and of itself, illuminating. The same argument could then be attributed to women. Namely, that NOT having children is a female privilege.

              However, unfortunately for both genders, NOT having children is often treated as ideal for ‘real’ manhood (the concept of being bogged down), while society often treats a woman’s sole purpose as the production of progeny (after which, of course, she loses value). Whats more, considerably more members of both genders have progeny than do not. As such, men disproportionately benefit from this privilege scenario than women.

              We can do similar scenarios with other ‘choices,’ like taking care of family vs working longer hours, and so forth. I conclude that, while women may suffer more from many of these privilege structures, the structures are not unilateral.

            • DavidByron says:

              Gwen you realise — maybe you really don’t — that in our society men cannot choose to have a child? Men have no reproductive rights like all you women do. At best I suppose a man could try and adopt as a single male. Good luck with that. They’ll just call you a pedophile.

              Just another female privilege you were unaware of — until I told you.

              Btw if you ever think of a male privilege please feel free to tell me.
              Or anybody.

            • DavidByron says:

              Now THAT was a lovely piece of “mansplaining”. :)

            • I think the story how the concept of “white” privilege came about is interesting. Peggy McIntosh (A Radical Feminist) came up with it coz she had real trouble convincing her male collegues that they had “male” privilege

          • Hey Julie, you want “vitriol”, go re-read the classic works of Andrea Dworkin, Catherine McKinnon, Marilyn French, and for good measure, Andy Warhol’s putative assassin, Society-to-Cut-up-Men, Valerie Solanas.

            I wish I could say these represented the fringe extremists of the movement, but the last time I attended a feminist lecture on a university campus, this entire philosophy of men-are-monsters and women-are-helpless-victims was still being promulgated as gospel truth. The exceptions are made, of course, if the man happens to be a man-of-color, then no matter what he does to a woman is fair game because to protest that means we’re “racist”.

    • funny how a movement that claims to be about equality constantly uses patronizing terms like “what abot the mens” and “mansplainin.’”

      if it was about equality, it would be called Humanism or gender equality….

      no one thinks White Power is about equality….

    • Feminism is like wife’s lawyer in divorce case who tries to gain maximum assets for her client and leave most of the liabilities with husband. Yes, feminism vs. men is not zero-sum game, it is almost always negative. Everybody loses, but men lose the most.

  6. Dear Mr Marx

    I found your piece most interesting and evocative. You have evidently enshrined the examples of men such as Ghandi, King and Tutu in your heart.

    They all have one one thing in common, they talked and walked the walk as they talked. It’s that unification of ideal and intent that is so fulfilling and liberating.

    Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

    You are evidently a Giant who is happy to provide others with a better camera angle and view point.

    Should you ever need a Shoulder yourself, don’t hesitate to ask!

    With Respect.

  7. Thanks men.

    I’m always heartened when something which has lived inside of me for a long time touches others.

    It’s a no-brainer to me that as a white heterosexual American born man I inherit a lot of privilege in this world. Racism, sexism, imperialism, homophobia are the dominant historical narratives of the planet. Sure, my personal narrative is a small subset of those narratives. But do I have to take on personally and emotionally what is a cultural and institutional inheritance? No.

    It’s the difference between being responsible FOR something and being responsible TO something. When another man rapes a woman I am not responsible for that. But I am responsible TO my fellow men to challenge them to become better men and stop rape. Why am I responsible TO them? Because doing so helps grow me, it helps me step into my greatest goodness, it helps me become the man I’ve always wanted to be.

    Ultimately, it’s about source motivation and intention. Guilt and shame and fear and anger, which are the unfortunate emotional responses for a lot of men in their interactions with feminists, are not going to motivate anyone very productively for very long. Inviting men to live up to their highest standards, challenging them to be the greatest men they can be, inspiring them with a vision for their lives that will fulfill them as men, will.

    In my own small way that’s what I hope to do with my writing.

  8. My apologies. GMP has now posted above two versions of the same response from me.

  9. This is a wonderfully written piece. It almost made me cry :) I am very glad you no longer feel guilty. I look forward to a world where more people think in the same vein that you do.

    Oi, and I’m sorry your mother and sister made you feel guilty. Thats just… miserable. And wrong.

  10. Marcus Williams says:

    “Though I’ll do my best to combat all forms of crimes against women I’ll not accept personal responsibility for any act I myself did not commit.”

    “I want to be invited to live up to my greatest potential, not scolded.”

    I thought the whole piece was great, but those two parts made me feel a little like Sally in the famous diner scene of When Harry Met Sally. (Not so much the fake arousal part, but the yes, yes, yes part.)

    I find the concept of privilege useful to describe perks of membership that some in-group are barely aware of, if at all, but it also gets wielded like some club of personal responsibility with which to beat people who have it. I think that type of privilege is a crock of shit. Tell a fish it doesn’t know what “wet” is, but don’t gut it and grill it for having been wet.

    Long day. My metaphor generator is on the fritz.

    • Please read the linked kotaku piece on nerd privilige.
      This is symptomatic. I grew up in the eighties when there was hell to pay for being into computers. Where were all the feminists so intent on paving the way for women during those days? As far as I remember they were standing with the bullies laughing. Somehow however now 20 years later when computers and comics is hip and cool, then suddenly women have never wanted anything other than equal access and non-discrimination.
      This does not fly. You can’t kick the jester and except him to be lenient when he is king.

  11. Ah, the “sum of the game” confusion again.

    Listen once and for all: it does not make ANY sense whatsoever to even speak about the “sum” of the feminism vs. men game. Such sum cannot possibly be computed. The so-called “sum of a game” is a mathematical function of the game’s rules, and can ONLY be reliably derived if the game is actually played BY the rules. This is however not the case here, because feminists constantly cheat.

  12. Why then do feminists in power consistently call for quotas, women-only this and that. I think you know the answer to this, but in the interests of not having you play coy, I’ll spell it out for you.

    When we enact things like quotas to effect an “equality of outcome” rather than of opportunity, it impacts men in a negative way that can only be zero-sum.

    If you want X% more women in positions of power (of course, it always has to be positions of power, because feminists aren’t clamoring to be construction workers or garbage collectors, a larger share of workplace deaths, homeless and the imprisoned) then what you have is this:

    Current percentage of men in those positions of power – X%. The end effect is discrimination against men for nothing other than being born men. It is the worst kind of identity politics.

    There’s no merit at play there. Just the feminist gender war coming to one of its logical conclusions after decades of social engineering have failed in making women produce the same outcome and results as the men in these coveted positions. This despite the massive amounts of bureaucracies formed and money poured into making women “equal.”

    The blank slate sounds great on paper and all but as you can see it’s not true, and attempting to force it through equality of outcome is indeed a zero-sum game that will not end well for society. More and more young men are beginning to see through the smoke and mirrors and shell games at play here.

    The rest of your article is nothing more than boilerplate feminist bootlicking and approval-seeking from an irrelevant old man who does not understand what decades of feminist propaganda and lies have done to the younger generations of men– and indeed even himself as you have failed to notice you have internalized feminist dogma.

    Why do you place a higher value on women than men. Why is it more important that women be shielded and protected from these things than the other half of the population. Do we not deserve the same respect? Why is it more heinous when things happen to women than when they happen to men? I think you will not answer these questions.

    Men will indeed have our own revolution, but it will be in forcing society to value us as much as it values women.

  13. Anonymously Annoyed says:

    It’s not about being a zero sum game…it’s about men having the deck stacked against them and feminism claiming to be an equality movement when it clearly isn’t. Feminism doesn’t want the deck stacked against them, they don’t want a level playing field, they want the rules of the game to benefit them and only them. If something benefits a man, it must be changed so that it benefits women (gender quotas in work, lower physical standards to be police officer/fireman). If a law or policy benefits women, great! If it benefits women at the expense of men, even better (alimony, custody cases, child support…need I say more)…those oppressive bastards deserve nothing less right? In the society we currently live in, women are overvalued and men are disposable utilities. We constantly tell women they are empowered…well you know what happens when everyone is special right? When everyone is special, nobody is special because being special loses it’s meaning and value once we’re all the same. Telling women they are empowered is the adult equivalent of a f*cking gold star on your report card, a pat on the head and a “good job buddy!”. And we wonder why so many women like Kim Kardashian are so narcissistic…they are raised to believe everything they do empowers them as women. “No honey, you’re not a slut, you’re an empowered woman taking charge of her sexuality.” “What’s that, you’re a career woman and you have a family? You are so empowered!” and the list goes on….women give themselves a pat on the back for just about any basic task that they are supposed to be doing in the first place.

    Maybe if we stop telling women that everything they do is empowering, hold them accountable for bad/criminal behaviour instead of chalking it up to being cute, funny or “she’s just having one of those days” and stop cheering women with “you go girl” chants whenever they put men down…maybe try to respect men for once, maybe then we can stop worrying about “feminism vs men” because when women get their act together, there won’t be a need for feminism which if you bother to look past the façade of “we’re an equality movement” you will see is about as egalitarian as a baby crying for attention, bottle, diaper change, you name it. Baby don’t care what anybody else’s needs or wants are…it has needs and wants and it’s gonna get them met. You can be sure as hell that baby won’t stop squawking, even if it turns blue, until it gets what it wants.

  14. Anonymously Annoyed and TRW,

    I find much of what you write worth responding to, and in some detail. But I’m going to cut to the chase and ask the question that most burns in me: Where are you going with the anger you carry?

    I dearly hope you are finding safe places (maybe online is one of them!) to discharge it safely so that it doesn’t come to endanger yourself or others. I’m truly concerned.

    • Anonymously Annoyed says:

      Not that there is anything wrong with anger, expressing anger in healthy ways that don’t harm anyone is perfectly normal, my pmost comes from a place of frustration and bewilderment that we live in a society that views men as nothing more than beasts of burden, only valued by what you can get out of them, be it money, labour or self-sacrifice.

      I appreciate your concern, but rest assured, I’m not beating up my wife or anyone for that matter.

      One thing I can never understand, and maybe I’m answering my own question because you’re a male feminist, but why do you not seem to care about men? You go on in your article to say you want to stand up against misogyny, against violence towards women and so on…why not stand up against misogyny and misandry? Why not stand up against violence towards all of our fellow human beings…do men not deserve any protection from violence? You would think not since domestic violence is equally perpetrated by women onto men, yet you would be hard-pressed to find any shelters that accept men.

      If you truly think that men have nothing to complain about and that we should all just keep helping women are the only ones who suffer any type of violence, discrimination, etc…then feel free to take a look at the info here: http://www.avoiceformen.com/mission-and-values/about/ and if you still feel men should just shut up and help women, then you are a lost cause my friend.

    • “But I’m going to cut to the chase and ask the question that most burns in me: Where are you going with the anger you carry?”.

      Code Red. Yawn.

  15. Frederick, bravo!!! :)
    This is by far the best piece I’ve read here about the gender issue!
    I deeply agree with most of you said, and I feel inspired by your beautiful and powerful words.

  16. This is a very well-written piece. I’m glad you pointed out that patriarchy harms men. It harms us all. It would behoove feminists and all people working for a more equal society to remember that and to forefront that truth more often.

    “I want to be invited to live up to my greatest potential, not scolded. I want to be called to my greatness, not made to feel somehow insufficient.” These lines really made me think. I don’t believe the intention of feminism is to make anyone feel insufficient because of their gender, but I can certainly see how feminist discourse comes across as scolding. Even as a feminist, I often feel scolded for some failure or another as a feminist. I don’t know if this is unique to feminism or is a problem in all equity movements. But I am inspired by the idea of focusing on the positive, of calling people to greatness rather than becoming mired in discussion of failures.

    • @Rebecca Cohen: “I don’t believe the intention of feminism is to make anyone feel insufficient because of their gender”

      IMHO, the problem with this attitude is thinking “MY feminism is THE feminism” (it can happen within any movement or group, of course).
      It’s thinking that reality at large reflects my own reality.
      It often doesn’t.

      Just reading many comments here, it’s obvious that some feminists want to make men feel insufficient, “not good enough”. Beware I said “some feminists”, not all feminists.
      When something is part of our world, our belief system, we tend to defend it and being oblivious to their shortcomings. The Catholic Church covering pedophile priests is one glaring example, but it can happen to everybody.

      Aside from this objection, I like and agree with your comment. :)

    • Amen Sister Rebecca Cohen! The irony is what prompted my article in the first place is a feminist MEN’s magazine VOICE MALE.

    • “I’m glad you pointed out that patriarchy harms men.”
      The author said nothing of the sort.But thanks for pointing out how feminism hurts all men.
      What I found to be a zero sum equation was the lack of due process for men in the courts and pure siding with women via policies and procedures
      directly in contravention to written law.
      (administrative law)
      This is the real club being used on men,the shaming language just keeps us from talking about it.

  17. John Sctoll says:

    What frustrates me most when I read articles about male priv on feminist websites is that they rarely (if ever) actually use any evidence to back up a claim. In fact a number of times they link to stats and studies that actually disprove their own theory. The gender wage gap is a prime example of this.

    Unfortunately of course any discourse is quickly shot down with the claim that you are a mansplainer.

    I have read a few definitions for this word and imho, the way people use the word, never fits the definition. Most of the time it is simply used as a quick ” STFU you are a man and couldn’t possibly understand”.

    As another poster noted when we talk about white privilege , we can give plenty of concrete examples of it. With male privilege though, no one has actually given (that I can find) a concrete example of male privilege. Sure there are list, most are either not privilege at all (when you look at CEO you see people of your own gender) or are so fluffy as to be laughable (you can not have kids and no one will look down on you for it).

    I have seen a definition of priv that essentially states that it is a benefit received by a group simply by virtue of being a member of that group. To me this is exactly what priv would be. I have yet to see someone show me a priv that I (without knowing anything about me) as a man HAVE by virtue of being a man. Remember though by definition if I don’t have the priv then it can’t really be male priv.

  18. HidingFromtheDinosaurs says:

    First of all, the plural of “samurai” is not “samurais”. It’s a loan word from Japanese, which has no plural forms.

    Secondly, thank you for the article, although I have grave misgivings about ascribing gender to virtues and this kind of bombastic sentiment has always rung hollow in my ears.

    Your description of being blamed my your mother resonates with my own experience, although in my case it extended to being physically and emotionally abused by female social workers in the employ of the public school system (not all of them, obviously, but the vast majority were abusive. I specify women because the only two male social workers I ever met were very nice and never shouted at or beat me) who insisted that, because I was born male, I deserved to be punished for being routinely assaulted and beaten by gangs of girls while making no attempt to defend myself. They also claimed that, at the age of eight, I was so strong (I actually had underdeveloped muscles, which were a great concern to my physician) and frightening that I needed to be beaten and restrained with the greatest possible force if I ever became agitated.

    I have autism, as a result of which I am not subject to the vast majority of the privileges a white male is assumed to possess (when it comes to hiring and promotion, for example, I am noticeably worse off than any woman in the United States, even though I will, on average, produce better work in less time than a neurotypical counterpart) and so I feel particularly singled out and ill-treated by the attitudes that seek to make me feel responsible for crimes I did not commit and about which I could have done nothing. What particularly galled me were the essays I was (and continue to be) forced to read in my classes on film and literature. Of the 15 academic papers I read for a recent class on Japanese film at Tufts University, 10 were by well known feminist film critics and all 10 of those papers contained lengthy excerpts, often with no relation to the subject of the paper, insulting and denigrating men and male sexuality. Those words hurt me. These were the people I had been taught to revere, the people I had been told worked for understanding and equality. I spent many sleepless nights walking the empty streets as my eyes burned with tears that would not flow (crying is a behavior I have never been able to learn, nor have I had any success in finding other ways to express pain or sadness). Seeing these passages pass without remark or indignation time and time again and hearing there like voiced so often in academic debate without any opposition has lead me to feel betrayed by feminism and its principles, which have shown themselves to fall far short of the ideals they were held up to as when I was a child and which lead me, physically unable to grasp the social realities and underlying hypocrisies of social interaction, to devote years of my life to preparing myself for a world that does not and never did exist.

    As I write this, I am slipping deeper into depression by the day, unable to reach out to anyone even if there were someone willing to listen. These ideologies and the issues that sprung from them have left me with no concept of my own gender identity, no sense of self worth and no hand to hold in a time of need. I’ve become too terrified of others to trust and I lie awake nights in fear that I may be incapable of loving or forming emotional bonds with another human being.

    If this is a battle, then it is a battle in which I cannot fight. I have no choice but to be injured time and time again by arrows that I cannot see, unable to join a side and with no neutral ground to flee. I don’t expect anyone to care, but if you feel like listening, this is my entreaty: Please stop.

  19. I am so enjoying all of this discussion. I have six brothers and two male children.

    I think the point of all the collective historical feminism stuff, from the Suffragette era to now; the “taking responsibility” thing is predicated on this:

    >> Men listen to other men.
    >> This is cultural to some degree. American. Not European, not indigenous culture.

  20. Thanks for this insightful article but I disagree. It is a zero sum game and feminists made it so.

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  3. [...] I like to be treated as such—and not as a culprit. As Frederick Marx writes in his article “Feminism vs. Men Is Not a Zero-Sum Game”: Though I’ll do my best to combat all forms of crimes against women, I’ll not accept [...]

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