Is It The End of Gender, or The Beginning of Men?

If you can’t see guys as good, maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.


For those of you who don’t know how The Good Men Project began, here it is. One day, Tom Matlack, with a decade’s worth of highly successful venture capitalism under his belt, decided to write a story. It was a personal story, an honest story. It was his story.

And he kept sending draft after draft to his former venture capitalist partner James, who was at the time on sabbatical in France with his family. And one day James said, “Tom, I love your story, really. But I can’t just can’t look at it yet again. Can you go out and get some stories of other men?”

And Tom said, “Great idea.”

Tom is known for working at lightening speed. He immediately went out and found other men and listened to them tell their stories. He noticed that guys would tend to talk about a defining moment in their life. The time when they thought they knew what was happening. The time when they thought they understood how it was all supposed to be working out, and then they suddenly turned around, and all their expectations had been shattered. And at the core of that defining moment was a moral dilemma—“how can I navigate my way through this mess and do what it takes to be a good man?” And so, The Good Men Project was born, a place that at its core was storytelling of raw, honest truths—stories that changed the teller and changed the listener.

♦◊♦

But why men?

We’re often asked, why not The Good Human Project? Why, in this day and age of gender equality and gender desegregation of all kinds, why focus on just men?

The key to making any idea work, to build a brand that has long-term value; even to create a story that has meaning is this: find a place to stand. Take a look at a worldview no one else is seeing. That will center you, allow you to have insights you can then share with others. Plant a flag where you are standing; stake your ground.

Nobody else was talking about men from the place Tom was, from a point of personal truths. Media for men was still trotting out the same old tired clichés: Men are only interested in sex and sports. Visuals of hot babes in bikini’s were all they’d look at. And when the media did tell stories of men, men invariably came across as philanderers or liars or villains or cheats. Not the multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, thoughtful struggling-to-get-it-right kind of guys that really exist.

For Tom, the reason to focus on men was also personal. The power in men’s stories was in the truths they told, and Tom’s view was that in the past it had been “socially less acceptable to get really honest as a guy.” For Tom, hearing men tell their stories packed that extra punch. “I hear something that unlocks an important clue about who I was meant to be in the world.”

When I first met Tom, he told me story after story of the guys he had been talking to. Then he handed me a half-finished manuscript. “You can read my own mess of a story in there if you want to.” He looked away. “It’s the stuff guys don’t usually talk about.”

♦◊♦

It gets harder and harder to navigate what we are supposed to believe about gender. Is it OK to use the word “macho?” Do we have to spell out “he” or “she” all the time? C’mon, why can’t we use the word they already? I got accused of using sexist language in one of my articles recently: “You always say ‘men and women’. You never say ‘women and men’. I think you privilege men,” said the commenter. Really? I thought to myself. But I am writing on a site that is about men. It’s times like these I feel as if there’s a new gender protocol manual that no one ever handed me.

There’s no doubt that there are some things we’d all like clarification on. Back in 2010, there was the sheer audacity of a title given to Hanna Rosin’s otherwise thoughtful piece, “The End of Men. It was a title meant to provoke and challenge, blame and infuriate. And beyond that, it’s just stupid. Who on earth would want The End of Men?

♦◊♦

Much of my life, I’ve been afraid of men. They were on the whole, bigger than me, stronger than me. My relationships with men hadn’t gotten off to such a great start. I was afraid of men because they were sexual creatures—as was I—and thus were both objects of my desire and a source of my nightmares. And I was afraid of men because they all seemed to have more money and more power and more presence when they walked in a room than I ever did.

Often I looked to feminism to solve the problems that I, as an individual, had with men. “Too hard to ask for the salary I deserve? I’ll wait ‘til feminism figures it out.”

I’ve since learned that it’s better to walk right up to men and actually talk to them.

♦◊♦

When I was growing up, women came in only two flavors. Either a woman was a sex object, preferably a thin, white, blonde with wavy hair and curvy curves; or she was a mom with an apron and apple pie. And part of what feminism did so well over the past few decades was change those one-dimensional stereotypes into a worldview that let us see women as multi-faceted, complex creatures who could do almost anything.

I think I was in 6th grade when a slogan started making the rounds: “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Even with my brain in my small, prepubescent state, I remember thinking, “Well, no.” The problem is that fish don’t ever desire a bicycle. I would be hard-pressed to say there was ever a time in my life—even at times when I was most afraid—that I didn’t desire men. Not just sexually, of course. But as someone different, someone who had a worldview I didn’t. I desired men as part of the pattern of the world that makes it so interesting.

♦◊♦

My children all played ice hockey. It didn’t matter that three of them were girls, that when my oldest daughter started playing she was always the only female on the ice. But for the most part, hockey didn’t define them, there were other skills, other talents, other roles they played. For instance, they all participated in the yearly Christmastime community theater show.

Every year, the hockey games overlapped with the theater performances, and every season my life creaked under the stress of dashing from afternoon performance to hockey game to evening performance. My daughter Shannon was the 4th child in line to go through this ritual, and she knew the drill: “OK, Shannon, you get off stage, dash out the back door where I’ll have the car running and we’ll drive straight to the hockey rink.” Shannon put her equipment on in the car and we arrived just as her team was skating out to do warm-ups.

In the car after the game, Shannon burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” I asked, surprised. I thought the game had gone well. Shannon had gone out there and given her all.

“Mom, you have NO IDEA what it’s like to take off your hockey equipment in a locker room full of boys and be wearing an elf costume underneath.”

Why yes, honey, actually…I know exactly what that’s like.

♦◊♦

Every time we slip into a gender role that we think we’re supposed to be, instead of being who we are, that is pretty much what it feels like. You slip out of one preconceived notion about your gender only to find you have another one underneath. You take off your hockey equipment only to find you have an elf costume below.

I’ve talked about my humiliation about pretending to play golf in order to try to fit in with men at work. Or my obsession with trying to look good on the outside, because I thought that’s what men wanted. Beauty came at a cost to not only my soul, but to my ability to spend time doing things I really want to do—instead of spending time trying to look the way I thought I was supposed to look. My fear of being taunted for not appearing to be beautiful enough and feminine enough often brought me to tears. Which, of course, got me worrying about being “too emotional.”

But there are less dramatic ways that my struggle to be a women emanated itself. There was the taunting that I received as a kid for appearing too smart: “You’re too smart for your own good,” was said like a threat more times than I can remember. Even as an adult, the subtle way that people would roll their eyes or studiously ignore me when I said something I thought was somewhat intelligent. Do you know how hard it is to try to be smart but not appear smart? For the longest time, that was what I thought I had to do—downplay my intelligence, up play my looks. Being “too smart” was almost as much of an insult as “too ugly.” Even today, I struggle with that balance. Sentence by sentence, word by word. It’s why I write kind of casually, you know? It’s become part of my voice.

♦◊♦

The thing I want to be clear on—and the point that is most important here—is that as difficult as it was for me to be the type of female I thought I was supposed to be—I think men struggle as much or more with their role as men.

The thing that I had missed, the insight that took me far too long to learn, growing up with a feminist vantage point and looking through the lens of a woman was this:

I was taught to believe that the plight of women was so difficult that I failed to see that men had problems too.

It’s been working on The Good Men Project that’s changed me. I’ve since been shown “the man box”—the way in which men struggle with appearing to be a man the same way I struggled with appearing to be a women at all costs. I never before understood that men clearly saw themselves as “The Provider” in the family, and that’s often the reason they feel they have to so aggressively pursue money—simply to make sure their family is provided for. I had failed to notice the day-to-day acts of heroism so prevalent in males—I had been shown, so many times, the side of them that the media showed me, the side of villains or philanderers or couch potatoes. The dads shown on TV commercials as bumbling idiots hiding all of their wonderful instincts about child rearing and child caring and nurturing in an effort to “look male.” The stay-at-home dads who get ridiculed for that role the same way I felt humiliated for wanting to play golf with the office business strategists. And I’ve internalized what I see as a great truth that I wish more women would take note of: That the easiest way to break through the glass ceiling just might be to break down the walls first.

♦◊♦

When I had lunch with Tom Matlack the first time we met, he told me story after story about the guys he had talked to. And some had been in prison, or war, or battlefields of the mind. Some had struggled with addictions and some had felt failure in their ability to provide for their kids. All of those men had been able to internalize that struggle, move on, and talk honestly about what they went through in order to share their insights. And as Tom told me those stories, the last thing on my mind was that this was “The End of Men.”

Instead, what I thought was, “This is the beginning.”

These Are The Stories that Change Everything

—Photo walking camera/Flickr

Read more posts from our cross-media special section “The End of Gender

About Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. "I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    🙂
    Alison A Armstrong’s, ‘The Queen’s Code’, and her many resources including understandingmen.Com are amazing. She has talked to men for at least 20 years. She’s asking women to desist from emasculating men, and to really see the hero in each man. Amazing mission.

  2. Maybe I have missed something important, but why is it so darned important whether one calls oneself a feminist or not? (I am new around here)

    I mean, there are so many definitions and practices of feminism, that labelling one as feminist can mean a lot of things. One can f.ex. be a feminist and care about the plight of men. bell hooks strikes me as a good example of this. I could probably also easily find feminists who don’t care about the plight and men (the same for non-feminists). So I don’t think you can necessarily deduce intent and behavior from someone labelling themselves as feminist.

    For me it is more important, whether one recognizes that sexism (whether based on gender, gender expression or sexual orientation) is systematic, and that it needs to be fought. This sexism comes in at least two types: (I am roughly using Julia Seranos “taxonomy” here):

    Traditional sexism: Men and masculinity is better than women and femininity
    Oppositional sexism: Men/masculinity is categorically different from women/femininity (and they shouldn’t be mixed)

    Of course theses two types of sexism are intertwined, but I think oppositional sexism is very much at the heart of mens problems.

    So I am more interested in discussing core ideas instead of labels. If you fight sexism (both kinds), I don’t care if you call yourself a feminist, humanitarian, equalitist or something else.

    (my first comment here, btw)

  3. I just want to say THANK YOU for this article Lisa. I’m currently in university majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Women’s Studies, however I’m thinking of switching out of my minor and going to into Gender Studies for exactly the reason you described in your article. I’ve called my self a feminist for quite some time now. I’m what you’d describe as a physiological “feminine” female, but psychologically am not. And that is the precise reason I turned to feminism in the first place. I was tired of people making assumptions about me based on my assumptions (As a kid/teen I’d always get the “you’re too pretty to play hockey/videogames/soccer” crap) so I turned to feminism hoping to make sense of our society, to debunk gendered stereotypes and to prove to myself that I’m normal the way I am. I’m a true believer in equality. Maybe it’s because my dad is my bestfriend (and the only one who encouraged my tomboy attributes) or maybe it’s because I’m married to the greatest man ( or human 😉 ) but I find there is alot of feminist theories out there that are simply outrageous and I find myself arguing and problematizing them constantly.I’m not putting down all feminist theory, by all means no, I find myself agreeing on most aspects on the libertarian feminist front, but throughout my studies I’ve realized this; if women have been constantly uncomfortable or have felt restricted by gender stereotypes, who’s to say men haven’t? I’ve noticed in most feminist litterature that they group men as whole, having all-encompassing universal traits. It’s false, and horribly denigrating.
    Anyways, I’m sending this article to a classmate of mine with whom I’m constantly arguing that men have struggled and are struggling. Sure, the struggle is different, but just as harmful.

  4. I think it really depends if you are speaking about job opportunities or being the head of the household because roles are definitely on the brink of shifting.

    Amber Johnson, Author, http://assistanceforsinglemothers.com/

  5. Wow, Did this article really say good men are in one or more of three situations:
    1:In war or on a battlefield
    2:struggling to pay child support
    3:Prison

    Those men sound like disposable men.
    (their only utility is what they do for women)

    I submit the better man is one who is not caught up in such situations,one who *gasp*
    actually lives life for himself first.
    (just like a woman)

    We are more than what we do for women,geez whiz it so hard to understand the radical concept that men are human beings?

    It’s being taken for granted that is leading us afar.

    That and the lack of basic human rights.

    Try treating us like equal human beings and perhaps we will fall back into the service you desire.

    • “If a young man gets married, starts a family, and spends the rest of his life working at a soul-destroying job, he is held up as an example of virtue and responsibility. The other type of man, living only for himself, working only for himself, doing first one thing and then another simply because he enjoys it and because he has to keep only himself, sleeping where and when he wants, and facing woman when he meets her, on equal terms and not as one of a million slaves, is rejected by society. The free, unshackled man has no place in its midst.”

      Esther Vilar, The Manipulated Man

  6. DavidByron says:

    This article does not appear under the list of stuff by Lisa Hickey.
    Perhaps it is missing a tag?

  7. Peter Houlihan says:

    Thats a mignificent piece of writing, no point in writing more, theres nothing more to say.

  8. Peter Houlihan says:

    “But now that he`s gone and I read this article, I have good faith.”

    Hugo’s gone?

  9. This is a truly great articel. I usually came here to analyze people, who in my opinion have it all wrong, feminists like Hugo Schwyzer. But now that he`s gone and I read this articel, I have good faith. that the goodmenproject is moving in a very positive direction. Feminism is not needed for gender equality, I even think it is working against it. My sister lied to her boyfriend about liking video games and skateboarding in her teens, much like you pretended to golf to your collegues, for getting accepted. The thing is women don`t have to do this sort of thing, men will accept you for the women you are. Also feminism holds the idea that men and women are essentially the same, which is total nonsense in my eyes. My girlfriend and I understand that men and women are fundamentally different, which does not only create great sexual tension, but also makes interacting with her on a intellectual and day to day basis much more enjoable. I hope my English doesn`t come across to bad, it is not my first language, I`m from Switzerland.

  10. A few days ago there was a thread on goals for the website and what people got out of it. For me the answer is easy: Lisa Hickey. I went through and read everything by her I could soon after I came to the site. Why am I doing that? Why am I reading stories about this woman, when this is a web site for stories about men?

    She’s so beautiful. I don’t know how else to put it. As a person who sees how much men are put down in this life, I see her as beautiful. She is an oasis. She is life giving. A woman who loves men. A woman who likes men. I don’t even like men. Men are hard to like. But Lisa really seems to like them. She doesn’t say mean stuff about us. You just don’t see that. I mean EVER. That’s just not the way women are. I’m not being down on women. Men are that way too, but with men we’re used to it. With women it seems all wrong. We love women. We want women to like us. But they don’t. They say we suck. But Lisa doesn’t. She says she likes us.

    Even with my brain in my small, prepubescent state, I remember thinking, “Well, no.” The problem is that fish don’t ever desire a bicycle. I would be hard-pressed to say there was ever a time in my life—even at times when I was most afraid—that I didn’t desire men. Not just sexually, of course.

    I know exactly what you mean because that’s exactly how I feel about women.

    You are so NOT a feminist Lisa. You’re the complete opposite.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      “You are so NOT a feminist Lisa. You’re the complete opposite.”

      Trouble is, if alot of the people who call themselves feminist, like Lisa, are actually the opposite, how is it that the remainder defines feminism?

      Its a compliment, if a somewhat backhanded one.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        See, as I see feminism, or as I grew up seeing feminism, she is a feminist. Because she isn’t denying either side. I’m a feminist and I love men, married a man, have male children, have male friends, and am writing here. Humanist, feminist, humorist, sexualist.
        What a great question Peter.
        I hear on this site a lot, “Well, why aren’t you decrying the radfems! Why aren’t you doing something.” Am I not? Here? By writing about people? By being as kind as possible on comments? By volunteering time to help moderate fairly? By learning? You don’t know what I’m doing day to day, with men, in my life. I don’t have, yet, a giant media platform and fame to take my messages of universal sex ed, liberal thinkin’, pleasure based living, conflict resolution, and equality for all out into the world.
        And I’ll stand by that even if my audience is quite small.

        • It seems like it is really hard to communicate just how negative the feminist movement is without you (or whoever) becoming really defensive and taking it personally and so it either becomes an insulting response or a dismissive one or else (as here) you come across as if you feel you have to justify that you’re a decent human being to me which frankly makes me feel quite uncomfortable.

          Ideally what I want is this exchange:
          Me: Feminism really sucks.
          You: Oh but I think feminism = equality
          Me: That word really offends a lot of people and to them it means man hating. It’s just going to get in the way and cause a lot of arguments.
          You: Well it’s not a big deal. I can use another word that’s less controversial.

          That NEVER happens. Why is that?

          You know you don’t have to believe feminism is a hate movement to figure that using a term that so many people find so aggressive is maybe a bad idea. Maybe I should try some positive arguments along the lines of Farrell’s Gender Transition Movement stuff. The bottom line is that the term “feminism” is toxic in these discussions and not only that but feminism’s way of looking at stuff — ie the “sex war”– is incredibly toxic. Feminism says that gender issues must be understood as a war between men and women, so if you don’t WANT a war between men and women it’s a bad idea to be a feminist. If you support equality and you want men and women to be able to talk to each other, then you need a movement that is based on treating everyone fairly, not one that demonizes half the human race and demands they kiss-ass the other half. You need a movement that speaks for everyone not a movement that speaks for one half and just makes the other half angry.

          All that seems so obvious to me. I’d just like to know what part of that doesn’t make sense to you?

          • Lisa Hickey says:

            I’m going to reply to both this comment and your other one below, David.

            One thing that struck me today with the article where I called myself a “humanist” was how many feminists scoffed at me for it. Julie, you were on the thread on Hugo’s FB. A smattering of comments, all from people who are identifying as ‘feminists’:
            — “we need more feminist men and women out there not people who are afraid of the term and call themselves a humanist instead”.
            — “I get an ‘ugh’ when I when I heard someone talk about being a ‘humanist’ and not a feminist. It feels like it’s inherently saying, ‘Oh we have almost all of the same values but I’m not going under that scary/tarnished/ugly ‘feminist’ label.’
            — Feminism is the only logical conclusion of humanism, unless you eliminate female humans from the race.
            — anyone who can’t see that feminism is as much a men’s issues as it is a women’s “just doesn’t get it’.
            — As feminists we’re constantly told other people aren’t concerned with our issues.
            — “people choose the word humanist when privilege precludes understanding of the social / historical context”
            — “totally misses that feminism at its most emancipatory is not about a ‘female frame of reference’ but about understanding power and the dynamics of power to define what constitutes gender and gendered relations in the first place”

            And then my all time favorite:
            — She’s just ignorant on this matter for whatever reason.

            Well OF COURSE I’m ignorant. How could I possibly NOT be when ya’ll talk like that?

            But now – see, that sentiment will get me branded as “feminist bashing” because – I’m choosing not to identify myself with a word that even ardent feminists can’t explain to me in a way I can understand.

            That makes no sense to me. None.

            Here’s how feminism works for me personally. I will try to explain this again, one more time. I hear the statistic bandied about that “only 8% of investor-funded companies have women CEO’s”

            So what do I do? This is what I do. I say – “oh, that’s unfair” – and then I GO OUT AND BECOME A CEO.

            If feminism is a form of activism, that’s as activist as I can get.

            • Julie Gillis says:

              I agree there is some toxicity that is true. I am always willing to look into and accept that things are different than I think they are. What doesn’t make sense? I’ve personally never experienced feminism as a “hate movement” which is probably why I approach you from the personal perspective, but I’ll cease that as I don’t want to make you feel odd. And it’s probably beside the point.

              This has always been my reference point for feminism:
              1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
              2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

              My personal examples were intended to share that I’ve never seen it as a war, that I’m asking people to kiss my ass. I just want to be hired for skills I have, have access to reproductive rights (and believe me I think that’s complicated), and not be patronized. k

              I’d love to see the Ferrell’s theory stuff. Link if you have time. I’ll look it up too.

              Words are important. I’m wary of unilaterally saying, “Well, feminism is dead, long live equalism.” As I’m not a theorist, nor a scholar, nor do I actually have the ability to claim that anyway. I mean, I could say it all day long, doesn’t mean the blog-o-sphere is going to respond.

              • Warren Farrell was a feminist (head of the NYC chapter of NOW I believe) who one day decided to be critical of his own feminist beliefs. He decided to ask “is that so?” of a number of feminist assumptions and ended up developing a lot of masculist arguments, which got him kicked out of the feminist movement of course. So he wrote a book called “The Myth of Male Power” that listed a lot of ways in which men were disadvantaged and that was I think in the 1970s. So it’s a classic text of the men’s rights side of things. You should definitely read it.

                I’m surprised you never heard of him. That’s like saying you don’t know who Betty Friedan is but one of the problems in the “debate” is that feminists are completely uninformed about the other side.

                The book is a cheap easy read and I strongly suggest you read it because Farrell is about the nicest, easiest, most pleasant intro you could hope for, to a subject that is going to be really hard for you to take in I think.

                Looks like you can get a copy for less than $10.
                http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Male-Power-Warren-Farrell/dp/0425181448

              • I’ve personally never experienced feminism as a “hate movement”

                I suppose the question is, what does a hate movement feel like? How could you tell the difference? What exactly counts as a hate movement anyway? You’re already aware of people who call themselves feminists who are “really mean” shall we say. So how mean do they have to be? How many do there have to be? How much influence do they have to have? Who decides such things? What evidence is there and how would you measure it?

            • The label thing…. a lot of the time critics of feminism get accused of making too much of it, but from what you are saying feminists are equally strenuous about what label to use. That does not surprise me. Still it is hard to see a commonality as to why in that list.

              The case for a neutral label is pretty clear I think. I would have guessed that feminists would basically be saying “you got to call yourself a feminist or you are being disloyal”. Some are along those lines but it’s hard to say all.

              I’m a statistician so I don’t see any issue with the 8% CEO thing. I would want to know how many people try out for the CEO jobs. If only 2% of the people who try for those jobs are women, then women have a strong advantage. If 30% do, then they have a strong disadvantage. If 10% do then that may not be statistically significant as a difference from equal odds. As a statistician I can’t tell you if there’s bias without that extra information.

      • With a movement like feminism my own view is that 95% of membership is simple self-identification. Basically you’re a feminist if you say you are one. But there is that other 5%. In fact I think it is especially interesting when trying to determine the nature of the feminist movement (which is what I do) to ask which people are rejected by the larger body of the movement. Who crosses the line? Who is told they are NOT a feminist even if they claim they are? There’s no official mebership of course so this can only be determined by the statements of feminists in good standing. Fortunately as they are mostly women there’s a lot of catty “you’re not in my group” sort of language to look at.

        Firstly many times men are excluded as a whole. Many feminists say men cannot be feminists. Same goes for mtf transgendered. This is not a majority view. Neither will being a woman allow a person to criticise feminism – they are called “gender traitors”. It’s interesting to note but does not define the movement.

        Secondly you have what I call the dissident feminists. I think that might be Donna LaFramboise’s term. Cathy Young, Christina Hoff Sommers, Wendy McElroy… I know I am forgetting a bunch of them now…. these are feminists (always women unless you count Warren Farrell) whose political opinions draw such attack by the other feminists that they are told they are NOT feminists. I believe it is very instructive to look at this group of people and see what they are saying because they define feminism — negatively. Whatever they are saying is what the feminists simply cannot stand. and what they are saying is that men are human beings too. Men have rights tioo. men have issues too, and worst of all, that women might be to blame.

        Never thrown out of the movement? People like mary Daly, Valerie Solanas and other extremists and nutcases.

        Lisa’s opinions are so the opposite of feminism that she wouldn’t even get to be called a dissident feminism IMO. I doubt she ever was a feminist. But perhaps she is a dissident. I am not trying to tell her what to be. This is just my observation.

    • Amen David. I’m like you too. I love both the bodies and the brains of women. It’s too bad that in an effort to be the “knight in shining armour”- that I feel all men should strive to be – I have become the lonely, sexually repressed man armed only with a dim hope that one day I will find a woman who has a view like Lisa’s and – wow – actually cares about the MAN that is me. All because I keep running into women who are hell bent on toying with my affections rather than honestly reciprocating theirs to me. I fully blame “feminism” for this. I don’t mean feminism where the strengths and weaknesses of both sexes are acknowledged and respected, but this new “feminism” where men are continually being demonized and a fear is created around us. A fear that most women can only combat using mind games and manipulation instead of even attempting to understand and thus harmonize with our point of view. A lot of women literally HATE us nowadays for actions done by the idiots among us.

      I realize I sound incredibly idealistic, perhaps naive, but I strongly feel you and I are on the same page here. Or maybe, we’re too old fashioned 😀

  11. I love men…I loved a man a long time ago and I listened and empathized….I listened to him for seven years to all his problems, his difficulties with supervising his co-workers, his struggle to get his PhD while working full-time, his problems with running a laboratory according to exacting standards all the while being unfairly accused of sexual harassment, his financial stresses involved with raising 3 teenagers, and his poor, unloving relationship with his wife….Yes, I was in love with a narcissistic, abusive man (who pursued me while I was a too young and too naive girl) and I only listened to his point of view to the exclusion of reason and the people around me….according to him, he was still suffering for being blamed for the accidental death of his sister and for the cold, aloof treatment by his parents, and etc., etc. ….he was always suffering and always the victim… I listened to him so much I forgot to listen to my own feelings and to other people….It wasn’t until recently that I have finally realized how damaged my thinking was about my past with him….I was so brainwashed to think that only his viewpoint was valid; I was numb to my own feelings and misgivings…. I was so overly sympathetic and empathetic to his overwhelming point of view that I neglected to really see how much he had abused his power over me: he manipulated, coerced, and badgered me into submission and got off on that power… If we only feel sympathy for men and silence the opinions and voices of women and girls, then we have annihilated a significant part of ourselves….I could never argue with him…he always shut me down…it got to the point where I would just sit in silence with him because I was afraid of setting him off on one of his diatribes….How can you argue with someone who was convinced that Robert Chambers (The Preppie Murderer) was telling the truth about what happened that night? How much are the women shut down? Silenced? Snuffed out? Do we only listen to Robert Chambers’ testimony and not that of Jennifer Levin (she’s already gone…..does she matter?)?

  12. I applaud all the men who are willing to share their stories and explore their humanity. It shows us all how much more we have in common then there are differences. We’re all just out here struggling to figure out who we are and how we fit in this crazy world. I love The Good Men Project for it’s inclusivity, but also it’s male perspective. It’s refreshing and enlightening. I’m a feminist, but I have always believed that feminism can only go so far without men’s input and help. We all have something to learn from each other. Thank you.

  13. Excellent piece, Lisa. There is a divide between acknowledging the abstract idea that gender is a social construct, and living the reality of our gendered lives. Gender itself isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But our ideas about it need to be more flexible. Patriarchy is a system which limits everyone from fulfilling their (look, I used “their”) real human potential. It pits men in unnecessary competition with one another, and it devalues the contributions of boys and less traditionally “masculine” men. Both sexes suffer from this. Sexism is unfair treatment based on sex, and women certainly don’t have a monopoly on that. But it’s not a blame game! It’s about seeing where sexism lives in our everyday lives, and rejecting it as much as we can.

    • Ugh. It’s a lovely article; beautiful as ever from Lisa, but I have to say something else first, in response to the other comments. Aimed at nobody particularly; anyone who needs to hear this.

      Do people understand that the word “patriarchy” is deeply offensive?

      “Patriarchy” means “Men are crap, nasty, violent people. They are in charge of everything and everything is their fault.“. It’s the single most insulting anti-male word you could possibly use. Do you understand that? It’s like calling a black person the N-word. And I see that word thrown out all the time on this site.

      Sometimes feminists use the word in a phrase like, “patriarchy hurts men too”. Here’s how that sounds to me:

      Men are violent and arrogant and love to hurt women. But what is really funny is that they are such fools. When they try to hurt women they end up hurting themselves too! They are doing it to themselves. Talk about poetic justice. Talk about a pack of idiots. They have all the power in the world and the are so dumb they hit each other with it, while trying to hurt us women.

      And do you know what it is that hurts men most out of that stream of insults? It’s not saying we are stupid. It’s not saying we are violent. It’s not saying we are arrogant. It’s not even the pretense that we are in charge. It’s saying we like hurting women. That’s about the nastiest thing you can say to a guy and feminists simply never stop saying that.

      If there’s anything worse to say to a man I don’t know what it is. Even calling them a coward isn’t that bad. I don’t even think calling them a pedophile is that bad. And feminists never stop saying this to us men.

      I am begging you to stop using that deeply deeply offensive word.

      • Erm…I don’t think patriarchy means what you think it means…

        • It may not mean what he thinks it means, but it does what he says it does.

          And I think that’s the point.

          Anyway, using the word patriarchy to shame men(pretty much just for existing) will eventually have one of two results.

          Either men will shut down emotionally and exit society, or they’ll just stop caring about hurting women.

          Wee! What a wonderful world we’re creating!

  14. Unca Woofie says:

    I take serious issue with complementing the Atlantic’s “The End of Men” article as “otherwise thoughtful”. Here’s why…

    First, the article seems to assume that before manufacturing jobs disappeared, every venue dedicated to making something was apparently a gender-based “sausage” operation of nothing but men. We all know this is not necessarily true, particularly since the mid-to-late 70’s which marked the end of the overwhelming number single-paycheck households and for most of us, was GONE by the beginning of the 80’s as economic necessity forced women into the workforce more than the fight for gender equality ever could (I watched this process with my own eyes, by the way, as well as experienced it in my own marriage). That is, until it was cut short just like their male counterparts’ employment was, as the decision-makers of business & government abandoned them all to chase cheap labor across the globe like a wino in search of his next bottle.

    Next, I offer the stop at the jailhouse to check in with male child-support violators. This was the intellectual equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, since it’s a no-brainer that this is a location in which some of the most unfortunate victims of not only the Great Recession, but the obvious economic changes that have occurred across the country for decades are going to be found. My favorite is the example of the poor divorced bastard watching as his wife goes by in her car (which probably used to be THEIR car) while he languishes at the bus stop. We are told she’s on her way to her 50K a year job, & getting her master’s in social work. I’d like to point out that since the dawn of the modern age, one of the most common scenarios that everyone heaps derision on (deservedly) is the one of the long-suffering wife who sacrificed as she maintained a home and a job so that her male spouse could get through college, thereby providing them both with a better standard of living. As this time-honored cliché plays out, the heartless bastard drops his wife like a hot potato after his career’s established, as if her years of support as he earned his degree never existed. As a matter of fact, a national jewelry store chain has a commercial in heavy rotation right now, showing the RIGHT way this story is supposed to play out as the husband gives his wife a “graduation present” after receiving his degree, in the form of jewelry from the sponsor’s store.

    The way this jailhouse anecdote is told suggest that the ex-husband very well may have helped her get through her early college years for her to even be in a position to get that master’s in social work, but makes no mention of her abandonment of HIM (let alone allowing him to go to jail due to falling behind on child-support payments for economic reasons) as per the time-honored tale of distaff injustice mentioned. All that was apparently important was to paint this man as a hapless victim of trends he couldn’t cope with, as his ex-wife, in her guise as new era Wonder Woman, leaves her ill-prepared ex-husband in the dust, simply staring at him as she drives away.

    THAT, apparently, was what was important in this article since the author chooses to cherry-pick her way through example after example to prove her point of apparent male demise. What apparently wasn’t important in this article was including the history of the huge effort made since the 70’s to bring more women & minorities into college. I offer as proof the reference to a dean of a mid-western college who took grief from a considerable amount of voices from the feminist community over flagging male enrollment. The howls of protest came from women who were conveniently unaware of how their gender had benefited when positions were reversed concerning enrollment a couple of decades earlier was suspiciously missing.

    I could go on, but I think I’ve cited enough to justify my absolute disgust at how this article takes solid gains for women in education & the workplace that they richly deserve, and explains those gains away as a combination of gloating over economic circumstance and rewards the many men such as myself that rooted for them as “The Biggest Losers” when recent events demonstrate that we could ALL easily fit in that category regardless of gender.

  15. A pleasure to read this article. Isn’t it amazing how personal accountability and increased wisdom seem to go hand in hand?

    What you have said, Ms. Hickey, whether you know it or not, is that you are no longer a feminist, but a humanist.

    Your journey from living in fear of men will be complete when you make that official, but first you will have to fully tackle your fear of feminists.

  16. Lisa, thanks for sharing your heart and soul. You and Tom (and all the others) make a great team. Its wonderful to see women and men coming together who aren’t afraid to focus on men. The world is a many splendored place and it generally comes in two genders–male and female. Its wonderful to have a place where we can celebrate men and women without having to mush us all together in some mythical, post-gendered, omelet .

    I understand why some people want to get rid of gender and just talk about us as human beings. For a long time, we lived in a dominator culture. When we focused on gender, it always meant that one dominated the other, usually men over women. Many hoped that by getting rid of the gender divide we could get rid of the oppression that many women (and men) felt.

    But doing away with gender differences is not only biologically, psychologically, and spiritually impossible, it doesn’t accomplish the goal. A better, more effective way, is to change the dominator culture to one of partnership. This is what is happening throughout the world as men and women (fully gendered) take to the streets to reclaim our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

  17. Lisa and others, are there sites similar to this for women?

    Dave

  18. thehermit says:

    “I was taught to believe that the plight of women was so difficult that I failed to see that men had problems too.”

    Until the day the term “feminism” is in use, it will be always like that. The one who is stupid enough to call her/himself a feminist (instead of- for example- humanist), also stupid and sexist enough to keep pushing the “dehumanisation of men” button, instead of thinking about it.
    The name says it all.

  19. This article shows that feminism is highly attractive to women who have issues with men. Which is no surprise but explains a lot.

  20. Thanks for a good article.
    3-4 years ago, I started to think about whether I was a feminist or not. The more I read about it, the more negative I became. Feminism started out good (and has probably been necessary), but in my opinion, it has now gone completely off track and became destructive. So for me it was natural to enter into the mens movement, which I see as a more balanced ideology.

    You say “But why is it becoming impossible for men and women, in a discourse like this, to simply agree that women have it harder?”.
    For almost 50 years, men have been silent about gender and gender roles. It is the feminists that have defined “the truth”. But as long as men haven’t told their stories, we don’t know “the truth”. We only know parts of it. Therefore, I dont buy the feminst version of history and the statement “women have it harder”. If that was true, why do far more men than women commit suicide?

    My vision and hope is a world where men and women treat each other with respect, admires and values the differences that exist between the genders and that complements us,
    love each other, and make and raise children together. I honestly can’t see that feminsm support that vision. But as I have come to know the mens movement, it does. And that is why I support it.

  21. Macka, I don’t think we can avoid the ‘gender box’. This is Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ take on avoiding the ‘Crazy Cycle’ between men-woman, mothers-sons, fathers-daughters. I hope it helps.
    From: Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires;
    The Respect He Desperately Needs
    By, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

    “WITHOUT LOVE,
    A WOMAN IN DEFENSE, REACTS OFFENSIVELY
    WITHOUT RESPECT
    Or,
    WHEN A WOMAN FEELS UNLOVED
    SHE REACTS DEFENSIVELY
    IN WAYS THAT ARE OFFENSIVE TO A MAN

    WITHOUT RESPECT,
    A MAN IN DEFENSE, Reacts WITHOUT LOVE
    Or,
    WHEN A MAN FEELS DISRESPECTED
    HE Reacts DEFENSIVELY
    IN WAYS THAT ARE OFFENSIVE TO A WOMAN”
    ‘Nuff said?

  22. What I like most about this piece, and I really do like a lot about it, is that it manages to talk about the confliction between feminism and the new batch of gender-wranglers looking at the male side of the argument without throwing one side into the kneejerk “because they’re all a bunch of BASTARDS” box. So often I see “pro men” articles that can’t resist putting an unnecessary boot in to feminism, as if mere criticism wasn’t sufficiently spiteful.

    It’s an issue near and dear to my heart, as a male feminist with an interest in the interactions between individuals and culture, particularly as regards gender presentation and The Things It Makes Us Do. It’s always good to find other places where people are attempting to square the circle of talking about the problems that men qua men face in the world without being a jerk to women about it. Given how often men will complain about the feminisms doing the same thing, it’s sad how often they just become mirrors of that they claim to oppose. It’s desperately annoying to not be able to have these kinds of conversations without finding oneself on “the side” of whiny men who keep blaming “feminists” for every bad thing that’s ever happened to them. It makes me want to take both sides and bang their heads together like squabbling children.

    (not that I’d ever do that to children really. Well, not little ones.)

    What I think is great about stuff like this is that it equates to “feminism for men”, in many ways. Women have won the battle to wear trousers, men still panic about wearing skirts. (Unless it’s a kilt, because that’s macho, although you’ve got to be a Proper Man to get away with it.) And that’s not to say “oh woes men is the real victim here” because that’s bollocks. What it is to say is that “acceptable” masculinity is now a much more restrictive box than femininity, and relies too much on internal incoherence and negative definition. Too often you’re not a man because you’ve got positive man qualities, you’re a man because you successfully reject anything that might taint you with negative woman stuff. The message we can end up teaching to our sons is that being “a man” is being whatever’s left when you have successfully purged all the girly stuff from your soul. Oh, and some cars and sports and stuff.

    It’s not all the way there with women yet (God knows that too many women still find themselves rollerskating down that slippery Madonna/Whore slope with no idea where the correct middle ground is) but at least it’s acknowledged that it’s a problem, wheras acknowledging the same for men is still, if not embryonic, still in the maternity ward. What we need is a positive embrace of the variation involved in being a man in this culture. Yes, I can go to the damn theatre if I want to. Yes, I can be a gay man and still be a real man. Yes, I can enjoy watching “chick flicks” with my wife on a saturday rather than going to the football. No, I don’t have to get my metaphorical cock out and waggle it at any woman who tries to join in a “male” conversation just to prove that I can exclude her.

    I don’t think we’ll ever get to “the end of gender”. But I would love to get to a point where gender is safely packaged away in the box of “just one of those things,” rather than being a crushing, all-encompassing pressure with rules that, if violated, bring social opprobrium down on your head.

    • Why aren’t male feminists content with the fact that they are free to wear mini-skirts, strapless sequined gowns, Steve Madden platform shoes, Victoria’s Secret lingerie or anything else their hearts desire?  No one is stopping them.

      Why do they obsess over the rest of us choosing not to cross dress?  I suggest that they go about their business happily wearing their skirts and strappy heeled sandals or whatever else they want to wear and let us wear whatever we want?  Sounds completely fair and reasonable to me.

  23. I imagine a big parade. There will be floats with flowers and lots of colors, marching bands, singing, laughter and fanfare. Then the banners arrive, leading the waving, happy, dancing people following behind. There will be banner after banner as far as we all can see. There will be every race, every sect, every creed, the LGBT community, the hetero community, the African Ski Assoc, the one-legged hockey players assoc, on and on they go until the whole world has passed us by. Then we look at each other smiling. We are all dignified, we are all honored and we are all respected. We are all human and we all share this beautiful planet with all other species of respected life. We are All here together and if you listen hard enough, you can hear the music coming…

  24. Roger Durham says:

    Lisa, once again you have written clearly, straight to the point, and with a laser light that exposes the extremes of any conversation. I fervently resist labels. I wold never call myself a feminist, but I believe in equal rights and equal access – not just for women, but for all people. I do think it takes movements, like the feminist movement, or the civil rights movement, to shake the status quo and create a new framework; but there is a point when the movement becomes a status quo itself, and then it becomes part of the problem, rather than the solution. I’m not sure we’re at the end, or the beginning, of anything really. We may be at an awakening, or a rediscovery, but I don’t see an end to gender. I just don’t see it.

  25. I love that turn of phrase “find a place to stand”. I feel as if it takes a lifetime to work out where it is you want to stand or what you want to stand up for but when you do it is an incredibly powerful thing, so I congratulate the GMP for taking their stand.
    I hate the word feminist – it is associated with so much anger and bra burning – how I think we really mean to define ourselves is: a woman who wishes to empower themselves and other women, not at the expense of men, but just because it is a healthy, balanced thing to do. Pretty much what GMP does for men. Hmmm…thinking of a new word for ‘feminist’.

  26. “Now we need to get to a better place for men too.”

    How about the GMP giving a large and very public donation to Fathers and Familes?
    http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/

  27. Anonymous Male says:

    “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bycicle.”

    I saw that written on a wall one time. Underneath, someone else had added:

    “Show me a man with ten speeds, and we’ll talk.”

  28. Tom Matlack says:

    Thanks for this Lisa. As usual you give me too much credit and don’t take enough yourself. But I can live with that I suppose :0

    I am reminded of what Jesse Kornbluth said to me very early on (we were having lunch in NYC and he was his usual blustery, loving, funny self). “Plant the fucking flag, Tom. Plant it! Don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks or says. You know in your heart what this is all about. Plant that MF’er.”

    As you say so very well, “The key to making any idea work, to build a brand that has long-term value; even to create a story that has meaning is this: find a place to stand. Take a look at a worldview no one else is seeing. That will center you, allow you to have insights you can then share with others. Plant a flag where you are standing; stake your ground.”

    I tried to do that, not always successfully, but what has happened in the last year under your direction has continued to refine that sacred space for men, and women, to talk about what it really means to be a man and a good man at that.

    I guess I have a bit of different take on the feminist thing. I just am so tired of the labels on all sides of the gender divide (which consumes much of the negative comments on GMP with no advancement of real conversation). To me feminism is kind of like god: it has no meaning other than what you personally ascribe to it. For me, I call myself a feminist not because I am all that well read on the history of the movement or the supposed dire consequences for men. I just support women’s rights and women in general. To me there is only good that can come out of women being powerful and successful and liberated. I am all for it.

    That’s why it pisses me off when some woman write’s a book about “The End of Men” that frames out gender for a whole generation. We all could have written a book called “The End of Women” for decades and centuries. But we didn’t. Together we got to a better place for women. Now we need to get to a better place for men too.

  29. Great piece Lisa. I haven’t ever considered myself a feminist. In fact, I find that feminists typically get on my nerves – mostly because it seems to me that they are pro-woman and anti-man which is just as sexist as chauvinism.

    I was also raised in a home with two brothers and parents who praised my intelligence and abilities above looks if they praised at all. In fact, my looks were never mentioned. (I also am a Swiss-Irish viking adopted into an Italian family, so I felt a little physically awkward anyway.) It wasn’t until I left home that I discovered that my women friends don’t change flat tires or play sports with guys. In general, my brothers and I are pretty gender neutral in terms of the roles we play in society.

    But I do bristle a bit at the idea of genderless society. I like being a girl and I love men because they’re different.

    The challenge of raising two boys on my own prompted me to buy The Good Men Project. I wanted to know how good men were made so I could help shape my sons. What I found was that men are up against many challenges regarding their gender as well. My boys have taught me that many of the traditional male traits were thrust upon them without much thought. And some traits, they just can’t help.

    The man I married (and divorced) was raised to believe that men were the leaders and dominators of society and women should keep in line (by abusive force, betrayal and shame). I chose poorly. I have met many men who are internally tortured by the way they were raised – be an NFL star, be tough, be studly. This is not unlike the unhealthy ideals that are thrust upon little girls – be supermodel, be a helpless plaything, be obedient.

    I’m glad there are guys out there who are actually giving some thought to previously held traditions that may or may not be serving our sons (and our daughters) very well. I am glad they’re talking even if it’s uncomfortable.

    I think it’s best we consider each other human above all else.

  30. Thank Lisa, another beautiful (clear, honest, thoughtful) piece.
    In the end, it says what I’m trying to do any day: understanding men and women, just as they are, and not as they “should” be. Looking at people as “human beings” first, way before their gender.
    Your ability to see humans beyond cliches and stereotypes, makes you a worthwhile and enticing writer.

  31. Interesting stuff, and well written. A very large number of men–or rather, “guys”–can identify with being intimidated by the “macho studs” of their school years. Perhaps more than most women realize!

    And you’re right that the predominant, current incarnation of feminism does have a problem of being focused solely on women’s problems. Or maybe it’s not seen as a problem–after all, every special-interest group has its cause. But this preoccupation is certainly a good reason for many men not to care about feminism, much less support it. When feminism talks about equality for ALL, it has my support; when it diverges into rehashing the problems of women only and how to make only women’s lives better, it loses me. More power to ya, but it’s not MY cause.

  32. Wow, Lisa, this is just so spot-on and really, really compelling. It can be so hard to explain why feminism is not an attack on masculinity, and what it actually is. I recently read a post on this site that defined the difference between masculinity and patriarchy. So illuminating. I think that what women want–well, I’ll only speak for myself, what I want–is and end to patriarchy, not The End of Men. I love men! My life would not be nearly as rich without so many wonderful men in it. Like you, when I write on this topic, it is never meant to be an attack on men, but an attack on patriarchy, because patriarchy is not good for women and girls. It’s that simple. I am all for mutual support between men and women. Most women I know are not men-haters, and most men are not women-haters. It’s unfortunate that this sentiment gets amplified so often within this dialogue, because I think it’s misguided. Great post, and thanks for all you do…and for everything all of you at The Good Men Project do.

    • It can be so hard to explain why feminism is not an attack on masculinity, and what it actually is.
      Speaking as someone who feels just that way at times I’ll say that the reason its so hard to explain is because often times the explanation doesn’t match the reality.

      As Lisa says:
      I was taught to believe that the plight of women was so difficult that I failed to see that men had problems too.

      This is a pretty big flaw I’ve seen among feminists. And it not just a matter of not talking about the problems men have. If they simply didn’t talk about them that could be filed away under “we’re not talking about that right now because we are talking about this” and let it go. The problem is that feminism simultaneously claims to be concerned about gender equality for all people while at the same time having fundamental concepts that deny the realities of men. Just a few minutes a go I was reading a post on this very site where someone was mocking the existence of misandry (hatred/disregard for men).

      How can one claim to be concerned about men while at the same time going out of their way to deny the issues that men face or trying to sweep them under the rug as not being that bad just because they’re happening to men?

      Like you, when I write on this topic, it is never meant to be an attack on men, but an attack on patriarchy, because patriarchy is not good for women and girls.
      And this is what makes feminism such a minefield I’m willing to believe you on this but let me ask you, would say that there is no such thing as sexism against men? Some feminists make that claim and some don’t. And it gets very frustrating when the ones that do make that claim are called out and the response is to disregard it or start complaining about how its unfair to treat all feminists that way.

      When feminists can hold themselves to the standards they hold men to (namely expecting men to speak up to other men about how women are treated) then I may put more stock in it.

      • Danny, I absolutely do believe it goes both ways. I actually feel there is quite a lot of men-bashing these days, and it gets really inflammatory and destructive. One of my concerns is that there are so many terms one can use to make the necessary discernments, but they are so often co-opted in ways that render them tainted. For example, no one can talk about “family values” anymore because that is synonymous with the religious right. Someone recently confronted me on my use of the word “wholesome” recently for a similar reason, and I was stunned. Anyway, if I want to articulate anything about sexism, chauvinism, or the like, I can’t do it anymore without those words inflaming men before they even read what I’m saying or think about it. I’m not saying YOU do this…just that it has happened to me a lot. It’s kind of like when Newt Gingrich turned the word feminist into “feminazi” and thereby dismissed and condescended to the entire idea that women (and men) should care about equality and women’s rights. So now, if I say to you “male privilege,” is that also a term that is automatically inflammatory and cutting off of any true reflection? Because for me, it’s not about being anti-men at all!!! But if men can’t see and admit this thing called male privilege, how do we proceed to have reasonable dialogue? I can admit to having white privilege. I have no knee-jerk reaction against the idea. I am well aware of the doors that have opened for me because I am white and not a racial minority. I do not need people of color to tell me that whites also have it hard. No. People of color have it harder in many ways than whites. They just do. So in terms of patriarchy, I’m just saying that for centuries, women have had hurdles to face that men didn’t. Does it mean men don’t have problems? Of course not!!! Yes, they do. But why is it becoming impossible for men and women, in a discourse like this, to simply agree that women have it harder? I won’t waste time hauling out all the usual examples. We know what they are. So, I’m just saying I acknowledge that men are the victims of sexism too, and I see it often, but to an entirely different degree, especially worldwide. I don’t hold myself to a different standard than men. But…if the term is not polluted…I think male privilege is a very real issue, just as white privilege is.

        • It’s kind of like when Newt Gingrich turned the word feminist into “feminazi” and thereby dismissed and condescended to the entire idea that women (and men) should care about equality and women’s rights.
          I’ll kindly say this. While the word feminist might be tainted the Newt Gingriches of the world didn’t do all the tainting on their own. You know how that word was tainted for me? By feminists themselves. But time and time again all I hear from most feminists is how (insert known anti-feminist, the far right, MRAs, the media, etc….) poisoned it.

          So now, if I say to you “male privilege,” is that also a term that is automatically inflammatory and cutting off of any true reflection? Because for me, it’s not about being anti-men at all!!!
          It depends on how it is being used and I’ll use your mention of white privilege below to explain.

          But if men can’t see and admit this thing called male privilege, how do we proceed to have reasonable dialogue?
          Actually a lot of men can see that male privilege exists but its about the way the term is used that may result in reasonable dialogue or total shut down. Let me explain.

          I can admit to having white privilege. I have no knee-jerk reaction against the idea. I am well aware of the doors that have opened for me because I am white and not a racial minority. I do not need people of color to tell me that whites also have it hard. No. People of color have it harder in many ways than whites.
          Here’s the thing. I have no problem saying male privilege exists and there are some things that I have had an easier time with than women just as you have no problem with acknowledging white privielge. The difference is that while acknowledging that some things are easier for me as a male I also note there are things that are harder for me as a male, I don’t know if you have noted things that are harder for you because you’re white that’s up to you. As you say as a woman things have been difficult for you in a lot of places right? I’m willing to bet you’ve had times where you were dismissed and shut out of a conversation because you’re a woman right? Has that ever happened to you at the hand of people who say they were insterested in addressing the issues that affect you? That’s what some have done with male privielge. They have literally used it as a bludgeon to shut men out of the conversation, then throw their hands up in confusion wondering where the men are (and blaming everyone else yet never looking among themselves, per the Gingrich comment above). Leaving the concept of male privilege tainted, by the very people who came up with it and use it.
          Now I’m not saying you do this (in fact I’m pretty sure you don’t) but I think that has to be bore in mind when bringing it up to men. Have they crossed paths with this term in a reasonable way or was it used to attack them? That answer is going to affect the reaction you get when you use it. (Yes there are men out there who are unfairly hostile to the term but let us not pretend that ALL of the hostility toward that term is unfair.)
          How far do you think you would get in dialogue with people of color if at every turn they dismissed you and anything you have to say as not mattering solely because you are white but then turn around and wonder why you aren’t supporting them? You won’t gain many allies expecting said allies to always stick around while you reserve the right to talk to them any way you want and disregard their feelings and experiences.

          Does it mean men don’t have problems? Of course not!!! Yes, they do. But why is it becoming impossible for men and women, in a discourse like this, to simply agree that women have it harder?
          If its all about helping everyone then why is there an expection to just “simply agree that women have it harder”? When people write papers upon papers and post blogs upon blogs about how one side has it but then constantly writes the other side off as “yeah it sucks a bit but its not that bad” its going to be a hard go gaining wide spread support from the folks on that other side.

          I won’t waste time hauling out all the usual examples. We know what they are. So, I’m just saying I acknowledge that men are the victims of sexism too, and I see it often, but to an entirely different degree, especially worldwide.
          Considering that I’ve seen it argued that there is no such thing as sexism against men (to the point where its on an apparently regularly cited 101 site) its refreshing to see someone actually acknowledge it.

          I don’t hold myself to a different standard than men. But…if the term is not polluted…I think male privilege is a very real issue, just as white privilege is.
          I’m glad you don’t but there are quite a few who do. As I said above one doesn’t have to spend much effort wondering why men aren’t rushing to get in on the converation when for so long they were literally kept out. Yes male privilege is a real problem and needs to be addressed. But I’m not going to pretend that its the only problem either.

          • Mark Ellis says:

            Umm, it was Rush Limbaugh who first popularized the term “feminazi” not Newt, though Rush didn’t invent it. He first heard it from a friend of his from the Cato Institute.

            • I was just going with what Lori was saying. But regardless of where that word came from its not like all the negativity that’s associated with feminism is unjustified.

        • “But why is it becoming impossible for men and women, in a discourse like this, to simply agree that women have it harder?”

          Why? Because they don’t. The data does not support your statement.

          Do “some” women have it harder? Yes. Do “some” men have it harder? Yes. But, neither sex has “harder” cornered.

          Otherwise, women not men would be the ones that died 5 years younger. Women not men would be the ones who were victims of violence and murder 3x more frequently. Women not men would be the ones who are 10x more likely to be incarcerated. To cite just three data points.

          it is ironic that feminism is made up primarily of a very highly privileged group, white women. If feminists were truly interested in combating privilege in the name of equality (rather than simply bashing males), they would acknowledge their own privilege and work to eliminate it.

          • Eric M:
            Well said.
            I read somewhere that it was expected that one third of the black boys that are born today will go to jail at least once during their lifetime. I don’t know if it is true, and only the future will tell if it becomes true. Nevertheless, this indicates clearly how society treats men, and especially black men.
            At all times, a small group of men has been at the top. And these are priviledged,- I have no problem agreeing with that. But this group makes up only a small minority of men,- maybe 0,5 – 1%. So what about all the others?
            Are all of them also priviledged? The answer is clearly no. And this is one of the problems with feminism,- it treats men as a group.

        • “women have it harder” is based on what criteria? Because from everything I’ve seen the only categories that are ever factored into that equation are the ones where women do have it harder.

          They never seem to take into account the fact that male suicide rate is five times that of womens, or that women only make up 2% of workplace fatalities and injuries, that men are more impoverished and imprisoned than women, that men literally have to agree to be seized as federal property in order to vote in this country (not registering for the draft is a felony, felons can’t vote) and that (excepting sexual assault) men are the larger portion of victims for every violent crime. The male lifespan is almost 5-7 years shorter than the female, and he retires five years later.

          Granted, men are overwhelmingly at the top of society, but the fact of the matter is, men are also overwhelmingly at the bottom as well. Why are only the ones at the top being looked at? Why are they considered “the norm” for men?

        • If you think male privilege is a real issue, please define it in an understandable way; in finite terms that we can all see.
          Frankly, I don’t believe it exists. That does not mean I am not open to the idea, just that I don’t see it in my life or the lives of other men.

          Part of the problem here is that so much of feminism has been predicated on the idea that we are all supposed to take these concepts on faith. Not prone to any kind of religion, that one is a non-starter for me.

          So, please, where is my privilege? I am just a poor guy struggling to make ends meet and take care of people I love. I could really use the advantage.

        • DavidByron says:

          if I say to you “male privilege,” is that also a term that is automatically inflammatory

          Yes. As is “patriarchy” and “rape culture” and almost any use of the word “rape” which tries to tie men to rape as the people who rape.

        • DavidByron says:

          why is it becoming impossible for men and women, in a discourse like this, to simply agree that women have it harder?

          Are you saying that we have no right to disagree with you?

  33. Great piece. FWIW- Anxiety about being too smart in front of your buddies and not attractive enough for the ladies is something any straight guy can identify with, whether they know it/are willing to admit it or not.

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