Why I’m Proud to Be a Men’s Rights Feminist

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While many of us are building bridges across the gulf that exists between men and women, zealots continue to demand that we all pick a side and fight.

Maybe I’m cut from the same cloth as American Catholics. You know, a person who joins the Catholic church and then picks and chooses which part of the church’s dogma they’re going to actually buy into. American Catholics are known for supporting the use of  birth control even though the use of it is clearly condemned by the church. But the fact is, we all have to do do this sort of thing in our social, political and religious lives. It’s part of a long and honored history of free thinking. We align ourselves with a group or issue and then we proceed to create our own version of  the ideology as we marry the complexity of our life experience with the various rules or expectations associated with that group. Some folks consider joining any given group  to be more trouble than it’s worth, but not me. I’m a born ideological tinkerer, a men’s rights feminist; and a lot more besides.

Feminism and men’s rights are too important to be left in the hands of the true believers. Those people never get anything accomplished. They preach to the choir. They alienate the rest of us. They’re an odd combination of angry and boring. They are the past, yelling at the future.

As citizens and human beings we are not only entitled, but in fact, obligated to intentionally engage the ideological bell curve. We must question the dogma pop quizzes. We must self identify as heretics in the cathedrals of accepted wisdom. I’m making this my life’s work because feminism and men’s rights are too important to be left in the hands of the true believers. Those people never get anything accomplished. They preach to the choir. They alienate the rest of us. They’re an odd combination of angry and boring. They are the past, yelling at the future. An exercise in angry impotence.

No single point of view can ever be a litmus test for movements as fluid and wide ranging as feminism or men’s rights, but there will always be those who consider themselves to be the ideological gatekeepers for these movements.  This small but vocal minority among MRA’s and feminists think they hold the keys to the kingdom of thought, to what is acceptable dialogue and what is not; which articles should be permitted to be published, what subjects can be discussed, what is allowed. Period. They are binary to their core, neither permitting nor hearing the kind of iterative and curious conversations that lead to real growth and change.

Valid causes that are being undermined and marginalized by people who show over and over again that they need to maintain the primacy of their ideological stance more than they need to solve the problems we all are facing.

Their arrogance borders on laughable were it not for the damage they do to the very causes they seek to advance. These are causes we should all be concerned about; causes that seek to advance basic human rights, justice and equality. Valid causes that are being undermined and marginalized by people who show over and over again that they need to maintain the primacy of their ideological stance more than they need to solve the problems we all are facing.

And this is the problem with labels and movements. While many of us are attempting to build bridges across the gulf that exists between men and women, zealots stand in the gap with laundry lists of ideological absolutes, demanding that we all pick a side. And if we don’t pick a side, they slander and assault us with such open savagery that many of us are left shocked and silent.

“Fuck you, assholes,” is all we can muster.

And therein lies the biggest trap of all. “Fuck you, assholes,” is a recipe for intellectual and spiritual death. When you allow yourself to be drawn into a binary stance in opposition to the worst aspects of some opposing camp, that ideology begins to define you (as its opposite.) I would suggest that we all carefully consider the ideologies we are choosing to be in opposition to. If that ideology is a blunt and simplistic generalization, how can the opposite of it be otherwise? And yet, we are invited into binary discussions every day. By the loud and the arrogant who ply their binary trade.

For the record, I am APPALLED by extremist feminists. As much as I am APPALLED by extremist Men’s Rights activists. But I love many of the ideas and philosophies from both camps and I do not let the rabid few steal my right to speak into these spaces, nor do I allow them block my curiosity about the wider range of ideas they seek to monopolize.  I think the issues of gender, family, society and sexuality need layered and complex conversations. These issues deserve innovative thinking that tracks the ongoing evolution of our culture and our society so that dialogues and solutions necessary thirty years ago don’t become unexamined engines of oppression today.

It is clear that the future of humankind hinges on these conversations becoming more mainstream.

Those of us who seek to break free of the antiquated social rules that govern gender, sexuality, and politics need to be growing the range of allowable dialogue and discourses, meeting people where they are, not entrenching ourselves in idealogical grudge matches.

Because, if we’re not  talking, we’re not changing. And the conversations that create real change are always a two-way street.

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Update: I wrote this in response to a protracted set of comments below, the majority of which amount to a  wide ranging critique of feminism. I would like to state clearly that I am not a feminist. Nor am I an MRA (Men’s Rights Activist). I am a Men’s Rights Feminist. Which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. My comment follows:

“Tom, I would prefer that you call me a man’s rights activist as well as a feminist because I am both and therefore…neither, (but that part of it is completely getting lost here, as some of us seem to be obsessed with assigning and then condemning labels). I am working as a writer for the Good Men Project to insure that men have equal representation for our issues but I do not advocate from a position in opposition to extremist feminists or MRAs.

There is a ton of good work to be done that will open up the spaces for men to present their side of the story without engaging in that binary debate. When we fall into those binary debate spaces the extremists on the feminist side and the men’s rights side have us right where they want us. As troops in their ongoing grudge match to the death.  I am not going to get dragged into that unending war when there is so much else that goes unspoken in the public spaces where the general public can and is being educated. THAT’S where change will come. A battle for hearts and minds. For example, just making public the story about millions of stay at home dads is changing the landscape around divorce and parenting dramatically. And that space has little to do with the battle between the extremist parts of the feminist and men’s rights movements.”

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About Mark Greene

GMP Senior Editor Mark Greene writes and speaks on Men's Issues at the intersection of society, politics, relationships and parenting for the Good Men Project, the New York Times, The Shriver Report, Salon, HLN, The Huffington Post, and Mamamia. You can follow him on Twitter @megaSAHD and Google.
Click here to read more GMP articles by Mark Greene. Get Mark's fully illustrated children's book FLATMUNDER for iPad from iTunes about kid's fears and the power of play. For kids ages 4-8.

Comments

  1. The difference between the most extreme feminists and the most extreme MRAs are enormous. The most extreme feminists are discussing, in full seriousness, how to kill al or most men on the planet. Or how to chemically castrate most men and make them into slaves for women. A little less extreme than these are various strands of explicit female supremacist movements. Then you have the female and lesbian separatist feminists that want to build all female societies isolated from evil men. There are quite many of these groups and the women who subscribe to these facist ideologies tend to often be gender researchers and feminist activists that have far more influence than any MRAs. In fact these strands of thought have been a significant part of feminism since the beginning. Beyond this there is a huge section of feminist thought that more or less explicitly encourages hatred of men. Dworking, McKinnon, Brownmiller, Robin Morgan, Valerie Solanas etc. THese are also highly influencial and celebrated thinkers within feminism. Here is a few quotes:

    “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor
    “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas
    “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin
    “Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” — Susan Brownmiller

    “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” — Catherine MacKinnon
    “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.” — Sally Miller Gearhart
    “Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.” – Catherine Comins

    Robin Morgan as editor of Ms. Magazine was in a powerful position within feminism that she could only rise to because so many feminist shared her opinions and she is explicitly preaching hate. Which prominent MRAs does that?

    Which MRAs preach the mass killing of women or the chemical castration of women?

    Which prominent MRAs make claims on par with the claims that all men are rapists?

    You are setting up a false equivalence. There is no comparing the more extreme parts of feminism with the most extreme strands of MRAs.

    Beyond this mainstream feminism has engaged in o form of grossly dishonest mythspreading in order to spread hatred of men that MRAs in no way does. Read Christian Hoff Summers to see documentation of gross misrepresentation of statistics and myth spreading that can only spring from the hatred of men and only have the goal of spreading the hatred of men.

    • Hold on Erik. This isn’t about which side has worse extremes. Mark is only getting at the fact that there are extreme elements on both sides of this. No more no less. Trying to resolve “which side’s extreme is worse” in order to say that Mark is playing false equivalence is just as useless as something I experienced a while back.

      A year or so ago I did a guest post at a site in which I tried to point out how teaching boys a violent sexuality that encourages the use of force against girls is damaging to boys. Someone counter argued with the claim by saying that was a false equivalence on the grounds of the (frankly incorrect) accusation that I was saying boys are just as harmed by this dangerous sexuality as girls.

      I made no such attempt to compare the affects of this dangerous sexuality on boys to the affects it has on girls. But that didn’t stop that person from accusing me of that comparison (that I never made) as a means to shut down what I was saying about it being dangerous to boys.

      That’s about what you’re doing here.

      Mark isn’t trying to say that the extremists on one side are worse than the extremists on the other. They both exist and they are both bad. Simple as that.

      We could get bogged down in comparing Elam’s racism to Marcotte’s sexism but that would be pointless. They are both bad.

    • QuantumInc says:

      Erik is clearly thinking of the lesbian separatist movement which was closely associated with ’70’s feminism, but in the 21st century lies pretty much dead. For the longest time I thought of Andrea Dworkin was a lesbian seperatist, until I read an article by her where she stood up to them at their rally, and compared them to Nazis. Dworkin’s quote is likely examining violent pornography, wondering why their are so many erotic images of women being abused, some of which is really that bad, but pornographers never do the same to men. Of course her real goal was to remove abuse and violence from sex entirely. Unfortunately I’m not nearly familiar enough with feminism of that era to explain the positions of all those women.

      http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIID.html

      People on both sides have a lot of reasons to be angry. However speaking out in anger can lead to one saying some pretty ridiculous and downright scary things. It’s pretty obvious lesbian separatists were more concerned with revenge than fixing the problem, but the same is true of most of the MRAs I’ve seen talking online. If you want examples of the worst of the worst manboobz.com has plenty, and you WILL find stuff where ostensibly prominent MRAs recommend enslaving all of womankind.

      • “and you WILL find stuff where ostensibly prominent MRAs recommend enslaving all of womankind.”
        Care to list any? I haven’t seen anywhere near the filth from top MRA’s as I have seen with the S.C.U.M lovers, the transphobics, extremist feminists. More often than not I just see 2 groups of pissed of people, both with quite a few having bigotry of the other and a few extra’s who are egalitarian on top who don’t seem to fight much.

  2. Danny: We could get bogged down in comparing Elam’s racism to Marcotte’s sexism but that would be pointless. They are both bad.

    While I agree with the general premise of both sides having their fair share of good and grotesque sides, there’s one thing you need to consider Danny:

    Which bad side gets the most support in society?

    Certain strands of feminist thought, and certain types of women, can get away with tarring men and boys under the guise of “Proggressism” and “Equal Rights”. There was one commentator who had a teacher say to her, when she was fourteen, about the reasoning behind why men are made out to be idiots and women smart in the media, “Maybe it’s time for men to feel bad for a change”.

    This was a high school teacher (not necessarily feminist). Think about that. Imagine if a male teacher begrudged all women as a group this way? He’d be fired on the spot.

    Yes, both sides have their bad apples. It’s just one set of bad apples are given leeway and endorsement from society if you know what I mean.

    I’m not on anyone’s side here. Just have to point out what I observe with these groups seedy sides.

    • “We could get bogged down in comparing Elam’s racism to Marcotte’s sexism but that would be pointless.”

      Can you provide examples of Paul Elam’s racism? This isn’t trolling—I was really surprised to see someone say this and would like to know the real deal.

      Thanks.

      • Honestly I have none but that is the common charge I hear against him. Truthfully even though I read A Voice for Men I don’t read a lot of Elam’s stuff (I mostly go there for TyphonBlue and Dean Esmay).

        • Ok thanks for weighing in. I’ve read most of Paul Elam’s articles—whatever else the man’s shortcomings are I have never even gotten a whiff of racism from the guy so I was really surprised to hear that charge leveled at him here. Would be nice to be presented with some actual evidence as opposed to, apparently baseless, character assassination.

  3. I’m so upset by this drivel of ignorance I can barely type… It doesn’t help that every time I try to comment this page refreshes because of some fucking ad cycle that froze. Damn it all to hell and a more fiery fate than that.

    You start off criticizing ideology and then take a turn for the worst when you co-opt the discussion about feminism. Feminism is not yours to take a hold of and say that it goes too far. It’s a discourse for women, by women, about gaining their freedom from systemic oppression.

    Next time you feel like speaking about an oppressed people-group, do those people a favor: staple your mouth shut and do some more research.

    • James: “You start off criticizing ideology and then take a turn for the worst when you co-opt the discussion about feminism. Feminism is not yours to take a hold of and say that it goes too far. It’s a discourse for women, by women, about gaining their freedom from systemic oppression.”

      Then maybe you should stop advertising it as being for men then. That way, I, and many others, won’t have to waste our time exposing our venerabilities only to be spit in the face.

      James: “Next time you feel like speaking about an oppressed people-group, do those people a favor: staple your mouth shut and do some more research.”

      Wow.

      Staple your mouth shut?

      I’m not even going to touch this one.

    • James,
      If you directed your final comment at a woman it would be considered oppressive and abusive. Yet, how is it any less oppressive and abusive when directed at a man?

      • elementary_watson says:

        Well, the answer to your question would be, quite obviously, “false equivalence”. Because a woman would be oppressed to start with, while you aren’t.

        This is not what I believe personally (I think it is vilely abusive), but that’s the mindset you’re arguing with here. You must have known you would get those comments when you wrote the article, didn’t you?

      • Because when I say it to you, you can bounce back. I might hurt your feelings and all, but it’s not a sign (or a reminder) of your oppressed status in society. If I said these things about women, it would mean that yet another man doesn’t give a shit about the existing inequalities and the systemic micro-aggression that keep women from being equal to men. Your socio-political status is not affected by what I say, but when I start speaking out against feminism I am reinforcing the inequality that already exists on a socio-political level.

        Mark, I don’t believe that your intention was malicious, because frankly what you started off critiquing was ideology (something I’m very passionately raging against in my own spheres of influence). The problem is that your writing about “extremist feminism” screams of ignorance about feminism , oppression, and systemic injustice. You also seem to be completely oblivious to your own male-privilege. The way you talk, as well as those commenting in favor of your article, seem think that the inequality that exists is only minor- a little inconvenience that can easily be overcome. This is far from the truth. Our society is shaped, molded, and formed to favor men at every level: from the ideological perpetuation of false science about women (seriously, women’s libido was diagnosed as a mental disorder) to the incessant use of women as an object of man’s amusement. From the time a female is born, she is trained to be the second-class dog that male-dominated society.

        My initial reaction may have been harsh, but as a man who is a feminist, I take great offense to seeing the struggle I participate in (the struggle for the liberation and equality of women) being slandered and chalked up to some radical misandric (man-hating) para-military movement. Are there some women who have some strongly worded critiques about men, patriarchy, and male-privilege? Sure, but if you were born and raised with a boot planted firmly against your throat, you’d probably want that boot and it’s owner put in their place. It is not for you (or for me, or any other man) to “tone-police” the efforts of women to get out from under the iron-fisted grasp of men and have true equality, independence, and freedom.

        • 1)To say that its okay to be abusive toward men because its not a sign (or a reminder) of their oppressed status in society is a jaw droopingly appalling statement. Men confront oppression every day as do women and until you cross that conceptual threshold, you will continue to add to the mix of societal abuse by granting extremists of all stripes permission to abuse human beings, both men and women, under the guise of social justice.

          2) The language in your comments here attempts to pre-empt any demand I might make for simple egalitarian discourse. Calling anyone, man or woman, out for making abusive statements is not “tone-policing”. It is insisting on common human decency.

          3) Saying that I am blind to my own privilege is comical. You have no idea what my view is on that issue. For the record, I am perfectly aware of the imbalances in our culture. ALL of the imbalances. But it would appear that you need to place that privilege frame up front, thereby granting yourself free reign to marginalize my point of view. The implication being that I’m a passive or potentially active participant in the oppression of women. This is a perfect example of the silencing of dialogue and the “invitation into binary discussions” I mention in my article.

          • The idea of being blind to privilege is interesting. Quite frankly I think most women are blind to their privilege with violence, men are more likely to be KILLED by violence as a group. Everytime I see an article on a woman decrying how bad it is she cannot walk alone at night safely implying that men can I see female privilege at work, and supreme ignorance. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the most likely target of violence and death at night by a stranger is a male.

            Do they really not understand a huge number of men are born with the threat of violence deeply implanted on their throat, that violence is so common to men that even women can hit men without many people giving 2 shits. Wake me up when women start to see thousands n thousands of women dying on screen, in games, in media by the time they have grown up to the point that when we talk about violent death we have normalized male death so much that we say 100 people died, INCLUDING 5 women and children.

        • Because when I say it to you, you can bounce back. I might hurt your feelings and all, but it’s not a sign (or a reminder) of your oppressed status in society.
          Oh really?

          Let’s say Mark was a rape survivor. You think telling him that he wasn’t raped because the rapist was a woman isn’t a sign/reminder of oppressed status?

          Or telling Mark that because he is a man the mother of his children gets to decide what role if any Mark will have in his children’s life?

          Your socio-political status is not affected by what I say, but when I start speaking out against feminism I am reinforcing the inequality that already exists on a socio-political level.
          What makes you so sure you aren’t affected his socio-political status? And speaking out against feminism isn’t inherently reinforcement. It seems to me that you hold feminism in some exalted status where it is beyond question. Pretty much what meant about the true believers in his post.

          The problem is that your writing about “extremist feminism” screams of ignorance about feminism , oppression, and systemic injustice.
          See what I mean? No matter how bad someone gets when speaking in the name of feminism it’s always okay in your book isn’t it? And about that ignorance part. That’s experience. That’s experience with having people shut you out because of your gender. That’s experience with trying to talk to people that think because they are feminist they can’t be wrong. That’s experience dealing with the very damaging idea that their movement is the only way to equality. The ignorance is thinking those experiences don’t happen.

          Are there some women who have some strongly worded critiques about men, patriarchy, and male-privilege?
          Strongly worded critiques? Damn that’s a sugar coating if I ever saw one.

          Sure, but if you were born and raised with a boot planted firmly against your throat, you’d probably want that boot and it’s owner put in their place.
          And you know what? I’d be expected to do it in some way other than trying to put my own boot to someone else’s throat. Is it that too much to ask of women?

          It is not for you (or for me, or any other man) to “tone-police” the efforts of women to get out from under the iron-fisted grasp of men and have true equality, independence, and freedom.
          Well given that Mark (and men in general) are a part of the society they are trying to change then yes it actually is our place to speak up. But no its not tone policing. Its questioning. Its challenging. Its forming a united front. Its mutual respect.

          Yes I know it would be nice if women were free to reshape society in some vacuum where they are free from criticism but they aren’t.

        • Our society is shaped, molded, and formed to favor men at every level

          Which is why there is a Violence Against Men Act, rape crisis shelters for men, DV shelters for men, services aimed at anger management for female DV perpetrators and multitudes services aimed at preventing male suicide, which is obviously happening less than female suicide, right?

          Our society is shaped to favor the 1% and their buddies, people who take and are unaccountable because they are the police (corruption). Not to favor poor men, victimized men, or even a significant portion of men.

          But there’s plethora of female-only services and concerns, and committees though.

    • Michael Rowe says:

      James, congratulations on the most offensive published comment to a GMP piece I’ve ever read. Aside from everything else, this is a forum to discuss men’s issues, and men’s issues include their place in a society with a feminist presence. If that bothers you, head over to one of the radfem sites and see how welcome your comments are, as a man, on one of their threads. But please–don’t attempt to silence GMP writers because of your own particular sensibilities.

  4. I disavowed feminism because of the dogma, the ideology, the notion that “equality” means only helping women (because, without even checking, Marxism analysis tells you men have it better in ALL areas, so they can wait until the world is perfect for women).

    I disavowed men’s rights (the title) because of the disproportionate anger, and some of the lunatics (though not as bad as the TERFs (stands for trans-excluding radical feminist – a special brand of radfem that hates all men, and trans women because they think they’re men) on feminism’s side). Also because I want to work for all rights.

    Note that I will support feminists and MRAs who work for equality in just and fair ways (ie, promote the end of all DV, not just male-on-female), I just won’t identify with them.

  5. My impression of Mark’s main point is that we need to truly listen to each other and focus on what so many of us find logical – choices for people – both men and women – to do with their competence, their desire to love and care for their families, their right to own their bodies.

    The labels are problems, clearly, as they are emotionally charged for some, and less so for others. “Feminist” to me means something very different than it does to you, @Eagle35 and to you, @Erik.

    And I’ll quote what Mark writes which is, as I see it, the gist:

    And this is the problem with labels and movements. While many of us are attempting to build bridges across the gulf that exists between men and women, zealots stand in the gap with laundry lists of ideological absolutes, demanding that we all pick a side.

    It’s about coming together. Many of us want it that way. Choices, opportunities, respect, compassion. A dialog, understanding our differences as well as our commonalities, and that we are individuals. Structures that help all of us, for example, when we become parents and need to both raise children and work.

    • I am cautious about a group that allows the extremist strand that hurt me a place in their tent. Too many times I’ve been burned.

      If you experienced the kind of things they said to me, you’d understand. Next time, try being called a “Privledged white male that benefits from oppressive systems” or have your hurt minimised or labeled an anomoly because “Women have it worse off.” Then tell me about coming together.

  6. Bravo, Mark…! I heard Catherine MacKinnon and various other feminists (like Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, Anita Hill, and Emily May) speak at an event at Hunter College about a year ago…It was to commemorate the anniversary of Anita Hill’s testimony before Congress about workplace harassment…she had just published a book on housing equality (and the observation that large numbers of working black women were caught in the vortex of the housing crisis a few years ago)…I just wanted to say that the auditorium was filled with hundreds of people with a whole spectrum of views, and that many people got to say important things and to debate and discuss things in a passionate but measured way….it was not just extremist or “man-hating bile” that was spewing forth…..I think it is too easy to paint people like that like fire-breathing dragons, but in truth, their words that I heard with my own ears was supportive of the struggle that certain people still have in the workplace and on the streets….and there were quite a few men in attendance who were supportive of Anita Hill back then….

    • Eve Ensler is an advocate of pedophile rape. In the original version of the vagina monologues, that was playing for years, there was a part where a 24 year old women raped a 13 year old girl and the girl saw it as a healing experience because it taught her she did not need a man. The fact that she is a feminist icon speaks volumes about feminism. And what was Mckinnons views on heterosexual intercourse again? Your claim that these women are not man haters is absurd. That is exactly what they are.

      • Many many feminists are not man haters. Lumping all feminists in with the most extreme voices in the movement is absurd. As it would be to lump all Men’s Rights activists in with the most extreme voices in that movement. What drives me nuts is how predictable the binary back and forth is in these comments. It’s as if we need a monolithic enemy in order to feel validated. Frankly, this obsession with the binary is spiritually dangerous as well as a social and cultural dead end.

        • While I certainly agree with you, I think much of the problem is that, while the man haters are so visible, as is their support (Eve Ensler is a popular icon in that movement), the ones who support men and seek to address men’s issues, and those who speak out against the man haters, if they even exist to any relevant degree, are virtually invisible. It is unfair to lump all of one group in with their extremists… but when it becomes difficult to tell which are the extremists due to a very small range of visible activity, then what should we do? Just because someones actions seem extreme in general, doesn’t mean they are extremists in their movement. One determines the extremists by a comparison of the actions of the average member to that of those doing extreme actions.

        • Which of course feeds the mentality of “It’s okay for us to take all of you in worst faith or insult/attack you but if you do the same to us its wrong.”

          I can tell you first hand there are people on all sides of this (myself included) that will on one hand speak about trying to seek out people to make changes regardless of label and then turn around and say/do something that attacks someone because of their label.

  7. Personally, I wouldn’t be anti-feminist if it was just the extremists who I had a problem with. They’d be easy enough to ignore.

    Unfortunately I see the leading mainstream feminist activists and largest feminist organisations pushing for censorship and restrictions on personal freedom, spreading false claims and statistics, and calling for special treatment (e.g. gender quotas and all women shortlists) rather than equality. Unlike the extremists they’re the ones who are listened to and often get their own way.

    • This is one of the key points for me as well. Even the mainstream feminist organisations and those individual feminists with clout in the media and universities constantly spread false claims and statistics, call for special treatment, utterly ignore male perspectives and call for censorship and restrictions and espouse attitudes that are very hostile to men. So although there certainly are quite reasonable feminists and while most non activist women that define themselves as feminists without being very involved usually don`t hate men, the broad feminists movement functions as something very negative. It is not just the biggest loonies, it is the mainstream as well.

  8. The sad thing is both groups, most of them I believe want the same outcome of equality.

  9. This article makes a shocking amount of sense.

    My only real criticism is this. There isn’t parity between feminism and MRM. Feminism is carrying around 50+ years of ideological baggage which is hamstringing any efforts of moderates to address real egalitarianism — most notably the prevalent female-victim / male-perpetrator dichotomy. Feminism also possesses a huge amount of political clout, as evidenced by the ability of hardliners to actively quash any honest discussion on valid men’s issues, to rewrite the rules to deny that men’s rights even exist, and to enact legislation with an obvious anti-male bias.

    The MRM, for its part, crystalised in response to all this. I think if more moderate feminists got on board and starting speaking out against the excesses of their hardliners, even at the risk of being vilified and branded a traitor, it’d go a long way towards extending the olive branch. It would also take a lot of steam out of the MRM hardline rhetoric.

    My 2-cents.

  10. Since my last post didn’t pass moderation (bafflingly), I’ll take a different tack. I’m in the WCWAJGA camp; having said that, I am male, and I grew up in the “All me are pigs and deserve to die” era, and so I’ve had no love for feminism. That changed recently after seeing some feminists try to extend the olive branch toward the MRM, with sincerity I believe. And to be honest, it hurt me to see their efforts met by a lot of trolling and consternation. I won’t defend or excuse this behaviour, but I do understand it.. however, it gave me a wakeup call that, hey, it might just be possible that some feminists do care about men’s well being.

    Some MRA’s have made a rebuttal to this effort by “nice” feminists, with reasons which have some validity, but with a derision I found off-putting. I also cannot reconcile feminist ideology as it stands. But, I really feel compelled to embrace these feminists who are sincerely trying to meet us half way.

    That’s all I have to say. Peace….

  11. Mostly_123 says:

    Mark, great article- I applaud your idealism, your conviction, and the principle that says one can & should embrace those individual truths that are best in any given ideology; rather than those that are the most divisive or doctrinaire. Commonality of goals and values transcends differences (even fundamental differences) in ideological structuralism. 

    What I would like to see is more examination of (and deconstruction of) the appeal of extremism over moderation – there was a great quote I read a few years back, from, I think, Hubert H. Humphrey: “I’m a knee-jerk moderate” – and the trouble is, moderation doesn’t sell anymore. Like I said, I share your values, aspirations, and rejection of extremism in gender ideology (as well as other places), but sir, I fear you have opened yourself to be decimated by bigots, zealots, and condescending ideologues of every stripe on BOTH sides of the gender-ideology divide. And why is that? I believe it has everything to do with the power of anger (the ‘narcotic’ power of anger, as I called it once before). It just feels good to be SO angry. This is where extremism has a much broader appeal- some people will never want to be ‘moderate’ anything; the extremism itself IS the appeal.  

    It can be disquieting, but on a very fundamental level it feels GOOD to be so angry when one’s anger is ‘righteous’ and one’s certainty in the moral supremacy of their own position is unshakeable. When the source of the anger is so profoundly external to one’s self and one’s responsibility, it becomes even more pronounced. There’s an absolute headiness that comes to people in the moment they realize that they’re immutably ‘right’ and everyone aligned against them is, – not just ‘wrong’ – but absolutely reprobate. This is where moderation, compromise, and genteel discourse pale in comparison to the appeal of fiery rhetoric- rhetoric feeds the addiction to anger, and fills the mind & soul with a certainty and focus. And so, the rhetoric itself becomes the goal, because it nurtures and facilitates that guiltless anger. What meager pleasures can moderation offer in comparison? It’s just an invitation to doubt, reticence, introspection, and perhaps worst of all, the prospect of having to compromise with people one doesn’t even like, or perspectives one can’t stand or understand. 

    Moderation never feels as ‘right’ as indignation: A person feels a lot better to just vent and say something like, oh, I don’t know, maybe: “I’m so upset by this drivel of ignorance I can barely type…  Next time you feel like speaking about an oppressed people-group, do those people a favor: staple your mouth shut and do some more research.” The poster also mentioned they had to re-type their comment (more than once!) because it got lost in the page refreshes: If righteous anger didn’t feel so good to people, would we go to such effort? I doubt it.       

    I myself think it’s redundant to call an extremist ‘arrogant’ because you’ll never meet a humble one; nor one with a smidgen of ambivalence, reticence or ambiguity: That’s what being an extremist is (angry or no). You talked briefly about Catholicism at the start of your article- in my belief, of all the disciples in the Gospel, I think the story of Thomas, the doubter, is the most important and relevant: His story (seldom examined) shows that the path to redemption may not always be without deviation- faith can still be tested, (sorely tested) and perhaps it needs to be tested, even if it fails; we NEED moments of doubt, skepticism, and introspection- without them, it’s not faith at all- it’s just unquestioning zealotry.

    I wish you well, though I do not envy your path: you’re on a course to collide with people on both sides of an arbitrary line they’ve drawn. They’ll both see you as an immoral or an ignorant impediment (or worse), when they themselves are all “about gaining their freedom from systemic oppression.” So, I wish to leave you with the words of Adlai Stevenson: “All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions. All change is the result of a change in the contemporary state of mind.” Thanks. 

    • Excellent post, sir. Especially your comment “moderation doesn’t sell”.. Too true, too true.

    • soullite says:

      the problem is, zealots are the ones who show up. Moderates are the ones who talk a good game, but mostly only wave from the sidelines. If they do anything at all, it won’t be half of what you need, even less of what you asked for, and nothing that they promised.

      Moderates don’t really believe. They just want to get things done. The problem is, they usually just want to get ANYTHING done, even if it won’t actually solve the problem. To a lot of people, a ‘moderate’ is someone who simply dislikes conflict — even when that conflict is necessary and represents a meaningful and legitimate disagreement. They look at people with a strong opinion and see children, but usually don’t know enough on any given situation to make that judgment valid. A moderate is someone who never sees a reason for disagreement. Very often, they come off as either corrupt or facile.

      We’ve had two decades worth of ‘moderate’ leadership. The economy has worsened the whole time. Standards of living have dipped the whole time. Yet the only thing these ‘moderates’ can agree on is giving rich people money. That was always bound to have an affect on people’s perception of the moderates in general.

  12. Mark, I appreciate your efforts and I guess I understand why you continue to consider yourself a feminist. You said, “Maybe I’m cut from the same cloth as American Catholics. You know, a person who joins the Catholic church and then picks and chooses which part of the church’s dogma they’re going to actually buy into. American Catholics are known for supporting the use of birth control even though the use of it is clearly condemned by the church.”

    For one thing, we have to clarify that the Catholic Church isn’t against birth all control. They openly support rhythm method of birth control.

    As you may have read in some responses I’ve given with various articles, I struggle with feminists who are not typically feminist or only resemble a feminist only in that you support women’s rights. I still don’t understand why they consider themselves feminists and feel that they can serve to the benefit of women and men if they didn’t label themselves.

    In so far as the American Catholic, which I refer to as a “cafeteria Catholic,” who picks and chooses that which fit their personal wants, I wish they wouldn’t call themselves a Catholic. They may be baptized Catholic but are certainly not practicing Catholics. You call yourself a feminist but are you actually a practicing feminist? And if you’re not, then why call yourself a feminist?

  13. Soullite says:

    There is no parity here. You cannot compare the hard, diamond edge of a newborn movement to the steady, smoldering hatred of a 50 year-old one. Men’s Right’s could, as most movements do, cool with age, popularity and success. The Women’s Movement never did. Each success only brought more demands. Expanded popularity only lead to greater extremism.

    When the MRM manages to put bias into law, the way the feminism movement has repeatedly done in both criminal and family law, then you can write an article like this. Until then, it’s a false equivalence.

    • These are the words of what I call a true believer. Everything you are saying may have some basis in truth, on some level, in some places, but it is a carefully selected and partial truth. You avoid acknowledging the full range of political and social movement that is taking place led by men and women of good will. You focus on the negative because that validates your own entrenched position. Great. Spend your days pointing out the worst. But be aware, it defines you as well.

      • But it has only gotten worse and worse and truly extreme laws are starting to get passed and that same process of things moving in that direction is evident in every single country I have some knowledge of. There is some positive movement amongst some feminists but that has only come about because of outside pressure. I mean if feminist genuinely cared about domestic violence against men they would not have been trying intensly to try to cover it up for decades etc. etc. I am not going to have any faith in a movement that has treated my issues that way for that long in taking care of my interests. Feminism has consistently worked against mens rights of decades and it is getting worse alongside the small positive changes in parts of the movement.

  14. Well i did not do that did I. I just said that the feminists she mentioned are man haters and that the fact that these women are, for the most part at least, icons and heroes to most sections of feminism speaks very badly about most of the movement.

    I agree that there are feminists that have a lot of reasonable positions. I also do not believe that all feminists carry a personal hatred of men. However, I have a problem with all feminist theory and I belive that the key faults of all feminist theory creates hostility towards men and injustice towards men.

    As far as I am aware all versions of feminism share the following two falacies. They see the patriarchy as oppression by men as oposed to a societal contract that was mutually repressive and mutually beneficial for men and women and that both women and men wanted and took part in upholding in their own interests. Men where not oppressors, did not benefit more than women and women where not victims and where not powerless. I broadly agree with Warren Farrells positions on the matter.

    Secondly, all or at least close to all versions of feminism see women as far more opressed today than men and see the primary battle as womens liberation. Some versions do emphazise mens rights a lot more and some individual women might have come to the point where they don`t see women as much more oppressed than men.

    The fallacy of patriarchal oppression leads all who believe in it to hold views of men throughout history that invalidates their goodness, nobility and morality and is hostile to their masculinity. Even though the person holding such a view may not personally feel much animosity towards men the view certainly does imply anegative view of men and masculinity that is deeply problematic and easily creates hostility, anger and even hatred towards men in others. Although the feminist teachers I had certainly did not hate men in the sense Dworkin or Ensler does they did communicate a lot of very male hostile and masculinity hostile views that can be traced straight back to patriarchy theory. That was very daamging to me, to the other boys in the classes and indierctly to the girls as well. The same thing will always follow from the fallacy of feminist patriarchy theory.

    To the extent feminists hold the position that women are uniquely oppressed today that also easily leads to a lot of the same negativity. I`m exposed to it frequently.

    So, the way I see it, if you don`t hold a more balanced view of the past and of the true complexity and mutuality of gender discrimination than almost all feminists does you do get hostility towards men. If you do hold a more balanced view I can`t think of any reason to call oneself a feminist. Something like an equalist would work better. The word feminism implies a special consideration for women.

    I agree that there are probably issues that feminists raise that are important and that MRAs would tend to ignore. So keeping the debate going on those issues would be important though I see the banner of feminism and the framework of feminist theory to be damaging to such discussions across the board. One can benefit from drawing on some feminist theory and taking some inspiration or insight from it but the framework as a whole is just so plain wrong that it is useless.

    Comming back to the connection between the genuinely hatefull section and the mainstream I think that relationship speaks so badly about most feminists I have a problem accepting that they are not soaked in views that are hostile to men as well and do not harbour at least a good chunk of resentment and ill will towards men. Greer, Dworking, Morgan, Ensler, Mckinnon, Solanas and most of the rest of the key feminist heroes and icons ARE genuine man haters. They have written incredibly hateful things. However, they are not at the fringe of the feminist movement. Morgan was editor of MS magasin. As Leia just told us Mckinnon is still received positively on university campuses. That is sick. Greer is almost like a national treasure in England yet yestrday I read some of the worst male hatred I`ve come across and it was by her. Ensler not only thinks it is OK for an adult woman to rape a 13 year old girl she thinks it can also be a positive healing experience and a “good rape” as it can teach her that she does not need men. Yet Ensler is somewaht of a mainstream media darling in teh US is she not? And many, many, many feminists and women failry sympatethic to feminism saw her play before the rape was edited out because of pressure yet very few spoke up and the movement as a whole has not only accepted her but kept celebrating her given her high status. Something is fundamentlly wrong with the mindsets of people who supposedly work to reduce gender based oppression when they are unable to see the problem with ensler and react correctly towards her. And that very fact taints mainstream feminism HARD.

    In Sweden most feminist think that forcing school children to watch the SCUM manifesto by Solanas is a great idea. If that is your view than your attitudes towards men is not healthy and it comes from somwhere and that somwhere is generally feminist theory. In fact there was recently a thread on the goodmenproject about how feminism had truined the love life of a woman by making her hate men. In the thread many, many women admitted that feminism had thaught them too to hate or ahrber hostility towards men and do things like try to put men down and feel superior to them. And this is on the feminist site in teh world that is probably the most positive towards men. So why on earth should I bother giving this movement more and more chances when it keeps producing such results and such thinking even amongst its moderates and its mainstream? That brings me back to the point that it is the patriarchy theory and the lacking ability to prpoerly take in the male perspective that creats this problem over and ovr again. Which again to me means to dump the whole movment because it itself is the problem and keeps creating problems.

    If you don`t feel the MRA deals adequately with all issues then make up some new term such as equalist or gender equivalist or something along the same lines and include more of the female perspective including the MRA parts but leave the feminist label behind.

    • I wish this blog had upvoting.

      • Yes. It’s no surprise that the most trenchant and relevant critiques aired by Erik will go un-addressed by the author of this piece—they fly in the face of his argument and can’t be easily dismissed by charges of true-believerism.

        The fact of the matter is that even mainstream/moderate/respectable feminists organization (like NOW) have been and are currently engaged in deploying false statistics, opposing shared parenting legislation, alimony reform, etc. Yes, there are good feminists who believe in true equality—but they are not now and have never been in positions of power and they don’t wield any real influence on the broader dialogue. Pretending otherwise is a charade that any right-thinking person should want no part of.

        • Yes exactly. How many years has the absolutely false and garbage narrative of “Super Bowl Sunday is the day with the most domestic violence” been going on? It wasn’t true to begin with and isn’t true now. It doesn’t stop them from trotting it out every year.

        • Did I write an article offering some blanket defense of feminism? Because I don’t recall doing so.

        • Yes. It’s no surprise that the most trenchant and relevant critiques aired by Erik will go un-addressed by the author of this piece—they fly in the face of his argument and can’t be easily dismissed by charges of true-believerism.
          I think instead that its for the same reason he would not address relevant critiques of MRAs.

          While those crititques may be valid (and honestly I think a lot of what Erik said is valid) the problem is getting so bogged down in whose critiques are the most valid and whose side has the worst extremists the messages of unity are sacrificed for the sake of “scoring points”, “calling someone out”, and writing up zinging “take downs”. Sure its hip and cool to get a bunch of people on twitter to retweet a scathing article and just say “This!” but after a while you gotta stop and wonder what’s the motivation behind such posts.

          Making connections and changes or just trying to pounding your chest and telling everyone you’re morally superior to “the other side”?

          • “While those crititques may be valid (and honestly I think a lot of what Erik said is valid) the problem is getting so bogged down in whose critiques are the most valid and whose side has the worst extremists the messages of unity are sacrificed for the sake of “scoring points”, “calling someone out”, and writing up zinging “take downs”.”

            You and Mark are missing the point of Erik’s critique, I believe. It’s not to wallow in the moral superiority of MRAs or engaging in valueless point scoring.

            What you and Mark need to acknowledge is that it’s not the nice, reasonable, honest proponents of genuine equality that are wielding power in feminist circles and influencing legislation in the halls of Congress and various state capitals. These are not the people with power over lives, families and children. The people wielding the true power (DV advocates, NOW, womens’ lobbying groups, etc) are the presicely the ones deploying false statistics, anti-male rhetoric, and far worse. You need to come to grips with the simple truth that there is no honest interlocutor on the other side—the nuts are running the asylum.

            You and Mark (and the Good Men Project more generally) talk a lot about working with the good feminists who believe in true equality, don’t hate men, don’t use fake stats, etc—and that’s great. But what this means in practice is that you will be working with feminists who wield no actual institutional power and never have. If I’m wrong then prove it: where are all the powerful feminists abandoning the repeatedly debunked 77 cents on the dollar myth? Where are all the powerful feminists talking about the bidirectionality of gender privilege throughout history? Where are all the powerful feminists talking about the bidirectionality of domestic violence and calling for protections and aid for men? Where are all the powerful women supporting default joint physical custody of children in divorce? Where are all the powerful feminists calling for women to register for the selective service? Where are all the powerful feminists asking women to be accountable for who they fuck under the influence the same way they’re accountable for what they drive under the influence?
            You can’t find any because they don’t exist. I have no doubt that there are feminists who want true equality and are calling for these things…but you’ve never heard of them because they don’t actually have any real power of really even influence the debate.

            But you can’t publicly acknowledge this because then you would have to abandon your moderate, a-plague-on-both-their-houses pose. You would then have to conclude that MRAs like Elam are onto something and engage them—the only honest actors—about solutions. But no, much easier to just continue with the both-sides-are-extremists crap—the articles write themselves and you never have to take a real stand.

            You are committing the cardinal sin of believing that the truth must always—always!—be midway between two poles. That mindless bipartisanship is always the solution. The evidence simply does not support this position and if you don’t have what it takes to call balls and strikes in obvious situations then you are doing more harm than good.

          • Just to let you know, Danny, I penned a thought-out response to your post and it briefly appeared…but is now gone.

            I really hope I’m not being censored here…

            • It could just be that there was a word in your response that triggered the auto filtering, thus sending your comment to moderation.

              A human will go in and moderate the comment but for the time being it sounds like your comment was caught by an auto filter whose process is quite literally, “It has this word in it. MODERATE!!!!”.

          • “While those crititques may be valid (and honestly I think a lot of what Erik said is valid) the problem is getting so bogged down in whose critiques are the most valid and whose side has the worst extremists the messages of unity are sacrificed for the sake of “scoring points”, “calling someone out”, and writing up zinging “take downs”.”

            You and Mark are missing the point of Erik’s critique, I believe. It’s not to wallow in the moral superiority of MRAs or engaging in valueless point scoring.

            What you and Mark need to acknowledge is that it’s not the nice, reasonable, honest proponents of genuine equality that are wielding power in feminist circles and influencing legislation in the halls of Congress and various state capitals. These are not the people with power over lives, families and children. The people wielding the true power (DV advocates, NOW, womens’ lobbying groups, etc) are the presicely the ones deploying false statistics, anti-male rhetoric, and far worse. You need to come to grips with the simple truth that there is no honest interlocutor on the other side—the nuts are running the asylum.

            You and Mark (and the Good Men Project more generally) talk a lot about working with the good feminists who believe in true equality, don’t hate men, don’t use fake stats, etc—and that’s great. But what this means in practice is that you will be working with feminists who wield no actual institutional power and never have. If I’m wrong then prove it: where are all the powerful feminists abandoning the repeatedly debunked 77 cents on the dollar myth? Where are all the powerful feminists talking about the bidirectionality of gender privilege throughout history? Where are all the powerful feminists talking about the bidirectionality of domestic violence and calling for protections and aid for men? Where are all the powerful women supporting default joint physical custody of children in divorce? Where are all the powerful feminists calling for women to register for the selective service? Where are all the powerful feminists asking women to be accountable for who they sleep with under the influence the same way they’re accountable for what they drive under the influence?

            You can’t find any because they don’t exist. I have no doubt that there are feminists who want true equality and are calling for these things…but you’ve never heard of them because they don’t actually have any real power of really even influence the debate.
            But you can’t publicly acknowledge this because then you would have to abandon your moderate, a-plague-on-both-their-houses pose. You would then have to conclude that MRAs like Elam are onto something and engage them—the only honest actors—about solutions. But no, much easier to just continue with the both-sides-are-extremists crap—the articles write themselves and you never have to take a real stand.

            You are committing the cardinal sin of believing that the truth must always—always!—be midway between two poles. That mindless bipartisanship is always the solution. The evidence simply does not support this position and if you don’t have what it takes to call balls and strikes in obvious situations then you are doing more harm than good.

            • Dragnet. Why do you insist that I condemn leading feminists? Its borderline compulsive what you’re doing here. Really. I’m AMAZED by how completely you are missing the point of my article, while simultaneously making my case for me. That people who are deeply entrenched in ideological dogma and binary conflicts are unable to discover common ground or create generative dialogue.

              Really, you don’t need me here. You’re just enjoying the echo chamber.

            • Again Dragnet …outstanding!

            • What you and Mark need to acknowledge is that it’s not the nice, reasonable, honest proponents of genuine equality that are wielding power in feminist circles and influencing legislation in the halls of Congress and various state capitals
              Believe me when I say I understand this. You and Erik aren’t the only ones that can pull examples where feminists have supported unfair treatment of people (and not just men either).

              But what this means in practice is that you will be working with feminists who wield no actual institutional power and never have.
              Unfortunately I agree with you here. In my own experiences I’ve noticed that there is (usually) a direct proportion between how close a feminist is the mainstream and how likely that feminist is to have reasonable positions on various topics. Frankly the closer they are to the mainstream the less likely they are to have reasonable positions on topics.

              You can’t find any because they don’t exist. I have no doubt that there are feminists who want true equality and are calling for these things…but you’ve never heard of them because they don’t actually have any real power of really even influence the debate.

              But you can’t publicly acknowledge this because then you would have to abandon your moderate, a-plague-on-both-their-houses pose.
              What? Is this your first time crossing paths with me at GMP? I’ve said plenty of times that the ones I’m likely to find solid ground with are ones that are not mainstream.

              You are committing the cardinal sin of believing that the truth must always—always!—be midway between two poles.
              No not always. But in this case after having seem plenty of reasonable positions, thoughts, and theories from both aides it is my firm belief that the truth is between two poles. Mind you I don’t think its going to be the dead center mid point though.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “Unfortunately I agree with you here. In my own experiences I’ve noticed that there is (usually) a direct proportion between how close a feminist is the mainstream and how likely that feminist is to have reasonable positions on various topics. Frankly the closer they are to the mainstream the less likely they are to have reasonable positions on topics.”

              They do have one small degree of power, they influence pubic perception, both by pushing the ideal in discussions, as well as by inflating the numbers of supporters the mainstream can claim to have backing them. In effect, they shield the mainstream from being seen for what they are. It is this reason, that I agre that working with them is not entirely fruitless.

              My biggest problem with this “working together” meme, however, is that it is usually presented in a “give up your position and come work with feminists, our way”. It doesn’t leave room for any compromise or acknowledgement of the problems with feminism approach. This is where I really need to give Mark’s article credit, as he is the FIRST feminist I have seen openly state feminism has problems (that he picks and chooses out.) and that, they too, need to take steps towards a common ground. Ironically, he has gotten a lot of flak for that from feminists. I can understand the MRA resistance to his article, as it is, yet again, asking the bullied to compromise with the bully (in their view), but the feminist opposition makes no sense, except to demonstrate that it is not about equality to those opposing this idea.

            • Mark Neil says:

              ” as he is the FIRST feminist I have seen openly state feminism has problems (that he picks and chooses out.) and that, they too, need to take steps towards a common ground.”

              For clarification, when I say first to acknowledge, I’m referring to both criteria simultaneously. The first I have seen a handful of feminists acknowledge the first, sometimes just paying lip service, sometimes actual acknowledgement. The second I don’t think I’ve ever seen, and certainly not both at the same time.

            • Dragnet,
              You said, “You are committing the cardinal sin of believing that the truth must always—always!—be midway between two poles. ”
              No, my friend, I am not. You are committing the cardinal sin of believing there are only two poles. There are a lot more. And it is in those other spaces where men will insure they receive equality and respect. By pushing into the media with clear and powerful narratives about full time dads, we are shifting the public perception of what men are at the most basic levels. This is in turn impacting how divorces play out in a myriad of levels. This is where change is happening right now. And it has little to do with the grudge match between Feminism and Men’s Rights extremists.
              Getting caught up in the binary battle with a single opposing viewpoint allows your opponent to frame the debate and set the stage for how change will be argued. I’m not going to work for change in that limited space. And I believe one does more harm than good by exclusively locating one’s efforts there. Sometimes, yes, but not exclusively. Its a losing proposition.
              As I say, its the past, yelling at the future.

  15. TheBadMan says:

    So, what are you doing about the tragedy of family courts that is practically ignored on this blog?

  16. If labels are the problem, mangling two together isn’t a great move.

    A light third way is a better call. I reject both labels and garner the best points from both sides. Having done this for some time, I can say that feminism isn’t the solution it claims to be, and the MRM isn’t the demon it’s made out to be.

  17. Mark, what’s your position on the “Shared Parenting” legislation that’s being proposed in some states?

    • I’m concerned that its a little one size fits all, but on the whole its positive because it empowers dads. They are no longer defined, by default, as being absentee ATM machines.

      • I think the one size fits all worry is alieviated by the room for parents to be proven unfit.

        The popular crticism anti-dad crowds have against shared parenting is that it will allow abusive dads to hold children hostage to hurt the mom. What those folks don’t acknowledge is that most of the advocates I’ve seen for shared parenting specifically call for there to be room to show that one (or both) parent is unfit, and therefore should have limited custody or possibly none at all.

        Another funny note is about those anti-dad types is that in all their concern about dads abusing shared parenting laws they fail to notice how moms have pretty much had a free pass on stepping over the Hague Convention for years. They are worried about a dad that might be abusive but have no problem with a mom that kidnaps children….

        • Danny,
          My one size fits all concern is for dads or moms who do not wish to be an engaged parent after divorce. In some cases it seems like they must be labeled as “unfit” in order to not be obligated to be engaged. Some folks don’t want to co-parent, they just want to pay child support. They shouldn’t be stigmatized for that if the arrangement works for the custodial parent.

          • Some folks don’t want to co-parent, they just want to pay child support. They shouldn’t be stigmatized for that if the arrangement works for the custodial parent.
            I would imagine that there would be room for parents to voluntarily stap back from co-parenting as well. The point of a lot of fathers rights work is to help out (mostly) dads who want to be in their children’s lives but are being kept away by nothing more than mothers that prioritize their own grudges over the father/child bond. I don’t see a lot of effort to force people to be co parents.

            • Don’t get me wrong, Danny. I’m a divorced father who is co-parenting. I’m living this stuff every day. I understand the downside to the family court system intimately. Yes, please, let dads parent their children. A-men. Shared parenting has my support. Fully. I thought we were just looking under the hood.

            • Ah I dig.

          • “My one size fits all concern is for dads or moms who do not wish to be an engaged parent after divorce.”

            Except the rebuttable presumption of shared parenting is if the courts are the ones forced to decide. If the decision is made before it ever reach’s court, nobody will be forced into anything. The only time your concern would actually come up is if the two parents were fighting over making the other parent take the child because they don’t want it… and that’s a whole different problem.

  18. From what I’ve read, NOW is campaigning against the legislation in that they fear that these children will be forced to live with abusive fathers. Now, 500,000 strong have a loud voice. They represent feminism and it’s not the “let’s everyone get along” feeling some so called modern feminists want to portray.

    Mark, do you recognize NOW as a modern day feminist group? If so, do you or any open feminists at the GMP, go to their site and voice your opinions? If you do, I’d be curious as to their response.

    Mark, I do believe you and many other feminists truly want equality and especially work for the best interest of children but the truth is, what you and other feminists feel and do amounts to little in comparison with the big guns like NOW.

    • om, I would prefer that you call me a man’s rights activist as well as a feminist because I am both and therefore…neither, (but that part of it is completely getting lost here, as some of us seem to be obsessed with assigning and then condemning labels). I am working as a writer for the Good Men Project to insure that men have equal representation for our issues but I do not advocate from a position in opposition to extremist feminists or MRAs.
      There is a ton of good work to be done that will open up the spaces for men to present their side of the story without engaging in that binary debate. When we fall into those binary debate spaces the extremists on the feminist side and the men’s rights side have us right where they want us. As troops in their ongoing grudge match to the death. I am not going to get dragged into that unending war when there is so much else that goes unspoken in the public spaces where the general public can and is being educated. THAT’S where change will come. A battle for hearts and minds. For example, just making public the story about millions of stay at home dads is changing the landscape around divorce and parenting dramatically. And that space has little to do with the battle between the extremist parts of the feminist and men’s rights movements.

  19. “Michigan proposed legislation supported by these groups would impose joint custody on parents who are in conflict over custody. Most studies report that joint custody works best when both parents want it and agree to work together.”

    This is a quote from NOW.I should note that what’s said here is that the courts will impose joint custody when there is a “conflict.”

    Also stated by NOW is “The Michigan legislation states that in a custody dispute the judge must presume that joint custody is in the “best interests of the child” and “should be ordered.” To make any other decision, a judge must make findings why joint custody is not in the children’s “best interest.”

    It doesn’t sound tome that judges are simply forcing joint custody and placing kids at risk.

    And the title of their article? “Father’s Rights” Groups: Beware Their Real
    Agenda …… “Michigan NOW opposes forced joint custody for many reasons: it is unworkable for uncooperative parents; it is dangerous for women and their children who are trying to leave or have left violent husbands/fathers”

    NOW also states “The truth is that in 90 percent of custody decisions it is mutually agreed that the mother would be sole custodian. According to several studies, when there is a custody dispute, fathers win custody in the majority of disputed cases.” Anyone know what studies they’re talking about?

    The reason I’m bringing this up is that NOW is modern feminism and represents what feminism is in the USA. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “but they don’t represent me” …. Sadly, they do in fact represent you, the “feminist.”

    • Mark Neil says:

      “NOW also states “The truth is that in 90 percent of custody decisions it is mutually agreed that the mother would be sole custodian. According to several studies, when there is a custody dispute, fathers win custody in the majority of disputed cases.” Anyone know what studies they’re talking about?”

      I believe the first statistic is incorrect. it is, in 90% of cases, it doesn’t go before a judge. That’s not to say it is decided sole custody. This also ignores the impact that the courts current bias has on the decision making process (would you spend $100K to fight a battle that is unlikely to get you more than a marginal increase in what you’ve been offered? Not everyone can afford that)

      As to the second stat, it’s my understanding that it’s using the multiple meanings and general misunderstanding of “custody” to promote misinformation and the idea that courts are biased against mothers (because they refuse to completely allow a father to be cut out of their child’s life). “Joint” custody only means the non-custodial parent is granted some say in the big decisions (religion, school and medical. enforcement of this choice is a different issue). And I do believe it is accurate that, when fathers take their ex’s to court, they have a marginally better chance (<10%) of getting joint custody rather than none, but this does not ensure any more actual face time with their child, and can cost a massive amount of money in legal fees (both his and hers in many places).

    • Mark Neil says:

      As to NOW, their official position on fathers rights groups and men daring to fight for time with their children, is that these men don’t care about their children, they care about abusing their ex’s. The very idea that a man would be willing to fight for access to his child because he actually loves his child and wants to spend as much time with them is completely foreign to them. That says a LOT about how they view men. Here is their official word on the matter

      http://www.nowfoundation.org/issues/family/FamilyLawNewsletter-Fall2012.pdf

  20. I do not, nor could I ever, call myself a feminist. And here’s why. When it boils down, there are 3 parts to feminism:

    1. Feminist ideal — The notion that everyone is equal regardless of sex/gender, and everyone should have the same opportunity to live their lives and have personal fulfilment. I subscribe this to ideal. And so do most reasonably minded people.

    2. Feminist theory — This is, at its heart, a model of how society functions based on the dynamic between two polar genders (male & female). It makes two initial assumptions: First, that females have been (and still are) historically subjugated by males, resulting in the notion that males are (even today) inherently privileged; second, that “gender” itself is a purely social construct without any basis in biology. FT then builds on these assumptions to explain the prevalent difference in gender roles in our society, while presenting a framework for breaking down those roles to hopefully reach gender parity.

    I do not subscribe to feminist theory, on these grounds. The first initial assumption can be reinterpreted not as subjugation, but as the result of a social contract where the man was expected to protect and provide for his wife and children, and the woman, in return, was expected to raise the children and maintain the domestic arena. Many contend that such a contract was in fact advantageous to women, as it put responsibility solely onto men to work in drudgerous, hazardous and possibly fatal employment to provide for his family, while being separated from his family. As for the second assumption, it is demonstrably false by way of current research, if not common sense. Feminism’s theoretical framework also includes a number of spurious assertions like “rape culture” and “Patriarchy” (with a capital “P”).

    Lately FT has softened on its stance on males, asserting that they too have been historically “subjugated” by their gender role for the most part; nevertheless, its maintains that women were still “subjugated more” and that men were/are still privileged. FT’s reasoning here is that rule over society was the sole domain of males (the “Patriarchy”) down through history. This, too, is demonstrably false by a study of history and a deconstruction of the male/female dynamic in the ruling classes.

    3. Feminist Practice — This is where I, MRAs, most men, and a sizable chunk of women have a problem. Feminist Theory would be an interesting academic exercise, if its shaky tenets were not the basis of a good portion gender bias in our society. Feminist groups form a powerful lobby in government, school, academia, and even pop culture, leading to blatant pro-female/anti-male bias in legislation, education, health, family law, and many other arenas. Furthermore, attempting to address these shortfalls, or even acknowledging they exist, as well as questioning the hallowed tenets of FT, can lead to ostracising, ridicule, shaming, and being marked as a “misogynist”. Far from the utopia espoused by the Feminist Ideal, feminism in practice presents such obvious hypocrisy and double-standard that would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.

    That’s where I stand, and is why I could never call myself a feminist. It’s also why my blood boils when I hear things like, “If you’re not a feminist then you must be for the subjugation of women”. And if you are proud to call yourself as a feminist, you should give the above points serious consideration.

    • Mostly_123 says:

      Re: JQ 2. Feminist theory  

      One could go on at length into detail, but I think you did it in short order and touched on something that is at the very core of much of contemporary feminist theory there. 

      The way I see it, the problem is that this theory, this narrative, is now sacrosanct in too many corners: Whether that feminist model of power relations is correct or incorrect, much of contemporary feminism (or those powers that be that claim to speak for it) have staked everything on persuading people to acquiesce to the validity of this particular narrative itself, rather than the goals that it wants to achieve. Approbation of that narrative IS the goal now. And there’s something that strikes one as inherently selfish and self-serving about that, because it seems to place the gratification of ideological & intellectual vanity over efficacy, pragmatism, and the right for intellectual dissent.     

      But validation of the narrative has been rationalized as the paramount goal, because it is rested on the presumption that IF people understand and accept the narrative, then change -positive change, and only positive change- will automatically follow. In truth, it guarantees nothing of the sort: I may believe in the validity and authenticity of an ideology’s mechanics, while disapproving of its overall goals and/or conclusions. Or vice versa.

      When rhetoric becomes the goal, the ideology (whatever it may be) ceases to be an effective force for change as it was originally intended, and instead becomes an engine for self-perpetuation. And, sadly, this phenomenon is hardly unique to feminism. Just my thoughts at present.

    • THIS!

      Agree to all.

  21. Good point! I think there are several reasons for this but an important one is that there are a lot of people that have a vested interest in this for financial, career and prestige reasons. What would the womens studies researchers do? What would the enlgish litterature professors that have invested 20 years in analysing litteratur from this perspective do? What would the womans studies graduate that works for a government agency on sensitivity training or some such do? What would an activist that has worked full time for NOW do? And so, so many journalists have built their carrers arround their feminist perspective. Not so easy to see all that go.

    Related to this there has always been a temptation for anyone working with this to exagerate, make stuff up and create moral panic to make a name for themselves, get grants, get to be key speaker on conferences, get a book deal, get wide publicity etc. Creating the right moral panic can take you from obscure to being published in the Atlantic. This is most of the reason IMO that a journalist wrote an article about how misogynistic and oppressive the word panties and how it is holding women back. This is also the reason this woman gets any attention:

    http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/megasahd-why-im-proud-to-be-a-mens-rights-feminist/

    It is also how Naomi Wolf made a name for herself. She claimed 150 000 women died of anerixia each year while the real number was 525. She exagerated all her other numbers in similar fashion.

    We are going to see ever more nutty attempts to create moral panic and ever more absurd claims by people trying to make a name and career for themselves of and by people trying to maintain funding and their prestige and position. The rethoric arround hate and the emotional nature of the atempts to shore up support will get more extreme. As this happens they will garner some more support but will allienate most people and allienate the moderate feminists.

    I think it perpetuates itself and becomes extreme because it does not make the activists happy and content but just increasingly unhappy. Carrying that level of anger, hostility or often hate just makes you miserable and it makes you a bad person and it trickles into your personal life. Learning to see yourself as oppressed in every way in everything you experience 24/7 makes you miserable. Seeing men as the enemy makes you miserable. Being at war with both your feminine side and your masculine side makes you miserable. Bullying male feminists trying to do good makes you miserable. Trying to make a relationship work based on a model of gender and of attraction mechanisms that is utterly untrue and does not reflect who you really are or how attraction really works makes you miserable. Trying to fight your instincs makes you miserable. Trying to fight your nature makes you miserable. Learning to see yourself as a victim in everything and seeing someone else as to blame for all your problems makes you miserable. And seeing the only soolution to your miseray as society changing in massive ways it never will makes you miserable.

    Since their activism and belifes just make them more miserable and the sollution is always to blame someone else since you feeling bad is always the cause of a man or men, the misery their beliefs create just creates more fervour for activism and more desperate activism. The thing will go on for ever unless someone from outside stops it.

    Getting out is hard. Your eduction is tied up in it, your career and financial future is tied up in it, your network of friends might be 100% dependent on maintaining your beliefs as you might be ostracized and even harashed and bullied should you leave the ideology or even worse, join the enemy. Your ego investment is also huge. They have also dugg themselves into a psychological model where patriarchal oppression psychology has almsot taken over from normal psychological thinking and getting out of that mental universe will be hard as you don`t relate anymore to normal psychological interpretation. Basically what we are talking about is being tied to a certain version of feminism in the same manner as people get tied to a cult with the same difficulties in leaving.

    There is also the huge problem that so many joined to solve a personal problem and feminism offered a sollution that was based on blaming others and not taking responsibility. People use feminism as a way to play out their traumas with fathers, boydfriends and men in general. People use feminism to change the standards of beauty is that they themselves will become the pretty ones. People use feminism as an excuse to keep eating junkfood and not exercising. People use feminism to absolve themselves of the responsibilites for failed marriages, bad dating choices, lack of career success, their own self esteem, their own lack of courage, and more or less every personal problem you can imagine. Leaving feminism would mean taking responsibility for these things yourself. It might also very well mean that there is no way that society can change so that you would not experience whatever uncomfortable thing you wanted feminism to take away.

    So, the perpetuation of feminism is a really tricky psychological thing. It is unusal in the way it allows people to remove their own responsibility, promises to take away problems that can not be taken away, alows you to play out whatever traumas you have, alows you to try to change your status by promising to take you from unattractive to attractive, alows you to build an entire education and career arround it etc. Being just a Democrat or a Republican just does not offer anywhere near the same incetives for joining and for staying. Feminism is also rather unique in that it alows you to take all your personal crap and go crazy with and try to make everyone change acording to your own personal neurosis. It can do this because it is so much more personal and all encompassing than most other political beliefs.

  22. @Mark Greene: I am a feminist (surprising no one here), but I am curious what MRM “ideas and philosophies” you love? To be clear, I’m not asking which issues they raise that you find important…that could be a fairly obvious list of: father’s rights, attention to male victims of DV and rape, the great proportion of our prison population that is male, over-diagnosis of boys with behaviour disorders, etc. I’m curious which MRM philosophies you find work better than feminist philosophies? (Keeping in mind that when I say “feminist philosophies,” I’m not necessarily referring to mainstream ideas. I mean pretty much anything and everything that falls under that category).

    • If I may be so bold as to interject, the majority of MRA’s I communicate with don’t believe in collectivized prosperity, are dogmatically stoic & eager to prove their worth to society and them selves by throwing their lives in front of harms way to protect & provide for their loved ones. We’re raised to show courage in the face of danger. Men fight & die for the silent religion that is masculinity & for the life of me I cant say if it’s right or wrong.

    • Not buying it says:

      “Which MRM philosophy” !!!?? , forget about MRM philosophy How about the tried, true & tested human philosophy of father’s in their children’s lives provided that they are not harming them without prejudgment & safe guards against both parents as basis of family law for starters & a full over whole of the gender relations that is based on facts instead of the slowly being debunked ideology which is being rejected even by 70% of women currently.

      • Okay, but, aside from “fathers are good,” what MRM ideas do you agree with? Not, which feminist ideas do you disagree with……but which MRM ideas do you agree with?

        • For me, the MRM ideals I agree in are: Financial abortion rights, raising awareness of female abusers (along with male), getting rid of selective service, massive overhaul of family court and for non-violent mothers n fathers allowing joint custody should they wish. Although some feminists hold the same position, so the MRM and some parts of feminism appear to be the same but neither has monopoly on equality.

          • But those are goals. That’s like, okay a feminist goal I agree with is maintaining Roe v. Wade and protecting abortion rights. But that’s not a philosophy.

            The feminist philosophy behind my support of abortion is that of bodily autonomy. And like, okay, my support of trans* rights largely stems from my agreement with the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construct.

            So, I’m curious what MRM philosophies Mark (and anyone else) agree with. That’s what I meant by ideas…

            • my support of trans* rights largely stems from my agreement with the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construct.

              Mine doesn’t stem from that.

              Discrimination for reasons that do not cause undue harm (and harm to a brand image is not real harm – not a reason to not hire or to fire) is bad, period. Regardless of wether it’s inborn, chosen, a lifestyle, or born-this-way.

              I think trans people are largely biologically their identified sex (in as much as brains are biological), and I don’t think gender even enters the picture for most transsexual people.

              For transgender people, much of it does stem from men being limited in wardrobe choices however. And drag queen/king is exaggerated on purpose shows (and would exist regardless of gender norms).

              For non-binary folks I can’t say, I’d rather let them talk for themselves.

            • Yes, of course, discrimination of anyone is always wrong. So, I suppose, my support of any discriminated against group really has roots in that knowledge. However, what I meant was that specifically, my active support for trans* rights comes from the feminist idea that gender is a social construct. – Like, not just passive “discrimination is bad,” but actively being an ally.

              When I say gender is a social construct, I don’t quite think you get what I mean. I mean the idea that male=man and female=woman is a social construct. I mean the idea that a passive nature, weakness, vanity, and being too emotional, etc. are feminine is a social construct…collecting all of those traits (and a bunch of others) together and labelling them “woman,” is a social construct. (Same thing goes for “man). This is pretty straight forward, as other cultures have different traits they’ve collected together and labelled “woman” and “man” (and sometimes other categories that aren’t “woman” or “man”).

              I agree that trans people are biologically their identified sex (just like cis people are biologically their identified sex)…but sex and gender are not the same thing. So I’m a female and I was raised a girl and I identify as a woman…but I do things that are masculine sometimes. I went through a period where I wore men’s clothing and shaved my head. I was kind of aggressive in many ways (for a variety of reasons) and I generally eschewed a lot of feminine behaviour. I didn’t identify as a man, though…because gender is a social construct. A woman can do masculine things (and a man can do feminine things) without giving up their identity as a woman or a man.

            • For me its like this.

              People shouldn’t be bound to a certain life style that is based on an arbitrary event. The results of the chromosome dice roll shouldn’t be what determines what type of life a person should live.

              From the moment the Y or the extra X is discovered (whether by checking ahead of time or looking at the genitals at birth) people get are locked into a certain path (well you call them bundles).

              This expectation that one can only follow one set path that was predetermined by a random even is what breeds the acts of discrimination. In fact it’s also what breeds sexism against cisgendered people as well.

            • Which cultures se men as more emotional than women? Which cultures see men as more passive and receptive and women as active?

              There is vast solid evidence for biological gender differences. Claiming otherwise is like being a member of the flat earth society.

    • father’s rights
      That when it comes to raising children men should not have their roles in parenting determined by people other than themselves (unless of course it could be proven that he is unfit). I believe that when it comes to men and parenting there is only one thing that should determine their capacity as parents, their actions.

      attention to male victims of DV and rape
      A man should not have his gender used against him as a weapon to silence him when he is in an extremely vulnerable position.

      the great proportion of our prison population that is male
      I believe that when men go to prison there are two things:.

      1. That he is there because he actually did something wrong to end up there.

      2. Once there that those men have an actual opportunity to reform (yes I agree some people are beyond redemption, but how can you tell with the way they are treated).

      Belief being that when it comes to men and crime there needs to be a way to make sure they are properly treated (and yes this touches on false accusations) and offered a proper opportunity for redemption.

      over-diagnosis of boys with behaviour disorders, etc.
      1. So that instead of boys being diagnosed as a way to declare them “defective” they are diagnosed as a way to help them.

      2. To correct the policies, structures, etc…. in effect that cause those misdiagnosis.

      The belief that boys need not have their gender held against them when being diagnosed and treated for ailments.

      Circumcision:
      A boy’s bodily autonomy should not be violated for any reason other than medical necessity.

      Now as for how these compare with feminist ideas they may sound similar but I think in all honestly that feminism has one minor shortcoming. The way it diagnoses the ways men are harmed and the prescribed treatments for resolving them.

      • I do not mean to keep asking, and I think I might not be communicating my question wrong…or just not well enough.

        Everything you listed are like, practical, policy issues. So, like, okay…we’ll just take circumcision as an example, in part because I agree with you, and in part because it’s a fairly uncomplicated issue. On the practical side of what you want to see happen, you say you want circumcision to stop (except for medical reasons). On the practical side of what happens now, you recognize that circumcision is quite a common practice, often for aesthetic reasons.

        But, okay…like what are the MRM critical theories that attempt to explain why circumcision happens so commonly? What are the MRM philosophies that examine how male circumcision fits into the larger cultural norms about sex and gender in modern society? What are the MRM’s theories about gender, in general? There are so many myths about male circumcision, what are the MRM’s explanations for why those myths keep being perpetuated?

        See what I’m getting at here? Big picture…I’m interested in how the MRM explains the big things.

        • From what I’ve seen of the MRM I THINK one is that society grew up for the benefit of both men n women, what is called patriarchy was more of an accepted agreement between man n woman due to the nature of childbirth and lack of breast milk replacements, the father would be the breadwinner and the mother looked after the family n homestead whilst both combined made a family unit what was good back then. Then you have the elites who ruled over the peasants, men had some power, women had some power, but peasants had fuckall power, men n women were both oppressed by the elites. Basically a patriarchy except women had more power than feminism appears to credit them, and men didn’t have as much, but both men n women at the very top had ENORMOUS power. Basically class mattered a huge amount more than gender, and that men had some privileges whilst women had other privileges (like not being drafted).

        • I do not mean to keep asking, and I think I might not be communicating my question wrong…or just not well enough.
          No no no ask away. Unlike most feminists you are asking what we mean instead of telling us what we mean. Communication!

          But, okay…like what are the MRM critical theories that attempt to explain why circumcision happens so commonly?
          Why so commonly? I myself believe that when it comes to bodily autonomy the consideration that we often see afforded girls is not extended to boys. I think it may have something to do with a few things. The idea that girls are more precious than boys maybe. That when it comes to genitals the penis is being held to a narrowly acceptable standard of what it should look like. “He should look like his dad.” “So that girls won’t think it’s gross.”

          As for how it fits into the norms of sex and gender as I said above its a matter of where other people’s views on what a guy’s penis should looking are taking precedent over what his own views might be. Surely you see similar thing happen to girls.

          When it comes to theories on gender I’m of the mind that there is a system in place. And this system exists not to hold any one above any else except for itself. It will mow down anyone regardless of gender, race, financial status, etc…. The system keeps people in the places where they will be the most beneficial not to themselves but to the system. In practice this is quite harmful to damn near everyone. The only way to free everyone up is to undo this twisted system. The main road block is that in keeping people in their places (sorted by gender, race, etc…) we are pitted against each other. (Which is Mark’s point about trying to end the fighting and get to the changing).

          As for the myths behind circumcision there may be a few things:
          1. The data on the supposed health benefits of the practice have been contested for quite some time. For every study that has a pro circ conclusion there’s one that has an anti-circ conclusion. (I wish I could find the link again but did you know that a year or so ago there were clinics in Africa that were actually going to schools and circumcising boys, without their parents knowledge?)

          2. In the fashion of men being cast as success and utility objects I think that part of reason the myths continue is that people simply don’t care that much about the bodily autonomy of boys. I think this may be why despite the violation of bodily autonomy people are willing to accept conditions for why the practice should be done.

          3. I’ve seen more than a few people argue that circumcision should be banned….but with a cultural/religious exception clause. Seriously, we’re gonna in one breath say that cutting a boys genitals when he has no say in it is wrong and but then turn around in the next and say that it’s okay to do it because of the religion of his family?

          4. As for the supposed health benefits being contested I wonder about the depth of sexual education for boys. Circumcision is being pushed as the way to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission in a place where it is believed that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS?

          Mind you I don’t pretend to have the explanation for all things that go on.

          • So now we’re getting closer to what I was asking. Stuff like the “success object” and the idea that men’s bodily autonomy is less recognized than women’s. The idea that there’s an overarching system that is more important than race, class, gender,etc. and it pits everyone against each other. – These are the sorts of theories I was looking for.

            So okay, now again I’ll ask…what overarching MRM theories/philosophies do you agree with? (Not everything, obviously. If I were to write down every feminist theory I agreed with or disagreed with, it’d take ages. But just in general…the big ones).

            • So okay, now again I’ll ask…what overarching MRM theories/philosophies do you agree with?
              This is where it gets fun.

              That men as a classed are specifically harmed in ways because of their gender. AKA yes sexism against men exists (and as I said in “This is not how you support men’s issues” its not a matter of one being worse than the other or one being more important that the other, they both exist and they are both bad). These things must be deal with.

              That in order for men to have the changes that will help everyone in the long run men have a lot of heavy lifting ahead of them.

              That a man should be free to determine his own path in life (barring the fact that he doesn’t harm other of course).

              Similar to the way feminists believe that women shouldn’t be expected to have their existence define in relation to men men should not be expected to have their existence defined in relation to women.

              Most of what I can think would fall under one of those four but I don’t pretend them to be all inclusive of MRM ideas (and in fact I bet other MRAs might disagree with me on them, just as there is disagreement among feminists).

              As JQ has says Feminism has about a 60 year head start over the MRM (and could be longer than that because I’ve read a few articles here and there that date feminism back to the abolishinists in the 1860s). Like any movement its formed as a response to things in society and culture that its members feel are not being properly addressed.

            • So the middle two you listed still don’t quite fit what I’m saying…cuz they’re more like, general desires for life. But the first, okay…that men are harmed because of their gender. And the last, that men shouldn’t be defined by their relationship to women (and I assume, this means you think that now men are defined by their relationship to women).

              The reason I asked, originally, is because Mark said in the article that there are feminist and men’s rights philosophies that he loves…so I wanted to know which men’s rights philosophies he agreed with.

            • As for those middle two I’ll give you the one about the long term work but as for the other:

              That a man should be free to determine his own path in life (barring the fact that he doesn’t harm other of course).
              Would you say that for women to have this same freedom is more of a general desire and something not specific to feminist ideas?

              I’m wondering because under that I was mostly thinking about how men are restricted in what they are “allowed” to do just as women are (the gender construct you mentioned earlier).

              and I assume, this means you think that now men are defined by their relationship to women
              Yep.

            • Yeah, if you want to frame it in terms of gender roles, then it’d have to be more like, “that gender roles have limited the lives men could lead,” or something.

              Well, it doesn’t HAVE to be that…but I mean, in order to be a specifically MRM philosophy it kind of has to deal with gender in some way. And simply, “we wanna live our lives,” kind of doesn’t…unless it’s framed in a way that suggests men couldn’t in the past because of gender roles.

            • Well now if you want to get specific I can do that.

              In the past men’s live were limited by gender roles in the form of the expectation that in the family unit the man was the external provider* (while the woman was to be the internal provider*). These expectations limit what types of providing a man was “allowed**” to do.

              As a sign of progress look at the increase and rising voice of the stay at home dad. For a long time (and still yet) the stay at home dad was regarded as not fulfilling his expectations to abide by his assigned gender role. How dare he be the internal provider?!? Its a change that men have had to make in order to get away from the past limitations. (Flip that coin over and I’m sure you’ll find the legacy of the expectations and limitations imposed on women.)

              * – Internal/External provider: My own way of labeling the husband aka “breadwinner” and the wife aka “homemaker”. Let’s be honestly they both provided in their own way. One was expected to provide from the outside and the other was expected to provide from the inside.

            • But Danny, that’s feminism.

              “We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons…but few have the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.” and “Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it” – Both are by Gloria Steinem

              Feminists would just add that being the “internal provider” has long been undervalued when compared to the “external provider.” (To use your terms)

            • You know I was expecting you to say that eventually but after a commenting several times and not saying so I was ready to eat some crow.

              Here’s the thing Heather. Are there commonalities between feminism and MRM? Sure (they are both about gender so that would make sense). But as I said below one of the reasons that MRM exists is because the inequalities that men face are not being addressed (or at least not being addressed properly).

              So regardless of having similar ideas there are still problems with the way feminism seeks to correct those inequalities (as I described below).

              Just saying, “But that’s feminism” doesn’t really get down to why there are feminists that seem to either not be pushing for what you quote there or may even be pushing against what you quote (or even in the worst case actually taking advantage of the inequalities that are mentioned in that quote).

              Now:
              “We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons…but few have the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.”
              This sounds great. People are willing to break the limitations that are imposed on girls but they are still not willing to break the limitations that are imposed on boys. (Personally I think that’s due partly to the system still wanting men in their own limited little place, nothing gives up power easily.)

              “Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it”
              Yes this is something I agree with. However as I said below despite there being things that I agree with when it comes to feminism there are still some things that I think it gets wrong. But even then that wouldn’t be so bad on its own. No its the unwillingness of feminism (on the large scale) to even allow those things to be questioned much less changed (such as recognizing that the limitations and harms imposed on men actually do harm men on an institutional scale and the limited depictions of rape culture).

              Fine well and good I suppose. But at the end of the day feminism isn’t going to fix everything by itself (at least as it is) and if it doesn’t want to hear that then people are bound to look to other places.

              I hope you aren’t about to tell me that I never gave feminism a chance or that if I don’t embrace feminism then that means I am against equality….

            • Nono, look, the reason I keep going on about MRM philosophies is because generally when I ask what I get is either something that’s framed as being anti-feminism (this is what we think feminists say and we think the opposite). OR what I see is someone basically agreeing with a feminist idea, but not talking about it as a feminist idea. The only reason I said “that’s feminism,” was because literally everything in that comment you’d made was covered by some brand of feminism…wouldn’t have said so otherwise.

              But look, screw the labels for a moment…I’m not trying to get anyone to take on any label. I’m interested in ideas.

              It’s like the MRM is reinventing the wheel rather than taking the current wheel and making modifications, or something. It’s like they saw someone using a wheel badly and instead of just using that wheel themselves, they decided to make their own. (That analogy’s not perfect, and I’ll stop with it before it gets to weird, but you get what I’m saying). And you might say, sometimes you have to start over, or something…but you don’t.

              Like, feminism (gender studies, whatever the hell) is this collection of a whole bunch of ideas about gender (some of them even primarily concerned about men)…it’s this whole body of knowledge that’s been critiqued and challenged and changed over decades. And so some feminists are using that knowledge in some shit ways (or totally misunderstanding that knowledge and screwing it up).

              And so the MRM saw the crap feminists doing some crap things and went “right, we’re not only against those crap feminists, we think feminism itself is wrong,” without really looking at and critically examining that whole vast collection of ideas that is feminism. And then they started over, and not only that…they generally construct most of their ideas as specifically anti-feminist. Like, “what do we think feminists say about this issue? We say the opposite!” Kind of reactionary. And because it’s so reactionary it gets a lot of feminism wrong. And it gets a lot of history wrong…like, it just does.

              But what the MRM could do, and be a lot more constructive if they did so, is take a bunch of feminist ideas (or gender studies ideas, whatever) that focus on men and masculinity..and build from that. Like, build from the body of knowledge that’s already there. And call it whatever you want…as I said, totally not doing the whole label thing…call it men’s rights or the MRM or whatever.

            • The only reason I said “that’s feminism,” was because literally everything in that comment you’d made was covered by some brand of feminism…wouldn’t have said so otherwise.
              And the reason I was expecting that was because usually when people bring that up they bring that statement up as a way to shut down what I’m trying to say.

              And so the MRM saw the crap feminists doing some crap things and went “right, we’re not only against those crap feminists, we think feminism itself is wrong,” without really looking at and critically examining that whole vast collection of ideas that is feminism.
              Yes there are those that do that but I’m actually not trying to do that. Maybe that’s way despite my claims of MRM I really don’t get much mention among them.

              But what the MRM could do, and be a lot more constructive if they did so, is take a bunch of feminist ideas (or gender studies ideas, whatever) that focus on men and masculinity..and build from that.
              That’s actually what I would like to do and you know what happens when I cross paths with feminists over this? I get told “But that’s feminism!”. And not in your way of just saying “Hey that’s a part of feminism too! Let’s talk!”. No it’s usually “Quit biting off of feminism! If you’re about equality then you must be a feminist and if you aren’t a feminist you’re against equality.” To which I have to bite my tongue else it will slip and a, “Well if you hadn’t of fucked it up in the first place then maybe I wouldn’t be picking up your pieces behind you!”

              And that’s not a lack of thinking about feminism Heather, that’s actual experience.

              But in thinking about my own anger I think I know where that reactionary contempt comes from. It comes from repeated experiences of trying to work with feminists but at the first sign of disagreeing with them they attack. And viciously. Regardless of what the words might if they are being endorsed by people who can’t handle being disagreed with on the slightest detail (prime example, most feminists will fight against the ideas of female privilege and sexism against men to the last breath).

              In short the reason they are saying, “what do we think feminists say about this issue? We say the opposite!” is because of feminists that say, “what we say about the issue is right!”.

              So there is a lack of critical thought on all sides here.

              I suppose that after that I splinter off from other MRAs on the matter of still seeing and acknowledging the parts of feminism that I agree with while still expressing where feminism frankly gets things wrong.

            • Danny –
              What did you mean by “That in order for men to have the changes that will help everyone in the long run men have a lot of heavy lifting ahead of them.”?

            • Sorry about missing this comment Kari.

              By that I mean that men themselves have to do a lot of work. Talking about the pains we’ve been told aren’t valid (and learning how to do so in ways that are not unhealthy). Working with those that would rather we remain silent.

              I mean that in order to bring positive changes for men, men have a lot of work to do.

            • HeatherN, Warren Farrell provides a theoretical framework such as the one your are asking for. His framework is very close to the views of many MRAs. Agirlwriteswhat has a lot of blog posts that provide a lot of a similar framework. Her post on the disposable male and her patriarchy posts for example. THe disposability article is on avoiceformen.com at least and the patriarchy articles here:

              http://owningyourshit.blogspot.no/search/label/patriarchy?updated-max=2012-03-25T18:49:00-07:00&max-results=20&start=3&by-date=false

        • Fair question. It’s difficult to answer because MRM hasn’t crystalised into a stringent set of philosophies of theories at this time, unlike feminism… it’s more a reaction to the issues you listed. But if I had to pick a couple:

          1. MRM doesn’t subscribe to Patriarchy Theory, but rather, the reverse.. it is women who have held privileged status, as evidenced by the responsibility and *willingness* for men to sacrifice and die to support his family, and by extension, society. Women are considered precious while men are considered disposable. Hence ultimate power was (and is) held by the feminine. Paul Elam calls it “Gynocentrism”, and I’ve read his thesis on it, unfortunately it’s 50% nuttery but does raise some good points.

          2. if women to truly want to close the gender gap, then they must accept equal responsibility and *accountability* as men. But MRM sees the feminist movement not as closing the gender gap, as it mandates, but widening it, especially to the detriment of men. Again, look at the issues you raised. But more importantly, through its emphasis on such things as rape culture and violence against women, as well as bias in women’s health etc., it accuses feminism of continually casting women as the “victim”. On the flipside feminism continually casts men as the “perpetrator”. Not only does this ignore the significant instances where women are the perpetrators and men are the victims, it ironically forces women into a disempowered childlike state. MRMs contention is by giving women equal accountability, the effect will actually be women’s empowerment.

          I think that’s about it.

          • Okay, but that is largely reactionary. Mostly what you’ve said is stuff you disagree with…and even the things you agree with, they are largely just the opposite of feminism. Or rather, the opposite of what you think feminism is saying.

            And here is where I point out that a lot of what you’re saying feminism is about, isn’t what feminism is about. (Like, I’m not even talking about the fact that there are different kinds of feminism and what-not. I’m literally just talking in broad strokes, feminism isn’t what you’re saying).

            Feminism doesn’t actually cast men as the “perpetrator;” it casts masculinity and patriarchy as the perpetrator…which is entirely different. And there is plenty of great literature about the nuance of power in patriarchy…patriarchy theory isn’t simply “men were in control of everything.”

            • Feminism doesn’t actually cast men as the “perpetrator;” it casts masculinity and patriarchy as the perpetrator…which is entirely different. And there is plenty of great literature about the nuance of power in patriarchy…patriarchy theory isn’t simply “men were in control of everything.”
              Now here is where I see things a bit different.

              Its not that feminism casted men as the perp and women as the victim. No its more like feminists (or at least some of them) had no problem taking advantage of that casting when it suits them, regardless of its origin.

              Also about what patriarchy theory is about. And this is a bit of a point of disagreement for me.

              To me I think patriarchy at best only describes parts of the system that really do benefit men over women in terms of gender. And I think its honestly misnamed on the grounds that it implies that when its all said and done, men are better off over all than women. I’m not sure that is true. That’s why I’m more of a fan of calling the system. Its there. Its exists. Its screws people over in different ways.

              However I’m willing to look past that on the condition that when it comes to dealing with the various inequalities that plague us the different inequalities are properly identified and dealt with accordingly for everyone’s sake, not just for the sake of one side with the promise that it will benefit the other.

              (And I think this is where one of my main points of contention with feminism is. When it comes to identifying the inequalities by gender they are not laid out in terms of what is going on but instead in terms of “how does this affect women, and oh yeah how does it affect men”.

              I see this in the form of the idea that homophobia against gay guys is actually misogyny and homophobia against gay woman is actually misogyny.

              I think that’s bull. Or when it comes to parenting the idea that men aren’t stereotyped as inefficient parents because of their gender. No its actually because women are stereotyped as superior parents thus dads get the short end of the stick.

              And here is a personal best I’ve been told. The body image issues that I deal with have nothing to do with my gender. But when it comes to women their body image issues are tied to their gender. Remember that body image series I did last year? In the opening post the first thing I wanted to address was the fact that in most articles you see about men and body image male body image issues are usually presented in relation to female body image issues. I wanted to ask what is so wrong about presenting male body image issues on their? But let’s just say the editors weren’t feeling that. And I also originally wanted to specifically eliminate any mention of female body image issues but I knew that wouldn’t fly so I didn’t bother bringing it up.

              Then there’s also the proposed solutions to these problems. Take the recent rape culture posts going on right now. Despite it being defined as gender neutral most of the time when its brought up in practice rape culture is limited to male against female rape. Now we’ve talked this out already. I like how you are for the idea of using data to tweak the theory. Problem is most proponents would rather ignore the data if it doesn’t fit the theory, which is usually presented when talking about male against female rape.

              By it’s logic that inequalities that harm men are not features of a system that is designed to keep everyone down for its own sake but rather they are bugs in a system that is meant to keep the masculine above the feminine. In other words it treats the harms of men as side effects and collateral damage of the harms of women. Its not sexism against men they are feeling its just some sexism against women that splashed on to them.)

            • Alrighty, I’m not going to go into the ways in which homophobia is and isn’t tied to misogyny, because that’ll just end with me very angry. Not at you, necessarily, but still angry.

              As for patriarchy theory, well here’s an article by bell hooks that explains it well. The concept of toxic masculinity, arguably, examines the ways in which the patriarchy has screwed over men. That’s kind of the point of it.

              Like, okay, I see a lot of what you’re saying. I get where you’re coming from in your reaction to a lot of what you perceive as feminist ideas. But the reality is that there is a heck of a lot more nuance in feminist discussions than what you’re describing. Not necessarily online, I’ll grant you…but in actual, real life feminist circles there is a lot more nuance in feminist ideas, and critique of those ideas.

            • Alrighty, I’m not going to go into the ways in which homophobia is and isn’t tied to misogyny, because that’ll just end with me very angry. Not at you, necessarily, but still angry.
              Fair enough but I’ll just say this. Homophobia is tied to misogyny but its not as all encompassing as “all homophobia is rooted in misogyny”.

              As for patriarchy theory, well here’s an article by bell hooks that explains it well. The concept of toxic masculinity, arguably, examines the ways in which the patriarchy has screwed over men. That’s kind of the point of it.
              I’ll read that later when I get the chance but let me ask real quick. Does bell hook believe that the ways that the system screws over men relates to their being male?

              Like, okay, I see a lot of what you’re saying. I get where you’re coming from in your reaction to a lot of what you perceive as feminist ideas. But the reality is that there is a heck of a lot more nuance in feminist discussions than what you’re describing.
              I’m sure there is more nuance. Which is why I haven’t gone full on anti-feminist. But at the same time there is going on in what feminist ideas I’m talking about that warrants a little bit of discussion. Discussion that frankly most of them don’t want to have as far as I can tell.

              Now I will say this. You are one of the VERY rare feminists I’ve come across that I have actually been able to discuss this with and didn’t just resort to tossing links to some major feminist sites with an air of “And don’t come back until you agree with me.” As in feminism is the one movement in human history to be right on every issue (now that doesn’t mean that there is never any internal critique, by this I mean that as an outsider non-feminist I’m wrong just be disagreeing with anything about feminism).

            • I kind of explained this in my comment below to Erik, but it’s more like this…mainstream society’s concept of masculinity hurts men. Feminists call it “toxic masculinity” for a reason. Men aren’t the problem…what we tell men they should be is the problem, because we raise our boys to believe they need to be emotionless psychopaths in order to be “real men.” (That’s kind of a simplistic definition of mainstream definition of masculinity, but you get what I’m saying).

              Toxic masculinity screws over women too…because we’ve ended up defining femininity as a bunch of characteristics we find frivolous or unimportant. We’ve decided that it’s better to be stoic than emotional, strong rather than weak, breadwinner rather than stay-at-home parent, dominant rather than empathetic, etc. – So even though women are ALLOWED to be empathetic and emotional and whatnot, mainstream society doesn’t value it. It doesn’t get you anywhere and our system doesn’t reward it. When you’ve set up a society that rewards dominance and aggressiveness and then assumed that one half of your population is incapable (or less capable) of those things (i.e. women)…then you’ve set up a recipe for stereotyping. And that’s where we get to my article about “Manning Up.”

              Toxic masculinity also screws over women because when you’ve socialized the other half of the population (men) with the idea that in order to perform their gender properly they need to be aggressive ass-hats, you get enough people who believe it…and we get what we have now, a culture of violence, and rape culture.

              ——-

              As for me being one of the very rare feminists who’ll talk about this nuance. Online, yeah, probably. But within academia, this is damn common. Feminists write books that critique each other all the time…that’s basically what bell hooks was doing with that article I linked you. She was critiquing 1980s second wave feminists who were ignoring masculinity and men.

            • As for me being one of the very rare feminists who’ll talk about this nuance. Online, yeah, probably. But within academia, this is damn common. Feminists write books that critique each other all the time…that’s basically what bell hooks was doing with that article I linked you. She was critiquing 1980s second wave feminists who were ignoring masculinity and men.
              But even for all of that critique a lot of third wave feminists seem to still argue against the idea that the parts of the system that harm men are institutional.

              (So apparently the system harms men but at the same time those harms are not features of the system. They are just side effects of trying to harm women. This goes back to what I’ve said about the diagnosing of the problems.)

              When it comes to bringing up all that internal critique its usually in the form of throwing up a link and nothing else. No actual conversation (like you are doing). Its almost like they are throwing up the links just to say that it exists but they haven’t actually read the material. They aren’t putting it up in hopes of continuing the conversation but rather to shut it down.

              And even though they are so quick to name drop bell hooks and the like seem to simultaneously want to say they already have it covered but then turn around and say and do things that contradict that claim of having it covered.

              I mean seriously how can someone in one breath say they know that the system harms men and that’s a bad thing, in the next breath support efforts that deny those harms, in the following breath say that by men merely trying to address those harms on their own inherently harms women, and in the next say that men need to “do their own work”. All under the supposedly feminist idea of wanting to free up all people?

            • I think it comes from the fact that women are kind of doubly harmed by the system, as understood by feminists. To explain things simply:

              1. We place a high value on ass-hattery behaviour (strength, stoicism, domination, violence, etc). We raise men to be asshats. – this screws over men (see the ways in which male victims are ignored, etc.).

              2. We then tell women that they cannot access this high-value ass-hattery, not really. – this screws over women (see the crap said about how women are too emotional to be CEOs and what-not, etc.).

              3. We have created a society in which we’ve told one group (men) that they can and should use this ass-hattery behaviour to dominate another group (women) – this screws over women (see rape culture, sexual objectification, etc).

              That’s, like, the simplest way I can think to explain it.

              1 and 2 are kind of mirrors of each other in a lot of ways. If you assume that one group of people (men) are embodiments of a collection of traits (which we label masculinity), then you need the opposite…a group (in this case women) which are assumed to be unable to fully embody the masculine (and instead are assumed to embody the feminine). – And we have made that dichotomy so rigid, that we assume men can’t be feminine and women can’t be masculine…and if they do cross those boundaries something must be wrong with them. – So far, so equally screwed.

              It’s the fact that we’ve placed a higher value on the masculine that pushes things over the edge…that’s what #3 stems from. We have two groups (masculine and feminine), and because we just can’t have two categories without placing one above the other…we had to go and assume that one group is more valuable than the other. And we went with masculine…and if you place a higher value on the masculine (and if the masculine is already a collection of traits that are pretty mean and dominating), then you create a system in which the masculine dominates the feminine.

            • It’s the fact that we’ve placed a higher value on the masculine that pushes things over the edge…that’s what #3 stems from. We have two groups (masculine and feminine), and because we just can’t have two categories without placing one above the other…we had to go and assume that one group is more valuable than the other. And we went with masculine…and if you place a higher value on the masculine (and if the masculine is already a collection of traits that are pretty mean and dominating), then you create a system in which the masculine dominates the feminine.
              Now I see that you are saying masculine/feminine in your explanation rather than men/women.

              So while I can see what you are saying here and taking into account that this isn’t about men/women but rather how the system imposes masculine/feminine on men/women and that masculine is supposedly valued over feminine, then how can it be that the claim is that “the things that harm men do exist but they are not on an institutional level”.

              You see when I say that there is sexism against men I’m not trying to say that the sexism against men is equal to or worse than the sexism that happens to women, yet the vast majority of feminists I’ve ever crossed paths with have chosen to decide that is what I mean. To which of course they respond with hostility (“Its not sexism when it happens to men!” or condescension (“Sweetie, its not sexism when it happens to men.”).

              Now on the larger scale I think I see something I highly disagree with in terms of assessing things.

              We have two groups (masculine and feminine), and because we just can’t have two categories without placing one above the other…we had to go and assume that one group is more valuable than the other.
              Can it really be said in an overall sense that one is really more valuable than the other? I say this because masculinity teaches us that self destruction is what we are supposed to engage in. If you’re taught that self destruction is your purpose can you really say you’re more valuable?

              (I’m not saying that you are pushing this point but I find that when breaking down the masculine/feminine thing the masculine is usually presented in a way of, “The masculine gives men all this great stuff….but it comes with poisonous side effects”. Like the poison is not a part of the plan. In short I think the negatives of the masculine are being under recognized for the sake of making it look more valuable than the feminine.)

              TLDR I’m wondering if the assessments of “the masculine is more valuable than the feminine” were formed by looking at both and examining them until a conclusion was formed or were they formed by starting off with that conclusion and then just going back and looking for evidence to explain it. I ask because it seems that at the same time we are told that it doesn’t matter which one has it worse whenever someone brings up how bad the masculine has it, it is pushed down on the premise that talking about how bad the masculine has it is an inherent attempt at dismissing how bad the feminine has it.

            • The “sexism against men isn’t institutional,” theme comes from a couple places…one is from feminists who are unable to see how our gender system screws over men. But more than that, is that it is dependent on what you mean by “institutional” and “sexism.” Our gender system could be considered an institution, and thus the screwing over of men through toxic masculinity could be considered institutional. But usually when we talk about “institutions,” we mean more grounded institutions…something like our laws, politics, company practices, etc. And, there is a very real bias to the masculine in these institutions…because we value the masculine more than the feminine.

              Now as for the “self destruction” of masculinity…the toxic aspect to it, so to speak…that bears some thinking out. Your sentence, “the negatives of the masculine are being under recognized for the sake of making it look more valuable than the feminine,” rings true in a sense. It’s more like, our society glorifies the masculine to such an extent that we try to ignore the negative aspects of it. But, even though the masculine isn’t, actually, better than the feminine…even though the masculine’s got some horribly toxic crap that comes along with it…we still have institutions that ignore all that and have a bias toward the masculine. Consider how violence and stoicism are the traits in our heroes. Consider how our economic system rewards those who care the least for how their businesses might hurt (or help) other people. Consider how we think it is “heroic” and “masculine” to fight in wars that your country sends you to.

              Our system DOES ignore the negative aspects of what we’ve deemed “masculine,” in order to make it appear more valuable than the “feminine.” EXACTLY! Which is why feminism seeks to change the value system we’ve got going. So we seek to make the feminine more valuable…so to bring ideals of compassion and empathy into previously masculine spaces (such as politics, business, etc). Part of that, is coming to a point where it’s not surprising when a woman (who society assumes embodies the feminine), is a CEO or President or whatever. Part of that is having sexual imagery that isn’t objectifying, etc.

              Now, presumably, at some point you’re going to mention the family court’s bias against fathers as evidence of sexism against men. That’s kind of true on the one hand…but it’s kind of not true on the other. (If I assumed a black man can play basketball, is that not still racism against black people? – Not exactly the same, I know, but similar if you think of how masculine and feminine are really just a collection of stereotypical traits). So, think about how stay-at-home parenting is a stereotype and considered part of the feminine. And so a woman who isn’t a primary caregiver isn’t embodying the feminine properly…and a man who is, is embodying the feminine too much. That throws the whole thing off kilter. – And you might argue this is an example of the feminine being more highly valued than the masculine…and that’s kind of true (were you to look at parenthood in a vacuum, outside the rest of our society). However, once you place stay-at-home parenting in the wider context of our society, it becomes kind of clear that it’s actually a case of the feminine being devalued. Women are expected to stay at home, but they aren’t given any compensation for it. Our society (which values the all mighty dollar above everything else), does not provide any compensation to women for performing the feminine. And stay-at-home parenting is assumed to be a “natural” role for a woman…something that requires no special skills or education. It is expected, but not valued.

              And the thing about all the stuff I’d just been saying is that it’s all about the cultural narratives. It’s all about the narratives our society tells, and the ways in which mainstream society behaves as a collective group and the justifications we, as a group, use for our behaviour.

            • The “sexism against men isn’t institutional,” theme comes from a couple places…one is from feminists who are unable to see how our gender system screws over men. But more than that, is that it is dependent on what you mean by “institutional” and “sexism.” Our gender system could be considered an institution, and thus the screwing over of men through toxic masculinity could be considered institutional. But usually when we talk about “institutions,” we mean more grounded institutions…something like our laws, politics, company practices, etc. And, there is a very real bias to the masculine in these institutions…because we value the masculine more than the feminine.
              If you want to talk laws and so forth then let’s talk about things like adoption agency practices that for all intents and purposes allows a woman to kidnap a child off to who knows where to put them up for adoption, safe in the knowledge that if she can stall long enough the judge will basically tell the dad, “Sorry the child has been with the parents too long.”. Then to top it off the messages that say that the reason he is not in that child’s life is because he didn’t fight for it.

              Or Selective Service. Yes I know a lot of people groan when they hear that but after they finish groaning they seem to not have anything to say about the fact that only one gender has to register for this serive. Failure to do comes with the possible penalties of automatic dismissal of applications to colleges that recieve government funding and government based financial aid, prison, fines, and poissible lose of citizenship.

              And of course there is the fact that even in 2013 there are plenty of law books that still flat out define rape as something that can only be done by men to women or men to men.

              Now bear in mind I’m not trying to start a pissing contest over who has more laws and policies stacked against them (I don’t think either of us want to play “who has it worse”).

              Our system DOES ignore the negative aspects of what we’ve deemed “masculine,” in order to make it appear more valuable than the “feminine.” EXACTLY! Which is why feminism seeks to change the value system we’ve got going. So we seek to make the feminine more valuable…so to bring ideals of compassion and empathy into previously masculine spaces (such as politics, business, etc). Part of that, is coming to a point where it’s not surprising when a woman (who society assumes embodies the feminine), is a CEO or President or whatever. Part of that is having sexual imagery that isn’t objectifying, etc.
              Actually that’s now how I meant that Heather. Now with what you just said I’m a little curious as to why feminism on one hand want to change the value system but at the same time seeks to limit the assement of the current value system in the first place.

              Now, presumably, at some point you’re going to mention the family court’s bias against fathers as evidence of sexism against men. That’s kind of true on the one hand…but it’s kind of not true on the other. (If I assumed a black man can play basketball, is that not still racism against black people? – Not exactly the same, I know, but similar if you think of how masculine and feminine are really just a collection of stereotypical traits). So, think about how stay-at-home parenting is a stereotype and considered part of the feminine. And so a woman who isn’t a primary caregiver isn’t embodying the feminine properly…and a man who is, is embodying the feminine too much. That throws the whole thing off kilter. – And you might argue this is an example of the feminine being more highly valued than the masculine…and that’s kind of true (were you to look at parenthood in a vacuum, outside the rest of our society). However, once you place stay-at-home parenting in the wider context of our society, it becomes kind of clear that it’s actually a case of the feminine being devalued. Women are expected to stay at home, but they aren’t given any compensation for it. Our society (which values the all mighty dollar above everything else), does not provide any compensation to women for performing the feminine. And stay-at-home parenting is assumed to be a “natural” role for a woman…something that requires no special skills or education. It is expected, but not valued.

              Actually I have to disagree with assessment a bit. In the wider context, stay at home parenting is something that the masculine is presumed to be insufficiently skilled at to the point that for him to attempt to do so results in unclean babies, hungry kids, and a home that looks like a tornado swallowed it and threw it back up.

              Also a man who is a primary caregiver isn’t ragged on for embodying the feminine too much. He’s ragged on because he’s not embodyinyg the mascline properly. If he were primary child carer or a guy that sat in him mom’s basement playing games he’d still be chasitised for not doing masculinity right.

              And I think that’s a bit of the problem people have with the assessments that feminism makes. It seems to start off from “This is something that is harmful to the feminine/women and any harm that befalls the masculine/men is just a bug, not a feature.” for nearly each and every metric.

              Now at face value this wouldn’t be so bad. The problem comes when trying to speak up on these metrics and how to address them. You don’t seem to be the type that would try to shut me out of a conversation just because I don’t agree with the assesments that you’ve laid out. Also I don’t think you are the type that would accuse me of claiming that there are no things that harm/undervalue the feminine. I like that.

              Problem is there are too many that do. Which goes back to what I’ve said about how when talking about the things that harm men a lot of today’s feminism seems to not be able to do anything other than point to a past feminist text. Don’t get me wrong its great that bell hooks wrote those things but how much of it is today’s feminism actually working with it? (I don’t mean this at you because as you have shown over the last few days you are actually working with those things and are only pointing back to hooks for reference points on what you’re saying. You aren’t just summoning her to have her talk for you.)

              Now you would probably say that you see a lot of today’s feminism working with it. Thing is there is a lot of it that’s not. A lot of it that basically can only quote a line here and link to a paper there….and use that to shut out anyone that brings something. Hell you could almost say that they are misusing her work. I bet she said those things in hopes that feminists would build bridges with men right?

            • 1 question on homophobia of butch lesbians, do you know of any hatred of them being more like a male in the sense of more violent, more caveman? I’ve seen misandry used to portray men as dogs, violent cavemen, was wondering if that particular hatred went towards butch lesbians or even just women doing male gender role type activities often?

            • Basically, homophobia against lesbians (particularly butch lesbians) can boil down to assuming that lesbians are just trying (and failing) at being men. There’s more to it, but that’s basically what’s underneath most homophobia against butch lesbians. Freud came up with this idea back in the day that lesbians had “penis envy,” and so in an attempt to obtain a phallus, they dressed in men’s clothing and had sex with women. In his mind, lesbians all want to be men. (Needless to say, Freud was a little crazy).

              And the idea’s kind of stuck around. It’s what’s behind a lot of the psychobabble in “reparative therapy,” for example. For a very long time our society has conflated gender and sexuality. It’s only recently we’ve had widespread acknowledgement that the two aren’t the same (i.e. a lesbian isn’t always masculine, and a gay man isn’t always feminine). So, a lot of homophobia still conflates the two…assuming that lesbians are trying to be men, and gay men are failing at being men.

              So that’s the long way of saying, basically, no…a hatred of men isn’t really part of homophobia against lesbians. The closest thing to that was when some of the second-wave feminists (and even lesbian feminists) in the 1960s rejected the butch/femme dynamic as something that merely reflected the oppressive nature of heterosexual relationships. However, that wasn’t anti-man…so much as it was anti-establishment.

            • To me it is not as I am a (flexible) gender essentialist. By that I mean that i think there are large statistical gender differences that are biological and can not be erased but will express themselves somewhat differently in various contexts and depending on how people are raised. I fully recognize that there are people who break the norms and that there are some large variations but I believe this is also primarily biological. Women who behave in a very masculine manner have high testosterone or have been exposed to high levels of testosterone during pregnancy when the part of their brain that is masculine was formed. Women who behave masculine, like men who behave masculine, have highly masculinized faces. They also tend to have the finger ratio that correlates with high testosterone exposure in the womb. It is not an accident that when I read feminist sites on the net and look at the pictures the men tend to have far more feminine faces than average and the women tend to have far more masculine faces than average. Have you ever looked at photos where you can see the same face modified to be either the face of someone with extremely high testosterone to extremely high estrogen and everything in between? I don`t understand how anyone can see that and not understand that there is a huge biological component in behavior and masculinity and femininity is not a social construct at its core.

              Anyway, as I believe gender differences are not socially constructed you saying that feminists believe masculinity is the problem just underlines to me just how much you hate ME and who I am at the core and will always be. As long as you are saying masculinity is the problem you are saying who I am and always will be is the problem. You are also saying that I need a radical personality change and need to be feminized. And that is precisely what feminism has tried to do, feminize men. Which partially works not he surface but just makes them miserable, dysfunctional and unattractive to women.

            • This comment was meant as a comment to HeatherNs comment that masculinity and not men was the problem.

            • Except it’s not ALL masculinity that’s the problem…it’s our society’s conception of masculinity that’s the problem. And even then, it’s really just the toxic aspects of our society’s masculinity that’s the problem. So, for example, placing great value on aggressiveness, rationality, ambition, domination, independence, and physical strength…these are all things that are considered “masculine” in our society and that we treat as being more valuable than their “feminine” counterparts (compassion, empathy, weakness, vulnerability, interpersonal relationships, etc).

              I’ve heard many an MRA talk about how horrible it is that we have a society that tells boys they should repress their emotion…denies that men even have emotions. And that’s true….that’s a product of our society’s conception of masculinity. Feminism isn’t trying to “feminize” men; it’s attempting to redefine what masculine and feminine mean. That means trying to break down that binary…and part of breaking down that binary is accepting that men have emotions, and women can be strong…that women are every bit as capable of the masculine, and men are every bit as capable of the feminine.

              Our society’s idea of masculinity hurts men. I’ll say that again…our society’s idea of masculinity hurts men. It’s totally screwed them over, in a lot of ways. It says that in order to be a “real man” a man must take control and be in charge. He must not empathize or allow emotion to cloud his judgement. “Real men” take what they want. – And then we have a group of teenagers who gang rape a girl in Steubenville and thought they’d get away with it because they were big bad football players; they were acting just like society taught them men should act.

              It’s the social narrative of what masculinity is that’s so problematic. No individual actually embodies everything that is masculine (and no individual embodies everything that is feminine). We are all varying combinations…if you’re a stay at home father you are embodying the feminine, for example. You aren’t inherently more feminine, suddenly…but you are doing something that our society considers feminine. When I walk around wearing trousers and no make-up, I’m performing the masculine. I’m not inherently more masculine in those moments, but I am performing what our society has decided is a more masculine appearance.

              I strongly suggest reading Gender Trouble by Judy Butler (if you can get through her rather obtuse way of writing), or for something shorter and a much easier read, try bell hooks article here: http://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf

            • I’m also not saying there is NO biological basis for gender. But it’s really not as strong as a lot of people assume, and science is catching up to that idea. I suggest taking a look at this article http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/8-myths-about-sex-differences/

              and Agustin Fuentes’ book Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You. He really explains this idea that humans are both social and biological (and that we wouldn’t be human without BOTH) really well.

            • Mostly_123 says:

              HeatherN, 

              Lots of stuff to digest through the posts there, but thanks- quite engaging all the way through.    

              I would be inclined to believe that the modes of behavior you mentioned earlier (both positive and negative) are more diffused than simply along gender lines (as you said, no individual embodies everything). Even in the broadest societal sense, what we associate as “masculine” and “feminine” – even our most basic stereotypes of those, (when we actually try to articulate them) are fuzzy these days. And if anything, I think that might be a sign of progress. I don’t disagree that we live in a (western, democratic) society of dichotomies; but I think gender itself as a dichotomy is becoming far less rigid (this, of course, like most perspectives, is relative).  

              With regard to #3 (the 3 point ‘ass-hattery’ thing) – “we’ve placed a higher value on the masculine that pushes things over the edge…that’s what #3 stems from.”  

              If, -if- the source of #1 [high value behavior] is diffused more deeply, along & across more lines than just gender (which I tend to believe it is) then, if that were so, then I would argue we haven’t so much placed a higher value on the masculine, but rather: The ‘masculine’ (or ‘feminine’) values aren’t uniformly open or closed to people based on their gender. It’s not gender. Gender itself as the nexus, is a veneer; obscuring the real matrix for power relations, which is far more amorphous. In short, I’m thinking gender is a player in the orchestra, but not its conductor, and its notes are receding. Not a great metaphor, but it’s what I’ve got for now.

              Our society’s idea of ‘masculinity’ may indeed hurt men. Our society’s idea of ‘femininity’ may indeed hurt women- but, in practice, how much are we really applying the idea and how much are we just chucking it by the wayside? How much stock do we put in it? I would say less than we might often assume. Again, when are we representing ourselves (or viewing others) as autonomous individuals, and when are they representing their collective race, class, nationality, gender, ideology, or culture? There’s so much overlap and so much subjectivity.    

              I’m having a hard time articulating it, but in my mind, I think we need to consider ‘depth’ as well as ‘breadth’ of a message/ behavior/ stereotype/ generalization/ convention. Just because something has breadth, doesn’t mean it necessarily has depth. A message or an axiom may be widespread, but that’s not always a metric of its current credibility.  

              If so, then I would think there is less social consciousness rooted in gender, and less consequences for disregarding previously accepted dogma- if it was dogma. (If I were to try to sum that up awkwardly, it might look something like a conversation where someone said: ‘If I hadn’t been looking down, I might have noticed that you just crossed an imaginary line; one that I’d forgotten we’d drawn, that nobody really cares about anymore, anyway. But then, I was looking at something else already…’)

              Is there a social/behavioral equivalent of ‘blue law’ in social science? (As I understand the term ‘blue law’ – where laws that are codified, but not enforced – made obsolete, irrelevant, and/or ridiculous by the progression of time and social custom; frequently transgressed or ignored without any fear of reprisal)    
               
              We are (presently) the society of the Tweet, the soundbite, the pop-up ad, and the 15 second spot- we rely heavily on generalizations and stereotypes (not just gendered ones) for the sake of speed and universality – we have tended to sacrifice nuance for verisimilitude. So, are we really expressing those ideas;  expressing belief & real investment in them, or is it indeed just lip service to outdated superficial conventions, generalizations & touchstones? Gender, as a social construct, has been deconstructed (along with most everything else under the sun) for more than a generation now (I think). And like everything else, often when you take something apart, it’s never quite the same way when you put it back together.     

              When something is mutually detrimental to both our own interests as individuals, as well as the interests of other external parties which constitute society, then there’s no gain in maintaining it, and no impetus not to challenge (or ignore) the predominate social narrative when we see fit. Whether or not one disputes gender in this as the primary axis, there seems to rest the point of mutual benefit.

            • “It’s not gender. Gender itself as the nexus, is a veneer; obscuring the real matrix for power relations, which is far more amorphous. In short, I’m thinking gender is a player in the orchestra, but not its conductor, and its notes are receding. Not a great metaphor, but it’s what I’ve got for now.”

              This is closest to what I believe that there is a graph with a Y axis of power and an X axis of poles fighting for that power.

            • I agree with a lot of what you’re saying Mostly_123…almost all of it, in fact…but I don’t have quite as optimistic view of the progress we’ve made. I was talking to a young woman in the town I grew up in a few months ago and I mentioned how I don’t want children. She looked at me as if I had a third eye…she could not understand how/why a woman wouldn’t want kids. We just had that big dust-up about the CEO of Yahoo! no longer allowing people to work from home…and in terms of families, the vast majority of that discussion focused on stay-at-home-mothers and totally ignored stay-at-home-fathers.

              There are fewer consequences for no longer adhering to the dogma of our gender system. But I think that the very fact of it’s breadth gives it a certain amount of depth…the fact that it’s everywhere makes it seem so normal to just follow along. And there are places, even in the “western world,” where it still runs quite deep…in places without access to education and/or technology, because the alternative hasn’t quite become normalised yet…and so in order to become aware of the alternative you have to have been introduced to them in a much more deliberate fashion.

              So I propose a modification to your analogy. Gender isn’t the conductor (that’d be our culture of violence and rigid individualism, I think), and it isn’t a player (we’ll say race, sexuality, mental health, etc are all players. The economy is, like, first violin…wicked important but not quite in charge). Gender, however is the music we’re all playing.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “Feminism doesn’t actually cast men as the “perpetrator;” it casts masculinity and patriarchy as the perpetrator…which is entirely different.”

              How exactly do you divorce men from masculinity so as to say masculinity (AKA male behaviour) is inherently homophobic, but men who like being men, are not? And would it be just as acceptable for me to suggest that femininity is inherently narssisistic and melodramatic (seems the only negative traits assigned to femininity have been ones that conveniently support the women as victim narrative)?

              As an aside, I’m curious what you think of this article:

              http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-sexual-politics-of-meat-20130320-2gfx0.html

            • Masculinity isn’t INHERENTLY anything. Femininity isn’t INHERENTLY anything either. That’s the point. That’s how you separate masculinity from men and femininity from women. In our culture, femininity is defined as vain, weak, vulnerable, emotional, irrational, compassionate, caring, sexual object, etc. In our culture, masculinity is defined as strong, able-bodied, sexually aggressive, rational, violent, capable, etc.

              Think of a behaviour, and our society as probably put it into either the “masculinity” or “femininity” category. And then we assigned “masculinity” to men and “femininity” to women…and we assume that if you are a man, you MUST be all the things we’ve defined as “masculinity.” And if you are a woman, you MUST be all the things we’ve defined as “femininity.” But that’s not the case…some women exhibit more masculine behaviour than most men. And vice versa. And most people are a mix of behaviours that we have combined to mean “masculine” and “feminine.” – As Mostly_123 pointed out, however, we’re making progress. We’re not quite as stuck as we once were. Women can wear trousers and men can use hair product, for example, without too much social backlash.

              In short, masculinity ISN’T male behaviour. Masculinity is the behaviour our society has incorrectly associated with males. And femininity ISN’T female behaviour. Femininity is the behaviour our society has incorrectly associated with females.

              As for that article, that sound you hear is me facepalming. I never said there weren’t some wack-a-doodle feminists out there.

            • Mostly_123 says:

              HeatherN, thanks for the perspective (I know I tend to go all over the map at times)

              I myself would cautiously say I’m not so much an optimist, as I am simply pessimistic along other vectors… (To paraphrase Oliver P. Smith – ‘Progress!? Hell- we’re not progressing, we’re just retreating in a different direction.’) …maybe not. Seriously though, thanks.  

              In any case, really liked the summation & the clarity here:  

              “Masculinity isn’t INHERENTLY anything. Femininity isn’t INHERENTLY anything either. That’s the point. That’s how you separate masculinity from men and femininity from women. In our culture, femininity is defined as vain, weak, vulnerable, emotional, irrational, compassionate, caring, sexual object, etc. In our culture, masculinity is defined as strong, able-bodied, sexually aggressive, rational, violent, capable, etc.”
               
              Where I might differ, perhaps, (as you said, I’m proceeding from more of an optimist’s standpoint) would be in what we define (and don’t define) as feminine and masculine; and the veracity with which we define it.

              I may define traits and the people I associate with them as vain, aggressive, weak, strong, introspective, gregarious, cold, caring, vulnerable, compassionate, deluded, pragmatic, incisive, naive, etc. But I would argue (and I grant you- I cannot presume to speak objectively and collectively for an entire culture; only subjectively, and only for the individual fraction of that culture I might represent and have autonomy over) these are less a function of generalized, arbitrary societal expectations, and more the function of individual subjective perceptions of temperament & idiosyncrasy. We group things to add meaning and framework; the broader the grouping, the more heterogeneous the group, and the more amorphous the meaning. 

              The meaning and the depth of a definition itself changes (drastically) depending where one is looking on the spectrum ranging from the individual to the collective; the specific to the general. 

              The subject (with its own individual characteristics) being defined lends meaning to the definition itself; it has influence on the definition, in addition to the connotations that the definition itself is applying to the subject- they intermingle. What (I think) I’m driving at here are the limitations and imprecision of language and comprehension. I would be inclined to assert that those traits, and the utility of the definitions are more a function of individual temperament than collective gender groupings. But even if it is not, the more collectively I attribute a quality, the less meaning & the less precision it has; it becomes diluted. 

              This, I would think, is one reason why generalizations have less credibility- they sacrifice depth for breadth. As a person, I can generalize about the ‘inherent’ qualities of a gender (or race, or nationality, or age group, etc) to another all day long; but the credibility of the generalization will only have as much depth as it has personal resonance. Once before I did a better job alluding to this; whether we are mimicking reflections of gender stereotypes, or whether the generalizations are just a reflection of us- are we the caster, or the mirror to what has been cast?     

              Generalizations may be pervasive, but they also tend to very fragile (I hope). I think we’ve all known people of both genders in our lives who embody both of what might be described in someone’s terms as quintessentially ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits (or maybe, the traits are our embodiments of the people, rather than the other way around). Perhaps that is a bit optimistic too. Trying to look at it pragmatically then, however one defines (or ceases to define) ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ the definitions themselves are ephemeral.

            • “Trying to look at it pragmatically then, however one defines (or ceases to define) ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ the definitions themselves are ephemeral.”

              Very true. Fragile and ephemeral…and vulnerable. I think it’s so difficult to get people to change their ideas about masculinity and femininity because it feels like doing so would cause everything to come crashing down, y’know? I think that’s why you get people talking about the “dangers” of feminizing men or making women too masculine or whatever…because they don’t realize how changeable these categories are in the first place.

              As to the veracity with which we define these terms…well let’s kind of take an example and explore it. Let’s say you have a male friend who is really sad and he cries (for whatever reason). In that moment, do you think of him as being less masculine and more feminine? Maybe, maybe not. He’s your friend; you might just be concerned for him. And maybe your friend is prone to showing his emotions, and you still don’t think of him as any less of a man. However, were he to cry in public, however, there would probably be observers who found it “out of character” for a man to be crying…because we think that men don’t cry, because men are masculine and crying isn’t masculine.

              And then we get to representations (t.v. shows, advertisements, movies, etc)…and I’m a big believer that representation of gender can tell us a lot about the various ways we’ve categorized “masculine” and “feminine” behaviour. Though we might be able to understand that an actual, living person is going to have both masculine and feminine traits and not worry about whether that makes them more manly or womanly…….when it comes to characters, we tend to stick to our stereotypes. So consider the character Dean on Supernatural. He is meant to be basically the embodiment of all things masculine. He’s stoic and strong and capable…he’s a bit of a ladies’ man and he drinks too much alcohol. And then there are moments where he cries…and you know those moments are meant to be EXTREMELY painful, because Dean doesn’t usually cry. And that’s all just individual character….Dean doesn’t cry often, so when he does it’s important and noteworthy. But then we look at that in the context of the way that his character is meant to be all things masculine, and we realize that Dean not crying is part of his characters’ performance of masculinity.

              “I think we’ve all known people of both genders in our lives who embody both of what might be described in someone’s terms as quintessentially ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits (or maybe, the traits are our embodiments of the people, rather than the other way around).”

              That’s the rub…it’s kind of circular. We grow up in a culture which teaches us early on what is “masculine” and “feminine,” and which we are supposed to fit into most. And then we grow up and go about our day expecting most people to fit it…and we expect it so deeply that we don’t even take notice, until someone doesn’t quite fit our expectations. And then we either love it, or hate it…but we still don’t realize that meeting someone that doesn’t fit our gender expectations SHOULD challenge what we expect in each gender.

              So back to Supernatural, via some weird supernatural stuff, Dean’s life becomes a book. So he’s talking to someone who has basically read his life’s story and this woman says, “Oh the best parts are when he cries. Real life men don’t cry like that.” It’s meant to indicate that Dean actually cries a lot…but he doesn’t, really…at least not compared to the women in the show…and not compared to most men I know who are going through the pain he goes through. – So it’s “hey, you’re a man doing something I think of as feminine; you must not be like other men.” When what it really should be is, “hey, you’re a man doing something I think of as feminine; maybe what I think of as feminine is actually pretty ephemeral.”

              And yeah, I’m not really adding anything new…just working out ideas and writing them down or saying them always helps with that. :)

            • Mostly_123 says:

              “There are fewer consequences for no longer adhering to the dogma of our gender system. But I think that the very fact of it’s breadth gives it a certain amount of depth…the fact that it’s everywhere makes it seem so normal to just follow along. And there are places, even in the “western world,” where it still runs quite deep…in places without access to education and/or technology, because the alternative hasn’t quite become normalised yet…and so in order to become aware of the alternative you have to have been introduced to them in a much more deliberate fashion.”

              Yes- in short- just yes. This is where optimism meets pragmatism.

            • Masculinity isn’t INHERENTLY anything. Femininity isn’t INHERENTLY anything either.

              Is anything inherently feline or canine? Why do we associate one with cats and the other with dogs? Both describe mammals who give birth to live young, nurse them, can be pets, and have many other numerous commonalties, and yet we assign these arbitrary labels. What’s wrong with a dog being trained to poop in a box? Or taking a cat for a walk on a leash? I’m sure there are examples of both, so these labels seem far too restrictive.

              That sounds a little silly, right? The meaning we assign to any given word is arbitrary, so it’s not really possible to argue that any word is INHERENTLY descriptive of the thing it describes, but once those meanings have been assigned and adopted into the lexicon, they mean what they mean. Just as “feline” describes cat-like things, and “canine” describes dog-like things, “masculinity” and “femininity” describe traits that we – and many cultures besides – associate with men and women, respectively. The labels are imperfect, as most category labels are, and can fall apart when applied to individuals, but that doesn’t make them useless or prejudiced. If the trait “can catch and kill a rat” seems more feline than canine, that doesn’t invalidate the labels, even though some cats will never exhibit that behavior, and some rat terriers will. Descriptively, the labels work – they aren’t just some figments of cultural imagination.

              Think of a behaviour, and our society as probably put it into either the “masculinity” or “femininity” category. And then we assigned “masculinity” to men and “femininity” to women…and we assume that if you are a man, you MUST be all the things we’ve defined as “masculinity.” And if you are a woman, you MUST be all the things we’ve defined as “femininity.”

              Think of mouse-catching as a feline trait, and not-mouse-catching as canine. Then, assume that all cats must catch mice, and no dogs can. So some domestic cat who never sees a mouse in his life is now “canine”, and some terrier who caught a mouse gets called “feline”. And by the way, feline is better.

              Well that would be stupid, wouldn’t it? And most attempts to make general descriptive labels into rigid prescriptive rules are. The feline/canine example is silly, but that’s roughly what happens when concepts of masculinity and femininity get used prescriptively.

              In short, masculinity ISN’T male behaviour. Masculinity is the behaviour our society has incorrectly associated with males. And femininity ISN’T female behaviour. Femininity is the behaviour our society has incorrectly associated with females.

              I think you’re lumping the descriptive and the prescriptive definitions together here, which means I partly agree, and partly disagree. In the descriptive sense, there’s nothing incorrect about associating “masculinity” with male behavior and “femininity” with female behavior. That’s just what the words mean, and I don’t think there’s ever been a society that literally makes no distinction between men and women because they’re just so damn similar no one can tell them apart. There are differences, and those words (or similar ones) capture those differences, without ruling out any exceptions or overlap between the two. Where I come back to agreeing with you is the notion that *prescriptive* ideas of masculinity and femininity are damaging, leading to intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, etc. I consider such notions “incorrect”, but it’s the prescriptive use that’s wrong, not the words themselves.

        • PS. Sorry I fell behind in the comment thread, so hope my last thing makes sense… anyhow I don’t have an answer to your circumcision example. Only that scarification (especially of men) has been both a right of passage and a visible marker of inclusivity for millennia, and male circumcision is probably an example of that. This is also what differentiates it from female circumcision (aside from the other obvious things).

  23. wellokaythen says:

    There’s no need to single out Catholics here. Just about everyone picks and chooses their battles, no matter how dogmatic they hope to be. People who are 100% consistently adherent to dogma are extremely rare, and in fact they may not even exist. Dogmas by their very nature tend to have internal contradictions that cannot be resolved in a logical fashion but instead require faith and/or denial. This is what’s so incredible and so messy about the human mind – we can believe totally contradictory things and still function perfectly well, even be perfectly happy doing so. I believe five contradictory things before breakfast; it starts the day with a little calisthenics.

    So, even ideological extremists have to pick and choose what to emphasize and what to ignore. It’s not being wishy-washy to have complicated or even contradictory beliefs. It’s something that everyone does. Don’t ever let extremists fool you into thinking that they’re more consistent or logically grounded than you are. That’s one of the illusions of dogmatic ideologies in the first place.

  24. Not buying it says:

    I believe your intentions are genuinely good & fair, Mark since you seem to be looking for some sort of middle ground, between MRA’s & feminism adherents as two boles, unfortunately you seem to be avoiding the simple fact that one of the boles which is feminism is ruling & holding the public narrative of gender relations without much of a challenge or debate as to the soundness, fairness & logic of it’s discourse on both sexes & any dissenting view no matter how slight or justified is met with accusation of misogyny, male or female. Period, no discussion is needed when you hold the upper hand, otherwise you risk losing that stranglehold, even attempts of friendliness are met with accusation & suspicion, a great example is Tom the founder of the site being attacked so viciously just for being a male who’s trying to find a middle ground rightly or not.

  25. Not buying it says:

    My point is there’s no middle ground according to feminism (the main stream ), the basis of the feminist ideology which is patriarchy (men oppressors, women victims always) narrative absolutely doesn’t except it, for MRA’s even if they except the claims of males being oppressors in certain situations, time periods & currently in other countries, spheres or corners of this whole world, the idea that all men are still oppressors will not fly or be excepted period while the average dude can’t even get an acknowledgment of the possibility of being treated unfairly by a biased made up hypocritical academic theory that is controlling the whole political, legal & public perception on so many levels rightly or wrongly only depends on whither you believe the the repeated unsubstantiated half truths, lies, propaganda & emotional rhetoric based on chivalrous mentality towards women by most men at least

    • See I think there is a middle ground but like you say neither side is willing to alter their own narratives and ideals for the sake of equality.

      This is why you have feminists that will grudgingly (and if you listen closely you can actually hear their teeth grinding) admit that men are harmed but will nearly always do so only on the condition that women have it worse and that the harms that befall men are actually attributed to some other factor (like race or religion).

      At the same time you have MRAs that will grudgingly cop to the fact that women are harmed but will pretty much only do so when they can claim that men still have it worse.

      To me the middle ground is that the system is pretty much mowing everyone down regardless of gender and the sooner we get past “who has it worse” and “does gender have anything to do with this?” the better off we will all be.

  26. Mark Neil says:

    HeatherN said : “We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons…but few have the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.” and “Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it” – Both are by Gloria Steinem”

    The second isn’t actually what Steinem (I do believe Karen DeCrow did say something of the sort though, but her view of modern feminism isn’t nerely so positive). What Steinem actually said was:

    “Women won’t be able to be equal outside the home until men are raising children, and cooking, and housekeeping as much as women are.” **

    Saying men need to be doing the raising of children, cooking and housecleaning does not mean equality. A nanny or maid does these types of things to, and is not equal to the homeowner. There is absolutely nothing in what she has said here that would ensure, during a divroce, a man would get equal time with his child, or that while the marriage is intact, the man should be allowed to be a stay at home parent. This isn’t presented as a call for equality, it is a call for men to do more for women’s benefit, which is what (I believe) Danny has said elsewhere that feminist advocasy appears to do.

    **”Source: This quote was said by Gloria Steinem in a conversation “Steps Toward Transformation: A Conversation With Gloria Steinem” by Anna Myers-Parrelli, published in “Feminist foremothers in women’s studies, psychology, and mental health: Volume 1″ (1995) by Phyllis Chesler, Esther D. Rothblum and Ellen Cole; Page 486.”

    • Mark Neil says:

      HeatherN Comment:
      “It’s like the MRM is reinventing the wheel rather than taking the current wheel and making modifications, or something. It’s like they saw someone using a wheel badly and instead of just using that wheel themselves, they decided to make their own. (That analogy’s not perfect, and I’ll stop with it before it gets to weird, but you get what I’m saying). And you might say, sometimes you have to start over, or something…but you don’t.”

      And if the person they saw using the wheel wrong (in their opinion) refused to let them modify it the way they wanted to? If the user said “use it our way or else you don’t get to use it at all”… then what? Should we go on watching them use a bad design and NOT have a wheel of our own? Or do we replicate the concept and shave off the corners that are causing the problem? And when we do, if we get attacked by the original owner for ruining their design and they try to smash our wheel, then what? Remember, men have been working with feminists since the beginning.

      Warren Farrell is one of the icons of the MRM, and he still identifies as feminist… He is doing precisely what you are suggesting, but the vast majority of feminists HATE him… why? For your suggestion of working with feminists to actually work, feminists also need to participate and accept modifications to their theories. And I Mark’s article here is literally the FIRST to acknowledge this.

      “And so the MRM saw the crap feminists doing some crap things and went “right, we’re not only against those crap feminists, we think feminism itself is wrong,” without really looking at and critically examining that whole vast collection of ideas that is feminism.”

      You make it sound like men have never even tried working with feminists. In another comment, you spoke about how nuanced patriarchy theory is, and that MRA don’t get that nuance. What I think you’re missing is that, whether MRA’s get the nuance or not, many (and I mean MANY) feminists don’t get that nuance ether. And a theory that is too nuanced to be understood by it’s own proponents can cause a lot of damage, especially when the non-nuanced version is so bigoted. Far to often in conversations involving patriarchy theory, it will be used to dismiss an opinion or point, when I challenge it, suggesting that it doesn’t explain away my point unless it is interpreted in a certain way that is entirely unrealistic, I get told I just don’t understand. When I then challenge them to explain to me how it works the way they claim it works without also being applicable in extremely unreasonable situations, I get told to go read up on it if I don’t understand, as if the person using it doesn’t understand it enough themselves to actually prove their claim, or explain the discrepancies. And if I push further, then I’m being the bad guy. This is FAR too common.

      “And then they started over, and not only that…they generally construct most of their ideas as specifically anti-feminist. Like, “what do we think feminists say about this issue? We say the opposite!” Kind of reactionary.”

      I actually find a lot of what MRA’s say is closer to “what do feminists say about this? Now lets take out the assumptions about motives/intent assigned to men. Now, does this still stand up?”. Are you aware of how much feminist theory, as presented by feminsts themselves (perhaps doing it wrong, but it seems to be done consistently wrong throughout much of the feminst movement), assumes and projects melevolent motives onto men, and how often those assumptions, taken as gospel, is then used to justify actions against men?

      “But what the MRM could do, and be a lot more constructive if they did so, is take a bunch of feminist ideas (or gender studies ideas, whatever) that focus on men and masculinity..and build from that. Like, build from the body of knowledge that’s already there. And call it whatever you want…as I said, totally not doing the whole label thing…call it men’s rights or the MRM or whatever.”

      You mean like Warren Farrell did? And we all know how accepted he is in the feminist movement. How about Christina Hoff Sommers? Oh wait, she was labeled anti-feminist too.

      To do what you are saying here, to take feminist ideas and build on them, is to accept the theories are sound and just need to be added to. But what if they aren’t sound? what if they are faulty and need to be torn down a bit before they can be built upon? Does feminism leave room for this as a possibility? Because my experiences say no, it doesn’t. When women (not men) who identify as feminists, try to start a group that examines men’s issues outside the feminist foundation (you know, in order to test if that foundation can actually hold up what’s built upon it), and they get blocked by other feminists using the gender power dynamic feminist theory, it shows a clear problem with your assertion. In order to do what you claim we should be doing, we ether need to capitualte, or you need to accept some change. I don’t see the latter happening, only demands for the former. Much of the anit-feminist mentality in the MRM is a reaction to trying to do precisely what you tell us to do, and getting attacked for even trying. I point to Tom Matlock as a prime example of a guy trying to do what you claim MRM should be doing, and getting attacked for doing so.

      So how about this. Why don’t you feminists shave off the rough corners, and take a step to the table to discuss what we see as problems with your theories, instead of asuming we just don’t understand them (while assuming all feminists do). How about instead of demanding we give up everything and start from your point of view, you do what Mark suggested and show a willingness to meet in the middle somewhere?

      • To HeatherN: Firstly I’d like to say, I for one appreciate what you’re trying to do here. It does give me a bit of hope for the world when feminists try to bridge the gap. I’m still remain unconvinced by feminism’s tenets, but I don’t really have anything to add to the other guys’ arguments, they’ve covered the thinking of a lot of men pretty well.

        But I would like to know one thing: As a feminist, do you accept the concept of “misandry”?

        • I’ve been trying to focus on things I agree with, rather than disagree with and been trying to be simply explanatory in my own ideas, rather than debate my opinions on ideas I don’t hold…mostly to keep the conversation more of an exploration and discussion rather than an argument…however…nope, misandry is not a thing. Individually? Sure! There are people out there who hate men and act in ways that are harmful to men based on that hate (RadFemHub comes to mind). But as an institutional form of discrimination, stereotyping and hatred? Nope.

          To quote Wikipedia quoting Alan Johnson, “people often confuse men as individuals with men as a dominant and privileged category of people.” There is no ideology of the hatred of men (as a class) that runs through our mainstream society. There is a feminist dislike for toxic masculinity, but that’s entirely different. Pretty much every time I’ve seen the use of “misandry,” it’s been someone assuming that a feminist criticising toxic masculinity hates men.

          • Thanks for your reply Heather. I think what we’re arriving at is there really isn’t a lot of common ground between feminism and MRM to work with. You can dismiss misandry outright, but have you taken on board anything the other commenters have said? Anti-male bias exists in our society, and only grows stronger, in legislature, the law, health, academia, and pop culture. If this is not “misandry”, then what is? The corollary is, then, that “misogyny” does not exist either.

            If there’s to be any meaningful dialogue between feminism and MRM, then feminists must acknowledge that systemic bias against men exists in our society, and that feminist thought has been a driver of that bias. Not to the exclusion of anti-female bias, mind you, but in parallel with. Feminism must also seriously revise the notion that (some aspects of) masculinity are inherently pathological, and that in effect men must be “cured of themselves”, while maintaining the notion that all aspects of femininity are good and pure.

            Until that happens, feminism will always be viewed with antagonism and skepticism, by both men and women.

            • “Feminism must also seriously revise the notion that (some aspects of) masculinity are inherently pathological, and that in effect men must be “cured of themselves”, while maintaining the notion that all aspects of femininity are good and pure.”

              Yeah, no. That’s not what the concept of toxic masculinity is. And that’s certainly not the feminist concept of femininity. As I said… I dunno if it was here or elsewhere…but femininity and masculinity aren’t inherently anything (at least not to a feminist). They’re only what we, as a culture, make them. The toxic aspects of masculinity (such as violence, rejecting emotion, etc)., are only a part of masculinity because that’s where we put them. The patriarchy (for lack of a better term) is set up so that men are taught that it is manly to be violent. That’s toxic…that we teach men that is toxic…….precisely because men AREN’T inherently more violent. We’ve created a culture that creates that violence.

              And for femininity…its most certainly IS NOT considered all that is “good and pure,” by feminists. Beauty culture is one of the most criticized aspects of femininity by feminists. The patriarchy is set up so that women are taught that their value lies in their appearance…that their beauty is their greatest aspect. That is screwed up, and feminists criticize the heck out of that.

            • Hi Heather,
              Just dropping in to state that if toxic masculinity leads to rejecting emotion, then I know a lot of toxically masculine women. A LOT of them. It seems to me were assigning some pretty broad behavioral generalizations along gender lines. Did I mention the women I know who hit? In fits of rage? They hit. Draw blood. That sort of thing.

            • So first, of course, individual experience will vary. Of course. We are individuals…and not everyone just blindly follows the cultural norms in which they were raised. This is what I was trying to explain elsewhere…when feminists talk about something like toxic masculinity, we’re talking about the cultural narrative that tells men (well, tells all of us, really), that it is unmanly to show emotion. But not every individual follows a cultural narrative…which is why a cultural narrative (men don’t cry) is usually so very different from the reality (plenty of men cry for all sorts of reasons). But what that narrative does is create a sense of shame for having gone against it. It puts pressure on people to follow it…so we have a narrative that puts pressure on men not to cry (toxic masculinity), despite the fact that it’s totally natural for a man to cry.

              But more importantly, Mark, is what I’ve been saying over and over and over about how masculinity does not equal men, and femininity does not equal woman, at least not in feminist discourse. So, we will take the narrative within toxic masculinity that men should repress emotion (except for violence. Toxic masculinity allows for anger…you know, as well as I do, that our culture treats anger as though it is not the same as other emotions). So, our cultural narrative says that it is feminine to be emotional, and masculine to be stoic. But it’s more than that, it says that it is a negative thing for anyone to be emotional. We have placed a high value on stoicism…and then on top of that, we always assume that men are naturally all the things we’ve defined as masculine, and women are naturally all the things we’ve defined as feminine. A high value behaviour (stoicism) has been assumed to be innate in men, and is assumed to be an anomaly in women.

              So a hypothetical boy grows up in this culture of toxic masculinity that tells him that it is better to be stoic than emotional…and that he is expected to be stoic because he is a man. And so he represses his emotions…except for anger because, as I mentioned, we treat anger differently than other emotions. And no one bats an eye…he is performing as expected. And when he does show emotion, he is shamed for doing so and told it’s unmanly. I, as a woman, grew up in this culture of toxic masculinity believing the same thing, that it is better to be stoic than emotional. So I spent a good part of my teenage years trying to repress my emotions…the difference is that I was expected to be emotional because I was a woman. So any time I expressed my emotions it was assumed I was only doing so because I couldn’t help myself because I was a woman, and thus incapable of being manly…incapable of inhabiting the masculine. And so I was shamed for “giving in” to the feminine and being unable to adequately embody the masculine.

              We are again talking about cultural narratives, and looking at how individuals interact with those cultural narratives. So, yes, toxically masculine women? Totally possible. I used to be one.

            • Mark Neil says:

              I need to ask, How is it determined what are behaviors attributed to masculinity? There is no societal overlord giving the final word. No decree’s carved in stone from on High. So how do we determine what is and isn’t masculine, and what is and isn’t toxic (and while we’re on the subject, please point me to a book or mainstream article discussing toxic femininity, or does no such thing exist, and only masculinity can be toxic? And please do make sure the definition of masculinity you use is likewise used in the book/article)? Because it seems to me that these associations are entirely subjective. And if these associations ARE entirely subjective, then some of the more contentious ones (such as homophobia is attributed to masculinity) would very much reveal the attributor’s view of men within our society.

          • “But as an institutional form of discrimination, stereotyping and hatred? Nope”
            Good job ignoring selective service, conscription (still exists in some areas), etc.

          • Actually I would classify that claim as more or less the most misandric claim you can make. You categorize a lot of things as misogyny but be aware of the fact that if you are wrong on some of the key things we are talking about here you are in fact holding misandric views.

      • Right, basically what I’m seeing in your comment is the suggestion that feminists (and feminism) is refusing to accept any change or critique…which is wrong. Feminism is all about the critique…there’s more feminist critique of feminism than feminist critique of patriarchy. (Okay maybe not quite, but nearly). Judy Butler wrote Gender Trouble and a bunch of feminists went to town critiquing it…and she wrote Undoing Gender in response (I believe it was that one). The bell hooks article I’ve been linking everywhere is a critique of contemporary ideas of male privilege, as much as it’s a critique of toxic masculinity. The great divide between anti-prostitution feminists and pro-prostitution feminists from the 1980s is ongoing.

        The idea that feminism doesn’t accept change, when it clearly has…or that feminism doesn’t accept critique, when it clearly has…well that’s just inaccurate.

        And Warren Farrell hasn’t, really taken feminist ideas and expanded on them. He took them, and then tried a reversal by applying them to men…which kind of doesn’t work. – Women are a sex object? Okay, he said, what’s the male equivalent? Success object. – It’s doesn’t work very well. And his latest “Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?” is actually quite anti-feminist. His work seems, to me anyway, to be stuck in a 2nd wave idea of what feminism is…which is a lot of why he’s received the reaction he has.

        • Mostly_123 says:

          HeatherN,
          Not sure if this link would cast a bit more light on the whole MRM question. It’s from the GMP back in 2011- it examines some of the parallels between the MRM and feminism (generally speaking), though Blanchette’s article is more about where they are both off base, rather than on base, so it might not be what you’re after. Still, I thought it a fascinating read:

          http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/playing-the-victim/

          • Heya again, just saw this. :)

            “All movements attract cranks and loons: why MRAs should be judged by some of their more vocal fringe members is not clear to me.”

            So this is in that other article you linked…and to me the difference is that the MRM is being run by it’s fringe. Feminism is being run by it’s unfortunately not-quite-intellectual middle.

            And, yes, intersectionality and the concept of the kyriarchy are totally important. Both concepts I learned about in my gender studies class, by the way. But like I was saying before, I don’t think gender is just another piece in the kyriarchical puzzle. Gender seeps into everything…or just about everything. Rarely is there a social interaction which isn’t directly influenced by my gender. And that’s why I am a feminist, and not just a humanist. I also am big into LGBT rights and all about breaking down our current class structure, etc. But gender’s a big one.

        • Mark Neil says:

          ” is refusing to accept any change or critique…which is wrong.”

          Not “any” change or critique, just any change or critique that challenges the current narrative that portrays women as vulnerable and in need of protections and special treatments to make up for those vulnerabilities, or anything that could show the narrative that any discrimination felt by men is nothing more than a side effect of hurting women. I would never, for example, suggest feminism doesn’t critique or change in order to strengthen the victim narrative, the ever shifting definition of domestic violence and sxual harrassent is evidence of that.

          I would argue there is ample evidence to show that examining feminism critically for possible flaws or harms it has/is causing is wholely unacceptable, even going so far as to make policy which prevents even having the discussion:

          http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2013/03/06/proposed-ryerson-mens-group-faces-hostile-policy/

          http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-good-life-the-friend-zone-its-not-just-for-men/comment-page-1/#comment-472388

          And even on the rare occassions when a feminist does do this, their arguments are dismissed as being an issue, not with feminism, but with the indvidual:

          http://goodmenproject.com/sex-relationships/how-feminism-screwed-up-my-love-life/comment-page-2/#comment-452984

          ” Judy Butler wrote Gender Trouble and a bunch of feminists went to town critiquing it”

          That’s not critiquing feminism, that’s critiquing an individual feminists work and interpretation. That doesn’t mean the core beleifs were ever actually challenged.

          “He took them, and then tried a reversal by applying them to men…which kind of doesn’t work”

          Why doesn’t it work? Yu can’t just dismiss his using feminists own reasoning to demonstrate men’s issues because you don’t like the outcomes. And I think this kind of demonstrates my point, that feminists are unwilling to show any compromise. Not only must men start from the feminist position, the process they take must also be vetted by feminists, or it is dismissed. How is that working together? Because it looks an aweful lot like subordination to me.

          “It’s doesn’t work very well.”

          Again, care to explain this further?

          “And his latest “Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?” is actually quite anti-feminist. ”

          Anti-feminist? Or simply critical and willing to pick out the toxic aspects? The reaction he’s gotten has been way out of line for even being anti-feminist. Trying to paint him as a rape supporter and pro-incest, that is a character assassination attempt, not simply disagreement. Those targeting him with those accusations are out to destroy his credibility and bury him, not prove him wrong. If he was wrong, as you claim he is, then they should be able to prove him wrong, instead they ad hom attack him. This is precisely why people are seeing feminism as in a negative light.

          • Look I’m not going to start arguing, because that’s kind of counter to the point of this article. However, what I will say is that Butler’s work has completely challenged and changed the core ideas of feminism. At the time she wrote Gender Trouble, a lot of what she was writing was actually counter to what a lot of feminists at the time thought…particularly with regards to drag and the concept of an inherent female identity. Her work has been argued against, absorbed into mainstream ideas, and still continues to be critiqued. Any time you hear someone talk about the “performativity of gender,” that’s Butler. And people who talk about gender as a “social construct” are almost certainly thinking of Butler too…even if that’s not exactly what she meant.

            Gender Trouble was an attack on some core feminist ideas…and there was quite a big and negative response to it. And now it’s taught in gender studies classes across the world.

            • Mark Neil says:

              Can you address the other points I made, such as your assertion that Warren Farrell’s approach doesn’t work? Because that IS essential to the article. If we are to work together, that doesn’t mean adopting a feminist starting point and only using feminist approved methods.

            • From what I have read of Warren Farrell’s work, it seems kind of intellectually lazy. Taking feminist ideas about the way society treats women (i.e. sex object, patriarchy theory, etc.) and simply attempting to find the equivalent for how society treats men, assumes that either social narratives about men and women are equal to each other, or that society actually treats women as better than men. So the success object, for example. In order to make that fit, he’s had to ignore a lot of the defining aspects of what the feminist idea of a “sex object,” is. He’s shoehorning feminist ideas about women, to try to make them apply to men.

              His discussions about power, for example, and how women weren’t actually always powerless. Foucault (at least I think it was Foucault) talks about the nuance of power within traditional gender roles much better than Farrell. And that brings me to the biggest problem I have with Farrell, and that’s that he’s critiquing ideas that are old and outdated in feminism. He’s critiquing 2nd wave feminism…one that even the people at NOW would disavow.

            • What is wrong with the success object theory? Men face enormous pressure to perform in terms of gaining wealth, status, success and be confident and socially dominant in order to satisfy the desires women have for men. Large percentages of the male population bore themselves all their working lives in jobs they only took because it would earn them more money they perceived they needed to be desirable to women instead of doing what they would want for themselves. THat is a huge impact on a mans life. Research also shows that men who loose their jobs get dumped but that this does not happen to women and that financially unsuccessful men have huge difficulties finding partners while the same is not true for women. Marriages also statistically break down extremely often at exactly the point where the woman starts to outlearn her man by a little bit. This is regardless of the woman’s income os it shows itself to a be about the relative position of the two not about women’s financial opportunities outside marriage. These are huge issues that most certainly parallels or surpasses the effect of being seen as a sex object.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “From what I have read of Warren Farrell’s work, it seems kind of intellectually lazy.”

              But isn’t that precisely what you’ve been advocating? Start from a feminist base and build on it (presumably from a man’s perspective?)?

              “and simply attempting to find the equivalent for how society treats men, assumes that either social narratives about men and women are equal to each other, or that society actually treats women as better than men. ”

              Doesn’t feminism state men and women are equally capable? Why then is it unreasonable to assume this has always been the case, and feminist theory is an incomplete examination? How DV has been treated over the last 40 years is more than sufficient evidence of how one sided feminists can be, so it stands to reason other areas of feminism are equally one sided and lacking in a thorough examination of men’s situations. And again, starting from a feminist base and building on it is precisely what you suggested. And now it’s unacceptable to do even that? Where exactly is the working together part in this discussion? Because it looks an awful lot like simply telling us what we can or can’t think or discuss.

              ” In order to make that fit, he’s had to ignore a lot of the defining aspects of what the feminist idea of a “sex object,” is. He’s shoehorning feminist ideas about women, to try to make them apply to men.”

              Yes, he did. He had to ignore all the sex bits. After all, he’s not claiming men are sex objects, so ignoring the sex part of that objectification stands to reason. It’s the same thing with human trafficking. Feminists tendency to focus on sex trafficking sends a message that women are the ones who are slaved out. Take sex out of the equation and examine ALL trafficking and it suddenly doesn’t look so gendered. Take sex out of the objectification theory, and examine for all forms of objectification, and suddenly objectification doesn’t appear so gendered.

              “His discussions about power, for example, and how women weren’t actually always powerless. ”

              And that is deemed an unacceptable theory? Men and women are both equally capable, but women have never been able to accomplish anything, even the ones who would be queens or prime ministers. The ones that inspired wars, toppled empires. all powerless. Doesn’t this insistence on a victim narrative ring any bells for you? Are you really so dedicated to the ideology that you would deny women were even capable of influence and power prior to the official feminist movement? If all that were really true, then you honestly say you even deserve to be treated as equals?

        • There is also the little concept of either being anti feminist or agreeing with a feminist idea, but not talking about it as a feminist idea. Maybe we do that because such ideas do not belong exclusively to feminism or the ideology includes that concept. Just because one brand or flavor of feminism include those ideas doesn’t mean they represent the whole group, just like the radicals. The fact that they are brands or variants show those ideas are optional and do not fit the criteria that feminism is based on.
          Atheists can see value in concepts and beliefs of different religions and adopt them without becoming religious, such as believing that you shouldn’t kill people and covet their stuff doesn’t make you a christian.
          Also maybe another reason why men are unwilling join feminism is because of the belief that feminists have more authority on the subject of mens issues of discrimination then men do. That if women talk about it then its because they want things to change but if men bring it up its then they are whining about losing privilege and how the concept misandry doesn’t exist. That women have no power to influence, create, or support certain practices and activities as a convention or norm in a culture or organization and men can’t be prejudice against their own gender or be coerced into fallowing said practices, they cant experience sexism.

  27. Mr Supertypo says:

    interesting….

  28. ZimbaZumba says:

    Trying to equate feminism being for Men’s Rights is hogwash. Its just an attempt to absorb their critics and silence them. Historically, and still today, their legal and political campaigning has had nothing but disdain for men; any positive effects for men have been few and coincidental. The well being of the male of the species had been no where in their thinking. This new found ‘concern’ for men is an attempt at the re-branding of a product that few want to buy anymore. Most of this re-branding is simply a re-framing of old ideas to make them seem beneficial to men, eg ‘Patriarchy hurts Men too’ or ‘Gender Roles hurt men as well’.

    As soon as feminism has genuine concern for men it’s no longer feminism, it is egalitarianism. But don’t worry this will never happen, the ideologues still run the show.

    • Mark Neil says:

      To be fair, I nether think Mark is trying to push that idea that feminism is for men’s rights, nor is he trying to silence men’s issues. I generally agree with your perception of feminism trying to absorb (to silence) men’s rights advocates. But I need to give Mark credit here, as he is the first feminist I seen suggesting the MRM and feminists work together, that has said feminism has to make a move too. Part of that move, of course, will need to be to relinquish the sole claim to the gender discourse, and acknowledge that they don’t get to dictate what the MRM can or can’t do. Anything less is not working together, it’s a conquest, and occupation force.

  29. ht tp://jezebel.com/5992479/if-i-admit-that-hating-men-is-a-thing-will-you-stop-turning-it-into-a-self+fulfilling-prophecy

    How can feminism be for men’s rights, when the idea of misandry is denied? Gee it’s not like conscription doesn’t hate on men and place their lives as lower than a woman’s. Of course conscription is done because the world loves men, so much so that they don’t have the right to choose to be in a military but an OBLIGATION punishable by jail, death in some cases (hopefully that is more in the past but still it exists around the world in some places).

    Of course misandry also exists heavily in culture, can anyone tell me the last time they saw a daytime talk show have an audience full of men laughing at a woman being dismembered?

    This is the kind of feminism that causes many men to just not want to join, why would they? Hearing men’s issues belittled n treated like they’re nothing compared to the almighty oppression of women because da womenz always gets it worse, da womenz must have alll da attentionz, da men are big n stwwonnggg dey can take care of demselvez but da womenz are da innocent fragile flowerssss. That’s the overall impression I get from Jezebel, I hope I am wrong but it’s that kind of gynocentric feminism with rampant bigotry in the comment sections that really just make me wonder where the feminists are that can actually identify misandry, who can actually understand that whilst men don’t have it as bad as women in institutional sexism there are some cases of it.

    Equality won’t happen until these bigots because the extreme minority, when the words feminism and MRA are no longer uses to generalize each movement but to simply be 2 sides of the gender equality movement. Because really, of the years I’ve been researching the gender equality movements I’ve seen a common theme, most MRA’s and most feminists are extremely similar in their overall goal with the major difference being the method n ideology behind their actions. I think both should join forces, if certain parts of feminism have created bad laws (early VAWA was a fucking joke, the duluth model was misandrous as hell) then move on from that, create ones that are genderless and cater to all people. Take the good n build on it, stop hating the bad to the point you hate the entire group. 2 groups of people who are upset about the way their genders are treated.

    • Precisely. As the many areas where men are discriminated against are being brought to the attention of men there is no way most men are going to buy that feminist story. It is so clear to me when reading her attempt at trying to explain that there is no misandry that men are not going to by that story at all. It did work back in the day when men did not see that men where discriminated against in any way and bought the story that women where worse of in every way. At the time they just accepted the broad narrative because they did not see the male side but there was so many seemingly obvious cases of women being discriminated against. But when men start to see the cornet areas where men are discriminated against and in addition see how much of that has been created by feminists, there is no way they are going to bother buying the script that there is no misandry only misogyny. Sorry but there is just no chance most self respecting men who have basic information is going to buy that story. Feminism will be left with the feminist men they already have and a small minority of men with huge personal issues with masculinity and anger towards other men etc. No one else will by such a demeaning story. Basically unless feminism radically changes its story and incorporates a fundamentally different view on misandry being real it has lost. To me her article also comes across as sort of desperate and it seems that at some level she already feels that the men are becoming a lost cause.

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  2. [...] Recently, I posted an article titled Why I’m Proud to Be a Men’s Rights Feminist. [...]

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