On Gaslighting and Male Privilege

 

“Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memoryperception and sanity.[1] Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature.[2][3]

 

“Tom could publish the Matlack family grocery list and provoke a Twitter carpet-bombing based on his sexist breakfast choices.

–Michael Rowe, on my Facebook Page

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Yesterday was yet another interesting day in the ongoing conversation about gender politics, The Good Men Project, and my attempt to spark a national conversation about what it means to be a good man. My 300-word blog in the NYT about how much I love my wife, make-up, body ink, and plastic surgery spawned another attack by a feminist.

Megan Murphy, writing in rabble.ca, leads in by identifying me as “The Good Douche Project’s Tom Matlack” in her piece At long last: Tom Matlack’s opinion on your face. She later qualifies that further by calling me, “Tom Matlack, of the MRA infested, porn-loving, rape apologist Good Men Project.”

At this point personal attacks on me bounce right off. It’s not that I don’t take the topics I write about personally. I am incredibly passionate about the men’s stories that serve as the basis of what we are doing and the issues that go to the heart of what it means to be a good father and good husband and good man in 21st century America and around the globe.

But the attacks on The Good Men Project as a whole are unfair and unjustified. We provide an open platform for men, and women, to talk about the most challenging topics from prison to divorce, poverty and unemployment, sex trafficking and porn, rape and sexual abuse, sexual identity and the search for intimacy. We’ve published fifteen thousand pieces since our founding. Our top ten most popular of all time include:

Raising Boys (a Dad’s Advice for Moms)

Gay Men’s Sexism and Women’s Bodies

Lead a Good Life Everyone: Trey Malone’s Suicide Note

She’s the One

Why Women Aren’t Crazy

Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race

Confronting Life

I certainly understand that in talking about very sensitive topics we stir up plenty of controversy. We attempt to publish provocative pieces from all sides of an issue in order to allow a nuanced and deep conversation to occur, one that has been lacking among and about men and manhood. That’s the mission and the vision.

No doubt individual pieces may be challenging for some. They may be upsetting or downright painful. Strong reactions are natural when dealing with addiction, abuse, divorce, race, sexuality and gender. It’s totally fair, and expected, to be critical of individual pieces and authors. But attacking the enterprise as a whole, given the breadth and depth of our content, doesn’t make any sense in my opinion.

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Getting back to the narrower question of my NYT blog post, and Ms. Murphy’s critique of it, I want to talk about what I learned from the heated conversation that ensued inside the GMP tent on my Facebook page (because we don’t all agree, which is exactly the point). But first I want to share a different conversation that happened on my Facebook page to make a related point.

Thursday I wrote the follow status update:

I am struggling at the bench press and Konstantin Selivanov, my amazing trainer, starts talking about how silly it is that his dog needs to get special treatments for it’s teeth. “My dad had huskies. He went hunting one time and he shot a bird. He looked at the dog and told it to fetch the bird. The dog looked at him like he was crazy. My dad gave him one more chance. The dog still looked at him like he was crazy. So he shot the dog instead…” Now I am laughing so hard I have to drop the weights.

Several of my friends who know Konstantin found my post humorous. And then friends and relatives who are dog lovers started making clear how unfunny they thought the story was. “Wonderin’ where rollin’ like this would fall, say, on a Good Man behavioral spectrum…” wrote a friend with two rescued greyhounds.

I explained that what was funny was that Konstantin grew up in Russia. While Konstantin is still one of the toughest SOB’s I have ever met, he is also one of the kindest, sensitive guys I know who believes in meditation and a carefully regimented holistic diet. It was the distance he has travelled from a dad who shot his dog to a son who pays for his teeth to get his teeth brushed that was funny. The journey we all are on to find a masculinity that works for us.

Konstantin himself came on the thread and explained:

As Tom said, it was over 30 years ago in Russia North of Siberia, place called Yakutia. Different culture it is. In wintertime my mom gave too much food to our poor dog so he got fat and lazy, not a good combination for a hunting dog, as my friend say – Fat wolf can’t hunt. So laziness and too much food got him killed.

In the last comment on the thread Konstantin talked about how heartbreaking it was to watch his mom weep over her lost dog.

My point is that sure, my post could have been viewed as offensive to animal lovers and advocates. Michael Vick went to prison for animal cruelty. But there was actually a lot more to the story. It happened in a different time and place. And it wasn’t about the dead dog at all. It was about a boy watching his mom cry and a man struggling to get to the place where he is not his father but a father and husband who takes the family dog for professional cleanings. And it was about a really macho guy laughing at the sensitivity he had developed, unlike his dad, for dogs and people.  Seeing all that flash across his face made me laugh because it touched my heart.  My first post explained it very poorly for anyone except the people who already knew Konstantin’s story.  But he explained it himself perfectly so not only did the animals lovers come running to his defense, but all were moved by his honesty.

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I did post a link to Ms. Murphy’s piece with the phrase, “a piece of beauty…” on my homepage. Then all hell broke out. Friends, GMP contributors, family all had something to say.

The core issue quickly became one GMP contributor calling Ms. Murphy “effing crazy” for calling our organization “Douche” while another contributor felt this response to her was gaslighting her.

I waded in a couple of times to make clear how I felt my NYT piece was really non-controversial but pretty quickly realized that my actual 300 words really had little to do with the conversation.

In the end, the issues came down to two related points:

1) If a woman does something that in fact a man thinks is wrong/crazy/inappropriate, is calling her out on that controlling her language in a way that is sexist, gaslighting, mind control?

2) As a man with “privilege”, does saying you are not the enemy in fact, by definition, make you the enemy for your complicit participation in the oppression of women?

I am going to give you my thoughts on these two questions, for what that is worth, but before doing so I want to reiterate a core part of the GMP mission. We want to foster discussion from as many points of view as possible based on the belief that in the end we all have the right to our own experience and our own conclusions but until we each hear all sides we will not be fully informed. And more is gained in the discussion that sticking to some single-minded view of the world.

There is no GMP party line, no set position on anything. The only commitment is to ongoing discussion about the central issues of what it means to be a good man.

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I fully support the idea that race and gender have been used to systematically oppress throughout history. And that analysis based on privilege and power dynamics is a legitimate and important way to think about our world and human interactions.

What I do not accept is the notion that privilege is the only way to think about humanity in general and manhood in particular. Said another way, there are many great places for a feminist perspective on daily life. The core reason I started The Good Men Project was because I felt men lacked a place to talk about the unique challenges of being a good guy in modern society.

We have certainly included a ton of feminist content throughout. All three of the leaders of the company, two women and a man, identify themselves as strong feminists. Our first editor-in-chief was a noted gay writer (and dog lover, just by the way). But the topic isn’t feminism. It’s manhood.

The chain of logic that frankly drives me nuts is that because I am a white man I have privilege. My privilege blinds me to what it is like to be oppressed. And as a result I cannot speak to my own experience of the world apart from the cage of ignorance that power analysis puts me in. This logic in essence obliterates the idea upon which The Good Men Project was founded, namely that men need to talk more about their experience in all its gory detail rather than less.

In part this may be just an inclination on my part toward the micro rather than macro analysis. I am not a sociologist, nor a PhD in gender theory. I’m just a guy who lived a colorful life in search of other men who have stories to tell that enlighten, inspire, and help us all figure out how to be better men. That, of course, includes our treatment of women.

On the gaslighting question I certainly understand that telling a woman she is crazy is a sensitive area for a variety of reasons. We have worked hard to highlight the fact that male victims of sexual abuse have a particular burden to bear. But I agree, and we have written about often, the prevalence of rape by men of women. No one is disputing that fact. And the core concept of gaslighting is one in which a perpetrator of physical or emotional abuse tries to convince his (or her) victim that they are too crazy to believe the truth of their experience.

Again, our goal is to allow a space where the truth of men’s experiences can be shared in a way that moves the ball forward in terms of male integrity, compassion, intimacy, and fulfillment.

So I don’t see the concept of gaslighting as a blank check by which a woman can say whatever she wants, wait for an angry response, and then whip out the gaslighting card. If you start a conversation about The Good Men Project by calling our 500 contributors all d-bags I think it’s okay to call you names back, even though I personally have and will continue to refrain from doing that. Somebody punches you in the nose, it’s probably not a great idea to punch them back. But you are justified in doing so since they started the fight.

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This all boils down to how we handle differences of opinion. There have obviously been some individual pieces on GMP that upset those in the feminist community. And I don’t expect everyone to agree with what I just said about power dynamics even amongst the leadership group at GMP.

But does that mean that we have to resort to McCarthy-type black-balling of all members of the GMP community as pariahs?

When I sit down with Julio Medina, who spent a decade inside Sing Sing, or David Sanfacon, who is home with 6 month-old twins, I want to hear the story they have to tell from the deepest part of their soul. It may involve issues of race or gender or sexual orientation. Or it may not. It’s their life and their story. And I just don’t see why I have to accept feminist doctrine as the only way to try to understand manhood.

Sure shooting a dog in cold blood is horrific. But maybe, just maybe, there is a crying mother and a little boy that you are missing.

We all have a story to tell. Some come rushing out, some are pent-up and come out in bits and pieces, little gasps of truth. My hope is that GMP has been and will continue to be a place where men of all kinds, feminist and not, rich and poor, inmates and CEOs, all religions, all nationalities, all sexual orientations, all colors, all ages, and with a rainbow of interests and points of view can share their deepest truths in a way that makes clear that we as men are not alone. That we can do better in terms of how we treat women, as individuals and as a gender. And we can inspire each other to be great dads. And that goodness, whatever that means to you, isn’t a solitary goal. Being a man in the 21st century does not mean being silent. It means be speaking up and being one of the many.

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image Steve Locke

 

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.

Comments

  1. Jonathan G says:

    “The Good Douche Project’s Tom Matlack”

    Hahahaha. Stay klassy, Megan.

  2. Eloquently said. But I’m sticking with “effing crazy.”

    • lllong time man.
      Look at their language choice. These sanctimonious ranters are just abusers, emotional abusers who hide themselves in the garb of ‘righteousness’

  3. “I think it’s okay to call you names back, even though I personally have and will continue to refrain from doing that. Somebody punches you in the nose, it’s probably not a great idea to punch them back. But you are justified in doing so since they started the fight.” This lacks serious insight on what it means to be a good person. Advocating attacks even if you won’t do it yourself doesn’t create a positive environment for conversation-which means you are goofing against your own mission. Whole there are some good pieces on here, it’s comments like that that deeply concern me. Your language choice make some people feel uncomfortable about supporting the site, even when the other content is good. If life is about being a good person, man or woman, then is strongly argue being justified in returning the name calling/punching isn’t part of the goodness process. You didn’t say defending oneself but rather being justified in being mean.

  4. Andy Schulkind says:

    I am amazed how anyone can come to the conclusion that Ms. Murphy did. Yet she did. Ignorance and hatred is not limited to the male gender.

  5. 1. Wrong, crazy and inappropriate are three entirely different things. If someone is wrong about something, maligning his/her mental health =/= “calling out.” Instead it’s childish, it’s not constructive, and it hurts the conversation you claim you’re trying to have.

    2. If someone calls you a name, it shouldn’t follow that you now have license to respond in kind. At least not if you’re genuinely interested in a “nuanced and deep” conversation. That’s the opposite of nuanced and deep. As another comment has already pointed out, if you condone such a reaction, you’re undermining your own stated mission.

    When someone calls you a name, you have two main options. One is to try reasoning with that person. The other is to not respond. Anything else means you weren’t very committed to conversation in the first place, to be so easily derailed from it.

    3. The only “enemy” of feminism is patriarchy. Not a person or group of people, but a system. If you claim to be “not the enemy” of feminism or of women, you’re revealing that you don’t fundamentally understand what feminism is. That’s why people respond negatively. Saying “I’m your friend” doesn’t give you permission to say whatever you want. No matter how much of an ally you are, you’re still part of the deeply entrenched inequalities that make up our lives. We all are. The moment you start to claim to be above that or apart from that, people are going to tell you that you don’t get it. Because you don’t.

    Example: I support equality for people of color. I consider myself an “ally” to people of color (at least I try to be). But I would not publish a piece telling black women how beautiful I think it is when they wear their hair natural. Because it’s not my place to do that. Black women don’t need a white woman who has never struggled with the social/cultural/economic/political issues surrounding black women’s hair, to tell them how great it would be if they’d just ignore all that and do what the white woman deems to be most attractive. I’ve never been a black woman and I never will be; I have always had the privilege of hair that more or less meets the dominant culture’s beauty ideal; it’s not my place to speak on it.

    In fact I think this makes a pretty solid analogy to men talking about women’s makeup choices. Loving women, being an ally to women, being a staunch feminist… none of that changes that you’ve never experienced the world from a woman’s point-of-view. And the opinion of the privileged, on certain matters, IS going to have to take a back seat to the opinions of those who suffer from inequality.

    The most important part of good conversation isn’t talking about different views. It’s LISTENING.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for continuing the conversation and the thoughtful commentary. I am only going to respond to a couple of points, and the questions they raise.

      We do believe in very open conversation here. And the reason we do so is — because, like you said — it’s important to listen. The difference is, if someone asks for our opinion, we believe in giving one. We believe that talking about things more is always better than talking about them less. And that if someone has a different view from ours that gets us to see things differently — that’s great. But part of the problem we’re having with people who critique us is that they say we are someone incorrect for listening to everyone — that some people don’t deserve to be listened to. That’s just not what we believe. And, as I’ve said, we believe there is no conversation not worth having. That telling people they have no business talking about a certain thing is just not right. I understand we may never agree on this. But it does mean we still actively seek out the voices of those who suffer from inequality. It’s just not *all* we do.

      • Hi Lisa, and thanks for your response. I do agree that hearing more perspectives is not only admirable, it’s necessary for progress. But I stand by my assertion that some perspectives on certain issues are more valuable than other perspectives. That doesn’t mean I want to see anyone silenced. It just means that it’s not surprising when there’s blow-back. For example, I don’t have kids. So I make it a point not to insert my opinion into conversations about how people should parent (even if just to say they should parent however they want). If I did, I wouldn’t be surprised if parents dismissed what I had to say, or were even offended by my saying it. I get it. My perspective isn’t all that valuable in that particular conversation. I’m not hurt or bothered by that.

        And here’s where I think you and I are going to fundamentally disagree. You say that you don’t believe there’s any person who doesn’t deserve to be listened to, and no conversation not worth having. That may be true in principle, but in practice it’s not the case. GMP isn’t an open forum like, say, Reddit, where anyone can post anything. Decisions are made about what material will appear on the site and what won’t. You and your colleagues determine what material is relevant to your mission and which conversations you want to generate. You decide how you’ll present the various perspectives. You make judgment calls about what’s provocative versus offensive; what’s controversial versus what’s simply hateful or wrong. You don’t publish any and every voice out there – nor should you. I think it’s important to acknowledge that editorial decisions are being made, and the conversation is being guided in various ways.

        So while I’d NEVER say that anybody’s voice should be silenced or even ignored, it doesn’t follow that everybody’s voice deserves the exact same platform. And saying that someone’s perspective is problematic (and that this shows in what they have to say) isn’t the same as saying that they have no right to speak.

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          Ok, those are fair points. And yes — I do want to be clear — we do use editorial discretion, and we do choose posts according to our editorial mission, which, as I’m sure you know, is simply starting an international conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century.

          What’s interesting though, as we talk this through, is that we do try to work with everyone that truly wants to contribute as long as they have a clear desire that is true to that mission. In terms of giving people more or less of a platform — the truth is, we give people more of a platform if they really want to work with us, and less of a platform if they don’t. If they are not a good writer, but have a good story to tell, our Editors help them tell that story. If they are not on brand the first time but really want to contribute, we encourage them to contribute again. I don’t think there has ever been someone that really wanted to be a part of the project whom we didn’t help get there. Our Editors, who often seem like they work 24 hours a day — can attest to that. And that gets at the heart of what you so clearly articulated here –>> “I think it’s important to acknowledge that editorial decisions are being made, and the conversation is being guided in various ways.”

          And we’ve actually fought, internally (imagine that!) about the presence of women’s voices on the site. And in the end — we agreed to allow women’s voices as long as they adhered to that mission. But, I have to tell you — especially in the beginning I had to constantly fight the battle of “why are you allowing women’s voices on a site for men?” People have argued with about the value of those voices. I think they are incredibly valuable. And I think the men’s and women’s voices meld together seamlessly on this site. as it should be.

          • That’s interesting! I do like and appreciate that you include women’s voices on the site. But at the same time, I wouldn’t begrudge you the right to omit them entirely. I completely understand the argument that women’s voices are less valuable, or less appropriate and useful perhaps, than men’s in a conversation about maleness/manhood.

            I also appreciate the how challenging it must be to foster conversation without taking a specific stance or having a strong point-of-view. Again, an admirable goal that will inevitably draw criticism, no matter how you try to approach it. But nobody is truly neutral. I honestly think that openly acknowledging the ways you’re shaping that conversation (intentionally and unintentionally) is an important part in keeping the conversation honest.

            • I completely understand the argument that women’s voices are less valuable, or less appropriate and useful perhaps, than men’s in a conversation about maleness/manhood.

              I disagree with the idea that women’s voices are less valuable or less appropriate because the way women, men, and society in general perceive men and whether or not we choose to accept or reject those perceptions are important parts in deciding what makes a good man.

              Furthermore, if we want women to participate in the conversation, to provide commentary, and to support us as we decide what makes a good man, then it is only fair to provide those same women with a platform to speak as well.

              In my opinion it is the same when it comes to men engaging in discussion on women’s issues. If a group of women want to assert that women’s issues are also something the men should care about, then that same group of women should accept when the way a man expresses how he cares about that issue does not fall in lockstep with that group’s opinion.

    • The most important part of good conversation isn’t talking about different views. It’s LISTENING.

      So I’m trying to figure which parts of your comment were examples of you not talking about your views, and just listening to others, so I can model my own model of conversation to your superior one. I’m thinking it must have been the spaces between paragraphs, right?

    • (if you don’t live in Israel or other areas with female or male conscription ignore this)
      Hi Rebecca, I’d love to take the time to point out that you, a female, are privileged. You live a life of privilege free from the horror of conscription past n present. You’re also complicit along with all others, men n women in the patriarchy which oppresses men in this way that women are not oppressed in. You do realize this right? That contributing to a society that has conscription in it means you’re also apart of the deeply entrenched inequalities men face. Would you admit you’re privileged as a female in this area?

    • “1. Wrong, crazy and inappropriate are three entirely different things. If someone is wrong about something, maligning his/her mental health =/= “calling out.” Instead it’s childish, it’s not constructive, and it hurts the conversation you claim you’re trying to have.”

      Using the term “crazy” in this way typically isn’t “maligning someone’s mental health”, any more than calling someone a douche isn’t claiming they literally are a bottle filled with salt water used for washing out vaginas. I know intent isn’t magic and all, but what’s happening here is the imputation of the worst possible intent behind the usage of a particular word to someone.

      “2. If someone calls you a name, it shouldn’t follow that you now have license to respond in kind. At least not if you’re genuinely interested in a “nuanced and deep” conversation. That’s the opposite of nuanced and deep. As another comment has already pointed out, if you condone such a reaction, you’re undermining your own stated mission.
      When someone calls you a name, you have two main options. One is to try reasoning with that person. The other is to not respond. Anything else means you weren’t very committed to conversation in the first place, to be so easily derailed from it.”

      So given that people like Meghan Murphy opened her piece with an insult, do you think she isn’t interested in nuanced or deep conversation?

      “3. The only “enemy” of feminism is patriarchy. Not a person or group of people, but a system. If you claim to be “not the enemy” of feminism or of women, you’re revealing that you don’t fundamentally understand what feminism is. That’s why people respond negatively. Saying “I’m your friend” doesn’t give you permission to say whatever you want. No matter how much of an ally you are, you’re still part of the deeply entrenched inequalities that make up our lives. We all are. The moment you start to claim to be above that or apart from that, people are going to tell you that you don’t get it. Because you don’t.
      Example: I support equality for people of color. I consider myself an “ally” to people of color (at least I try to be). But I would not publish a piece telling black women how beautiful I think it is when they wear their hair natural. Because it’s not my place to do that. Black women don’t need a white woman who has never struggled with the social/cultural/economic/political issues surrounding black women’s hair, to tell them how great it would be if they’d just ignore all that and do what the white woman deems to be most attractive. I’ve never been a black woman and I never will be; I have always had the privilege of hair that more or less meets the dominant culture’s beauty ideal; it’s not my place to speak on it.”

      Regardless of whether you say people aren’t the enemy in feminism, I find if difficult to take a statement like “No matter how much of an ally you are, you’re still part of the deeply entrenched inequalities that make up our lives” as a description that I’m an enemy or at least an obstacle to feminism, purely because of my gender.

      I get that you sincerely believe it when you say people aren’t the enemy in feminism, but I find it hard to believe that statement as true when objections to what men have to say on these matters are so often levelled at them as people or at their gender.

      “In fact I think this makes a pretty solid analogy to men talking about women’s makeup choices. Loving women, being an ally to women, being a staunch feminist… none of that changes that you’ve never experienced the world from a woman’s point-of-view. And the opinion of the privileged, on certain matters, IS going to have to take a back seat to the opinions of those who suffer from inequality.
      The most important part of good conversation isn’t talking about different views. It’s LISTENING.”

      But Tom’s piece contained no expectations that he should have been heard out because he is a white male. He responded because he was asked a question. (The one place I think I can agree with Murphy is that the NYT series on women and makeup is rather tepid.) But that’s not Tom’s fault – and why is Tom getting stick for answering a question he was asked, and in about as self-deprecatory a way as possible?

      I hate to rant, but it really feels like if you’re a man, there’s no outcome to choose from here that won’t result in your getting an earful from someone who’s decided to take offence.

      If you say women should wear makeup, you’re a jerk.
      If you say women shouldn’t wear makeup, you’re a jerk.
      If you say women should do as they please, you’re a jerk.

      What exactly do you want us to do here, Rebecca? Not say anything? I’m down with that in principle, but I better not then hear accusations of not caring about the oppression of women through makeup because we aren’t saying anything about it.

    • In fact I think this makes a pretty solid analogy to men talking about women’s makeup choices. Loving women, being an ally to women, being a staunch feminist… none of that changes that you’ve never experienced the world from a woman’s point-of-view. And the opinion of the privileged, on certain matters, IS going to have to take a back seat to the opinions of those who suffer from inequality.
      As soon as this gets applied all across the board I’m all ears. Well actually I’m all ears now it’s just that for some reason I’m being told that as a man I am privileged in all areas (in the realm of gender) therefore I must always take a back seat.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    “And the opinion of the privileged, on certain matters, IS going to have to take a back seat to the opinions of those who suffer from inequality”

    First, I suppose, we need to decide who’s privileged. Not so long ago, Hillary Clinton said women are the primary victims of war; you lose sons, husbands, brothers, etc.
    Nobody, not feminists that I heard of, called her on it. Maybe because the other victims are dead or something?
    Anyway, the non-dead among the husbands, sons, brothers, etc, might take exception to the primary thing, and thence to any privilege issue. Insisting on hearing nothing but agreement or silence from men probably isn’t what most folks think of as listening or conversing.

    • That’s because Hillary is a female, females in many countries are privileged to not be conscripted or have a social system setup to practically shame the shit out of them into being disposable war machines. But good luck ever hearing Hillary admit privilege there, I’m still yet to find many women who will admit female privilege even exists (only ones I’ve seen are on the GMP). What Hillary said sickened me, it completely erases the male victims, it treats them as disposable and not worth mentioning. How on Earth would an intelligent human ever consider the majority of war deaths to not be the primary victim? Losing your fellow soldier in your platoon/seeing them die especially and losing partner/family member is a secondary effect, the primary effect is the person with the bullet/knife/shrapnel/etc ending their LIFE, and the tertiary effect is losing fellow countrypeople.

      If we have another world war and men are conscripted, will feminists be happy to stay silent around the men who would be oppressed far more (one of the worst oppressions ever is being thrown into battle against your will)?

  7. Michael Rowe says:

    There certainly hasn’t been a great deal of “listening” when it’s come to dealing with what the NYT piece was actually about: a commissioned piece about how a man finds his wife most beautiful. But the again, facts are most often the enemy of tone-deaf, didactic rhetoric.

    • Melissa Harrison says:

      Thank you. Clear, concise, no drama. A dramashitstorm is exactly what was intended, because it distracts us from the real issue(s), hindering the real progress that is being made. GMP has also started another very important conversation: what does it mean to be a good woman? Sometimes the term “people” needs to be used to help us remain unified. Thing is, though, there are differences between men and women…and there is absolutely no reason for those differences to divide us. Differences should be the complementary glue that binds us.

      • In some ways I have noticed that due to climate change the Shitstorms are weakening. And post Hurricane Sandy there seems to be less shit to be stormed. It seems that Michael Bloomberg is a good mayor and is making everyone clean up their act! P^)

  8. I thought your piece for NYT was really spot on….and quite lovely…(your wife is gorgeous with or without makeup)….

    I actually think ridiculous blood-curdling insults, like the ones aimed at you and this site, are so hilarious because they are so over the top…but I respect your choice to hold back from punching back….[much classier not to return the punch...]….

    More debate…more controversy…more discussion is good….My son is reading about the 1st and 2nd Continental Congress in Social Studies class (I would like to think the founding fathers did not call each other “douchebags”, although I am sure the discussions must have been quite heated)….

    I would like to hear more stories from Konstantin…even from Megan (although I’m sure most of the men here would disagree)….Is it possible to hear more about why people shoot dogs in a faraway place? Is there some way in which we can talk out the anger and get to a point where more civilized discourse can occur? More controversy really can’t hurt this site…if anything, I think it makes it all the more interesting….

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Thanks Leia for your kind words and yes, I agree on not backing away from controversial conversations which is why I wrote this instead of ignoring what Megan said. We actually did a segment about Konstantin in our film if you buy the DVD. Amazing story about him coming the US with his wife and sleeping on a basement floor…

    • Only time I’ve heard of dogs being shot is after being gored by a wild boar in hunting, though that happens more rarely these days since they have leather armor for hunting dogs. The strongest man I’ve ever known, a reallll tough mofo, cried n cried when he had to shoot his dog for that reason.

    • Jonathan G says:

      Thanks, Leia, for articulating exactly the same thoughts I had, which lead to my initial reaction above. The responses are just so ridiculously over-the-top, such as taking Tom’s sweet statement that his wife looks beautiful to him even when she’s not trying to look like made-up models in a magazine… as somehow a statement that women always must look like models in a magazine. It’s bizarre. Or the particularly offensive suggestion that I, as a man, can’t tell what’s make-up and what’s not.

      I agree, more debate and more discussion is the way to go, as well as not responding to the vitriol in-kind. Good arguments and poor, alike, will out themselves.

      • Yeah, it seems that this Murphy woman had a ‘Hard On’ for the GMP and was just waiting for ANY opening to level both barrels against it. It truly amazes me how a basicly easy going open minded guy like Matlack can get ‘Shit stormed’ for just speaking what’s on his mind.

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    Leia. As regards dog-shooting, no.
    The Army has a new manual for getting along with Afghans and you’re not to mention routine child abuse including sexual abuse, torturing dogs, pedophilia and appalling personal hygiene.
    So, as to dogs, no.
    Might make the other guy angry and that wouldn’t be sensitive, not to mention lead to green-on-blue.

  10. Saying ‘your perception of the facts is incorrect’ when that is indeed the case is not gaslighting.

    As for making silly mistakes of that kind, I’m an egalitarian kind of guy and are quite prepared to admit women are just as capable of making them as men are ;)

  11. I find it interesting she resorts to such abusive language to describe this site and you Tom, is this the radical angry style of feminism that feels free to swear like sailors and profess how angry they are? I am woman, hear me roar?

    “MRA infested, porn-loving, rape apologist Good Men Project.”
    As opposed to feministe was it which was had rape apology n denial even of a female rapist? Porn loving? Half the articles here are against porn and comments generalizing both for n against porn get let through, I don’t think this site actually has a stance regarding porn. It’s one of the few sites I’ve seen that will post polar opposite views, and I actually find it refreshing to see.

    MRA Infested? Does she mean people giving a damn about mra’s because about half of te feminists I hear from could classify as MRA’s for fighting for male rights, anti-rape campaigns that include men are also MRA? Or is she trying to refer to straw-MRA’s? I’d love to see how she’d react to generalizations about feminists. It must be so foreign and taboo to actually give a flying fuck about men, inequality men face, issues men face, but wait…isn’t that what feminists are supposed to do (at least what half of them tell me)?

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    To get to actual “gaslighting” reminds me of a trip my wife and I took with another couple.
    We were motoring along the expressway someplace and his wife said, “There’s a Subway.” Hubby nodded. Moments later, wife asked, in annoyance, why he wasn’t going to go there for lunch.
    He said, last time we had this discussion, you said you weren’t suggesting we go there, just that you wanted me to know what restaurants were out there.”
    “But you should have asked me.”
    Hubby sighed, got off at the next exit and we went back to Subway.
    When the women went to the restroom, hubby sighed again and said, “The way it’s always been forever and ever changes every week.”
    Now, this isn’t gaslighting, because the wife probably wasn’t trying to make him crazy. And it was just the way the world was supposed to work as far as she was concerned.

  13. For decades, we have worked to the feminist model of male privilege in relation to Domestic Abuse (DA). This was appropriate, given what we knew about women’s experiences. Now, we know D.A is also perpetrated by women and children and is experienced in same sex relationships. Therefore inequality in gender specific roles and male privilige cannot logically be the driver or motivator for Domestically Abusive behaviour or power and control.

    Ideas and perceptions are evolving and working towards equality is no longer exclusive to women. Heterosexual men and LGBT communities are challenging discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexuality.

    Bias, in favour of women, regarding child custody, rights to paternity leave, the option to be a stay at home parent, flexible working hours and the monopoly on particular fob roles, are examples of inequalities and gendered privilege being challenged by society.

    Gendered privilege exists in families and homes, where both partners share the beliefs that this is normality ad women are expected to be subservient. Equality exists in homes and families where both partners share the belief that each person is valued, respected, autonomous and encouraged, regardless of the job roles or tasks they choose to undertake or their earning power.

    The issue of male privilege and female privilege is perhaps too involved to fully explore here and so my comments give a simplistic overview.

    You can find out more about my theory and model on Domestic Abuse at http://www.originsofdomesticabuse.com

    Regards

    Claire

  14. Mr Supertypo says:

    “MRA infested, porn-loving, rape apologist Good Men Project.”

    Doesent this open the ground for Tom to sue Megan Murphy?

  15. So Glad to see that people are opening their eyes to the gas-lighting and extreme abuse that some Bloggistas have been getting up to! I have to say that from a professional position it”s fascinating – and I’ll happily call a lot of of Bullying, Cult Behaviour, Cyber Abuse – Cyber Harassment and Netopathic. Some are upfront bullies and others are incredibly devious and manipulative in the way they use cyber space and it’s still emerging opportunities to inflict damage … Especially when they plant Cyber Bombs for booby-trap detonation.

    I do think there is a Panic amongst many of them right now due to the death of VAWA due to it’s multiple Woozles and the abuses which have kept it in place to milk the sacred cow and suck the gravy train dry!

    Not being in the US I couldn’t figure out the ongoing Panic amongst so many Cyber feminists until The penny Dropped and VAWA was left to bleed out on the floor of Congress. It’s one of the most Politically Cynical pieces of legislation I have ever seen – and the way false information around it has been Manipulated as far back as the 1970’s is quite staggering to look at. The gas-lighting has been Cinematic in it’s scale and Is Oscar Winning!

    It’s even lead to the The Heffalump Conjecture“Politicians, independent of ideology, in the presence of multiple verified facts and one Woozle will seek to fund Woozle related activity where either Woozle or funded activity emotively leads to increased votes and tenure in office.”

    … and don’t mistake Whimsy for Whimsical!

  16. I believe insecurities are causing the inordinate amount of animosity to Tom’s NYT piece. Not an easy thing to quell with assurances of beauty that are not based on esthetics when the thrust is indeed esthetics.

    Unless you’re eighteen – both women and men do look better with some form of (good quality and application) makeup on. There is no getting around this fact. Saying that you prefer (esthetically) your partner when they wear no makeup is a mental state of affection and love that transcends the simple esthetic – which is not the purpose of makeup.

    Women continue to have a larger esthetically ornamental role (still) and we struggle with the transition, and nice thoughts on how there is no real need to struggle, even if well intended, can continue to prick insecurities we hold.

    Having said this – the other nonsense about listening, not talking, can’t speak on something you’re not directly involved in etc – that’s a load of crap that needs to be pushed off the fiscal cliff. Men’s honest reassurances may not melt away all our insecurities, but that does not justify railing against good intent and the manufacturing of new outrages. I’m starting to think that outrages are addictive….

  17. courage the cowardly dog says:

    There have obviously been some individual pieces on GMP that upset those in the feminist community. And I don’t expect everyone to agree with what I just said about power dynamics even amongst the leadership group at GMP.

    I say “so what”. There have been pieces on Feministe that have upset me. Most recently an accusation that my Pope supports “Killing Gays”, which nothing could be further from the truth. Attacking Catholicism is not only tolerated, it is socially acceptable bigotry. I think you cow tow to feminists too much. After reading this I see you are simply trying to engage a civil discourse on issues that go well beyond issues that concern men the most. With people like Megan Murphy you will not be successful in the effort, because she is not interested in civil discourse or giving a platform to any opinion that hints at a differing opinion than strict radical feminist thought. Should the Megan Murphys take control, I have not doubt this site would be shut down along with more conservative blog sites. I have gained a greater bit of insight into what you are doing here and while I think it is admirable, I think trying to win over the Megan Murphys of this world is a waste of time. Had I as a poster written the kinds of things she did my post would be deleted within a matter of minutes if not seconds. What she wrote was hositle, hateful, mean, angry and not in keeping with acceptable standards of honest intellectual civil discourse. But because she is a feminist she can get away with it.

  18. Richard Aubrey says:

    Courage,
    Is there an article on feministe suggesting certain Muslim authorities want to kill gays?

    • Is there an article on feministe suggesting certain Muslim authorities want to kill gays?

      Of Course Not – the girlies are not daft, and they know if they did that they would likely end up listed with the Souther Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) as a hate group!

      FBI: Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Remain Relatively High – December 10, 2012

      Hate crimes against perceived Muslims, which jumped up 50% in 2010 largely as a result of anti-Muslim propagandizing, remained at relatively high levels last year, according to 2011 hate crime statistics released today by the FBI. HateWatch

      They do love to play the game of claiming they are going to report naughty people to SPLC, so do as teh school yard bully demands else will will scream Ypou have Cooties!

      Of course it would be interesting to judge certain groups against standards operated by SPLC – and I wonder how a recent 1st Annual week of desperate emotional cleansing and unhinged psychic purging would get judged …. or does making it supposedly comical and self referential mean it can’t be hate and negative?

      That Free Speech thing is ever so tricky and like in animal farm “Desperate emotional cleansing and unhinged psychic purging Good – Catholics Bad.” – some may say with irony they couldn’t tell the difference! P^)

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      Not that I have ever seen.

  19. “Tom Matlack, of the MRA infested, porn-loving, rape apologist Good Men Project.”
    Clearly this woman has no damn clue what GMP is all about if she thinks its inhabited by MRAs (I wonder if she has a case of Filipovicitis). But even more specifically there’s something else I want to get into.

    Now I think we can surmise from the comment that Murphy is trying to imply that MRAs by default are a negative thing. Well these generalizations have been going on for quite a while (especially among feminists). I’m wondering when we will get to the point that they will actually be called out for the generalizations that they are (or maybe have it identified as gaslighting).

    And to make it worse it’s not just a generalization, it’s straight up uninformed nonsense.

    But they are fine with making such remarks….until MRAs make remarks of their own and THEN all of a sudden generalizations are a bad thing.

    Simply put GMP is hitting some nerves with people and now the rush is on to try to discredit it. Since GMP deals in gender they see that their number one shot is to try to associate it with MRAs (which is odd because despite all the whining about how there are no good MRAs I have no trouble finding them on the mensrightredit on a regular basis) even with the evidence doesn’t just not support the assertion but actually contradicts it.

    If I have to take the time to “give feminists a chance*” then the least they can do is “give MRAs a chance”

    (* = Basically meaning that no matter how bad my own experiences are or how numerous my bad experiences are I am to pretend that there is absolutely no negativity among feminism and those experiences are all in my head or that they only occur in dark corners of random radfem spaces.)

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.

      by Nicholas Klein (1918)

      There is no doubt that the GMP is on the right track :-)

    • Do we even have that many MRA’s here? I mostly see people identifying as feminist or egalitarian, not many actual MRA’s?

      (I am a person with egalitarian views who hates the labels since they provoke so much damn fighting)

  20. In many of my relationships with women, I’ve had instances where they were very clearly upset, and when I asked if something was wrong, or what was wrong, they said “nothing”. When I pointed out that they were acting differently, they replied “No I’m not.” In every single case, it later turned out they were, in fact, upset.

    Does that constitute gaslighting? Because I’m being told that what I’m seeing isn’t actually happening and the only explanation must be some reflection of me having poor mental health?

  21. Prof Toddles says:

    I am sorry but to reiterate the bold hypocritical POV that was taken here but noone mentioned it and it bugged me:
    In fact I think this makes a pretty solid analogy to men talking about women’s makeup choices. Loving women, being an ally to women, being a staunch feminist… none of that changes that you’ve never experienced the world from a woman’s point-of-view. And the opinion of the privileged, on certain matters, IS going to have to take a back seat to the opinions of those who suffer from inequality.

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but doesn’t this imply that men cannot be hairdressers/beauticians ?
    That is the crux of the problem and thankfully it was pointed out, but in more that it was a side effect, when its the main problem. That problem is the assumption that someone could not have any concept of something based solely on their gender. That by being a man there are certain things “he can never understand” that they are doomed to ignorance, men could not POSSIBLY be gynecologists, they just can’t understand how a vagina works! , and the only way they can help is shut up and tow the party line.
    doooooomed, dooooomed I say, but it’s not their fault, their just men.
    That’s not dismissive at all.

  22. Honestly, I think she has a point about SOME of the articles posted here. But she was definitely over-homogenizing an entire website. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’d run across one of the articles on here that have made me feel offended and attacked and made assumptions from there. Calling her crazy is a bit of a stretch. Saying that she overreacted or tarred every writer with the same brush would be far more accurate.

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      what are this articles? One thing is disagreement another is slander.

      I think the best thing would be to invite her here, perhaps posting a article, so she can see she has been misinformed by malevolent people. Thats the best I can come up with. Otherwise the more belligerant solution is to drag her to court. And then she has to explain to the judge why she made this statements, and again who are these phantomatic MRA who infest this place? Usually the avoid the GMP since in their eyes this is the Good Mangina Project.

      • I agree that she was unfair. I am only suggesting that she read an article like “Nice Guys Commit Rape, Too” or another piece and UNFAIRLY homogenized the website. Any open platform discussing something as big as manhood has some bad apples and some great ones. I’m simply saying she is underinformed, not uninformed. Calling people crazy and lashing back doesn’t help anyone learn.

        • Mr Supertypo says:

          I agree on the name calling, that is out of line to both her and the users here. The nice guy commit too, was a provocative article, poorly written. But it was not rape apologist at all. Anyways I still think that convincing her to write here would be a good idea, perhaps a interview organized by the GMP team?

  23. Honestly, she does sound crazy. She’s like the type of person how recites her college dissertation at every social event.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “She’s like the type of person how recites her college dissertation at every social event.”

      Oh crap. Is that bad? That would explain the glazed looks. I thought they all just had ADD.

  24. If men cannot talk about women issues because we never experienced being a women, then women cannot talk about men issues either, because, excuse me, women also never experience being a men either.. But we still have women on GoodMenProject right?

    We both need to talk about each other issues, period. Its not we are just enemies, not allies.

    • I agree. And just as some women have some stupid opinions. So do some men. I simply noted that she probably didn’t read more than a couple of articles, which may have been triggering somehow, and unfairly homogenized. I don’t think “men can’t discuss women issues”. Just that calling anyone crazy based on one statement is also unfair.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I agree. And there’s the strictly practical question, “How do you know the gender of the person commenting?” If someone expresses an opionion with a username that is ambiguou in terms of gender, are we supposed to hold off considering it until we know the actual sex of the author?

      “I think I like what you say here, Chris, but before I know whether to agree with you or rip you a new one, I need to know if you’re male or female.”

  25. wellokaythen says:

    It may be more accurate to judge a man based on his critics than on his friends. If someone says bad things about you but that person is shrill, unfair, and wallowing in righteous indignation, that can only make your critics look bad. I think “crazy” is used too often. Having an axe to grind, out of touch with much of reality, lacking objectivity on one’s approach, inability to listen or conceive of being wrong, these are more accurate in this case.

    The only way to get everyone to like you is to say nothing, except that being silent will make some people made at you as well.

    I don’t know about “MRA-infested” or “rape apologist” as an accurate description of the GMP. You could always pick out a few articles and comments as pieces of evidence for that. If she’s looking for absolute ideological purity, she won’t find it here, fortunately.

    As for calling this site “porn-loving,” I don’t consider that an insult. : – )

    • wellokaythen says:

      Another way to put it: anyone she hates would likely get a prejudicial boost in respect in my mind. If she hates you, you’re probably not all that bad. That’s not fair or objective, but it’s a powerful reflex for me.

    • I don’t know about “MRA-infested” or “rape apologist” as an accurate description of the GMP. You could always pick out a few articles and comments as pieces of evidence for that.
      I think one would be pretty hard pressed to find a much of a presence of MRAs much less enough to count as an “infestation” as she so lovingly calls it. Simply put someone said something she didn’t like so she tried to liken it to something else that is easily hateable in order to gain approval from her peers.

      If this were a political blog she would have said, “Conservative-infested”.
      If this were an animal blog she would have said, “PETA-infested”.
      If this were a blog she would have said, “Beiber fan-infested”.

      Her claim is weak, she knows it, but is banking on there being enough anti-MRA sentiment among her peers that said peers wouldn’t even bother fact checking her claim. A cursory look at A Voice for Men would prove it dead wrong. Same with the rape apologia.

      As for calling this site “porn-loving,” I don’t consider that an insult. : – )
      Same here. Hoping there is enough anti-porn sentiment among her peers that they won’t even question it. And if her peers are feminists I would think that they would know that porn by default is not something bad.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I also can’t help but notice as a student of historical propaganda her use of the powerful metaphor of “infested.” This is one of the greatest dehumanizing rhetorical tricks ever. The enemy isn’t human, the enemy is like lice or vermin, meant to be exterminated. Hello Holocaust, Trail of Tears, Bataan Death March, Gaza Strip, etc., etc. She’s in very good company, she is.

        • Of course. Someone commented on this around here a few weeks ago (I think it was Julie).

          Taking away someone’s humanity makes it easier to view them as inhuman, monster like. The more inhuman they appear to be the easier it is to make them out to be the enemy. The easier it is to make them out to be the enemy the easier it is to rally support for hatred against them.

      • Jonathan G says:

        I guess I’m still new at this whole game, but what is an “MRA” and what makes one worthy of extermination like a cockroach?

        • Well if you do look at a search engine It does get worrying: Ranked in order of appearance.

          1) Magnetic Resonance Angiogram – A medical diagnostic too for the study of blood flow and blood vessels – so maybe she has a hatred for medical things and medical personnel?

          2) Marketing Research Association – Founded in 1957, the leading and largest association of the opinion and marketing research profession. Maybe she has issues with cold calling on the phone and offers of Toaster Ovens?

          3) Mountain Rescue Association. Now I can’t think of anyone who has issues there, so I’m going to take stab and wonder about unrequited lesbian love with a yodelling nun…. High on a hill with a lonely goat ?

          4) MRA – A Wikipedia Disambiguation page – which given the levels of error in Wikiland tends to be even less helpful that other pages and does tend to cause high levels of frustration and confusion.

          5) Malta Resources Authority ?
          6) Mauritius Revenue Authority ?
          7) Michigan Reading Association ?
          8) …… ??????

          And all of these are infesting GMP? I do have to say I think someone had a few too many glasses of the left over eggnog before they started blogging! Maybe they will improve with practice and sobriety in many areas?

          • Mr Supertypo says:

            LoL Mediahound :-D

            Everybody knows that MRA is THE Romanian model casting agency

            MRA Casting Agency is part of the MRA Group together with the prestigious MRA Models Agency – the first Romanian modeling agency founded in 1992.
            MRA Casting started its operations in January 2011 in Bucharest as a full service agency casting and representing Romanian actors, special extras and kids for Romanian clients and worldwide as well.

            Puteti sa vizionati (si sa va abonati) canalul oficial al agentiei noastre pe Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/MRACastingAgency sau

            We already casted and booked actors, special extras, models and kids for:

            http://mramodels.ro/women/

            So its safe to say that at GMP we have lots of Romanian photo models actors ect :-)

      • Simply put someone said something she didn’t like so she tried to liken it to something else that is easily hateable in order to gain approval from her peers.

        You mean – She Gas-lighted? P^)

        The way some are throwing Thought-terminating Clichés around it reminds me of the months running up to the felling of the Iron Curtain – the collapse of the Soviet Block, and one hell of a good party in Berlin! I’m wonder if I should order in some extra champers … there are Monumental changes in the air. The aire of desperation and confusion wafts down history!

  26. wellokaythen says:

    Hang on a minute. Isn’t it misogynistic of her to use the word “Douche” as an insult? I bet she would be offended if you called a man a “pussy,” but isn’t it basically the same kind of anti-female sexism to call a man a “douche”? Associated with feminine anatomy, so gross and disgusting, which shows a misogynistic ideology, etc., etc. (I’m not saying I’m offended by either of these, just that it seems a little hypocritical on her part.)

    Maybe I’m reading too much into her word choice. Perhaps she just hates vinegar? A slightly acidic solution killed her little brother? Had a bad experience with a shower in France?

    • See what I mean about that Aire of desperation and confusion wafting about?

      In the good old days, when the revolution was fresh and young, such Bourgeois silly mistakes would not have occurred – and the increasing frequency is a clear sign of both political dysfunction and imminent collapse. It is one of the greatest failings of Marxist Ideology; not allowing self irony – only ironing of others.

    • You can’t gaslight a douche, so the comparison is invalid. Standard vinegar is not flammable – yet and in all fairness, if the acetic acid contained in vinegar is concentrated enough, then yes, it can be flammable and prone to being gas lit.

  27. Seems simple to me. You come off as a con artist…with a really narrow pitch, and some people fall for it. Not smart people, but oh we’ll.
    L

  28. wellokaythen says:

    About that photo with the guy kicking:

    If that high kick to your head is supposed to teach you something, your trainer is teaching you very bad habits. Although kicking at head level is quite flashy and can be quite devastating, it also leaves the kicker wide open, as the kicker in the photo is demonstrating quite nicely by leaning back, failing to cover either his groin or his head, and leaving the back hand essentially useless. Kicking like that is essentially presenting a groin and a standing leg with ribbons and bows, especially if the kicker’s torso is leaning back like that. Maybe that just shows how tough he is, that he’s not afraid of a ruptured scrotum or snapped knee tendons. Outside of the movies, kicking is optimally effective at waist height and below. Unless your intention is to draw your opponent in with an ostensible display of vulnerability….

    I hope he’s teaching you all the things you can do when someone tries to kick you like that.

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