The Bachelor, Feminism and China

Tom Matlack seeks to understand the conundrum of how we talk about what we talk about.

Two women, both related to me, were in my living room last night watching the newest bachelor, Ben Flajnik. For the record, one was reading a book and other was unwinding amidst a taxing senior year at college, so they both claim not to be really watching. But it was hard for me to ignore.

I was trying to work at a nearby computer, but found myself googling the newest heartthrob:

Millions of viewers shared the heartbreak of Ben Flajnik (pronounced Flannick) when his soulful and heartfelt proposal was rejected by Ashley Hebert in the emotional finale of last season’s The Bachelorette. Now Ben is ready to put all the disappointment and hurt behind him in order to move on with his life, his phenomenal success as a businessman and his search for the right woman to be his wife and to start a family with, as he stars in the next edition of ABC’s hit romance reality series, The Bachelor.

The 28-year-old bachelor has fallen in love three times (Ashley being the third), but has only proposed the one time; that one failed proposal won’t stop him from trying again. He is confident that, having found love on The Bachelorette, he will find his soul mate and a lasting, love-filled relationship this time on The Bachelor.  from ABC

Unfortunately, this description of our man Ben didn’t match up with what I was being forced to listen to on the screen (painful scenes from Sonoma, women plotting, guy awkwardly going in for the first kiss) and my source for all things that really matter in this world, Chelsea Handler, who had alerted me to some issues to look out for earlier in the week:

♦◊♦

I was driving my first-grade son to school this morning, fighting with him over his sweater and whether or not he would be going to an after-school baseball program, when I heard an interesting story on NPR, “China Targets Entertainment TV In Cultural Purge.”

“Tens of millions of people tune in every week to the Chinese dating show Take Me Out. It’s pure entertainment: girls in skimpy dresses hoping for a date; sweaty, geeky guys stammering questions; and two effete hosts sporting matching bouffant hairstyles.

But as of last week, the show was bumped from prime time — part of China’s latest clampdown against “excessive entertainment,” which is itself a manifestation of a larger ideological campaign.

Instead, Take Me Out’s millions of fans got Ordinary Hero, uplifting tales of ordinary people doing heroic things, like a firefighter saving a 10-year-old child stuck in an elevator. The swap was intended to promote “traditional virtues and socialist core values.”

My first thought was, “You mean we could deep six Ben Flajnik? Wow, maybe there’s a reason China is kicking our ass in everything from manufacturing to secondary education. They might be onto something here.”

But then I came to my senses. “First Amendment, Tom. Freedom of speech. Freedom of speech my friend. Our way is better. Having The Bachelor is better than Tiananmen Square.”

 

♦◊♦

But back home I kept thinking about Chelsea, Ben, “Take Me Out”, and “Ordinary Hero.”

Here at The Good Men Project we have been undergoing a massive discussion about our mission, about gender politics, about what it means to be a feminist, what it means to respect men’s rights, and how we as a media platform and social movement can do the most good. That means being responsive to what folks want to talk about but also defining ourselves in a way that stays true to our own inspiration for what this was meant to be about.

Lisa, our fearless leader, shared with me a long email exchange amongst a group of female and male evangelists on the topic of male privilege, feminism, and The Good Men Project. Two of the women involved in this exchange had already decided to cut ties to us out of frustration with our inability to understand fully the feminist point of view.

The email exchange was tough reading. Even though the men involved are among the most progressive guys I know, things quickly polarized down gender lines. And while there was a shitload of words on the page, I didn’t see much progress in bridging the gap.

I responded to Lisa in frustration, with something of a diatribe over gender theory that concluded:

So my litmus test isn’t your dogma — it’s whether or not you are willing to write/comment/participate by focusing on the non-theoretical. To think about the specific and keep the conversation there, whether it’s about the issue of porn or just how much it hurt when you were raped when you were a little boy.”

 

♦◊♦

All of which brings me back to China and Chelsea. And, yes, The Bachelor.

The new Chinese show “Ordinary Hero” sounds remarkably like what I had in mind when I set out to start The Good Men Project. But, as I discussed with Lisa this morning, our top ten most read pieces is a kind of litmus test for us on what people actually want to read and talk about. “Why Women Aren’t Crazy” has been at the very top of a supposed men’s website for months now. And for the six months before that we had the heroic joke piece which mapped the world by penis size and made it all the way to Time Magazine for goodness sakes, because THAT has got to be news, right?

Sometimes I wonder if the neo-feminists and Ben Flajnik have it right—that we should stay as far away from reality as possible. Ben is just playing for the cameras as he looks for love, endures fights, and tries to make up for lost time.

The feminists with whom I and others at GMP have been sparring for some time now seem determined to impose a theoretical frame upon our efforts to talk about manhood through personal narratives—a frame that casts all men in the power position and by definition in need of improvement.

Both inhabit a hyped-up world where the granular truth–a truth told with innocence, courage, and the ripple effect of something so beautiful it gets passed along from one person to another for no other reason than it moves the soul–is impossible.

Sometimes I wonder if they are right because there are certainly millions of people who watch The Bachelor and a whole lot of folks who would rather we talk about feminism than the men who I think heroes for bravely sharing their stories in our pages.

But inevitably that thought passes and I become rededicated to the idea that we can publish stories about men being good and find an audience.

 

♦◊♦

Unlike the Chinese, we don’t have the luxury of telling people what they will and won’t see, or what they will and won’t watch or read.

I guess my only hope was that here at The Good Men Project, we might be able to inspire a focus on maleness that didn’t have to degenerate into either penis maps or theoretical mud-slinging but instead focus on individual stories and topics that bring fresh perspective to the changing face of modern manhood.

Maybe I was asking too much. Maybe the lowest common denominator still carries the day when it comes to media. But I would sure like to think not.

♦◊♦

Let me know what you think about what we are trying to do here at Good Men Project.  And if you have no opinion on that topic, more important, let me know:

Is the Ben really as unattractive as Chelsea makes him out to be?

photo: whologwhy / flickr

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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. The feminists with whom I and others at GMP have been sparring for some time now seem determined to impose a theoretical frame upon our efforts to talk about manhood through personal narratives—a frame that casts all men in the power position and by definition in need of improvement.
    Well yeah there is room for improvement, its just that they idea of “improvement” isn’t the same as what others are thinking (may maybe its that presumption of a power position).

    Sometimes I wonder if the neo-feminists and Ben Flajnik have it right—that we should stay as far away from reality as possible. Ben is just playing for the cameras as he looks for love, endures fights, and tries to make up for lost time.
    Problem with that is we are in reality. Meaning that we can’t escape the things that need to be improved upon without facing reality. Sure its ugly at times but its unavoidable.

  2. I think one of the incredible things about this site is the license you have given your contributors to contribute. Besides, nobody would get here to read my boring opinion pieces on politics or religion if they didn’t get here to read the article about sex or dick jokes first.

    Stay the course bro. The numbers don’t lie…

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Jake you are a rock star.

      • The other major asset you have in your favor is your casual moderating policy.
        I simply cannot post comments stating that not all men have male privilege and that men face systematic discrimination in many important areas of life (both facts) on MOST feminist forums.

        Well, I can. But then I will be quickly dogpiled with feminists calling me everything but a nice guy, have my masculinity challenged, my ability to secure the companionship of women challenged (which is ironic coming from feminists). While the feminists are allowed to use any profanity, if I respond with the least bit snarky or sarcastic responses I will be banned.

        The simple fact is that there are millions of poor, under-educated, un-diagnosed mentally ill, PTSD suffering vets, depressed, marginalized men in significantly larger numbers than women.

        For all the talk of equality from feminists, they seem resolutely determined to ignore that men dominate the bottom of the power pyramid in about equal ratios to the way they dominate the top.

        In this way you could see that strict gender roles (male as performer) harms men (possibly much more) than the beauty role harms women. For all the crying about the few thousands of men who dominate the power brokers of life who are examples of the successful male role of performer, that is counter balanced against the DOZENS OF MILLIONS of men at the bottom of the power pyramid who are “the washouts” of the male performer role.

        When you take the metrics that measure black disenfranchisement such as:
        -education
        -incarceration
        -suicide
        -homelessness
        -targets of violent crime
        -health care
        -murder victims
        and many others and turn them to gender you see men dominate over women at about a 4 to 1 ratio (men are also 95% of workplace deaths).

        I come here to post because this is one of the few (only?) areas in which I can debate feminists about the theory of male privilege and why this theory holds no value for millions of men who fall below the cracks to much worse standards of livings then most women.

        If we want better men, then we also need to start treating men better. In my view men are treated horribly, and it is systematic and reinforced in the media that men being treated horribly is acceptable behavior.
        Look at Sharon Osbourne’s delight at the story of a man being sexually mutilated, and the whole audience tee-hee ing along with her (broadcast to an audience of millions). Look at the movie Mr. Woodcock which depicts child abuse of only boys.

        In my view (which may be extreme) we as a society treat men and boys in mounstrous fashion and then have the gall to act surprised when we find we have CREATED MONSTERS.

  3. There is no reasoning with a polemic Tom, its their way or no way. I think that some bridges should be built between the magazine and the men that dare to define themselves, discuss gender outside of the polemics parameters and call the polemic out on its misinformation and problematic legislation.

    In Australia, the polemic is suppressing most of the child abuse data, to make it appear as if its fathers that are the main child abusers, in order to legislate against men in general, this is being done an academic and gov. level. There are lots what should be big stories out there that are not getting the media coverage that they should be. There are big stories out there Tom.

  4. I guess my only hope was that here at The Good Men Project, we might be able to inspire a focus on maleness that didn’t have to degenerate into either penis maps or theoretical mud-slinging but instead focus on individual stories and topics that bring fresh perspective to the changing face of modern manhood.

    Which is exactly why I subscribed–not to argue with feminists or anti-feminists and not to throw theoretical hand-grenades, but to read and participate in a forum where guys who don’t or won’t usually reveal much of their thoughts for fear of being thought weird, actually open up to each other, in the hope of becoming better men/sons/husbands/fathers. Who knows, maybe even Ben the bachelor will get on board and join in the discussion?

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Thanks Rev Dave. I am glad you did. You are my kind of guy.

      • Rev Dave’s statement aptly encapsulates my view. The GMP should ultimately provide a how-to resource and communication aid for those who aspire to be good men, not a forum for those with gender-based theoretical axes to grind. When it deteriorates into too much of the latter, I mentally check out. Of course, by restricting the access of theoretical axe-grinders, you will cut down somewhat on your traffic in the short run, but will increase it (and more fully achieve your presumed objectives) in the longer run.

        • Thanks, Nick. For all the theorizing, postulating etc, sometimes, even according to Freud, “a cigar is just a cigar.” You’d better duck; I think there’s something incoming.

  5. Joe Cardillo says:

    Someone asked me the other night how I feel right now, as a man. I told her that I feel misrepresented. We live in a culture where men are often portrayed and pushed into one of two archetypes: the macho / smooth / too cool for school and on the other side of it men who feel like they have no power and aren’t able to feel good about themselves (and they often blame women for the inequity). Inevitably there are men who comment on this site who are playing out those two archetypes, but there are also some really smart, insightful, honest people who are on board.

    This site is a good middle ground for those of us who want to foster that type of participation. I like your mission and the decision to stick with conversation and narrative is a good one. There will always be an impulse to talk in theory and absolutes, and that has a place too, but overall I think you’re doing a fantastic job.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Thanks Joe for the thoughtful comment about archetypes and how we are trying to walk the tight rope of allowing conversation and having a mission that we stick to.

  6. *le sigh*

    As one of the women involved in that e-mail exchange, this response makes me sad. Not angry, not vindictive. Just…. sad.

    No one asked the GMP to become a theoretical or feminist-based project – as evidence, all the women showed up originally BECAUSE we believe men need and deserve a place to tell their stories. No one wanted that to change – in fact, we all LOVE that and want[ed] to support it.

    Instead, we were trying to explain how themes and terms used at the GMP can be polarizing and had a deep history, that the editors of GMP should at least strive to understand. This was a problem because it seemed, to us, the way in which some people (not just men) were discussing their stories (and reacting to those stories) pushed back against decades of study, research, and theory on NOT JUST feminist issues, but those of race, gender, class, etc. That IS a problem, because acting like those themes and issues aren’t *really a problem* is wrong. It is also NOT how these conversations need to go. There are other websites discussing men’s rights that do not have this problem, and I talk often with male friends about these things and those discussion do not become polarized along gender lines, they are enjoyable and educational for both of us.

    There is a lack of understanding of the scholarship and literature, yes (to a degree that discussions here are far behind where study actually is today), and also a resistance to contemplate the reasons why lacking that understanding is a problem, when discussing things that touch on gender, race, feminism, class, etc.

    These issues went far beyond feminism, a point I and others made again and again, and it was in other people reading our words that they became a “MRA vs. feminist” dialogue.

    That is not to say the GMP can’t touch these issues. I think it MUST talk about them, even if it is only rarely – but the point is the context. The greater picture in which stories are couched. No, you don’t have to touch on it, but it would make a bigger impact if that was understood and contemplated. And, moreover, the GMP already does, in ways it does not even presently comprehend, which is also a problem. If you can’t see it, how can you engage it?

    All that said, I applaud all the work you guys are doing, the mission of the GMP, and Lisa in particular. She’s a wonderwoman, and I can’t thank her enough for engaging everyone. However, I still feel like the big important points of that e-mail were missed (and they WERE NOT “hey you should be more feminist-oriented!”) and that makes me sad.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Thank you for this summation. As another member of the email conversation I agree with your points, and I found sections of the post disconcerting. Stories don’t develop out of thin air. There are always contexts and frameworks that hold the stories and, at times, reinforce them. I find looking at the context of where stories come from extremely important towards creating a greater understanding of the people and systems telling them. It’s a concentric circle kind of thing, in my mind.

      Any polarizing topic, in my opinion, from the current discussions on gender, to race, to the environment, to poverty-they don’t exist in a vacuum. I find the contexts, histories, and studies connected to the discussions and stories crucial but I don’t believe that each article here has to be theory focused, not at all.

      Additionally, I do think it’s as important for myself as a “staff” person to know the histories on either side of any “pole” if nothing else to be a good steward of the people writing and commenting within the space and well, to learn from people who are different from me. Surely, if a series of articles was focused on The Earth, we’d need to know a great deal about the facts of global warming, no matter how many people disagree with it. And we’d need to know facts from the other side as well. Same thing with Race, or Class, or LGBT issues. There are areas of actual study, books, histories that can add to the understanding of current situations.

      Finally, I see nothing wrong in understanding and exploring the context and cultural history/structure that individual/personal stories are born from. I think that context makes the personal stories that much more poignant, valuable, precious and powerful and accessible to all.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Nikki:

      I was obviously trying to add a bit of humor to this whole thing with Chelsea, Bachelor and China et al. Sometimes it just seems to me that this gender conversation gets so damn serious that it spins us all in a black hole. If Chelsea can laugh about it I’m thinking maybe we should at least try.

      As for the “sadness” I guess I would say we are all still talking about it so don’t give up yet. No one has put a stake in the ground other than the folks who seem to be saying that we are so out of the loop on what is important they are going to leave GMP, which is their choice.

      I too find nothing wrong with exploring context, talking openly about race, about class, about sexual orientation. In fact I have written often about all those topics. You might not agree with what I had to say but I have grappled with them to the best of my ability.

      What I can’t abide by is a theoretical dogma that says, “There is one context and one context only through which you should view all the content you publish on GMP.” I just don’t agree with that pretty much no matter what that dogma or theory or academic study might be or say.

      It reminds me of those who would have me, or us, define “goodness.” My response to that is always that I am not God so I really don’t know. I struggle with it in my own life and my own heart. I try to do more good than harm every day but I am not good in any absolute sense and my own framing for myself has taken a long time to come to and is constantly changing. As for anyone else it’s really not my place to say.

      That’s the issue here. It’s great to have folks write and comment who have a strong point of view about gender or race or class or sexual orientation. Just don’t tell the rest of us that if we don’t agree we are ignorant.

      And for God’s sakes let’s try to laugh once in a while. Watch that Chelsea clip and tell me you don’t think its funny?

      • Julie Gillis says:

        Chelsea is hilarious.

      • Hi Tom (and Julie!)

        I agree we get too serious. But there’s a reason we’re so serious about this, and that it’s hard for me, at least, to take it lightly – because there is a risk of causing harm to others outside your sphere. For instance, saying “rape culture is really just rape hysteria” undermines what we do to try and work against sexual assault, etc. Questioning its existence makes it more difficult to break it down. Moreover, saying that all just illustrates a lack of understanding about what “rape culture” really is, not that it isn’t a problem, *especially* worldwide (god gawd here come the rape culture comments – when anything about rape culture itself is missing the point).

        I also really believe the disconnect is beyond polarizing dialogues and into issues of using the blogosphere/email for discussion, and this discord between that space/people not in academia and those who are scholars. I think the GMP has great potential to talk about those issues too – and I think that’s part of my point when I say “beyond feminism” – I think it goes that far and has that kind of implications.

        See, one thing I got out of those e-mails and this post was a significant distrust for academic study. It’s not *all* theoretical – much is based on studying the real world. Julie raises the issues with that here, and below when she response to This man. We need to get past this. Just as I would hope you’d trust a climate scientist on issue of climate change (also highly polarizing in some cases, but also overwhelmingly agreed upon among scientists because the science is so conclusive), why are we having so much trouble trusting scholars here? See, it’s not “hey there is this one dogma” it really is “hey here are some terms that *describe* things in our world, and they have been collectively agreed upon and defined for decades by men and women”. In addition, I think I can speak for everyone on that e-mail that we meant for GMP to check out this rich history and then make your own decisions – but AT LEAST learn it first, before you dismiss it.

        See, one of the underlying things I find sad is the fact that those definitions, scholarship, etc, really are simply the way a long history of people have agreed to describe the world. They provide a language and a context for people to tell their stories – and to CONNECT over them. They allow men to say “wow, you know, I really feel that X has done this to me” and then someone else can respond with “yeah, that same thing affects me this way”. Or, “hey, you know, people get upset when I do this – and I don’t know why” and for someone else to say “have you thought about this?” They provide a common ground, a way to start on the same page. If we learned about them, instead of deciding we already know the definition, we’d actually find they’re a WAY FOR US TO CONNECT.

        It’s only through not understanding those things that we miss this opportunity. That’s what I think is the largest downfall here. I think the key is starting from scratch, which is what a fellow blogger and I aim to do over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll check it out and leave your thoughts.

        Thank you for responding, Tom.

        • Tom Matlack says:

          Nikki:

          Thanks for this. I am totally with you when it comes to fighting sexual abuse in all forms all over the world, no matter what. I think its important to note that men are victims too as was just highlighted in the definition change by the Justice Department. http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/justice-department-redefines-rape-matlacks-op-ed-on-cnn/

          I also think sometimes looking at the academic studies (like the piece we just published showing how most of the END OF MEN data is just flat wrong) is important. http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/men-at-work-objecting-the-end-of-men-and-celebrating-masculinity-in-the-workforce/

          As I told Julie directly on email, the success of GMP has very little to what I want or was inspired by to start it. It depends on a thriving community of which I am a member. As a founder of twitter told me last week, “social media is like this monster you unleash on the world. There’s no controlling it. You just try to make sure innocent people don’t get run over too often.”

          In part this piece was an attempt to say its up to the GMP community to figure out what they want to talk about, how they want to talk about it. I can tell Lisa all day long that I want to publish only first person stories and if no one reads them (which often seems to be the case to my great disappointment when the stories are so well done) it really doesn’t man crap what I think. We will go where the community wants us to go.

          On “context” I suppose I can agree that I go to Southie to hear working class guys who will give me the brutal truth rather than a bunch of ibankers deluding themselves with ego (talking AA here).

          My problem with “theory” though is that to listen to some I really need to become an expert in feminist theory in order to have the right to talk about manhood on a manhood site. That just strikes me as unproductive.

          There are theories about the Buddha, about pacifism, about communism. That’s all fine as long as you don’t force me to agree to participate in the conversation.

          Yes I love to explore human difference. At times I like to try to make sense of macro data about gender and race etc. The fact that there are a million African American men in prison just pisses me off and makes me deeply troubled.

          But the macro data, or academic studies, are not a pre requisite to tell or hear a story. I don’t judge the story I am listening to by the outsides of the person doing the telling. I am inspired by the inside stuff, the story and the truth of one person’s experience shared with courage.

          Thanks for listening.

        • i don't believe you says:

          “because there is a risk of causing harm to others outside your sphere. For instance, saying “rape culture is really just rape hysteria” undermines what we do to try and work against sexual assault, etc. Questioning its existence makes it more difficult to break it down.”

          Nope!
          The much bigger risk is when we give those who create “frameworks”,”terms”, “priorities” and “policies”, a blank check. It is critical that society’s “bullhorns” are routinely challenged to explain, define and defend themselves.

        • @ Nikki

          “For instance, saying “rape culture is really just rape hysteria” undermines what we do to try and work against sexual assault, etc. Questioning its existence makes it more difficult to break it down. Moreover, saying that all just illustrates a lack of understanding about what “rape culture” really is, not that it isn’t a problem, *especially* worldwide (god gawd here come the rape culture comments – when anything about rape culture itself is missing the point). ”

          You won’t find me fighting over the Worldwide issue – have a look at the issues connected to Afghanistan and the Pashtun Diaspora where women have no power to prevent rape and boys are also subject to rape – ref: Bacha bazi, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/dancingboys/view/

          How about the people in many countries, both male and female, who may have supposed protection under law from rape, but due to corruption, tribal conflict and even good old poverty and illiteracy live with rape daily – and the rapists act with impunity. It affects Millions of women, men an children daily.

          Then you have some who complain about Frat Jokes – and attempt to give it equivalence!

          I would not say there is an issue with Rape Hysteria – but that has been “Rape Culture” hysteria, which is actually very RACIST – disproportionate and even Dehumanising to others on a Global scale.

          The term “Rape Culture” and it’s Hysterical usage in a US-Centric manner since last year – linked to Slutwalk – is having effects all over the world.

          I was chatting today with a junior newspaper editor. Did you realise that in so many countries newspapers and media can’t and won’t use the term “Rape Culture” to describe atrocities such as Rwanda and ongoing issues in Congo and Uganda – because to do so is seen to actually Trivialise how serious it all is?

          I also found out today that the BBC last used the term in 2007 and had to ban it due to some seeking to make capital out of it’s usage. It’s been a growing issue for some time.

          The term has had to be added to media black lists, political black lists and diplomatic black lists due to the Mass Trivialisation of it.

          The now preferred term is “Culture Of Rape”. It’s harder to type and less easy to say so less likely to be jargonised and trivialised.

          “Rape Culture” has become a big problem – Not because of what it means, but due to it’s Trivialisation and misuse. It’s made it so much harder to deal with the realities where they are not Trivial and have little if anything to do with Jokes.

          The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions – but it does not mean that it’s the road you are on, or you who is dealing with hell!

      • Not available to view in Australia. Damn region locking:(
        I question the integrity of gender studies as a whole, but I do not have much experience with it. Can anyone answer if they actually study indepth the issues males face, the good and bad for both men and women? I have a feeling that they see the positives man has in society but it really does feel like they gloss over the negatives and then try to compare it to the negatives women face without studying the positives they face. In my heart I automatically question anything that only studies 1 gender, if you study one and then try to compare to the other you must study both genders of course. I feel that women’s studies desperately needs men’s studies, or both to come under the 1 group so potential bias can be removed. Things like male privilege without acknowledging male responsibility and female privilege or female responsibility make me truly wonder what goes on in those academic institutions.

        Why is it I’ve only recently learned about male suffering yet have heard so much of women’s suffering? We have links in comments proving bias in studies that were headed by feminist groups and ideologies from what I can see, the cdc report for one, Australia I believe has a lot of problems too in this matter with some radfems who seem to have influence, eg “The Plan” is a major debate if what AVfM says is true.

        I just really do not understand how people can be against violence, abuse, want to help victims yet allow such clear bias and polarization to happen. I’m not scared of feminists as a group, I’m scared of a few people who have power and identify as feminist who are clearly biased and bury male stats in favour of female stats, fight over funding, hell the entire domestic abuse shelters problem with it’s hijacking is a stain on history that shouldn’t have happened. Was it a kneejerk reaction to the oppression of women by men to the point a few viewed them as just privileged and not deserving of help?

        I’m sure we all know there are many problems women face but if we don’t have someone studying the problems men face, there is no equality. If women are worse off than men, you don’t make equality by helping women only whilst ignoring the issues of men and vice versa. We do not exist in 2 separate universes, issues affecting women are now being found to affect men heavily too. Body image, rape, domestic abuse, when people actually started asking the men about them we started to see a big problem in the men AS well as the women. I personally absolutely truly despise studies that only ask women of things like rape and abuse and then try to compare that to men or imply men aren’t suffering from it. If your goal is to compare the genders, you need to ask each gender the same question in an unbiased fashion.

        Another thing that gets me is when I’ve heard we cater to the biggest problem first and when that’s fixed we can help the others. Uh, if we did that in medicine ALL funding would goto heart disease research and breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc would get zero. How does that solve anything? Is it impossible to share the awareness, funding and support around? Given the sad nature that abuse cycles generationally for some and that some victims of abuse will go on to abuse, even against different genders to their attacker, it’s in everyone’s best interest to tackle all abuse regardless of gender.

        One sided study and debate on 1 gender will not fix a world with 2 genders, there’s no point championing feminism whilst ignoring masculism otherwise we can and do end up with men being left to suffer in silence or being seen as the perpetrators and never the victims. We’re in this fight together, no single group is going to win the war because you need a coalition of groups to help end the evils in the world. Black rights, asian rights, every race, male, female, gay, straight, trans, all groups with a goal towards equality.

        • @Archy

          Not available to view in Australia. Damn region locking:(

          I was discussing this issue last year with some mates down under – it was all about the ACMA and their Blacklisting of website. Just Google ACMA+Proxy or ACMA+VPN and you should find many solutions to region blocking! P^)

    • “pushed back against decades of study, research, and theory on NOT JUST feminist issues, but those of race, gender, class, etc”

      What is the quality of the research though? If it has come from women’s studies the chances are that its ideological, advocacy junk. Then we end up arguing over that, fact checking it and correcting the falsehoods and outright lies instead of our own conversations developing.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        May I ask you a question This Man? I mean it honestly, not snark. Do you believe that women’s studies programs in Universities around the nation, all of whom have rigorous standards for methodological studies, publishing and so forth, publish junk? If you do, is it just gender that publishes junk? Or do studies on Race, Class, LGBT issues…is that all junk and advocacy across the nation? Some of them?

        I take this question seriously, as someone who has worked in higher ed for years, and as someone who has watched their husband and many friends, go through a masters and PHD program. Do you find value in sociological study, or is is it all bs, or does it depend on who’s teaching it?

        • “Do you believe that women’s studies programs in Universities around the nation, all of whom have rigorous standards for methodological studies, publishing and so forth, publish junk?”

          Its not a belief, its true. The abuse stats fraud is well documented and Christine Hoff Sommers and Daphne Patai have published whistle blowing books about standards of academia in women’s studies.

          You see it here yourself, feminists making false assertions relating to rape and abuse and x, y and z because that’s what they have been taught is true, and then those assertions being debunked. We’ve been stuck in a cycle of that here for how long now?

          Product description Patai’s – “Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies” from amazon.

          Feminists have often called Women’s Studies the “academic arm of the women’s movement.” But Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge charge that the attempt to make Women’s Studies serve a political agenda has led to deeply problematic results: dubious scholarship, pedagogical practices that resemble indoctrination more than education, and the alienation of countless potential supporters. In this new and expanded edition of their controversial 1994 book, the authors update their analysis of what’s gone wrong with Women’s Studies programs. Original chapters feature interviews with professors, students, and staffers who invested much time and effort in Women’s Studies, and new chapters look primarily at documents recently generated from within Women’s Studies itself. Through critiques of actual program mission statements, course descriptions, newsletters, and e-mail lists devoted to feminist pedagogy and Women’s Studies, and, not least, the writings of well-known feminist scholars, Patai and Koertge provide a detailed and devastating examination of the routine practices found in feminist teaching and research.

          • Julie Gillis says:

            I’ll be happy to read the book. I practice what I preach in terms of learning.

            • Ok, I think that we should be steering away from a feminist frame of reference here and feminists should stop trying to force feed it to us as if its some kind of holy truth, its like having that psycho girlfriend that’s trying to change you, and we have our own academia, sources, gender theory, rights and advocacy groups.

              eg. – http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms/index

            • Julie Gillis says:

              Why would anyone have an issue with men studying men? Why shouldn’t we both study each other in a new clean way, since apparently there are problems with the old ways? Otherwise, I see the situation getting more polarized. Our studies/their studies. Everyone saying they have the holy truth, and then it’s a holy war.
              That’s not anything I want.

            • “Why would anyone have an issue with men studying men?”

              Well here Julie.

              “In major Western cultures, partisan gender ideology has been permitted to monopolise and censor nearly all public discussion of gender and social relations”

              Which is exactly what feminists have been trying to do here on TGMP. Since the beginning there has been a pattern of Interfering and controlling behavior for feminists.

              That quotes from

              Towards an Integrated Perspective on Gender, Masculinity, and Manhood
              John A. Ashfield

              Abstract

              For decades our understanding of gender, masculinity, and manhood has arguably been bedevilled by uninformative pseudo-academic gender ideology. Detached from biological reality, and crediting culture with almost autonomous causation, this ideology of gender feminist social constructionism has exhibited a dogged self-preserving reflex of disconfirmation, whenever faced with knowledge challenging its dogmatic assertions. Its unashamed devaluation of thought, through resort to propagandist mantras of global male aspersion and political correctness, underscores not only its fundamentalist nature—disqualifying it from any serious consideration as a basis for understanding gender and social relations, but also the urgent need for a perspective, unfettered by ideology, that reflects current interdisciplinary knowledge, and is actually useful.”

            • Julie Gillis says:

              “unfettered by ideology”
              seems like a fine goal.

            • DavidByron says:

              I always forget her name, Daphne Patai, yes.

              Yep. Gender studies is bunk. Like psychoanalysis.

    • Nikki D: “There is a lack of understanding of the scholarship and literature, yes (to a degree that discussions here are far behind where study actually is today), and also a resistance to contemplate the reasons why lacking that understanding is a problem, when discussing things that touch on gender, race, feminism, class, etc.”

      The problem you fail to see, Nikki D, is that much of this literature minimises and excludes male survivors and male struggles from the discussion.

      If you’re talking about terms like Rape Culture, Patriarchy, Male Priveledge, then just how they’re defined is enough to not bother studying them.

      Male Priveledge: Where every male benefits from the systematic oppression of women and, in spite of their struggles, has access to power.

      Rape Culture: A culture that excuses and abbetts the rape of women.

      Patriarchy: Rule of the father

      Now, where in those terms, does it include a survivor of female abuse such as myself. Male Priveledge? Don’t get me started on how it’s used to push away that issue.

      Rape Culture? Patriarchy?

      Sorry, but I’m not going to bother if this is how they’re defined and used.

      That’s the problem. You dismiss and minimise experiences that don’t match the theories and studies, then you’re not going to gain any allies. Period.

      This is a place for men to discuss their issues. For surivors to tell their stories. Without someone coming in and saying they benefit from patriarchy, hold more power over women, and are just oppressors in sheeps clothing.

      I’d prefer this over getting railroaded just because those men at the top share my gender.

    • Nikki – you know I love you! You do ! But! P^)

      I’m not feminist and and I’m not a men’s rights advocate – I’m a Human Rights Advocate. I have found it bizzare that there has been so much polarity and viewing of any man who does not agree with certain views that they are MRA – and that has been wrong. No matter how well behaved, rational and on point people have been – there has been a distinct group of Feminists Commenter who have made it very clear It’s their way or the highway. There has been a smaller number of people I would agree to label as MRA extremists who have behaved the same way.

      I have seen a great unwillingness by many to not consider any point of view – and idea – any data – that does not pre-agree with their Dogma – and they have been only too wiling to snap like a toy poodle at anything they didn’t like or agree with. I’ve been called racist, homophobic, feminist, MRA, Anally Retentive Scholar and so much more for even asking questions.

      I do agree with Tom – Gogma is not the litmus for GMP. It’s a project, and ideal that transcends all Dogmas and people’s attempts to impose Dogmas. If there is to be any Dogma it will grow Out of teh Project. It does not get imposed from the outside.

      I have been so infuriated by the misuse of terms I have actually set myself the responsibility of making sure they are not being abused. You asked why are so many men accepting of Rape Culture – you seemed to get a surprise when people said they did not agree with you. One factor has been the Propagandising of that term and it’s misuse – and even it’s definition over at Wikipedia is getting edited to stop that abuse and misuse. I know – I’m doing it – just have a peek at the page and click on “Talk”. Neutrality (2) – and have a click on my Profile link to see the History of the term Rape Culture – “Prisoners Against Rape” – Lorton Prison Virginia.

      As I understand GMP it’s a Project – long term – an exploration on what it means to be a Good Man. The Terminology Straight jacket that keeps on being applied makes it impossible to explore. It’s like being a Hobbled Horse. I’ve seen it in my own life – I was queer – then gay – then a funny sandwich called GBLT – and then everyone got fed up and became Queer again. I just opted out and stayed a Poof for the duration. I see the same with race – disability…. it is a Political issue and change The language has always been about Politics and propaganda and dogma. For heavens sake I have even seen two feminists here fighting over if the term lady should be used or if women was not the correct term! I was handbags at dawn and blood being drawn!

      I liked it when Tom said I’m a dude. It was reclaiming language which is being denied. I even wrote a dude pledge!

      I love your transgressive naughtiness, and I revel in your willingness to challenge boundaries and ask very startling questions, but that has to be part of a project – and the language and meanings that comes form the project is for the Good men to decide…. and you never know, feminists may well decide they have been wrong and agree that language defined and used here is actually better.

    • David Byron says:

      Hey Nikki,
      What I tend to see is that if a feminist is talking on an issue which seems legitimate, I don’t think people will try to dismiss it. The problem is more where feminists seem to have little to complain about but for some reason they just can’t drop that bone. Or else it’s an issue which effects both men and women and feminism insists on making it out to be only about women.

  7. Tom, you and Lisa deserve a big round of applause for what you are doing. I respect the both of you very much.
    I believe this is the only place on the internet that is doing what you are doing.

    One of the major strengths of your web-sight is your even-handed moderation policy.

    I simply cannot post comments stating that not all men have male privilege and that men face systematic discrimination in many important areas of life (both facts) on MOST feminist forums.

    Well, I can. But then I will be quickly dogpiled with feminists calling me everything but a nice guy, have my masculinity challenged, my ability to secure the companionship of women challenged (which is ironic coming from feminists). While the feminists are allowed to use any profanity, if I respond with the least bit snarky or sarcastic responses I will be banned.

    The simple fact is that there are millions of poor, under-educated, un-diagnosed mentally ill, PTSD suffering vets, depressed, marginalized men in significantly larger numbers than women.

    For all the talk of equality from feminists, they seem resolutely determined to ignore that men dominate the bottom of the power pyramid in about equal ratios to the way they dominate the top.

    In this way you could see that strict gender roles (male as performer) harms men (possibly much more) than the beauty role harms women. For all the crying about the few thousands of men who dominate the power brokers of life who are examples of the successful male role of performer, that is counter balanced against the DOZENS OF MILLIONS of men at the bottom of the power pyramid who are “the washouts” of the male performer role.

    When you take the metrics that measure black disenfranchisement such as:
    -education
    -incarceration
    -suicide
    -homelessness
    -targets of violent crime
    -health care
    -murder victims
    and many others and turn them to gender you see men dominate over women at about a 4 to 1 ratio (men are also 95% of workplace deaths).

    I come here to post because this is one of the few (only?) areas in which I can debate feminists about the theory of male privilege and why this theory holds no value for millions of men who fall below the cracks to much worse standards of livings then most women.

    If we want better men, then we also need to start treating men better. In my view men are treated horribly, and it is systematic and reinforced in the media that men being treated horribly is acceptable behavior.
    Look at Sharon Osbourne’s delight at the story of a man being sexually mutilated, and the whole audience tee-hee ing along with her (broadcast to an audience of millions). Look at the movie Mr. Woodcock which depicts child abuse of only boys.

    In my view (which may be extreme) we as a society treat men and boys in mounstrous fashion and then have the gall to act surprised when we find we have CREATED MONSTERS.

  8. Tom, you and Lisa both deserve a big round of applause for what you are doing at tgmp.

    The other major asset you have in your favor is your even handed moderating policy.
    I simply cannot post comments stating that not all men have male privilege and that men face systematic discrimination in many important areas of life (both facts) on MOST feminist forums.

    Well, I can. But then I will be quickly dogpiled with feminists calling me everything but a nice guy, have my masculinity challenged, my ability to secure the companionship of women challenged (which is ironic coming from feminists). While the feminists are allowed to use any profanity, if I respond with the least bit snarky or sarcastic responses I will be banned.

    The simple fact is that there are millions of poor, under-educated, un-diagnosed mentally ill, PTSD suffering vets, depressed, marginalized men in significantly larger numbers than women.

    For all the talk of equality from feminists, they seem resolutely determined to ignore that men dominate the bottom of the power pyramid in about equal ratios to the way they dominate the top.

    In this way you could see that strict gender roles (male as performer) harms men (possibly much more) than the beauty role harms women. For all the crying about the few thousands of men who dominate the power brokers of life who are examples of the successful male role of performer, that is counter balanced against the DOZENS OF MILLIONS of men at the bottom of the power pyramid who are “the washouts” of the male performer role.

    When you take the metrics that measure black disenfranchisement such as:
    -education
    -incarceration
    -suicide
    -homelessness
    -targets of violent crime
    -health care
    -murder victims
    and many others and turn them to gender you see men dominate over women at about a 4 to 1 ratio (men are also 95% of workplace deaths).

    I come here to post because this is one of the few (only?) areas in which I can debate feminists about the theory of male privilege and why this theory holds no value for millions of men who fall below the cracks to much worse standards of livings then most women.

    If we want better men, then we also need to start treating men better. In my view men are treated horribly, and it is systematic and reinforced in the media that men being treated horribly is acceptable behavior.
    Look at Sharon Osbourne’s delight at the story of a man being sexually mutilated, and the whole audience tee-hee ing along with her (broadcast to an audience of millions). Look at the movie Mr. Woodc_ck which depicts child abuse of only boys.

    In my view (which may be extreme) we as a society treat men and boys in mounstrous fashion and then have the gall to act surprised when we find we have CREATED MONSTERS.

  9. To piggyback on Joe’s comment, I’d like to use the main characters of “Two and a Half Men” to further illustrate modern American media’s interpretation of men. You have Charlie Sheen’s character as the misogynist, promiscuous male (Type A) whose amnesia kicks in the morning after, compared with John Cryer’s character who is a responsible, respectful & consequently “dickless” male (Type B) that can’t get laid because he is labeled “effeminate” for being caring and accountable. At the risk of sounding trite, though trite is the name of the game, the archetypes of white males in American media fall into two categories: Type A or Type B. These limited archetypes perpetuate “the misogynist” because those people who lack media literacy see this character as valid and justified in the world (the antithesis to the misogynist is drab & unappealing to women in these scenarios). I wonder how can society shift it’s view of the gentleman to be both respectful & sexually attractive? What’s lacking in American media outlets, particularly in film and television, is an accurate portrayal of the modern male.

    Keep up the good work… all counterattacks to perceptions of the male gender are absolutely necessary.

  10. Tom Matlack says:
  11. Thank you for the hard work you do. It is refreshing to see men and women trying to understand each other and discussion is the only way to understand each other better.

  12. Julie Gillis says:

    “Both inhabit a hyped-up world where the granular truth–a truth told with innocence, courage, and the ripple effect of something so beautiful it gets passed along from one person to another for no other reason than it moves the soul–is impossible.”

    Does the granular truth exist without context?

    I one day hope to have a long in person conversation with you about stories, storytelling and more. We might disagree greatly on stories, what they mean and how they are expressed, but I’m quite sure it would be an interesting conversation, Tom.

    Also? I hate reality TV and think it’s one of the worst examples of narcissism out there. I assume the people on the Bachelor are assumed to be good catches, but I personally see nothing but ugliness in those shows, a mirror world of self involvement with attainment of relevance and $$ at it’s core.

    Also, it’s much cheaper than producing television with scripted stories, union actors and quality directing. Studios love it, I hear.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      yes Julie in view stories do exist without context. in fact when I am truly moved by someone telling me the most honest, raw truth it very rarely matters there gender, race, ethnicity because I am connect to them on the deepest level where the outside stuff simply doesn’t matter. They are sharing with me what matters most to them whether fight a war or losing a child or battling cancer. And I am moved by their bravery in their honesty and in their life.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        That’s really interesting to me. I do think we’d have a good conversation. I think there is a deep level, yes. And I think, for me anyway, it’s like Russian Stacking Dolls. There is core human stuff, and it’s always connected to other humans. Which to me means there are other stories connected to the stories. Our family of origin, our culture of origin. Etc.

        I do understand how moved you are, or at least I can sense how moved you are, by these moments. And in the moment between and that person, the two of you, perhaps that context doesn’t matter one bit. You are there, they are there, just being. That is, I agree, powerful.

        I think, for me, where context does matter is that we (you) are taking those stories to a national stage as a mirror to reflect, or a candle to light the way (I love that particular image and I use it for myself as my particular kind of spiritual connection to leadership) for others who may or may not have the same language, experience and histories as those telling the stories.

        That is where I think that context is helpful, especially for staff supporting behind the scenes. And in taking those powerful moments and helping them reach even farther, stronger, turning up the radio frequency or something.

        We may still disagree, but now that I have a little more context from you ;) I think that I understand you better.

        • Tom Matlack says:

          “I think, for me, where context does matter is that we (you) are taking those stories to a national stage as a mirror to reflect, or a candle to light the way”

          To me the whole point is if we, behind the scenes, try to manipulate or change or somehow frame the stories of our contributors we are actually robbing them of the power. Sure the idea is to spark a national conversation about manhood. But it’s through individual stories of men (and women) who want to tell their own truth, whatever that might be. To me, I have no aspiration to “light the way” for other in the sense of I know something that I want to teach them. I am just not that smart or powerful. All I want to do is create a space where the stories of those inner, most profound personal narratives are encouraged.

          By trying to apply a context, or interpret someone else’s life through the lens of feminist or racial or class theory I think it takes away from rather than enhancing the ability to have a discussion just about someone’s story. In fact if there story is in some ways contrary to those frameworks, they might be discouraged from sharing it. My view is that we are all in some way, shape or form a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. The point is talking about that rather than pre-judging it based on category of person.

          • Julie Gillis says:

            I don’t want to manipulate anything. I want to understand in order to further connection. I come from a performance background with a secondary focus on group development and leadership (with a therapeutic pov, though I am not a therapist nor want to be).. I find myself seeking more connection with you when I understand more, even if I disagree. That’s not me trying to control you, it’s me trying to find a way to connect. Unless you see connection and understanding as a form of control. I’m not sure if that’s what you mean.

            I think all of us are candles and mirrors for each other, I suppose that’s a difference here. We all have different strengths and power and knowledge and we are in this together and we should share what we have, even if we think we don’t have anything. I would disagree that you aren’t smart or powerful. You are. You have this site which you’ve envisioned and built. In that sense you have far more power than I do. You have plenty of smarts, obviously and lead businesses! That’s not about being egotistical and telling people what they should know, but it is about sharing what you know. And I suspect you know a lot.

            I still believe that we are talking past each other which is why I prefer in person conversations for more depth. Allows for lots of clarifying questions.

            I’ll ask one though, because I’m really not sure of your meaning. If the stories are told, just told, what happens? People read them, maybe discuss, but what happens? Is that an organic process, or do you want to see other communities form, or is the end goal not in your mind, it’s simply a literary project? Because I do see a context for change around the perception of masculinity

            That’s enough of my comments here on this post. I’d welcome a conversation with you at any point if your busy schedule allows it, but if not, no worries.

            • Tom Matlack says:

              A story told well changes the teller and the listener. It’s that simple.

              I say because it’s happend in my life over and over again, without reference to race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. I generally learn the most from people who are fundamentally different from me in some external way not because people like me don’t have stories to tell but people who are somehow coming at the same issue from a slightly different POV can tell their story in a way that cuts through all my bullshit, all my defenses. The hard-hat in Southie, the gay African American painter, the ganster rap star. They all told me stories that changed me, cut right through me. Not because of who they are but what they said and how they said it. Not from the head but directly from their hearts.

              When I tell my story its with that same intention. To do my best to speak from the heart, tell my truth, and inspire the listener to find their own truth.

          • Julie Gillis says:

            I don’t want the framework to tell the story. I don’t want the framework to control or sculpt the writers story or experience.

            I want them to tell the story.

            I want the framework to understand the story on my end and to be a better steward of the story as someone who edits, curates and mods.

            • Joe Cardillo says:

              I want to respond to this, if that’s alright. Look, I’m fascinated by context and framework and structure, and how they influence words/thoughts/actions in subtle and not always easy to digest ways. And I think there is certainly a place for that. From what I’ve seen, Lisa and Tom and the folks who help moderate and run this site are big on everyone having a voice as long as the discourse is civil. I don’t know what the back end conversations have been, but I would hope (and guess) that they have encouraged people who are into the meta side of things to participate on the site. But they also seem to be pretty clear that the mission of the site is not to be judgmental, or to decide on behalf of its readers what the framework is. I like this. It’s why I pay attention to the site.

              You have some great points, and I appreciate what you’re saying about context and connection. But what Jerry Beale said a few comments below also really resonates. For men like myself and some of the men on this forum we appreciate GMP because it is a place to listen and to share. You know, until I started reading this site a couple of months ago I’d never had a single conversation with another man about what it means to be a man, and all of the good and bad that goes with it. It’s funny because I’ve had plenty of those conversations with women, but us men do not have places to do that. Where can men have conversations like the ones you see on GMP? Certainly not around the water cooler at work, at the bar, and even in most other public situations it’s difficult. It requires an openness and reservation of judgment that is hard to find. I disagree plenty with what both men and women have to say on this site, but I appreciate that it doesn’t have to fit within my framework of thinking, that’s not the point of the whole endeavor.

            • I can see that clearly Joe. I would say that this site is on the edge of being mildly coercive, as it tugs men into talking more openly about themselves – and doing so in front of an alive, vibrant and at times burning in flames community. Sometimes it feels like the whole community is inhaling and exhaling at the same time, in-between individual stories that are read but not commented on. They may be the problem afterall -:)

            • Lisa Hickey says:

              Hi Joe,
              I’m going to jump in here too. Yes, how to encourage a diversity of voices, yet not be judgmental; encourage real conversations yet keep them civil — well, that’s what keeps us up at night.

              When I see people change on this site, it’s only been for the good. I see people become more open, more thoughtful, more understand of the issues, more understanding of each other. I’m seeing more dialogue between total strangers, more willingness to share. I see extremely few (none?) who have gotten angrier or more dogmatic. There are people here who believe in things that are very important to them. I see that as good.

              The individual stories — I believe — are what encourage the non-jugmentalism. If here I am, talking about the truth as I see it, it’s hard to deny me that truth. But I, personally, love the fact that there’s also a place with the less personal narratives where I can question and challenge truths that are bigger than any one individual can tell. Both provide context for each other.

              If it’s any consolation, before GMP I had never had a conversation with a man about what it means to be a man either.

          • David Byron says:

            I guess I come at it from completely a different direction. I want to hear stories because it makes me smarter and more empathic (which I suppose is another kind of knowledge). And I suppose I also think it will make other people smarter and more empathic too, which is pretty good.

            So I always do try and fit the stories within my intellectual frameworks.

            if there story is in some ways contrary to those frameworks, they might be discouraged from sharing it

            If the story is contrary to the framework, to me it says the framework needs to change. Maybe be broadened, modified or perhaps, very rarely, rejected altogether. At any rate yeah, the last thing you want is to spoil your “data” (or for that matter be rude to a guest).

  13. Justa Mann says:

    There the moment you “try to find a way” to talk about things instead of just talking about them, you are straying from the path of your own truth.

    This place might be shaping up.

  14. @Tom
    I appreciate your efforts in providing a platform for discussing topics that bring fresh perspective to the changing face of modern manhood and the freedom to contribute and comment on the opinion pieces without much moderation. But I am really surprised that you are surprised at the theoretical mudslinging on GMP. Men learn to improve themselves by the process, called male bonding, in which men share their life experiences with one another and discuss problems facing them. Older men mentor younger men by providing them good advice with sincerity. GMP would have been a good place for forming such online male bonding without excluding women. On the contrary, it started as a kindergarten where feminists started treating men like little kids teaching them how to behave. Men have their own minds, they learn for experiences, advice and opinion of others, and find the patronizing behaviour really annoying, resulting in the problem which you are discussing. I wish you the best in accomplishing your mission for GMP.

  15. Tom, you and Lisa both deserve a big round of applause for what you are doing at tgmp.

    One of the major assets you have in your favor is your even handed moderating policy.
    I simply cannot post comments stating that not all men have male privilege and that men face systematic discrimination in many important areas of life (both facts) on MOST feminist forums.

    Well, I can. But then I will be quickly dogpiled with feminists calling me everything but a nice guy, have my masculinity challenged, my ability to secure the companionship of women challenged (which is ironic coming from feminists who state a persons sexuality isn’t anybody’s business). While the feminists are allowed to use any profanity, if I respond with the least bit snarky or sarcastic responses I will be banned.

    The simple fact is that there are millions of poor, under-educated, depressed, marginalized men (not to mention un-diagnosed mentally ill, and PTSD suffering vets as mental issues like PTSD/depression are seen to be mostly greater problems for women) in significantly larger numbers than women.

    For all the talk of equality from feminists, they seem resolutely determined to ignore that men dominate the bottom of the power pyramid in about equal ratios to the way they dominate the top.

    An objective person could see that strict gender roles (male as performer) harms men just as much (or possibly much more) than the beauty role harms women. For all the crying about the few thousands of men who dominate the power brokers of society who are examples of the successful male role of performer, that is counter balanced against the DOZENS OF MILLIONS of men at the bottom of the power pyramid who are “the washouts” of the male performer role (who never make the “hit list” of feminist discussion).
    When you take the metrics that measure black disenfranchisement such as:
    -(lack of) education
    -incarceration
    -suicide
    -homelessness
    -targets of violent crime
    -health care
    -murder victims
    and many others and turn them to gender you see men dominate over women at about a 4 to 1 ratio (men are also 95% of workplace deaths).

    I come here to post because this is one of the few (only?) areas in which I can debate feminists about the theory of male privilege and why this theory holds no value for millions of men who fall below the cracks to much worse standards of livings then most women.

    I have seen the evidence that there is a small but persistent portion of feminists (who are the most politically active, often pushing anti-male or anti-father laws) who will remain inconsolable, no matter how much change happens. They have extreme personality issues that gives them an axe to grind against men.

    I believe the vast majority of feminists are good-hearted people who want the best life possible for everybody. But first we need to get the good-hearted man-loving feminists out of the echo chambers (and the same probably applies for many MRA’s) and get discussion going.
    What feminists don’t seem to understand is that IF we want better men, THEN we also need to start treating men better. In my view men are treated horribly, and it is systematic and reinforced in the media that men being treated horribly is acceptable behavior.

    Look at Sharon Osbourne’s delight at the story of a man being sexually mutilated, and the whole audience tee-hee ing along with her (broadcast to an audience of millions). Look at the movie Mr. WoodcOck which depicts child abuse of only boy students.
    In my view we as a society treat men and boys in mounstrous fashion and then have the gall to act surprised when we find we have CREATED MONSTERS.

    Thank you for creating this venue in which EVERYBODY is welcome to posit their opinion as long as they are civil. I believe this discussion will contribute to the destruction of a lot of myths.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks John for the shoutout. We are working to do exactly what you say — take those issues you mention that are male focused but talk about them in a way that personalizes them without judgment (through storytelling) or talks about the issue itself, particularly how it relates to these modern times. When we put out our calls for submissions, we always ask for first person narratives *first* — but not everyone is comfortable talking about themselves. So the “issues” pieces, to me, are simply the questions people are asking, a way into further discussion, posts that give the stories themselves a wider context.

      Appreciate your ongoing willingness to add to the conversation.

      • Makes sense.
        One example is worth a ream of statistics when it comes to changing perspectives.

      • David Byron says:

        Oh that reminds me. Wikipedia is an example of a site that has paired pages on each topic. There’s an “article” page with the public information on it, which is kept more neat and trim, and then there’s a “talk” page which is more for comments and discussions ABOUT the article page. The “theoretical” page if you like. They used to get quite rough many years ago but seem a lot calmer these days. For example here’s the talk page for “Feminism”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Feminism#French_feminism_and_Mary_Daly

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          That’s really interesting, David. I had no idea those pages existed…

          • Well @Joanna – they are very useful – and Tomorrow Wikipedia will be 11 years old. It hasn’t even become a hormonal teenager yet. It will be fascinating to see what happens when it does P^) .

            It’s worth remembering that Wikipedia is not written by experts, just interested amateurs. Anyone can edit a Wiki page and so many just accept what it says and accept it as reality.

            Anyone can “Propagandise” or “Distort” content and then present it as reality to the world. It’s a known issue of Bias and Risk that comes from less than authoritative referencing, and people who fail to write from a Neutral Point Of View (NPoV).

            Wikipedia is built upon Five Pillars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Five_pillars

            I have been watching one page for some ten years. It’s for a Cult Leader, his followers portray him as a saint and his Wiki entry is a fascinating “Hagiography”. But unless you know a number of facts, that his most devoted followers edit from the page within seconds of them being entered, you would never know – unless you read the extensive Talk Pages and Even The Edit History, and grasp the reality that comes from a far bigger picture.

            That is why Wikipedia had to institute the “Banner Warning” system, so that at the top of pages it “Notifies” readers that entries are disputed and activity to make the content valid is ongoing.

  16. jerry beale says:

    Tom…there are enough conversation threads in your post to occupy us for a year! So I’ll try and be brief. By way of background, I’m a poet, writer and men’s group facilitator in Auckland, New Zealand. I grew up in Northern ireland and England – spent some years as a soldier and also as a semi-pro mixed martial arts fighter and instructor. I’ve seen a lot of men on their path and had too many fine male friends take their own lives. I wholeheartedly agree with you that there is a schism between established feminism and any form of positive, active focus on redefining authentic masculinity. Not that the feminists don’t have reason to be defensive. Even today, there are still plenty of instances of unreasonable sexism across society. But a quantum change is well underway. Whether or not we take the points made by Hanna Rosen in her article ‘The end of men’, it’s patently apparent that the dual forces of evolving technology and 50 years of feminist ‘re-balancing’ have removed a great many of the traditional pillars of male-domination. And thanks heavens for that! But before we can hope for anything like the nirvana of the two sexes proudly taking responsibility for their own healthy modelling – leading to a much more equitable overlap and inter-relationship – there is one bloody great hurdle that we blokes must overcome. It’s something that’s genetically hard-wired in women, but nature forgot to implant it in us. And that is simply the ability to open up and talk about our emotional state with other men – with honesty, self-awareness and a total lack of competitiveness. This does happen well in contrived forums such as mens’ circles and rites of passage. But the second we’re transplanted back into our business, social, even family circumstances, what i refer to as the ‘mythical me’ returns. We fellas become more concerned with what other men (and women) will think as a result of our words and demeanour, than with the beauty and openness of our stories. So we assume the veneer and filter our truths to create whatever effect makes us feel most secure. I’m not saying this is the ‘fault’ of the individual man. We’ve built a society that accords male kudos to the toughest, smartest, handsome blah-blah. There are rarely credits issued for the most compassionate and vulnerable. At the same time, we have abolished respect for elders and any sense of a healthy, ritualised rite of passage signaling the passage from boyhood to manhood whereby access to other mens’ hearts and wisdom is a given. Relatively few young boys witness their own father’s progress through life as he works in the fields, forge or other ‘auld world’ occupation. If dad is still present in the family home, he leaves early for work and returns tired and careworn when most young boys are ready for bed. Father-son bonding has slipped from a fundamental day-by-day experience into an extra-curricular activity. With this has also disappeared the ‘warriors forum’ where men gather regularly in mutual respect and compassion to seek support and counsel from both brothers and elders. Sure this is reappearing thanks to the Tribe of Men, Mankind Project and other societies. But try instilling this in the average corporate environment or neighbourhood bar. So instead many men keep their questions and suffering within. We isolate ourselves, either ignoring the condition or endlessly mulling the pain alone. We don’t think our essential and authentic stories are either worth sharing or can be done so safely. We have forgotten that a warrior’s tears are as valid as his anger and love; that in order to be ‘complete’ and therefore as magnificent a man as we can become, we need to be at ease with all of ourselves. There. That’s a long, long way of saying that until men learn to share their honest stories easily with other men, and know that this will be received with respect and compassion whatever the circumstance, we will always struggle.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Jerry great comment. Obviously I agree with your conclusion though I don’t think it’s quite as bleak as you do. I think my real frame of reference is AA where men share their stories all the time very openly, because there very lives depend on it. Most sober drunks realize that if they don’t keep opening up in a completely honest way they will begin to lie, then drink, then die.

      So unlike those other temporary sharing circles my experience with men is one where honesty and sharing emotionally goes to the heart of everything everyday and is in fact a life saving strategy. Perhaps that is why I don’t see it as so impossible to believe that men of all kinds, drunks and not, can do the same thing here.

  17. This site is truely unique amongst web sites. It’s driven by a central concept instead of by ideaollogy. Even a fairly uneducated person like myself (probably comparatible to your “Southie” friends) can appreciate it. Just so you realize, there are still more of us than Ivy Leauge educated Bankers, Lawyers, Philosphers, etc.. I happen to love your “First Person” stories and place more “weight” in them than those “academic” arguments that “cherry pick” peices of published articles to push an agenda or argument. Kind of what a lawyer does. Never the “Whole Truth”, just pieces of it that support their position. Besides, where is it said that the publishers of aforementioned documents are automatically right? Does P.H.D. after your name mean your infallable?( I’ve met people who I swear it stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper”) So keep up what your doing. Publish all the articles. Even the “Feminista” ones(all men are privilaged/ all men are responsible for rape/and so on) Just make sure to keep publishing articles like your buddy the blues guy (Sorry I forgot his name) who was comfortable enough in his beliefs to play at a “Bunny Ranch”.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      LOL. Couldn’t have said it any better Bobbt. Yeah my buddy Todd M. is just one cool dude, where ever he ends up playing the blues.

  18. DavidByron says:

    Look there’s a reason that the feminists here and the MRAs here are at loggerheads. And it’s basically the elephant in the room… but I guess I wont talk about it either.

    As for stories vs arguing. The thing about stories is that often at the end all I can think to say is “Thank you” and that doesn’t create a hundred page views. Nor does it spark a back and forth conversation. It’s just different.

  19. DavidByron says:

    But seriously if you want to try and manipulate the comment system to encourage more discussions of the stories I am sure it could be done. One of the best examples is probably how Eagle33 managed to get everyone talking that one time. I think all he basically said was can we all just say how we might have experienced something similar? Audience participation! (he was asking about bullying)

    Because the stories are more like a sort of play. I just find it really hard to know what to say afterwards. Sometimes I feel really bad about it too. There’s someone pouring their heart out and it might be someone not even used to writing, and I just don’t know what to say.

    Tom instead of talking about how dissatisfying the responses often are maybe you could go find the stories that had the MOST satisfying responses and see how they got to be that way? People are a funny lot and no doubt, but they have their ways, and so their ought to be things that can be done to politely prod people along in a natural sort of way.

    And if that fails we can try a really unnatural way like having a points system. Plenty of sites do that.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks David. Eagle33 did a great job on that post — him and I talked quite a bit beforehand as to how to truly make it a “haven” and encourage people safely to tell their own stories. But he really took the lead on making that happen. Honestly, that’s one of my favorite success stories. I think what that points out is that if you tell the story, but then somehow point it back to the “issue” — in that particular case it was “tell us your story about abuse” — with clear guidelines of how to do that, then it works. Also, Eagle33 commented back on every post, Archy jumped in whenever he could and I tried to as well. I will look for other good examples like that one.

      “The stories are more like a play.” Funny, we are creating a Good Men Project play, hoping to open in NYC. That’s how I see them to — you just absorb those stories into yourself. But they don’t usually create ongoing discussion.

      Also, I keep remembering something you said a while ago: “The best way to foster community participation is to let people know they have a stake in the conversation.” Brilliant. I use that as a guiding force and quote it often (full credit goes to you).

      • I purposely did that to make them feel validated? A feeling that someone actually paid attention and acknowledged their suffering, a comment left alone I feel leaves the other possibly feeling ignored.

  20. Tom I sympathise greatly with your frustration. I have been reading comments here and noting manoeuvres and positioning…. it’s always the same.

    For what it’s worth, there has been a clear imbalance around GMP for some time, with a slow slide into gender politics. That exploded in November when certain closely held and cherished ideas were threatened. People’s frames of reference were smashed, and from where I am sitting that process is going to continue and potentially explode time and time again over the next two years at least.

    I think you were spot n when you said “my litmus test isn’t your dogma”.

    I know people hate stats and studies and the latest report from whoever, but there are a lot more coming which will really hit Gender Politics and incite a lot of hot reactions and explosions in certain quarters. There is going to be a lot of dogma coming and dogs fighting over bones.

    These same Dogmatists have actually been bloody rude. They turned up as guests at GMP – set up shop and then started behaving badly as guests – It is a phenomena on the net – boundary encroachment. It’s why they say Good Fences make Good Neighbours. In many ways you have found out who are good friends and neighbours who can’t behave and need to be put behind a quality fence and told “Private Stay Out”. It’s been interesting to see who has been about – and it has been quiet – and then you notice the returning figures, the comments to test the water. Fences need to be clear.

    There is already a lot of politics in play getting ready for the known future explosions and shifts – so I would recommend in the strongest terms that GMP move to a central position and get back to it’s core values. Story telling is as old as mankind and there will always be people who want to find fault with an individuals story – to analyse – decrypt – pick it to pieces. Leave them to it!

    I wonder if there are better ways to find stories than the way it’s working at present? How about chain stories – starts with one guy – he writes – the next guy in the chain is inspired and he writes – and it gets passed on … I’m reminded of Craig Shergold – and his request for Greeting Cards to set a world record http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/medical/shergold.asp

    It just shows that there is great good will out there – it just needs to be tapped in the same way. Craig was looking for greetings cards – and GMP can literally do the same with stories.

    I commented on the Thread about editing – why are Good Young Men who are setting off to travel the world not being asked to tell their stories of other good men they find – Global Adventures in Good Men, from the youth angle? In so many ways GMP needs to stop being middle aged! P^)

    The whole Dogma debate has taken up too much time and focus – and robbed GMP of the time and energy to look to it’s core mission and work out how to deliver that. I many ways GMP has been getting pulled about by others and it’s time to Stick Firm – Go To Core Mission and to hell with other’s Dogmas.

    GMP is not a Dogs Bone – It’s Top Dog in a unique field and endeavour.

    All the best.

    PS – I don’t do America TV much – and the Batchelor in the UK has different Guys …. Ladies and inquisitive guys should Google “Gavin Henson” …. But maybe you should ask Ben the the question “Are really as unattractive as Chelsea makes you out to be?”….. It would be one hell of a story! Don’t ask – Don’t get! P^)

  21. I like using a sex-positive framework when talking about human sexuality – with some practical caveats in-hand – I’m pro-pornography, pro sex workers, pro legalization of drugs and various other vices, pro sex-education, pro- homosexual unions etc

    I would suspect Gail Dines / Catharine MacKinnon would use a vastly different framework.

    The dominant “white man” framework will soon need a new spruced up framework – “Asian man” ??

    Race is a social construct framework. Give me DNA samples of 50,000 humans from across the globe, don’t reveal their socially constructed race, and I can place them in a race category with 99% accuracy. Has not this idea been a dominant framework in postmodern thought?

    Modernist, realists, post-structuralism, post-modernism, materialist – they all have frameworks they like to use and abuse.

    There is some talk of a particle being clocked as exceeding the speed of light! Another framework may be soon shattered.

    Knowledge evolves. Frameworks should as well. It’s too bad things don’t stand still while we struggle to understand them better…or maybe not.

    • We have to be able to start with certain core assumptions–a framework of sorts–or we’re doomed to infinite regress. I’m not interested in that game.

  22. “Here at The Good Men Project we have been undergoing a massive discussion about our mission, about gender politics, about what it means to be a feminist, what it means to respect men’s rights..”

    You see Tom,You’ve put feminism before respecting men’s rights.
    There is the entirety of your problem.

    Not only have men lost rights, but as soon as we talk about them,or anything to advance men, you’ve got the feminists screaming ra-aype, but what about the ra-aype.

    I’ve said it before, looks like it must keep being said:
    We’re sick and tired of the demonization!
    We will have our God given rights enforced, if by no one else than ourselves.

    The time for talking to extremists and totalitarians is just about over.

  23. i don't believe you says:

    The “Be able to take it, if you dish it out” requirement is what I love most about this site! Just don’t lose that.

    It’s great that the authors of articles/opinions must deal with criticism instead of pontificating behind a bulletproof window. When Tom was under the gun, I was really bugged, not because he was being “challenged”, but because those who were doing the challenging so often duck on their own sites by over banning, backhanded shaming, or by letting their attack dogs police the forums.

    Unfettered dialogue, even if uncomfortable, is the ONLY way to learn and deepen one’s understanding. This site sets the standard. Keep up the good work.

    • I agree that on what some see as Parallel websites there is a pattern of conduct that does show a double standard – which Is why I have said Good Fences make Good Neighbours.

      Some don’t want Dialogue just their own Dogma, so they fail a basic litmus test.

      I agree that GMP sets The Standard, and should stick to it.

      • i don't believe you says:

        Hmmm. I don’t have a fence in my yard so you got me thinking. Reflecting, I can tolerate a bad neighbor, just not a hypocritical one as in…
        “Don’t gripe at me about my late night parties when you cut the grass at 8am on Saturday”

        So I guess I don’t mind Amanda Marcotte in my yard if ONLY she would just return the favor. But she won’t!. Maybe any guess writers here should be required to take a 1st amendment pledge mandating an open forum on their blogs, before they are allowed to write here. Whaddya think?

        Oh yea. That stuff up above about the misuse and abuse of “rape culture” was choice. Have you read a lot of Orwell?

        • George Orwell? He’s my Grand Daddy P^)

          I am a “Doubleplus Crimethinker” who refuses to accept “Doublethink” and refuse “Crimestop” – I’m a criminal “ownlifer”.

          I don’t go with the “Duckspeakers”, and have to be labelled as a “Thoughtcriminal” by all who fear any appearance of “Facecrime”!

          I think it’s a pity that Grand Daddy didn’t come up with the term “Meme” – it would have spread quicker and more deeply before it became a critical evaluation term on how both information and mis-informtion spread with such speed in these Internet days.

          It’s also a great shame that he called his best seller 1984. He had the right ideas, but he should have called it 2012. C’est La Vie.

  24. I go back and forth about TGMP honestly. Besides the site’s fluctuating technical difficulties, it seems torn — emotionally, demographically, theoretically, etc. — torn between Feminist apologism and Masculist apologism. It always seems as if we have to apologize for believing in whatever we believe in. Feminists have to apologize for not being able to see the good things about masculinity. Masculists have to apologize for not being Feminists. Hugo Schwyzer starts a flame war, and Lisa goes about with a bucket of water trying to save the potted plants.

    Call me an idealistic skeptic, but TGMP isn’t really what I had hoped it would be when I first visited last year, but I do think it could become something really great if it would stop apologizing for everything damn thing. Take a stand. Say, “this is what we think, and if you don’t like it then don’t read it.”

    If I might say, it’s that kind of stubbornness that brought so many broken men to The Spearhead, where their confusion & pain was twisted into misanthropic misogyny.

    Nonetheless, despite the problems associated with this site, I’ll still frequent it because I *need* a place where male-positivism is at least discussed, as opposed to ignored, or worse… where men are portrayed as scum of the Earth. (I’m thinking of Hugo’s and Marcotte’s websites, as well as some others.)

    However, my advice would be for TGMP to start taking more from Ethecofem, What About Teh Menz?, Toysoldiers, and blogs like them, because THOSE are the places where the grassroots movement exists. Those are the places where men (and some women) come to really talk, debate, discuss, rant, argue, and otherwise converse about the issues that TGMP wants to include. More importantly, they do it far more respectfully, and more topic-focused than TGMP has done in the past.

    While I can’t say *how* to accomplish all this Ish I’ve been writing about, I can say that if you at least try, then people will understand and appreciate it.

    But at the same time, I’m not going to hold my breath. If suddenly Amanda Marcotte or Hugo Schwyzer turn up apologizing for demonizing men, masculinity, and male-survivors of domestic violence/rape/crime/divorce/whatever, I’ll be glad to meet them halfway. Until that seemingly improbable day comes though, I’m going to focus on reading, writing, and continuing the promotion of male issues without regards to the vitriol from radicals on either side of the gender politic aisle.

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