The Myth of ‘Real Men': A Response to Eliezer Sobel by Quiet Riot Girl

Quiet Riot Girl responds to Eliezer Sobel’s discussion of masculinity.

“Is it time for masculinism?” asks Eliezer Sobel.

My short answer is: no.

My longer answer is as follows:

The first thing to strike me about Sobel’s interesting piece on whether or not men need ways to help themselves become “MEN” again, was the poem he quotes at the beginning.

From “Desire,” a poem by Stephen Dobyns:

Why have men been taught to feel ashamed

of their desire, as if each were a criminal

out on parole, a desperado with a long record

of muggings, rapes…?

I am in 100% agreement with Sobel, and the spirit of this poem, which asks why men’s sexualities have become pathologised and made out to be inherently bad, “as if each were a criminal out on parole.” And, I agree with him that feminism has a lot to answer for in this situation. Because feminism, and its focus on women’s objectification as inherently oppressive, as a part of “rape culture,” makes out that women are always and inevitably the potential victims of men’s unhealthy predatory natures. We get the message, says Sobel:

“It’s not okay to objectify females, to see them as a conglomeration of body parts, to speak to them as if there is a microphone nestled between their breasts… So we got it. Women are not merely sexual objects of desire. But what happened to men in the process of their feminist education?”

This is a question I, a woman, have been asking myself for a while now. What happened to men? And what saddens me, is I seem to be in a minority when it comes to women, and maybe even people, in asking it. Whatabouttehmenz? is a term of derision, used against anyone, whatever their gender identity, who dares to ask anything about how men may be doing in this feminist–oriented culture in which we now live. Particularly anyone who dares suggest that men may suffer gender inequalities as well as women.

♦◊♦

Sobel presents an interesting contradiction whereby many women are very clear that they want men to be “good.” To work hard, be “nice,” share chores, and be basically “feminist.” But when it comes to sex, being “nice” doesn’t always cut it. Most sexual relationships (if not all) involve a power exchange, including some degree of domination and submission. How does this basic human need fit in with the discourses of gender “equality” that prevail today?

It is in attempting to answer this question that I part company with Sobel. For one, his article focuses entirely on heterosexual men and women, and mainly on people in long-term relationships. So, whilst I am keen to hear heterosexual men’s perspectives, as I think straight men are possibly demonised the most by feminism, I think it is unhelpful to devote a whole long article about “men” in general, that misses out gay, bisexual, and trans men, and does not adequately consider sexual relations that stray from the straight/married norm. Take Sobel’s question for example:

“How to bridge this gulf, in which men are men, women are women, and raw, primal desire is real and allowed, yet not cross over into the world of inequality, rigid roles, objectification, and pre-feminist values?”

What does a situation whereby “men are men and women are women” mean to a bisexual man? Or a trans man? Or a man who is submissive sexually? I think that the whole notion that once upon a time, life was all Me, Tarzan; You, Jane, is completely wrong in the first place. And what Sobel really means is: how can men demonstrate their full, red-blooded heterosexual masculinity, in this age where gender roles and identities, (and sexual roles and identities) are becoming increasingly blurred and fluid?

As Mark Simpson, author of Metrosexy has said, “metrosexuality,” men’s desire to be desired within consumer culture, has changed all the rules about what makes a man, a man. And, for some Americans, the “feminine” aspects of metrosexual men, who love to look good and scrub up and wear nice clothes just like women do, is a bit too much to take:

“After Bush’s victory in 2004, down in no small part to his ability to rally the Republican faithful against metros and gay marriage, some admen tried to cash in on the anti-metro backlash amongst older consumers. Using slogans such as ‘reclaim your manhood’ to revive stick-in-the-mud brands such as Hummer, Dodge, Miller Lite and Burger King—these ads ridiculed metrosexuality and aimed to associate the client brand with ‘real’ masculinity. Essentially making a virtue out of their obsolescence. Meanwhile books giving men advice on how to avoid being metro and instead be retro, complete with self-defeatingly prissy lists of ‘manly’ ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’, hit the best-seller lists.”

I am inclined to agree with Simpson, that this search for ways to “reclaim your manhood” in a post-modern adaptation of Robert Bly’s Iron John movement, is just men expressing anxiety about the (metro)sexual revolution, that Won’t. Stop. Happening. No matter how many fish you catch or how many beers you sink. Even Marty Beckerman’s recent hit and soon-to-be-film, “The Heming Way”, which sends up Ernest Hemingway’s “retrosexual” uber-masculine (uber-camp?) manliness, is a faux-ironic cry for days when men were men. When tanning and cocktails were not part of a man’s daily schedule.

In fact, again as Mark Simpson has pointed out, campaigns for “real manhood” actually mirror the misandrist, pathologising of men that feminists are so keen on. He quotes Stephen Biddulph, an Australian “real manhood” campaigner:

Alcoholism, suicide, marriage breakdown, poor parenting, violence, crime – pretty much everything that’s going wrong in the world has got that male unhappiness behind it.”

The idea that men and masculinity are problems seems to underpin most gender campaigning these days, from SlutWalks to anti-Street Harassment projects, to the masculinist movement. The average, contemporary man going about his business, wearing Armani and drinking skinny lattes, is somehow seen to be not good enough. Not manly enough.

At the end of his article, Sobel duly reproduces a “self-defeatingly prissy list of manly dos and don’ts” as given to him by his model of “full-blooded” masculinity friend, Charley.

My advice to Sobel and his friend Charley, if they really want to enjoy their masculinity together, with their partners, or even alone, might be to keep an open mind, because nothing about gender roles in this world is set in stone anymore. And that, to me, is great for men, women, and anyone who identifies otherwise. Oh, and don’t forget to moisturise!

Photo Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

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About Quiet Riot Girl

Quiet Riot Girl is a blogger with a keen interest in gender and sexuality. She has just self-published her first novella, about what might have happened if Michel Foucault, the french homosexual philosopher, had have had a daughter.

Comments

  1. …what?

    “The idea that men and masculinity are problems seems to underpin most gender campaigning these days, from SlutWalks to anti-Street Harassment projects, to the masculinist movement. ”

    SlutWalks and street anti-harassment movements don’t claim as foundations that “men are problems”. They came about because, well, in this society, real men can rape and make unwanted advances, all under the cover of being “a real man”. It was all about how men are taught to be brash, bold, and let the women and zeta males tremble!

    Sure, there are some ambiguities and some things to work out. But any time the prevailing thought is “real men shouldn’t have to worry about if a woman feels pressured, or feels she can’t walk down the street, fearing being accosted, or says she doesn’t want sex when she SO WANTS IT” that is absolute bullshit. Men and masculinity isn’t the reason. What people, like these “masculinists” fail to see is that, women aren’t just something to act your manliness on.

    • You know it’s funny, my take on slut walks was more about men being cued by female behavior. Contrary to popular accusational gender politics a great deal of male behavior towards women is cued by women. “The Real Man” is more often invited to come out and play by a woman.

      When I am out with my 27 year old son, I am amazed by the signals and gestures made by women visible to me but not to him. As if they expect me to inform him on their behalf.The regularity of it is stunning.I have suggested that he might consider returning their attention by flirting and then approach them and speak to them with a very high shrill voice and see how quickly they resort to accusing him of being brash, bold and sexist.He refers to these women as feminist twinkies that spend their lives back seat driving and ultimately not worth the exchange.

      But clearly the best message that came from the slutwalks was that tits aren’t enough. The fact that women chanted this all on their own evidences a rising consciousness.

      • “When I am out with my 27 year old son, I am amazed by the signals and gestures made by women visible to me but not to him. As if they expect me to inform him on their behalf.The regularity of it is stunning.”

        Could you be a bit more clear what signals and gestures you are talking about? I am in my mid 20s myself and am working on picking up on that sort of thing.

        • OK, this might be fun.
          direct gestures 01) elevated energy (arousal) leads to exaggerated expression, wider smiles, showing teeth, intermittent eye contact (that allows physical inspection) performance gestures that exaggerate attentiveness.
          indirect gestures 02) once his back is turned, fixed stare, smiling at me and then looking him over, moving and standing closer, angling into his view, fidgeting to attract attention (dropping purse etc).
          Pretty basic mating stuff.

          • So, um, next time I’m attracted to a guy I should be careful not to smile or seem interested, as that might be offensive? Or God forbid, I shouldn’t talk to him in a flirty voice. Is that what you are saying?

            Guess I’m not really getting your point here.

            • AlekNovy says:

              So, um, next time I’m attracted to a guy

              Walk up to him and say “Hi, I’m Jill, and wanted to meet you”. I don’t care what your excuses are. It’s not any more complex than that.

            • I have a feeling if I did that, most guys would freak out. In my experience, men do NOT like women who are too forward, no matter what they say! Where’s the challenge for them in that? :-)

  2. Hi TRoyal I think for me, the Slutwalks are part of misandry because like you illustrate they create this abstract ‘you’- the man who ‘acts your manliness’ on women. I know women get slut-shamed, and that the way police/the law sometimes deal with sexual assault can be wrong, but making out that even the most masculinist fan of ‘real men’ thinks assaulting women is a good idea seems kind of off to me.

    • MorgainePendragon says:

      You’re clearly missing the whole point of Slutwalks. Like so many other things in the feminist millieu, it’s not ABOUT men*, it’s about women* being able to dress, act and be sexual in whatever way THEY feel comfortable with– not in ways that either discomfort or reassure male* sexuality.

      *I am of course referring to a hetero-normative behaviour pattern– those who are other-gendered or have other preferences should, obviously, be able to express their sexuality freely. As should het men.

      Basically, to achieve an egalitarian, cooperative society (and overcome patriarchy) all humans must be able to freely express themselves sexually without the threat of sexual assault or violence. That can’t happen until men see women as human first, women second– and NEVER as objects for their own sexual (and emotional) gratification.

  3. May I ask how you lost your other two rr’s, Quiet Riot Girl?

    I am disturbed by the general lack of interrogation of the class dynamics inherit in metrosexuality. Must a man be wealthy in order to step outside gender boundaries in a socially acceptable way? How connected is metrosexuality, and the backlash against it, to struggles over classism and elitism? Maybe I’m poorer than I thought, but I’m pretty sure the average citizen can’t afford Armani yet. I have trouble seeing anything that is, at least from my vantage point, so inherently tied to consumerism as having any radical potential. Perhaps we can separate the behavior of interest in one’s appearance (indeed transgressive for a man) from the behavior of placing value on brand names and expensive products (IMO, transgressive for no one), but I have never seen a discussion of metrosexuality discussions do this (could be my failing, of course).

    • The loss of my rrs is a long, sad story. I will tell you some day.

      You raise some very interesting and important points. I would love to see the originator of the term, Mark Simpson, answer them.

      My view is that yes, you are right, consumerism (and identity) are linked to branding and aspiration. No Logo by Naomi Klein shows this very clearly. But metrosexuality covers all socio-economic groups within urban and most other capitalist cultures. I went to school with quite poor kids and they still all seemed to have the latest Nike trainers etc!

      As for whether something so tied into consumerism can ever be ‘radical’. I think that is worth thinking about more. If you compare it to the birth of the ‘teenager’ in the 1950s I think that was linked to consumerism but also had some very radical effects. But it is a complex thing. Thanks for raising it!

      • Thanks for the thoughtful response–I’ll look into Simpson’s writing. Perhaps your rr’s will find their way back to you one of these days!

        • I recommend his book, Metrosexy http://www.marksimpson.com/metrosexy/

          I have argued with him a bit about his presentation of ‘class’. He is very clear that metrosexuality does have class implications. His view, I think, is that it began being expressed amongst middle class urban men, but only really took hold as an identity when young, ‘lower’ or consumer-class men started to adopt its characteristics.

          But I think there is more work to do, especially as ‘class’ and ‘masculinity’ keep changing…

  4. weightless says:

    While a nice editorial on the “men like women should be free of gender roles”, this article is not a rebuttal of the original as it does not address the original articles posing question, “how does a man who is demanded upon by women for traditionally masculine behavior, oblige by those requests without being misogynist, since most feminists define traditional masculine behavior as misogyny?”

    • My rebuttal is that ‘traditionally masculine behavior’ is a myth, the myth of the ‘real man’. It is not an actual phenomenon.

      • weightless says:

        there are countless women who disagree with you, how would you propose men answer them?

        • You will have to tell me what you mean by ‘traditional masculine behaviour’ as I don’t have a set idea of what that entails.

          • sorry to chirp in but…….

            “Traditional Masculine Behavior” in my experience is I do all the heavy lifting and the heavy worrying and she looks pretty. When she stops looking pretty, I’m a misogynist.

            • well that’s one interpretation, Keith!

            • weightless says:

              I think the issue here is a glitch in terms. when I said “Traditional Masculine Behavior” I meant things like being the initiator in all things romance from first dates to bedroom antics, expecting to be the bread winner (not forcing her not to be but giving her the option while not expecting to TAKE the work at home option yourself), making all the decisions etc..

              I did NOT mean that DOING any of those things makes you a “real man” or vice versa, what I meant “and what I thought the original poster was trying to say” is when you run into a women who expects you to expects you to be the typical manly man, how do you oblige by those requests without carrying out misogyny?

              for reference I will offer myself as an example:

              Until my last relationship I had never been with a girl who didn’t initiate sexually, and I regarded that as “standard procedure” because it meant I would never have to worry about being “that guy”. So the first time I was with my last partner I waited until she initiated and immediately afterward she told me she had no idea why I didn’t get things started and she felt like a rapist because I didn’t act first. “your the man, your supposed to come on to me” she said. Not exactly what you want to hear from somebody you care about. She made it very clear I was never to verbally ask for it because her having to give “formal consent” made her feel horrible.

              So from that day fourth, as long as I was with her, I would “start” and read her reactions to the best of my ability, to some feminist, this makes me a rapist, we had to engage regularly so that I could know for sure after the fact, the idea still haunted me for a long time, even tho she claimed I never once made her feel uncomfortable.

              sry for the novel but I didn’t know how else to spit out that example <_<

            • it sounds to me like your partner was inclined towards being submissive. Which is part of my point about how ‘feminism’ and S and M can be a bit of a rocky relationship….

            • weightless says:

              define “rocky”, I’m not into being “dominant” as I was socially inclined to believe that to be male and to be the pursuer is a “bad thing” as a child but in this instance I did what was asked of me. Does this mean I’m a misogynist?

            • No you’re not a misogynist. But these things are tricky for us all! That was my point really. Feminism makes out there is a simple answer to splitting ‘dominance and submission’ from ‘gender roles in life’ and I don’t think there is!

            • Many women have trouble initiating sex because they were raised to feel that being interested in sex is slutty or bad. However, if the man initiates she can enjoy it without feeling guilty. The fact that your girlfriend wasn’t even comfortable giving verbal consent to sex makes me think this was an issue for her.

              In other words I think you should look at this more as an indicator of your girlfriend’s personal psychological hangups and not an issue of gender politics.

            • If you do all the heavy lifting and she does none of the worrying, why is she even in your life at all? Even a platonic friend would worry about how you are doing, so why not her?

            • The point being she isn’t in my life, which resulted in less heavy lifting and less worry! It has been my unfortunate experience to be with partners that are less interested in sharing power and are power specific in their choices. More poignant is that platonic friends are less likely to do business (expectations) based on gender roles and are more fluid and actual. Intimate relationships, once they abolish individuality only have gender roles left as the currency to ring at the cash register of the relationship.

            • I don’t intend to continue with this debate, as what you said is more personal experience than a generalisation to supposrt or condemn. That’s not a bad thing, of course. Anyway, I’m glad to bring out your more complex world-view where others may not have known you had one.

              Actually, why not make “gendre roles” a *pair* of dualities? Instead of Real Man / Real Woman, why not Metro Person (Male or Female varieties available) / Retro Perrson (comes in the same two flavours)? This will allow for both tradition and innovation to co-exist, and who wouldn’t prefer to co-exist, considering the alternative?

              You can’t go from male to female with too much ease, so why not allow for Metro/Retro to be two well-defined territories with porous borders? Fluidity doesn’t need to mean total fluidity, and a small amount of rigidity allows for a level of certainty that fosters a feeling of security. Best of both worlds? Maybe.

            • This doesn’t work because it is a binary, which is what people base their ‘traditional’ version of gender on.

              ‘Retrosexual’ is not an actual person but an attempt to deny the metrosexuality that is pervasive everywhere. So you can’t be either/or.

              Mark Simpson is a good person to talk to about this http://www.marksimpson.com

            • I think what I’m trying to say here is that women in my relationships expect a non traditional feminine role, but immediately default me to a traditional masculine role.

              I once had a lesbian change a drill bit in a drill, by removing the drill from my hand without asking and once finished asked me if I would like her to continue with the task. I loved it. It was awkward at first, but it was the first time I have ever felt equal to a woman. I loved her assertiveness and her comfort with applying it. To bad she was gay because she made me happy.

  5. metrosexuality is not a sexuality. It’s a heightened interest in fashion. You cannot have sex with a metro. A focus on ‘metrosexuality’ is to miss the point entirely.

    • Alex- if you can’t have sex with a metro than how come Victoria Beckham has four kids?

      • Metro come from Greek μήτηρ, mētēr meaning “mother”. Sort of gives a new meaning to the term metrosexual.

        • very true Tamen. And metro boys often do love their mamas a lot!

          Metropolis comes from ‘mother’ and ‘town’ to suggest an important town/city. So the mother origin is there, but the ‘city’ aspect is the most important I’d say. Urban sexualities – though even in rural areas now, metro boys are everywhere too!

          • But hopefully not in a sexual way, because we have another term for that: Oedipus complex – although that also involved killing your father :)

            I just brought up the etymology of the word metro since it seems Alex was talking about how you can’t have sex with a metro since the most common use of the stand alone word metro nowadays means “subway”. And then your reply came and you gave me the disturbing image of Victoria Beckham being impregnated by a subway train.

            Alex: I guess metrosexual uses the word sexual more like it’s used in transsexual rather than how it’s used in heterosexual, bisexual etc.

  6. I would invite anyone reading this piece to check QRG’s Twitter (@Notorious_QRG). All this person does, all day is promote Mark Simpson’s book about “metrosexuality” (ugh, the marketing smell of that whole concept makes me feel dirty just typing the word), rant the whole day against women and make blanket statements about the supposed misandry of women.

    Moreover, and I am offended that The Good Men Project is giving this person a platform, she has now gone as far as showing she is also a racist appropriating a photo of hip hop artist Notorious B.I.G. as her Twitter avatar, ignoring the contextual implications of tying a black man to her discourse about “bitches” and violence. Because, of course, for this person, all that matters is how she situates herself. Historical or social contexts matter little for her discourse because it is nothing more than a narcissistic exercise to talk about her (check out her “book”, Foucault’s Daughter”, where she writes page after page of poor prose in a transparent attempt to liken herself to the “heiress” of Foucault’s ideas). However, none of that would matter if it wasn’t that she has now added the racist component to her trolling.

    Her entire online persona is such a transparent attempt to be accepted by men, to be seen as “one of them” (and she will throw all women under the bus if she has to) that I am unsure what exactly is the value of giving this person a platform in the context of this site. Are you suggesting that an anti woman troll is the solution to the problems of contemporary masculinity?

    • Hi Tam

      I do not present myself as a ‘solution to the problems of contemporary masculinity’ as I don’t think contemporary masculinity is a problem to start with.

      Thanks for checking out my twitter. If you also check out my blog, (click on my name at the bottom on my bio) you will see I have quite a complex, nuanced approach to metrosexuality, and the work of the original metrosexuality theorist, Mark Simpson. I retain my position that there are very few original thinkers and analysts of gender in the current age. If you can recommend any other writers currently writing on the subject I am open to suggestions.

      Being a woman who sticks up for men obviously makes me unusual. But isn’t that, in itself, a problem?

      • That a White, English woman has appropriated the image of a black hip hop artist says a lot about how little you examine your ideas and how little you care about who you hurt in the process. Male hip hop artists have always been vilified for their misogyny, for their violence, etc. Now you use the image of one such artist and refer to women as “bitches” in your twitter, and you go around trolling “feminists” and you bully anyone you perceive as going against you. In the end, you do not stick up for men, you stick up for what comes across as a desperation to be loved by them, and particularly, by Mark Simpson (I’d link to the many twitters where you complain that he doesn’t like you anymore, but anyone can go and check your feed for themselves to see it in the proper context).

        You claim to be defending men, in the end, all you come across as doing is looking for men to give you their attention, to love you and recognize you as a peer. That’s what your novella is about as well. And even more troubling is that a good part of what you write is about gay men specifically giving up their “gayness” (whatever that means) to be seduced by you. Look, I couldn’t care less what you write or who you troll (like the anti Guardian site you run), or whose feminists you decide to vilify on a given week. However, for anyone reading this particular post, that context matters, because it is just one more in a long series of sad and desperate attempts at getting men’s attention.

        • Thanks Tam. You obviously have an interest in me and my writing. Like I said, I’d include my blog in the portfolio as it gives more of a picture of where I am coming from.

          Best wishes

          QRG

  7. Hey QRG. Some good stuff here.

    Sobel presents an interesting contradiction whereby many women are very clear that they want men to be “good.” To work hard, be “nice,” share chores, and be basically “feminist.” But when it comes to sex, being “nice” doesn’t always cut it. Most sexual relationships (if not all) involve a power exchange, including some degree of domination and submission. How does this basic human need fit in with the discourses of gender “equality” that prevail today?

    Not sure this holds water. For most people, the way we get our jollies in the bedroom seldom correlates much with the rest of our lifestyles. Indeed, it often seems that people’s sexual tastes (the fine detail of their sexuality) is a reaction to the mask they present in the rest of their lives (the sexually submissive politicians; the housewife-dominatrix etc). I think it is reasonable and probably healthy for us to use our sex lives as a psychological release in that way. But it does (or should) mean that feminists (or any other woman) is perfectly entitled to look for a male partner who will do his share, clean the bog, change nappies, and then want him to be a barbarian in the bedroom. I think it is actually quite restricting to expect people’s sex lives to be consistent with the rest of their lives.

    The idea that men and masculinity are problems seems to underpin most gender campaigning these days, from SlutWalks to anti-Street Harassment projects

    One thing I love about SlutWalk is that it is one of the few feminist(ish) campaigns in my lifetime that has been quite explicit that it is objecting to particular behaviours, attitudes and statements, not to a gender. I’ve never seen a feminist movement where large numbers of men have been made very welcome and been treated as part of the solution, not part of the problem. One of the reasons the rad-tendency loathes SlutWalk.

    • Hi AllyF nice to see you here.

      I like your phrase ‘Barbarians’ in the bedroom I think we may have discussed this before!

      I know what you mean but I think you are describing an ideal situation rather than reality. Personally, I don’t find it easy to compartmentalise my sexual and my other ‘personas’ so clearly. People who say they do, I am never quite sure. Partly because we are not always clear when we actually talk about our sexualities/sex lives. I have read a LOT of writing by feminist women into kink, both submissive and dominant, and I still find some of their versions of how they marry their sexual and ‘real life’ identities unconvincing.

      • QRG, I suggest that you step outside the box that apparently hinders your imagination and try to grasp the concept that just because YOU don’t understand how something is possible, doesn’t mean that it isn’t. I’m one of those self-described feminists who likes being dominated in the bedroom by a man who knows all too well just how hard core I am about feminist issues in ‘real life’. What a pity that you are so lacking in imagination that you remain suspicious of people like me.

        • ‘I have read a LOT of writing by feminist women into kink, both submissive and dominant, and I still find some of their versions of how they marry their sexual and ‘real life’ identities unconvincing.’

          I said ‘some’. Maybe your account would be one of the ones that convinces me. I am glad you are in a happy situation.

          • “Personally, I don’t find it easy to compartmentalise my sexual and my other ‘personas’ so clearly. People who say they do, I am never quite sure.”

            My apologies. I just didn’t happen to see the word “some” anywhere in this phrase. Maybe the word “never” is what stuck out to me.

            • Thanks Miranda. Well it is quite clear you are not submissive in internet discourse which is great! Neither am I.

              If someone says they find it easy to compartmentalise their sex/rest of their lives, I am never quite sure how that pans out. I am not suspicious of them as people, and I wish them all the luck in the world. I just find it difficult to work out how it works. If ever you write anything about it I’d love to read it.

            • Well, I can understand the suspicious thing, because I myself am immediately suspicious of anyone who is apparently quite capable of intelligent reason and thought, who dismisses feminism and claims that it is the cause of the problems that men face today. Feminism isn’t perfect, but rarely is anything perfect. And a patricarchial system hurts men as well as women, becaues it demands a specific set of behaviors from men. I see the remains of the system in the way my son is treated by the men in his life who give him very little room to shown emotion or empathy for others. When he was 4-5 years old, his reaction to seeing a friend hurt would be to cry with them. He wouldn’t dare do that today. He has to be a “man”, and men just don’t do that sort of thing, do they?

              According to your reasoning, that anyone who decries patriarchy decries men, then I should be angry at or hate my son, and I don’t think I need to tell you how ridiculous of a notion that is. How do I hate someone (particularly my son?!) for being adversly affected by the same system that I am?

            • Like I said, it is a question of belief. I don’t believe there is a ‘system’ called ‘patriarchy’.

              I respect your beliefs. I just don’t share them.

            • So you deny what everyone else, even religiously extreme men who want to return to that system, knows to be true. Okay. So then we won’t use that word if it makes you feel better. We’ll just say that once upon a time in America, there was this system in place that demanded strict adherence to gender roles, that called for men to bring home the bacon while women stayed at home and raised little Johnny and little Susie, and that favored men to an extreme degree by allowing men to pursue positions of political power.

              I have a textbook that was published in 1950 titled ‘Being a Citizen’. Among other things, this charming little book very neatly breaks down exactly what is required of the ‘Ideal Husband’ and the ‘Ideal Wife’. The ‘Ideal Wife’ never complains, is an excellent cook, doesn not nag, dresses neatly and attractively, is a charming hostess, and makes her requests known without implying that she is abused, among many other things.

              The ‘Ideal Husband’, on the other hand, earns an adequate income, takes pride in his work, praises the wife for her excellent cooking, boasts to his friends about his neat, clean home, and provides his wife with adequate spending money, among other things.

              Okay, so we won’t call this teaching of roles The Patriarchy. But when kids are taught in school the tripe that’s found in this book (really, it exists. I’m looking at it right now. Would you like me to scan the pages and send them to you?), then whatever you call it, to deny that it existed is akin to burying your head in the sand.

            • I’m also quite curious to know if you deny the existence of sexual stereotypes that allows men to “bang” as many chicks as they want, while pretending that SEX is so synonymous with the female body and using it to sexually gratify men, that if a woman dares to use her own body for her pleasure, she’s called a slut and a whore. And not just by men, but by women. Because, you know….we ALL are affected by the System That we won’t Call Patriarchy. Which means that men aren’t the evil ones.

            • Actually Miranda, why don’t you scan the book and post it, more specifically the author or group responsible for it’s publication. I would love to see the names of the women responsible for the content exposed for what they are.

              Or did you not read that far in the publication.

            • “Denies what everyone else….knows to be true”? – Well, actually I don’t believe in the reality of “The Patriarchy” (with a capital “P” and definitive article “The”) either. Not because I don’t believe that there isn’t a such thing as systematic sexism that some might use the term “patriarchy” for. But because I don’t believe describing that in terms of some Illuminati-like The Patriarchy is an accurate description of how power relationships in society work. I think that multiple intersecting forms of power relationship that have been described as “kyriarchy” is closer to the mark, though again, I wouldn’t reify that concept into “The Kyriarchy” either.

            • typhonblue says:

              @ Miranda

              So women who masturbate are called ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’? That’s a new one.

              BTW, you sound really, really angry. I get it. You’re angry. Please stop pretending that my husband is in any way responsible for what you’re angry about though. Thanks.

            • Actually, what you call patriarchy I would call strict gender roles.
              I think it’s important to point out that the vast majority of men (as with all women) never assumed positions of authority.
              In that respect 99% of men were like 100% of women.
              It was really more about class, and how the rich & powerful shat upon everybody.
              For all the oppressive gender straight-jackets that were on women from 1850 to 1940 there were just as many straight-jackets upon men: Men being last in line for life-boats comes to mind. There is also the fact that men used to duel with pistols to fight for “a woman’s honor”. Not to mention all of the men who were exploited/killed building the trans-continental railroad (and all of our bridges, other railroads, and roads carving through majestic mountains, mining for the metals to do this, millions of men died in wars etc… These sacrifices OF MEN go largely unrecorded & unreported)

              In the late 80’s I visited a friend in Minnesota who worked for a company called “Little Brothers, Little Sisters”.
              While there I heard a compelling story from an old man who told how during the industrial revolution he saw a work-mate lose 3 fingers and the foreman told him to be back in 3 days or he wouldn’t have a job.
              It seems somehow idiotic to me to propose the notion that because 1 in 100 men had authority, but 100 in 100 women had positions of (relative to men’s) more safety that this was somehow some grand plan of men.

              If I had lived during those times, I would have loved me some of dat dere oppression! Yessiree!
              ht tp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1312764/Britains-child-slaves-New-book-says-misery-helped-forge-Britain.ht ml

              In the pictures of this book on child slavery in the UK used to drive the industrial revolution I see about 100 boys and 1 girl. And the boys all look to be doing much more dangerous work.

              Feminists are exactly the same as patriarchy (if such a thing every existed): they have no use for men (or boys) but as disposable cogs.

            • MorgainePendragon says:

              “I don’t believe there is a ‘system’ called ‘patriarchy’.”

              Then what do you call it? Because there’s definitely a system (or a culture, but it’s so predominant that to call it a ‘culture’ is perhaps not recognising its near universality) based on hierarchy, oppression, and values of power, dominance and control.

              This is in opposition to other human social systems/cultures that have existed, that in fact have probably been the most widespread throughout human existence, and that still exist today in small pockets of people with ancient cultures and those who deliberately go out of their way to create an alternative to what I (and millions of others) call patriarchy (or kyriarchy or androcentry).

              So I’m interested to know what it is you call this social construct that is based on oppression of the majority– and that stands in opposition to an egalitarian, cooperative, pleasure-and-nurturing-based system?

            • typhonblue says:

              “When he was 4-5 years old, his reaction to seeing a friend hurt would be to cry with them. He wouldn’t dare do that today. He has to be a “man”, and men just don’t do that sort of thing, do they?”

              At some point someone has to be the one consoling and helping the person in distress, otherwise planet earth would become a world of people blubbering and saying ‘you just don’t understand my pain.’

              “I see the remains of the system in the way my son is treated by the men in his life who give him very little room to shown emotion or empathy for others. ”

              Empathy isn’t just shown by ‘oh you’re upset, let me be upset too!’ It’s also shown by ‘oh, you’re upset, let me protect you from what’s hurting you’ or ‘oh, you’re hurt, let me pull your weight for awhile’ or ‘oh, you’re upset, let’s sit quietly and do something together that I know you really like’ or ‘oh, you’re upset, let me tell a joke and get you laughing’ or ‘oh you’re upset, maybe we should go punch a bag together’ or ‘oh you’re upset, maybe I can teach you a trick to help you solve your problem’ or ‘oh you’re upset, maybe I can help you learn to manage your emotions.’

              Mayhap your son could be better served by a mother who understands that the coded feminine way of being ‘empathic’ is not necessarily better then the coded masculine way of being ‘empathic’. And that empathy comes in many flavors.

            • MorgainePendragon says:

              Maybe her son could be better served by a social structure that doesn’t tell him that his natural reaction to the distress of a friend is “wrong” or not masculine enough.

        • Miranda what’s to imagine about people like you? You follow the same recipe service me outside the bedroom and service me inside the bedroom. Doesn’t take any imagination to see your a one trick pony screaming “service me”. But hey to each their own.

          • I like the term one string banjo better. lol
            I see Miranda’s words & I hear “Plink, Plink, Plink” with her 1 string.

  8. @AllyF what I saw of the slutwalks was that the basic premise was sound. But at the actual demos (I saw videos and photos of a few) a lot of the old misandrist tropes were wheeled out, making out men and masculintiies in general to be the problem. I should go back to some of that material and write about it , but I found the whole thing a bit depressing. As soon as people invoke the ‘patriarchy’, which Slutwalks did, at least informally, they are saying men/masculinities are the problem.

    • Then the problem here is that your perception may need to be adjusted. You’re basically saying that because I don’t like the patriarchy, then I must think my fiancee is a bad, bad man. But you see, I understand the difference. I understand that HE isn’t to blame for the system anymore than I am. And BAM. Right there is the difference. The system versus the people who live in the system. It’s really not that difficult a concept.

      • that’s not what I meant. But I think your perception could do with some adjustment if you believe in The Patriarchy. Though I know people are entitled to their beliefs. I don’t believe in God but I respect those who do. So the issue is a matter of ‘belief’. Which is very hard to argue about.

        • Ah….so we’re rewriting history now, huh? Okay, okay….I get it. The patriarchy is akin to unicorns and Santa and tree fairies. Sigh……

          • Why is it so hard to argue about belief? Isn’t that what we all do on blogs like this one and yours, debate our beliefs? C’mon…you’re not trying to cop out on us, are you? If you believe that The Patriarchy never existed, then surely you can share with us how that belief came to be? If you can’t convince your readers of such a fundamental tenet around which you base your beliefs about feminism as a whole, then how can anyone be expected to take you seriously?

            • This is my post. My argument is contained within it.

              http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/against-feminisms/

              I think this is a case of ‘whatabouttehwimminz?’!

              Eliezer and I were writing about men’s identities. Not specifically feminism. Feminism just has a way of always making itself known in regards to men and masculinities, as Eliezer said: ‘WE GOT IT!’

            • Thank you for the link. I have some thoughts that I’d like to share about what was said in your post as well as some issues raised by those who commented. I have a feeling it’ll take a while to do so…..but as soon as I get a few I plan to do so. Thanks again.

    • QRG – Slutwalks are grassroots events that vary from place to place and who’s gender politics are as good as the participants make them. I think the concept in itself is a very good one, and a move to a more inclusive, sex-positive feminism that nevertheless tackles long-standing feminist concerns. Now if long-standing misandrist tropes get dragged into it by some speakers and organizers, that’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t invalidate the overall idea.

  9. Clarence says:

    Well, congrats on your first post here on GMP, QRG.
    I will say that since you post almost exclusively on “gender fluid” phenomena your useful as to critiques and advice for those of a more heterosexual bent is limited. However, I think it’s obvious that “Tam” person misunderstands you. And as a het man, I’ve never got the impression that you wanted MY approval.

    Anyway, good to see you here.

    • HI Clarence
      That was damning with faint praise!

      I don’t want anyone’s approval in the context of this post. I wanted to counteract the myth of the ‘real man’.

      I am heterosexual myself as it happens, as are most of the men I have dated, had sex with, had relationships with. I am interested in, and invested in the perspectives and needs of heterosexual men.

      But these days, ‘heterosexual’ is more overtly a fluid expression of sex and gender identities than it used to be. That is what ‘metrosexual’ means. The gender identity of the people you are attracted to does not have such a bearing on your own gender/sexual identity as it used to. Because metrosexuality is more about the love of the ‘self’.

      • Clarence says:

        QRG:

        We can agree that heterosexual is more open than it used to be and that is a good thing. I also think you sadly misunderstood my intent. As I should hope is obvious from my posts on your blog, I like you. I merely don’t think that straight men’s issues with feminism are your forte, though I will admit that from what I know of your background you should be able to handle them.

        • Like I said, damning with faint praise. You don’t like my ideas much, Clarence it’s obvious! No problem in disagreeing with people is there?

          I don’t lump ‘straight men’ into one homogenous group,anyway. I obviously don’t inspire confidence in the particular straight man that is you. I am ok with that. You can’t win ‘em all!

  10. QRR: I actually appreciated your articulate and thought-provoking response quite a bit. Thanks!

    –Eliezer

    (btw: Charley’s an old buddy, but NOT my “masculine role model”– I mostly was using him as my straight man!)

    • Thanks Eliezer!

      I did actually agree with Charley’s point that it’s good for men to spend time together. I am glad you have a lasting friendship! I am always the straight man too.

  11. Hi all
    This is a piece explaining my rationale for rejecting the concept of ‘patriarchy’ and feminism as a whole. I won’t get into a long argument about feminism here as I think it detracts from both Eleizer and my points and the majority of the discussion, about men’s changing identities. But feel free to comment on my blog!

    http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/against-feminisms/

    • Hiya Quiet Riot Girl,

      The “Against Feminisms” a great article as I have said in various place before.

      ….in arguments with feminists they will rightly point out that it is mostly men in positions of power. Androcracy is, I believe the term for this. However they conflate that to mean that men are the “ruling” class whereas women are the “oppressed” class. The problem with this is the average man has little more (if any) power/privilege than the average women and infact, there are measurable markers where the average man is worse off. One being that men have lower life expectancies.

      We can see how many feminists disregard “male problems” as unimportant. This was pretty clear with Amanda Marcotte’s harsh treatment of “nice guys.” Many MRA’s are constantly demonized even though they may raise valid points. One example of this is David Futrelle and his manboobz site. Yes, there are MRA’s who make misogynistic statements, there are also feminists who make misandrist statements…. Interestingly enough, this occurred on one of Clarisse Thorne’s articles. It was interesting to see how she “selectively” moderated. Anyone critical of feminism, regardless of how valid the point raised got the banhammer. Still, she allowed personal attacks from the less rational ranks of the feminists. Ironically, it was one of these threads where I became aware of Quiet Riot Girl as she was being dogpiled on.

      As far as the Slutwalk and Rape Culture, I will let people more intelligent than myself argue about that. I do support the participants right to march in Slutwalk as I am an advocate of free speech and expression. What I will say, is Most Men Aren’t Rapists.

      From the Yes Means Yes Blog:

      http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

      The author indicates that there are multiple ways to read the statistics so there is a great deal of room for debate…

      “Lots of smart people will take a lot of different things away from this research on undetected rapists, and on more research that will hopefully follow.”

      He also states: “Just 4% of the men surveyed committed over 400 attempted or completed rapes.”

      and later says, “If we could eliminate the men who rape again and again and again, a quarter of the violence against women and children would disappear. That’s the public policy implication.”

      I don’t have a simple answer for this, psychology may say that a small bunch of “sociopath’s” are the “bad apple’s.” However, it is not most men conspiring against women. I believe this is one area where men get lumped together. There are bad guys who aren’t representative of most men. They do a great deal of damage. In contained situations such as prison or the military, you also see rape committed against men in large numbers. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/04/03/the-military-s-secret-shame.html

      What I do appreciate most about Quiet Riot Girl’s analysis is looking at gender without the “feminist critique.” Feminism seems to have been the dominate voice on gender studies for longer than I have been alive and I think it is time for others viewpoints.

      Rock On!

      Stoner With a Boner

  12. Tough crowd eh Quiet Girl?

    Traditional masculinity depends quite a bit on traditional femininity. Their current existence or fossilized extinct(ness) is sometimes a confusion or the bleeding into of what “is” with what “ought” to be – confusion between “most” and “less” used, and even romantics sometimes kissing with pragmatists.

    Seldom is something exactly “is” as described or performed but that does not, in of itself, make it disappear. This is where I sometimes part ways with you Quiet Girl, but only as much as it provides a better predictive power on masculinity. You’re just as right just as often.

    ANd you’re very gracious in accepting a good level of criticism. God knows I’ve pooped on Foucault enough times on your home blog. Very traditionally un-feminine of you!

    Very good to see you here. It’s about time this place got some real diversity of thought!

  13. You know, someone else has probably said this before, but I don’t feel like reading all the comments… Bad me.

    Anywho, I just wanted to say that I don’t see SlutWalks as misandry at all. In fact, I’m not really getting your point… Real masculinity involves forcing oneself sexually on another? Rather, I see SlutWalks as a protest of the mindset that women “ask” for rape and are at fault for it. The distinction I see is this- a good man won’t see a passed out drunk girl and think, “ooh, yay, sex!” In fact, I don’t think that many men would. There are, however, the percentage that do think that way, in the same way that they think a miniskirt is a promise. SlutWalks, to me, are not about saying that all men are evil- it’s saying that victims shouldn’t be blamed for a crime committed upon them.

    For the record, I am definitely against programs that seem to want to teach men that they are horrible predators that are going to rape and sexually harass no matter what. I just don’t think that is the object of a SlutWalk.

  14. “Trans men” aren’t part of this discussion. Even mentioning the topic rather tends to disqualify Sobel from serious consideration.

    Quick: How many real live women want a “husband” who also has a vagina?

    • Hi
      I feel you may be saying something about Eleizer Sobel and/or his writing that is lost on me as I only just saw this first article. Though, like I said, from that article I could tell he had a rather narrow view of ‘men’ and ‘women’. Would you be able to expand on what you mean? Thanks a lot!

      QRG

      • Not sure what Joe is implying either, unless it’s that I’m a cross-dressing transgender lesbian in a gay male body who’s sexual preference is women. Maybe that’s what disqualifies me? And I was speaking from s particular limited somewhat stereotypical and common voice of the heterosexual male in a committed monotonous, I mean monogamous vanilla marriage, but my views of men and women are as wide and inclusive as there are people, and I mostly can no longer tell the difference.

  15. Well, wait, that’s not true; I definitely know the difference.

    • you don’t sound too sure Eliezer!

      My point about ‘submissive’ men still stands for married guys though. Some men enjoy ‘being done to’. This doesn’t fit the ‘You Tarzan, Me Jane’ gender binary model.

      • QRG for your consideration,

        The Tarzan/Jane model can be destabilizing to men in a marriage, formal or not. When the illusion of a man’s invulnerability is torn away by something as simple as job loss, the consistency of “not being done to” questions the viability and longevity of the relationship.He can’t help but question the elements of his desirability to his partner.

        A woman may ask if she looks fat in a particular outfit and question her desirability. She may choose to compensate with another outfit or a little makeup. She may even resort to sex to confirm her desirability.How does a man confirm his desirability when the aspects of his desirability may not be in his control?

        If a partner does not lust for her man from time to time how does he define his desirability? Feminists often refer to this as stroking the “male ego”. But by not “doing your partner” from time to time, you reduce the concept of his desirability to an appliance grade service and expandability. The notion that “doing your husband” would conceivably be an affirming act that values his agency as a desirable partner and a man, to me holds a much higher relevance than submission fantasies. Although they are fun to.

  16. But when it comes to sex, being “nice” doesn’t always cut it. Most sexual relationships (if not all) involve a power exchange, including some degree of domination and submission. How does this basic human need fit in with the discourses of gender “equality” that prevail today?

    I know this is an old post, but:

    Um. What the hell are you talking about? Sexual relationships necessarily involve a power exchange? And are you talking about SEX being a basic human need, or this idea about “power” in sex being a basic human need?

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