Why Being a Good Man is Not a Feminist Issue

Tom Matlack envisions a place where men can share stories of their struggle for goodness man-to-man apart from what women or feminists might say about that story.

 

Here’s the basic axiom: power conceals itself from those who possess it. And the corollary is that privilege is revealed more clearly to those who don’t have it. When a man and a woman are arguing about feminism—and the women involved happen to be feminists and the man happens to be an affluent white dude—the chances that he’s the one from whom the truth is more obscured is very high indeed. That’s as true for me as it is for Tom Matlack.

— “Words are Not Fists” BY HUGO SCHWYZER

 ♦◊♦

“No fucking pictures!” the captain screamed. Soldiers have gotten violent with me when their comrades have been killed. I took a few frames then put the camera down and started helping to bandage the most badly wounded soldier. He had taken a lot of shrapnel, and his face looked like hamburger. We checked his torso for wounds, but there were none. He was pleading, “Doc, you got to give me something. I can’t take this pain. I can’t take it.” His friend was lying dead against his legs, but he didn’t know it. He couldn’t see through the blood in his eyes, and he felt nothing but the stabbing pain.

The scene was eerily quiet, save for a radioman calling for a medevac. A minute later, the soldier’s sobbing began to mix with the birdcalls in the stifling, still air. 

I slowly walked over to the captain and told him that I was going to do my job and that he could take my cameras later if he wanted. He nodded to me, maybe knowing that no one was going to move through a minefield to stop me anyway. I walked among the wounded men, shooting as I went and trying to lend a hand where I could. Platoon members carefully put the wounded onto litters and carried them to a landing zone for the helos. Then four young men lifted the dead soldier’s torso gently into a body bag. One bent down and began to rip the gear off his comrade’s flak vest. Then he thought better of it, reached up, and quietly zipped the bag closed.

— Shooting The Truth BY MICHAEL KAMBER

 ♦◊♦

The end result is an unshakeable feeling that Tom and the men he claims to speak for are simply angry that their unquestioned male privileges are being eroded. It’s not that men are being edged out of the conversation at all, but that women are beginning to have a say that appears to be the problem. Watching privilege erode, even slightly, can be disconcerting for the privileged. But the bare minimum of being a “good man” is not conflating the erosion of your privilege with genuine oppression. The good men I know in my own life enjoy the challenge of shedding sexist stereotypes like “nagging wife” and “naughty man-child” to enjoy going forward with women, hand-in-hand, as equals and as friends.

— As Equals and as Friends BY AMANDA MARCOTTE

 ♦◊♦

One day, after I started going to the seminary, I was walking toward the chapel when up ahead of me a guy got stabbed really badly. Everybody just kept walking. “It ain’t none of your business,” someone said. Guys were jumping over the body and the pool of blood. When I got to the man he was bleeding out onto the floor and, I swear to God, I could not walk over that blood. It was like something was pushing me to look at this man, look at what was happening here. Guys were like, “Yo! Yo!” But I could not move. All I could do is say, “This shit has to stop.”

The guys looked at me like I was crazy; at one time I was involved in half the stabbings at the prison. They started swearing at me, saying, “What the hell are you talking about?”

I said it again: “This just has to stop, man. We have to stop killing one another.”

Everything changed for me at that moment. Finances didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t matter if I traveled around the country, or if I could do whatever. It didn’t matter. It was like, how do I not help people? How do I not stop and look at the humanity in each person, man? How do I recognize that these are all God’s children, man? And how do we become part of that human family so that we don’t kill each other?

I got the guy up off the ground and got his blood spattered all over me. The guards came running to us and got me out of the way. They didn’t question me because they saw what I had done. They thought I was crazy for helping this guy.

– Blood Spattered by JULIO MEDINA

♦◊♦

A few months ago I was interviewed by Tom Ashbrook, of NPR’s show “On Point.” I am a frequently listener to Tom’s program and have always admired how he can talk about controversial topics—from abortion to Middle East peace to Presidential politics—and remained inquisitive without bias. That’s what makes his show go. He gets people from both sides of an issue and is great at getting them to explain themselves clearly while letting listeners decide what they think without spoon-feeding them an answer.

I was excited to meet Tom and talk about the Good Men Project at the Boston Book Festival before a live audience that numbered well over 800.

Everything was going fine, I was telling my story and the story of our Project, when something remarkable happened.

I was in the middle of explaining the national context in which GMP sees the need to clarify what is going on with men. I referred Hannah Rosin’s headline grabbing article and book by saying, “And then you have female sociologists saying that men are over. If you think about it, if a male sociologist came out and said women were over we’d all be criticized for it.”

What I thought was a pretty non-controversial point.

Ashbrook cut me off to say, “We did that for like 5,000 years.”

I kept rolling, talking about the importance of feminism and how in a way what we are talking about at GMP is feminism in reverse: women were trying to get out of the house and men are trying to get back in as fathers and husbands.

But inside I was boiling. The guy who I thought never took a stand had just slapped me down. Hard. He’d made clear that any conversation of manhood had to be premised on an acknowledgement of the primacy of feminism in that conversation.

It caught me so off-guard that it was only in watching the video of the interview that I really appreciated the depth of his taking a side, something I so respected him for not doing, on the issue closest to my heart.

Quite honestly it made me want to puke.

♦◊♦

My formative experience as a man came as a recovering alcoholic. In church basements there is a very clear message that men help men and women help women. Falling in love is not going to get your sober. There are plenty of mixed sex meetings but in the end I always found myself gravitating towards all male meetings. And I had a series of male sponsors who saved my life.

On a daily basis I heard men tell a deep and painful truth about themselves that stirred my soul, made me cry, and often laugh at my own lunacy. After a lifetime of hating myself as a man, bit by bit I began to see that I was not alone and that in fact I might be able to live my life in a different way. My first sponsor often told me that the psychic change required to transform a hopeless drunk into a sober and recovering alcoholic starts in the head but ultimately happens in the heart. What happens when one drunk tells another the truth about themselves is that both the teller and the listener are forced to look in the mirror. And drop by drop what they see moves from the head into the heart. It’s an agonizingly slow process for most, but in the end the soul itself is transformed and the man who couldn’t put down a drink or tell the truth about anything becomes a useful member of society.

For years I went to South Boston to sit in a room full of men very far away from my Yale degree and venture capital firm. The guys I met had done hard time. They’d hit bottoms just as painful as mine but often much more tragic. They wore ink and gold and spoke with thick accents often with poor grammar. But what I learned in that classroom (the meetings were held in a school) was that all my book smarts didn’t mean shit when it came to my life. I wasn’t going to think my way out of my problems. I had to listen to what these guys were telling me. And in a fundamental way they have figured out stuff about themselves that I had just begun to examine.

The bond I felt in those rooms was palpable. It wasn’t anything like the way I saw men portrayed on TV or in the media. These were total strangers who had every right to hate me but instead, loved me unconditionally. They taught me how to take responsibility for my actions, how to tell the truth, and how to stay sober. They taught me to aspire to a completely different kind of goodness than I had ever contemplated in my prior shadowy world of immobilizing fear and quick fixes. They taught me the courage to look deep inside for the answers, to help another man no matter what, and feel my emotions.

Could any of that have happened if women had been in the room with us? Absolutely not. Did each man in that room leave with the very direct intention, reinforced by their brothers, to treat women categorically better than they had before entering? Absolutely yes.

***

As the founder of The Good Men Project I’ve spoken about manhood well over a hundred times by now, in places as diverse as a treatment facility for teen prostitutes to a Hollywood premier. Inevitably the question comes up: “Yeah, this is all really interesting but what exactly does it mean to be a good man?”

At the beginning I would bumble around with a long-winded explanation about the importance of personal narrative, moments of truth in every man’s life, and the infinite possible definitions of goodness.

Now I just say that I don’t know.

I can see the disappointment in people’s eyes. They want some magical formula for being a good father, husband, and man.

I usually go on to explain that I am not a particularly good man. I aspire to a personal goodness that I have caught glimpses of through my own path to manhood, including plenty of blood, sweat and flat-out failure.

♦◊♦

My son Seamus goes to a Jesuit High School. I was brought up Quaker, so anything with a direct pipeline to Rome is highly suspicious in my book (not to mention having a close friend who was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest). Over the last four years I have come to greatly respect my son’s teachers and the Jesuit institution he attends.

The cornerstone of everything that goes on at my son’s school is the simple concept of becoming a man for others. On parents’ night I talked to his biology teacher who made clear that they would indeed learn some biology in his class but the real topic was manhood. On Veteran’s Day the teacher made all the students interview a veteran on videotape and come into class and do an oral report on what they learned. More than once, Seamus’s biology homework the weekend was to do two hours of service work.

This last spring break Seamus and a dozen classmates went to the Dominican Republic on a service trip. They went to the Haitian border to witness men attempting to buy life-saving food to save their families before having their bags of rice slit by border guards. They held deformed children in an orphanage. They sat with kids who spent their life picking metal out a huge trash dump. And they helped plant coffee in a subsistence hill village.

Certainly this idea of compassion for those less fortunate is an appealing one when thinking about male goodness. But even service, as the charismatic woman who led my son’s trip explained so movingly, is about personal connection. It comes from the heart not the head. So you can’t tell someone else how to do it, only try to listen to your own soul.

♦◊♦

My original motivation in founding the Good Men Project had little to do with what I thought men should do and more in realizing what we were lacking. What I saw in myself, and many of my male contemporaries, was a sense of confusion and depression over the male landscape. And I also saw a lack of conversation about what was really going on just under the surface for men in a very wide spectrum of circumstances.

My goal was not to proselytize in any way, shape or form. It was simply to bring individual stories of manhood to the surface in hopes of inspiring others to share their stories and, while doing so, become better men. That, in the end, is how it has always worked for me. An abstract discussion of manhood is boring as dirt to me. Listening to a guy spill his guts is transformational. At least to me.

And when I started The Good Men Project, it happened for me again. I sat with Julio Medina as he told me about being a Sing Sing inmate for years until he picked up a friend who had been stabbed off the prison floor and in that moment changed forever. I traded hundreds of emails with Michael Kamber from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan and ultimately the day his best friend, Tim Hetherington, was shot and killed taking combat photographs. I met Ron Cowie at an outdoor café and listened to him weep as he retold the story of losing his wife to a rogue virus. As he wiped away his tears, their toddler daughter asked for a bagel.

These stories, and scores of others like them, changed me forever. They made me a better man. They gave me more insight into how to connect man-to-man in ways that are too often shunned by us collectively. I don’t know whether it’s by nature or by training, but men who reveal such personal stories, particularly those including failure and sadness, is, in my view, far less common than it should be.

I may not know what being a good man is but I am quite sure that a key part of any process to figuring it out is a deep level of honesty and self-revelation that we all too often pass on for more superficial pursuits.

♦◊♦

So how does all this relate to women and, more specifically, feminist doctrine? I know I led with that big headline and have made you wait to get to the heart of the matter. But since I know this topic causes a lot of people to lose their minds, I wanted to at least explain the path by which I found myself in this feminist sinkhole.

Going back to being a man for others, the clear implication of that goal is the “other” is generally someone who needs your help and may in fact be less fortunate. That most certainly includes orphans in the DR and teen prostitutes at the Germaine Lawrence School right at home in Boston. And God knows it means, just to me now, looking at the way that race, gender, sexual orientation, and wealth play into systematic discrimination and oppression.

I have often said that the conversation amongst men about what it means to be a good father and husband has obvious benefits for wives and mothers. The aspiration is to figure out how to do and be better men, and that means in relation to the women in our lives.

But here comes the problem. The stories that transformed my life where not told by women. They were told by men. My fundamental view is that there is a male experience that is too often squashed in our society by a culture that perpetuates a deeply flawed view of manhood. What I hope to do is not dictate what replaces that simplistic view of what it means to be a man, but simply create the space for a more nuanced discussion.

♦◊♦

The most disappointing, and in fact dangerous, aspects of the Good Men Project’s success, in my view, has been the extent to which we have been sucked into a debate over gender theory in general and feminism in particular. Whether or not you agree with any of the wide variety of definitions of feminism, the Good Men Project is not about gender theory and it certainly isn’t about feminism. Or at the very least that was never my goal in founding it.

I realize to some that the litmus test of being a good man is being a card-carrying member of a strident form of feminism that puts the burden of proof on every male for the sins of their brothers. But to me that is the most extreme form of the same old nonsense which keeps men from searching their souls for what manhood is really all about, to them. If you define manhood purely from a female perspective most guys are just going to turn off. And in my view, rightly so.

That’s why it saddened me to engage in such non-productive debates with the likes of Hugo Schwyzer, Amanda Marcotte, and Roseanne Barr who all attacked me for saying that being a dude is a good thing.

Perhaps even more significant than my fist fights with feminism over manhood has been the steady stream of highly trafficked pieces on our site about the female view of men, from gas lighting (one of our most popular pieces ever—“Why Women Are Not Crazy”) to the constant drum beat of posts in which manhood is viewed in the context of gender theory. Stuff like, “On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah. Blah, Blah. Whatever.” And “A Rant.” And  “Five Ways Feminism Helps Men.”

None of this is to say that a healthy debate of feminism isn’t a valid enterprise and one that is important. It just saddens me that it has become such a core part of what we are doing at GMP.

To be crystal clear what I wanted most is a nationwide discussion of manhood and god knows we have sparked that. We have over 400 regular contributors and a vibrant community of readers and commenters. In the end I do not decide what gets published nor do I even moderate comments. I am a sometimes contributor and very interested reader. There’s a team of amazing people behind the scenes making the magic happen. And you, the readers, first and foremost decide what you want to talk about. If nothing else the web is a purely democratic vehicle. I can say that I want you to read first person accounts of men at war, in prisons, and recovering from addiction but unless you read those stories we won’t likely do a lot more of them.

I have often said that the demographic which I most want to reach is not the guy at any extreme but the non-famous father, husband, and worker trying to figure out what the heck is important to him whether he is a venture capitalist (like me) or a stay-at-home dad or an inmate or a soldier coming back from Afghanistan.

I just have a really hard time seeing how debates over gender theory advance the ball in that guy’s thinking. Sure pretty much every discussion of manhood involved a discussion of sexuality and men as they relate to women, but a man-to-man discussion of those topics, in my experience, is very different than one set up to be in the context of a woman’s point of view. It may very well be that it ends up coming to conclusions very in line with what feminists believe but the process is a very different one.

I often think of Kent George, one of our originally contributors whose story I read for the first time early one Saturday morning while drinking my first cup of coffee while still in bed. I almost fell out of bed because I was laughing so hard. And that was before I started crying. His story is about being beat up physically by his older lesbian sister and abused verbally by his Irish Catholic mother in working class neighborhood of Boston. The story is funny because of the gender reversal and the way he tells it. But in the end it’s sad because it’s clear how much damage Kent suffered and also how much compassion he has for his mother, who he later found out had a profound mental illness, and his sister.

What’s the feminist moral to that story? I don’t know. But I do know that Kent is a damn good man and his brutal honesty, and humor, inspired me to be a better man and treat the women in my life the best I can no matter what the circumstance.

♦◊♦

I had a female at GMP read an early draft of this piece and her response stopped me cold:

Here’s the thing — and you may not like me very much for this.
—Women shouldn’t be in the conversation about men IF women are viewed by men as sexual objects instead of just people.
—Feminsm’s whole reason for being is to stop women from being viewed as sexual objects.
To me — it’s as simple as that. And so a phrase like — “In church basements there is a very clear message that men help men and women help women. Falling in love is not going to get you sober.” — reduces women to “the other” — someone who cannot be helpful because they are the ones you either fall in love with or have sex with.
And I just don’t get that. 

The reason it stopped me cold is that in my AA example, I did not distinguish by gender. My language was intentionally gender neutral. The reality is that new sober alcoholics of every sexual orientation and gender behave the same way—they’d prefer to take a hostage and have sex than do the real work required to get and stay sober.

But the female reader assumed that I was viewing women in this context as sexual objects even though the words that she quoted quite clearly didn’t say that and in fact that is not the case at all—men and women are both grabbing for anything to fill the hole of addiction.

So even a colleague who has read countless pieces I have written and I think understands what I was getting at slapped me just as hard at Tom Ashbrook. And completely without merit.

The further discussion I had with the reader was around this idea of single sex discussions and whether or not my going into Sing Sing with Julio on the first stop of our book tour to meet with a room full of men sentenced to life would have been different if a woman was present. I tried to explain why I thought an all male conversation was different than a mixed gender one: “It’s about a level of honesty that men wouldn’t reveal with a women there.” She responded:

I’d love to know WHY that is. And I think so many women are interested in GMP because they want to know why also. That’s the crux of everything. Honest discussions about the difficult issues. And … If men can’t be honest with women, and men are the ones in power … I think that is part of what feminism is also. 

It is the crux of the issue indeed. This idea that just because men want to have a discussion about manhood on their own terms that they are lying to women about it. There are plenty of forums for women to talk about men. I have made my way over to Jezebel more than once and gotten my ass handed to me.

What happened in that classroom in South Boston and in the bowels of Sing Sing with those inmates was a kind of man-to-man honesty that benefits women but isn’t going to happen if the frame is feminism or, when men are grappling with the deepest darkest secrets of their lives, if women are present. At least for me, there’s a kind of deep bonding that happens when a guy looks me straight in the eyes that is different than a similar conversation I might have with a woman. The transformation is only possible when I see that I am fundamentally not alone in my struggles to be a good man.

I don’t know but I expect women feel the same way. There are plenty of all women support groups in recovery and out in which I am quite sure men’s presence would disturb the safety of the boundaries established by the group.

All of this isn’t to say that the GMP should be a single sex forum. Far from it. Women are welcome for sure. But to my mind if the topic strays from a discussion of manhood in men’s own words to a feminist critique of manhood, my initial inspiration and hope for the Project is completely lost.

♦◊♦

From a macro perspective The Good Men Project was founded just as The End of Men went to print and the likes of Tiger, Charlie Sheen and John Edwards hit the front pages. In other words just as most men I know, and the thousands I met during the course of working on GMP, were digging deep for real answers to the questions about meaning and importance as a man, our whole gender was getting thrown under the bus.

According to the media we are less employable, less educated, inferior stay-at-home parents, and sexual deviants to boot. We are really good at going to jail, leading our country into meaningless wars, and taking down massive financial institutions.

The stereotype of what it means to be a man actually crystalized into a narrower stick figure as the ground under our collective feet gave way.

I look at the revolution in the work and family life patterns of men as not the end of men but the birth of something new and better. That is what GMP is all about: exploring that potential from every possible angle. And why viewing manhood from the perspective of a feminist wrecking ball, that leaves every one of us men guilty of gender oppression, a death spiral in my view.

In the end I think we all want the same thing: a new kind of macho in which men are allowed to express themselves as fully formed human beings who change diapers, are capable of intimacy, do meaningful work, and aspire to goodness in whatever way they define it.

But I refuse to see the world with a reductionist lens that dismisses the possibility that men can have their own stories of struggle for goodness that can be shared man-to-man in a way that changes the teller and the listener alike quite apart from what a woman or a feminist might say about that story.

 

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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. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I did have a thought inspired by a conversation on another board. I wonder if part of the issue is that we expect men to become more like women, when the opposite might be more appropriate. Women’s culture, including parts of feminism, can be passive-aggressive, judgemental, and controling. Much of the “scolding” on this site has come from women. It’s probably clear that I personally don’t agree with much of it. I’d say that I’m libertarian on the personal level, but socialist at the corporate level. The libertarian in me would like to end moralizing control of non-harmful behavior of individuals. So, why not promote more autonomy for women, but stop trying to make men sensitive, etc. I don’t think women should be Ayn Rands (scary,) but maybe we’re getting it backward.

    • “I did have a thought inspired by a conversation on another board. I wonder if part of the issue is that we expect men to become more like women, when the opposite might be more appropriate.”

      Um, no. I’d argue there isn’t really “women’s culture” and “men’s culture,” anyway. There are mainstream cultural norms that prescribe behaviour for men and women…and some of the behaviour prescribed for men is objectively positive, and some that is prescribed for women is objectively positive. A lot of the problem is the “prescribed” aspect, so that anyone who doesn’t conform to their gender ends up totally screwed over.

      It’s not that “men should be” more sensitive…it’s that men should be able to be more sensitive without ridicule. There is a difference.

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Actually there are somewhat different biological templates underlying both mens and womens behavior. And it’s demonstrable. I think the mistake the ev-psych people make is believing everything is a reflex of this.

      • The Blurpo says:

        “It’s not that “men should be” more sensitive…it’s that men should be able to be more sensitive without ridicule. There is a difference.”

        thats also the way as I understand it. It’s about having a choice and being able to carrying it out without social stigma.

  2. Alberich says:

    As the Good Men Project is not a feminist space, introducing feminism into it can have unwanted effects.
    I have seen the following pattern of discussion:

    – Good man Gunther tells a story from his life
    – Feminist Kriemhild interprets it using a concept like “male privilege”
    – The Grim Hagen challenges claim of the existence of male privilege using some statistics
    – Kriemhild and Hagen argue about male privilege leaving Gunther’s story behind

    As I see it, the problems are.

    1. Kriemhild interpretation presumes the existence of male privilege and not everybody here agrees that male privilege exists. To have a meaningful discussion people should refrain from presuming things that are not generally accepted as true.
    2. The language Kriemhild uses is not common English. The usual understanding of the word privilege is quite from feminist usage. To have a meaningful discussion one should rather use a common language ( like regular English)
    3.Hagen starts arguing about the general case, but the general case usually tells us pretty little about one concrete case, because the general case is studied by statistics and hence exclusion of exceptions. Leaving the topic of the discussion is not helpful.

  3. And THIS is why we need our own space to discuss.

    Imagine women’s problems as apples and men’s problems as oranges. Now, you get apple worms, and that’s cool! Might wanna go talk to some apple farmers about that. I get orange molds, so I should probably talk to the orange farmer.

    The problem is that some people (women AND men) have decided that apples are either the best or the only type of fruit out there.

    I’d try to get into the specifics you’ve brought up, but that’s frankly completely unproductive. There’s no point to suggesting to someone that their views might be incomplete if they’ve already made up their minds. You can act like you’re arguing facts all you like, but really you’re not. You’re arguing the basic principle that mens’ rights issues are less important in in the “social advancement” of our society at this point in time than womens’ are. So long as you’re coming from that basic premise, you probably shouldn’t take part in discussions focusing on unpacking that cultural narrative. You just don’t have the tools (i.e. life experiences) necessary to constructively participate.

    • “There’s no point to suggesting to someone that their views might be incomplete if they’ve already made up their minds.”

      Ah, but…that applies in reverse too then. Would not discussing men’s issues as if they exist in a vacuum outside of women’s issues also end up resulting in an incomplete picture? We aren’t living in separate worlds with separate problems. We all interact with each other all the time…our issues are interconnected. Ozy’s Law: for every crap stereotype about one gender, there’s an equal and opposite crap stereotype about the other gender.

      • @Heather … You said ” We all interact with each other all the time…our issues are interconnected. Ozy’s Law: for every crap stereotype about one gender, there’s an equal and opposite crap stereotype about the other gender.” The difference is that the crap steriotype of males is siocially acceptable in todays society. In addition, main stream feminism adds fuel to the fire through their campaign efforts against men.

        • Your statement is false Tom. It’s absolutely false. Mainstream feminism does NOT add “fuel to the fire” through “campaign efforts against men.” Mainstream feminism doesn’t, actually, campaign against men. FFS, much of they time they’re campaigning FOR men. Hello paternity leave and an attempt to get women as part of selective service!

          • Not sure if they’re mainstream or not but some feminists in Australia are trying to push gendered domestic violence laws “the plan” which I’d say is against men, at least from what I’ve seen of it genderizing it and leaving men up shits creek without a paddle for help.

            I think from what I’ve seen and heard that Feminism mostly just campaigns for women and much the stuff where men are harmed is because they were left out. Is it possible though MSF campaigns both for and against men? Someone talked about NOW campaigning against men getting recovery jobs, shovel ready jobs, even though it benefitted women it still was against men. When were there attempts to get women apart of selective service? EVERY thing I’ve seen on it basically says “we don’t agree with selective service and we wouldn’t advocate to get women put on something like that”.

            • Dunno about Australia enough to comment on that. As for the U.S., I am not saying feminist organizations are stellar at always helping out men. And I’m not even saying they’ve historically been concerned with men’s issues, because they haven’t. I’m saying that now, today, feminist groups have fought for men’s issues, including the draft and paternity leave. They have screwed up when it comes to DV and father’s rights in family courts. But where they’ve screwed up is largely when feminist organizations are unable to recognize where they’re actually adhering to the patriarchy/traditional gender roles. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, the people actually making all of these laws aren’t feminists. Yes, feminists have a big lobby…but their influence is still limited.

              “EVERY thing I’ve seen on it basically says “we don’t agree with selective service and we wouldn’t advocate to get women put on something like that”.”

              No. No. Everything from NOW about selective service is like this: we don’t agree with selective service, but since there is selective service, women should be included. Not to mention the constant fight of feminists to include women in combat roles in the military. It’s the Supreme Court that decided that women still weren’t to be included in the draft. There’s not really much left to do after the Supreme Court hears a case and makes a decision.

              http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1356&dat=19810302&id=_mdRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=igYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3470,684989

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rostker_v._Goldberg

            • But where they’ve screwed up is largely when feminist organizations are unable to recognize where they’re actually adhering to the patriarchy/traditional gender roles.
              Unable to recognize? I’m going to chalk it up to varying mileage but I think an inability to recognize only goes so far. There’s a big dose of active denial, a bigger does than folks are willing to admit.

              Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, the people actually making all of these laws aren’t feminists. Yes, feminists have a big lobby…but their influence is still limited.
              But at the same time even if those law makers aren’t feminists, feminists still support such actions, when it suits them.

            • Wow that’s just really…cynical and places a lot of negative motivations on people. I mean, “feminist still support such actions, when it suits them,” sounds like there are a bunch of feminists sitting around a table talking about how some law may hurt men and saying, “but it’ll further our cause so we will push for it.” Or talking about how some politician is actually proposing a law that’s really not all that feminist, but saying “oh but women benefit so we’ll support it.”

              It’s not some conspiracy, or even an active attempt to push their agenda at any cost. For goodness sake.

            • Mark Neil says:

              ” I mean, “feminist still support such actions, when it suits them,” sounds like there are a bunch of feminists sitting around a table talking about how some law may hurt men and saying, “but it’ll further our cause so we will push for it.””

              I’m curious then, how does NOW come to decisions about what and when they send out action alerts, or which politicians and/or policies they wish to openly support, if they aren’t sitting around a table discussing it in terms of how it will and won’t benefit women? I think we have already demonstrated quick clearly they have no problems opposing issues that benefit men, even when those benefits would lead to greater equality in the family sphere.

              “It’s not some conspiracy, or even an active attempt to push their agenda at any cost. For goodness sake.”

              No. It’s a business. A business of pushing women’s issues to the forefront of the government trough. You’re welcome to prove me wrong. Something you’ve been demanding of others, but have done little of yourself.

            • Wow that’s just really…cynical and places a lot of negative motivations on people. I mean, “feminist still support such actions, when it suits them,” sounds like there are a bunch of feminists sitting around a table talking about how some law may hurt men and saying, “but it’ll further our cause so we will push for it.” Or talking about how some politician is actually proposing a law that’s really not all that feminist, but saying “oh but women benefit so we’ll support it.”

              It’s not some conspiracy, or even an active attempt to push their agenda at any cost. For goodness sake.

              Actually let me say that a different way.

              “feminist have no problems with such actions, when it suits them,”

              Sometimes its active, sometimes it passive. But yes Heather it does happen.

              And as for placing negative motivations while sometimes I am guilty of that via my cynicism, that cynicism didn’t just come from nowhere. It came from seeing such negative motivations in practice.

            • RE: NOW, Ah ok. Guess they’re unable to do much now?

              “I’m saying that now, today, feminist groups have fought for men’s issues, including the draft and paternity leave.”
              Just to clarify, do you mean some feminist groups or all? Or all the major ones?

              Also has anyone got a list, side by side of all feminist groups and all mra/masculists groups? I have a feeling that the fathers groups could be classified as egal feminist in action, as in they help both genders. Also because feminism has multiple meanings, a list stating if they are gynocentric or egalitarian would be good, as in do they only advocate for women, or both men and women. I’ve heard F&F is egalitarian with a androcentric focus usually? Slutwalk seems to be gynocentric focused but egalitarian at times too. NOW from what I know is gynocentric only?

            • “RE: NOW, Ah ok. Guess they’re unable to do much now?”

              Unless someone comes up with some new case or argument that the Supreme Court is willing to actually hear, yeah there’s not really anything that can be done. And that’s not likely, particularly because no one is expecting the draft to be reinstated. As for women in combat, I know that feminist organizations (I don’t know which ones exactly) are currently working to make it so women can occupy all the same positions that men do in the military.

              As for the list…I don’t know of any list, but there’s a problem with what you’re asking. Would you only put self-identified feminist and MRA groups on the list? Would you separate MRA from masculist groups? Who gets to decide whether something is gynocentric or egalitarian? Such a list would be far too subjective. For example, I would argue that NOW has a reputation for being gynocentric, but if you look at it, that isn’t always the case.

            • Hmm, yeah that could be a problem. The labels are subjective and mean different things to different people. Personally I think there are a lot of MRA’s but not many actually identify as MRA, possibly because they see how quite a few feminists in particular talk about them and don’t want to be thought of like that. Same in reverse too, it’s why I don’t label as an MRA + feminist even though I do MRA and feminist stuff.

            • MRA/MRM has a very specific meaning, really. Men’s rights have been discussed and examined for quite awhile, but the MRM itself is a largely internet-based group of people that does not include everyone who is actually fighting for men’s issues. The Men’s Movement and masculists (from what I understand of the term) are not necessarily synonymous with the MRM/MRAs. In fact, I’d argue a lot of MRA writing I’ve seen is very much not masculist (insofar as masculism is about removing the traditional gender norms which are detrimental to men). A lot of MRA stuff I’ve seen is actually espousing some pretty gender essentialist ideas about what it means to be a ‘man’ and ‘woman.’

              So suggesting that a lot of MRAs are out there that don’t identify as MRA is as problematic as suggesting there are a lot of feminists out there who don’t identify as feminist. I am all about self-identification so I say that what someone wants to identify as is more important that what they’re perceived as. However, if you want to argue there may be some people out there who agree with MRM (or masculist) or feminist ideas, and yet don’t identify as such, that can be accurate.

            • For one thing, they are not “fighting” anything about the draft. No campaign but simply a position. The NOW convention ???? For men’s rights? “Hundreds of women’s rights activists and supporters from every corner of the nation will converge in Baltimore, Md., this weekend, June 29 – July 1, at the National Organization for Women annual conference. This year’s conference, entitled “Energize! Organize! Stop the War on Women,” “”Today, more than ever, we are fighting for issues that are critical to the well-being of women and their families,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “It’s time to strategize for the 2012 elections, and stress how important it is to elect women (and men) who will champion women’s rights.” ….. Go to the NOW site and see their key issues …. And NOW DOES represent women in this country, NOW does represent what feminism was and IS.

  4. John D., You said:

    “My problem is that the theory of “male privilege” washes out relevant history which is overbriming with tales of male disposability (in other words both sexes were objectified, but at least women were treated as treasured objects that shouldn’t be risked in cavalier ways, while men were treated as blunt hammers that could and should be used until broken. When that man was broken with ptsd, injury, or death f*ck it there was a million more where he came from).”

    I really get this. Thank you.

    • Just so you know:
      My grandfather on my mothers side won two silver stars (he was a medic) for pulling guys out of heavy fire in WWII. He was abused by my grandmother (she once emasculated him in front of a woman who gave him free day old donuts because she felt bad for him because he had 8 kids to feed). She accused the woman of trying to seduce my grandfather and basically totally emasculated him. There is also a time where she pushed him down a flight of stairs.

      My father was drafted into vietnam and came back with severe ptsd. I lost all contact with him as he was unhealthy to be around. I learned 2 years ago that he had been homeless the past 8 years and died (along with another man) when his shanty in the wildlife preserve burned up.

      Quite frankly, I am totally sick of hearing about the myth of “male privilege”.

  5. I’m not sure how much longer I can commit to following this thread, but I do want to say that it has been an enriching experience to engage in this discussion. There are definitely several things that came up that I still do not agree with, but contrarily I heard a lot of things that resonated and that will influence my future conversations about equality. Thank you to all who shared your feelings and your stories.

    • It’s a lot to take in Kacey. Most feminists new to this thread assume that anybody opposed to feminism must be an evil brute.

      The story of the male side and the anti-male advocacy of (some) feminists rarely gets talked about in most feminist spheres I have encountered.

      Thanks for keeping an open mind, asking questions and seriously contemplating things from the male point of view.

      • “Thanks for keeping an open mind, asking questions and seriously contemplating things from the male point of view.”

        A male point of view. A male point of view. Or alternatively: male points of view. There is no single male point of view…just as there is no single female point of view.

        “Most feminists new to this thread assume that anybody opposed to feminism must be an evil brute.”

        Also, I’d argue that from what I’ve seen most feminists who are at GMP assume that men who are opposed to feminism just don’t really understand feminism all that well.

        • Well, of course I don’t mean that I singular own the male point of view. However, if I were having a face to face conversation with a woman, I would be the one more uniquely positioned to talk about the issues and benefits of being male. That is all I meant.

          “Also, I’d argue that from what I’ve seen most feminists who are at GMP assume that men who are opposed to feminism just don’t really understand feminism all that well.”

          Once again this goes back to the discussion of how you weigh the merits of feminism. By the theories in academic feminism (that gets advocated in *very* selective fashion by lobbying feminist orgs), by the content of it’s membership (who are private citizens of which we can’t possibly know the 50 million hearts that are involve), or by the advocacy?

          When I say that I am against feminism I mean it. The reason is that very nearly every single law born of feminist advocacy that specifically deals with men is a negative law that actually *entrenches* traditional gender norms. I will not join an organization that (some leaders *unopposed* and even *congratulated* by it’s members) has picked a fight with me for no better reason that I have the wrong genitals.

          I’m sorry, but the movement has to clean itself up, and oust the man-haters from positions of power.

          • My point is that, many of us MRA’s understand feminist *theory* fine. But, when that theory gets applied in a “boots on the ground” sense it is not anything remotely an egalitarian result.

            Communism sounds good too, but when the theory gets applied you have Stalin’s great purge.
            It is not my understanding that is lacking, but the majority of silent feminists who refuse to oust the haters under their banner. Systems may be perfect but they are executed by people who are very fallible. I can understand and forgive that some leaders in feminism might be bad apples.

            What I can’t forgive is the total lack of an outcry about the noble feminism banner being used as a tool of oppression against men for the last 20 years or so. It’s the lack of *response* that is inexcusable. When Germaine Greer can state that she likes looking at pictures of “nude boys–not shaved young men mind you but nude boys” and still remain a heralded figure in feminism, then something is fucked up. Some feminist advocates need to push past their comfort zone and speak the hell up.

    • Mark Neil says:

      Thank you Kacey for participating. I hope you stick around GMP, Sorry if I came off a little strong. As John D stated, you seem very open minded, and I think a place like GMP, where you can hear from both sides, will be of benefit to you.

      Again, I recommend girlWriteWhat on youtube. about a dozen 20-30 minute videos introducing men’s issues and she does so in an informative to newcomers kind of way.

  6. Wow, this thread really proves Tom’s point.

  7. Tom a courageous article and well said. If what you are saying is that male dialogue and sharing a male narrative can happen exclusive of feminism I whole heatedly agree. In fact I believe it is imperative. For men to see the landscape of masculinity as defined by men that experience it, is to survey the potentials for understanding and changing it personally.

    Much like the women’s movement in the sixties and seventies it was about education and self awareness for women. Men for the most part were excluded from that political development. I myself remember often being called a male chauvinist pig for even having an opinion. I believe the same needs to happen for men within male consciousness.

    I’m operating from the perspective that what you refer to as a “good man” also possesses the ability to carry that definition into the social sphere as a recognizable feature. It is difficult for a man who sees himself as “good” to express or enjoy the fulfillment that it may offer when it is socially unrecognizable.

    In my opinion there is two ways to gain parity politically and achieving that will help to define what you refer to as the “good man”. The first is to radicalize men’s issues which seems necessary to gain traction politically. The other is to remove competing ideologies from the discussion of the male narrative. Politicize that narrative once formed and engage in activism collectively as men.

    To radicalize the MRM is to attack the feminine construct of consciousness directly, similiar to the efforts of feminism towards men, (woman-bashing) which I believe is unnecessary and would potentially set us all back 200 years. That’s not to say there is a lack of will to do it. I think most fail to see that a MRM is in fact a response to feminism and feminism alone. I believe the dialogue with feminism is over, every step forward from here will see feminism diminished to the point of extinction in the public sphere.

    It’s all about parity now. Feminism must deliver equality to a male consciousness or fail in very dramatic ways.

    If being a “good man” requires the prefix of “feminism” men simply won’t buy it and the fight will be much longer and much more socially damaging. The gender war has already spilled onto children with profound impact. A new generation of boys fathered by older brothers and outlier males will not make themselves available for political dialogue with feminists.

    We have a fatherless man in the white house, his sympathy towards a feminist narrative only exists by the ability of his mother to influence his understanding of that narrative. Remove that and replace it with a hostility to the narrative and women will lose in ten years every gain they have made in fifty. This man in the white house today had no access to the body of male perception now available on the internet. Tomorrows president will certainly not grow up in a vacuum of the past.

    The narrative of masculinity requires us as men to breach all borders and all barriers. We need to hear from the homeless, the imprisoned, the depressed, the institutionalized, the disenfranchised, the fathers with and without families, the soldiers, the injured on our behalf. We need to know how and we need to know why. Then we need to change it inside so we can change it outside. IMO

    If you or anyone would like to save feminism, best start saving men.

  8. @John, you have a site and or blog?

  9. “I’m just going to comment on the above…first with pointing out that feminists DO critique feminism…all the flipping time. For goodness sake, that’s been going on since first-wave feminists with women’s suffrage. The suffragettes critiqued each other 10 ways till Sunday…and they weren’t even always nice about it.”

    I realize they call them out, but I’m not sure it’s enough. I’ve NEVER seen a feminist critique apart from here of the way they interact with MRA’s or how they marginilize men’s issues on topics like rape, abuse, etc. I’ve seen many comments detailing annoyance of feminists who don’t speak up against some of the stuff the extremists say, the treatment of men or male issues in feminist spaces, feminists calling out other feminists who use “male privilege”, and other terms in a silencing or marginalizing way.

    “And, as I’ve said to others, point me to MRA spaces that aren’t misogynist. So far I’ve got Warren Farrell and Glen Sacks…I haven’t checked either of those out but okay I’ll go on faith that they’re both not anti-women. Any MRA space I’ve seen, however, has actually been anti-women…or at the very very least unknowingly misogynist. ”

    Quite frankly I don’t actually know a single space that specifically calls itself MRA, just spaces where mra’s comment, this site included. I know spaces that are masculist but do you include masculist or even just any advocacy for men as mra? Because NSWATM would be MRA, since they advocate for male rights don’t they? The GMP is another. I consider both to be apart of the male rights movement since they both address male rights, and funnily enough I think you can be feminist and in the MRM just like I see mra’s advocating for female rights.

    Many feminist spaces I’ve seen have been unkowningly misandric, I don’t think I know of any atm that are 100% free from misandry. Do you mean in the articles or the comment sections?

    “Some general statements are actually true…such as that feminism has largely excluded non-white non-middle class women until fairly recently. That’s a general critique of feminism and it’s true. So please, tell me of the MRA spaces out there that prove the general critique that the MRM is largely misogynist untrue. And also, please, while you’re at it show me the places where MRAs critique each other and that critique is met with rational discussion and not name-calling.”

    The MRM still seems to be quite unknown, hard to find a lot of it. The was a recent article that told of organizations that advocated for male rights that I never heard before, the article states much has been left out of history. I think there are 100+ feminist sites for every 1 mra site, and I am unsure of which sites are specifically MRA so I can’t say for sure which is which. I mostly see comments that self-identify spefically as MRA.

    I need some clarification, when people say MRA are they saying anyone involved in the advocacy of male rights, basically mra=masculist? or is it a specific group? And when peopel talk of the male rights movement, is there a specific group or does it include anyone that advocates for male rights/issues? The terminology might have me thinking of people that you are not, n vice versa.

    “Also, there’s this, I have yet to read any critique of feminism from self-identified MRAs that actually understood feminism as it is today. (Perhaps Warren Farrell and Glen Sacks do this, I do not know as I have yet to read them). But that is also what is so frustrating. You want to critique feminism? Fine…but make sure you understand it first.”
    I think much of it is actually criticizing a certain part of feminism, and much of it is criticizing certain feminists who have a loud voice. And then when you see other feminists fail to call out these few feminists with a loud voice, it gives the impression that feminists have read/heard them, and either don’t care or don’t agree.

    I’ll comment further when I get more clarity of what an MRA is, my understanding it’s simply someone who advocates for male rights and uses the label. I think there are actually a lot of people who do stuff for MRA/the MRM but don’t identify specifically as MRA, many of whom are even self-identified feminists, and even many who don’t label themselves but do MRA and feminist stuff. Confusing? You betcha.

  10. @ Danny from wayyy above

    “Actually this happens at MenRights Reddit. It’s happening right in there with the anti-woman sentiment. But for some odd reason when feminists talk about that reddit only the negative exists.

    No mention about supporting the Brian Banks documentary, or giving props to that single fathers groups in Japan, pointing out true double standards in the realm of gender….no somehow only the negative things can be found.”
    To be fair are the MRA’s talking about the positives feminist brings much? But yeah the focus on negative in both camps is annoying and causes so much heat. But controversy is more fun to read vs good stuff right?

    • To be fair are the MRA’s talking about the positives feminist brings much?
      A fair point.

      But yeah the focus on negative in both camps is annoying and causes so much heat. But controversy is more fun to read vs good stuff right?
      Basically. And not only is it more fun to read but it gets more hits.

      • Mark Neil says:

        My problem regarding these types of arguments are twofold. First: If feminism was doing what it claims to do, there wouldn’t be a men’s rights movement, or at least, nothing worth mentioning. If the equality for all was apparent in mainstream feminist actions, there would be no complaints about feminism from the MRM for their failure to live up to their claims. Second: When I first began discussing men’s issues, I didn’t identify as MRA, I identified as egalitarian, and I wasn’t anti-feminist. But I could not raise a men’s issue in any form without being attacked and/or marginalized by people (men and women) who DID identify as feminists (manboobz included. You know, the source for most feminist (and SPLC) ideas of the MRM). So not only did feminism fail to live up to what they claimed to do, they denied others from doing it themselves. And if a movement attacks and denegrates, while claiming the moral highground, another movement attempting to address social and political wrongs, what is this other movement supposed to do? The answer is, demonstrate that moral highground is misplaced. Feminism brought the negativity onto themselves. Perhaps the MRM in general took to it a bit too easily, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically, but it was required, and still is until mainstream feminism acknowledges their failures and accepts the need for a men’s movement that ISN”T feminist controled (because they’ve proven they can not be trusted with it, through 50 years of failure and outward opposition. This is why I support iFeminism. They are precisely what I describe here).

  11. Anthony Zarat, if you are reading, I am curious. Do you self-identify as MRA?

  12. William says:

    You can be apart of a group but still have different thoughts & idea, and different ways to go about advancing them.
    When a someone tells me what Feminism is about, i see it as THEIR view of Feminism.

    A major problem is the refusal to acknowledge that some thoughts & ideas of Feminist are harming men.

  13. @Lisa re the comment “The internet is great because how else could you organize 25,000 people per day (which is what we do now — to talk about important issues. How else? Every day? **snip**”

    I think many of us are trying to figure out and learn what happens, we have claims from both sides and people are still trying to go through the proof to see what the problem is exactly. We need to know what the problem is before it can be fixed, that means posting the proof of how feminists dismiss mra’s or men, and the reverse, so that we can all see how to NOT act.

    I’ve posted tips on what I see could help both work together but its up to the people in those groups to work together, I belong to neither group so I can’t do much apart from offer advice n try calm them both down, translate where I can. One of the most important things that has happened is that quite a few of the feminists here have acknowledged the bad, and acknowledged the experiences of some of us non-feminists, it has helped to restore my faith and hopefully faith in others. I would say the same for the MRA’s except I’m not exactly sure who self-identifies as MRA here, far more women identify as feminist than men identify as MRA here.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Archy — I do see you doing a LOT of that — and I’ve seen you defending us on *other* sites. Which is great. But I’d love to see you write more articles. You’re always on here. You have a *great* voice. I read almost everything you write. I’ve seen you change over the past few months — amazingly — in your thoughtfulness, your understanding and your ability to see both sides. In fact I’ve seen *everyone* on this thread learn and grow together.

      So it just pains me when I see arguments where people just try to defend their position at all costs. (That sentence is directed to NO ONE in particular.) I just see it over and over again — the cliched definition of insanity. I just wish someone would say “Hey [INSERT NAME HERE] why don’t we work together to try to solve the real issue. It’s too hard for me to do alone.”

      Just once.

      • Life hit me pretty hard with the cancer recovery, well mainly the tiredness that followed it. My stamina and also my mental focus has been terrible for 2 months but I’ll try write something once I repair fully. Yeah I defend on other sites because I believe in this one and hate seeing people skim comments or see 1 article and assume the entire site is represented by it, I LOVE the fact that there’s so many different views and opinions here and I think on other sites people assume that if you post an article (like the female privilege one) that the site editors/owners/etc truly believe it and that it reflects the site’s mission.

        Part of why I haven’t said “Hey [INSERT NAME HERE] why don’t we work together to try to solve the real issue. It’s too hard for me to do alone.” is because my life atm is too unpredictable for any major work like that, but also I view these comments and discussions as part of that change. If you read the comment by KKZ in how she learned a lot here then you’ll know what I mean, she adapted her way slightly and I believe the discussions she has are less volatile. I myself adapted mine, and try to get others to adapt their’s and I think that’s part of how to bring about that change. A good example would be talking about male abuse without mentioning women get it worse, that stops an entire line of arguing.

        Part of the way I look at life is to try avoid thinking I am right, and to keep an evolving view of the world. My opinions are just that, opinions, my position could be hella wrong, or someone else’s position might be different to mine and we’re both right in our own way. I don’t like seeing others as wrong, I try to view them as having a different experience. The other part of my compassion was help from a counselor who taught me the power of empathy, made me realize it’s not a shameful thing to have but it’s actually quite powerful. And to be a man and let that empathy grow, to realize mine and others emotions and why we feel the way we do is something that is pretty rare in men, especially to do so openly. I just hope more men and women can learn to nurture and grow their empathy.

        So folks, how do we solve these issues?

  14. I don’t think you understood your feminist friend.

    Were the men in the AA group worried about being sexually attracted to and blindly covering up their emotional pain through sex with the other men in that group? If the sexual attraction has nothing to do with the women’s-only groups and the men’s-only groups, why even put those statements side-by-side if fear of attraction has nothing to do with it? Would a gay man maybe have liked to be in a group with other women? If he needed that for recovery, could he then not become a courageous good man among those women? How is sex not involved if men help men and women help women and falling in love is not going to get you sober and there’s an implicit heterosexuality there that yes, does point to women and men making each other equal sex objects in that scenario.

    Also, I don’t think the word “honest” here meant “lying” as an opposite, more like actually having the conversation at all. To say that the crux of the issue is, “This idea that just because men want to have a discussion about manhood on their own terms that they are lying to women about it. ” is the worst sort of militant feminism – and it’s coming out of your mouth, not hers. Having an honest conversation. Doesn’t that mean, in the colloquial sense, having a deep intellectual thoughtful challenging conversation – honest like honest hard work, not honest like not lying? We want to know what masculinity is, and why it’s like that. Why can only “men” talk about that? What about lesbians, trans people, male feminists, and genderqueers? What about everyone who doesn’t have a “male voice” as easily as a biologically male male-identified inmate at Sing Sing? Like it or not, the definitions of manhood, masculinity, and “man” are confusing for everyone, and everyone is gonna want to talk about it.

  15. I’m late to the party and have admittedly only skimmed the comments, but this article brings a possibly contentious Tyler Durden quote to mind. “We are a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is the answer we need.”

    It seems that most of the comment threads at GMP on posts such as this one invariably feature an incarnation of the same flawed paradigm: masculinity is something to be contended with/explained/fixed. That is, prejudice bifurcates men into the enlightened and the unenlightened. Given the inherent flaws with that dichotomy, why must the conversation so often revolve around it?

    For those who grew up with more traditional fathers and grandfathers, were they one-dimensional automatons who ignored women and sought to oppress them? Were they instead complex individuals, just as are modern individuals, who simply just weren’t caught up in constructs and defining masculinity from a female perspective? In other words, they could go to a blue collar job in the morning and then change a diaper and take the kids to the pool in the afternoon without worrying about whether or not they were perpetuating stereotypes. Somewhere along the way, though, we as a society collectively decided, for whatever asinine reason, that men had to be one or the other. It’s all about nurture, nature be damned.

    Maybe both instincts are at play and men and women are different. Maybe the truth is a Venn diagram with its concomitant overlap. Accepting both those differences and the overlap is a healthier way to approach the conversation than to categorize men and women into a homogenous mass separated only by our bits and pieces. Otherwise, shouldn’t it be the Good Human Project rather than the Good Men Project?

  16. DeLani Bartlette says:

    Boy, the comments are off to the races! I’d just like to comment on the original article, the author’s statement that being a good man is not a feminist issue.
    First, I respect your right to define your motivations for yourself. So, for you, and I’m sure for many men, being a good man is not about gender equality. OK.
    But, from my perspective, as a feminist, a wife, and a mother of a son, the act of being a good man *is* a feminist issue. Too many different interpretations of how we should achieve gender equality have muddied the waters on the topic of what feminism is. At its core, it is simply the belief that *men and women should be treated equally in all aspects of life.* That necessarily means men should be allowed to explore and express all parts of their identities and interests, even those not acceptably “manly” enough for our patriarchal culture. Examples include caring for children, being honest about one’s feelings, showing compassion, etc.
    It helps to keep in mind the straightjacket of “manly” (or “not gay!”) is one half of the equation that is designed to keep men and women separate and unequal. We as human beings must break down both halves, and I commend GMP for working on their end, even if they don’t claim to be doing it for both of us.

    • Mark Neil says:

      “First, I respect your right to define your motivations for yourself. So, for you, and I’m sure for many men, being a good man is not about gender equality. OK.”

      Another example of the feminist monopolization of equality belief. Why is it, being a man and rejecting feminism means, for him, and many other men, being good is NOT about gender equality? Are you saying that he isn’t allowed to see being a good man as including gender equality? Or isn’t capable? Why?

      “designed to keep men and women separate and unequal.”

      Separate I can see. I don’t see where “unequal” comes from, unless you presume that, to be manly is to be oppressive. This is a concept I, and many men (and women), choose to reject. As such, you’re going to need to defend this position better than just claiming it to be true and expecting it to be accepted.

      • DeLani Bartlette says:

        Mark, I don’t think you understood what I was saying. Your words: “Why is it, being a man and rejecting feminism means, for him, and many other men, being good is NOT about gender equality? Are you saying that he isn’t allowed to see being a good man as including gender equality? Or isn’t capable? Why?”
        Ok, first, if you “reject feminism,” than you are saying you do not believe in gender equality. That’s what feminism means. And I’m not accusing anyone of saying that!
        I am NOT saying that “he isn’t allowed to see being a good man as including gender equality.” I have no idea where you would get that from my comment. I was saying the exact opposite: that by being a good man and rejecting all the labels/boxes/etc. that society tries to force on men, that he is advancing gender equality, whether he intends to or not! I don’t know how I could have been clearer.
        RE: “separate and unequal”: See all of Western History.

        • Mark Neil says:

          “Ok, first, if you “reject feminism,” than you are saying you do not believe in gender equality.”

          Wrong. Feminism is an ideology that contains a great many theories and belief structures. One can reject many of these theories and belief structure while still maintaining a belief in equality. To believe feminism maintains a monopoly on egalitarian thought is both arrogant and dangerous, as it sets up a position of moral authority without the ability to question that authority. There are many examples of large feminist organizations working against the idea of equality (generally, NOW vs fathers rights being the easiest to show. Or SFU women’s centre vs the “idea” of a men’s centre). To set these organizations up as the paragons and sole arbiters of equality is to actually deny it. This is why I told Lisa above that this concept of equality and feminism being synonymous is dangerous and harmful to men. Because it forces those who actually want equality, but do not agree with the tenets of feminism (IE patriarchy or male privilege theories, among others), to ether conform to feminist belief or be attacked and/or shamed as in opposition to true equality, as you are doing here. But you do NOT have a monopoly on egalitarian thought, and I do not accept your premise that rejecting feminism equals rejecting equality. They are not synonymous. Make an argument that does not rely upon that belief.

          “That’s what feminism means”

          I doubt Dworkin, McKinnon, Valenti, Kellette and a number of others would agree (privately, though it is convenient for silencing opposition to suggest as much publicly). Feminism is about female empowerment. Nothing more. Nothing less. The opinions of an individual feminist regarding how far to take that empowerment, or whether men are entitled to it as well, varies depending on the feminist. But the ONLY thing that is consistent amongst all feminists is a desire for female empowerment.

          “I am NOT saying that “he isn’t allowed to see being a good man as including gender equality.””

          But in order to do so, he must accept and embrace feminism, correct? You said as much above.

          “RE: “separate and unequal”: See all of Western History.”

          I wasn’t aware we stilled lived in all of western history. That said, even when I do look at human history, I fail to see “manly” as equating to making women unequal, as you asserted. Of course, I don’t look through the gynocentric victim lens of some feminist theoriests, hence why I reject feminism. That isn’t to deny men and women were treated differently, even unqually, but was it due to men being manly? Was it due to anything related to being men? You’ll find a few feminists here who likewise reject this blame game.

          • I’m confused why you admit at the start of your post that there are many kinds of feminisms (” a great many theories and belief structures”), but then slide back into referring to “the tenets of feminism,” singular, and “feminist belief,” singular.

            I’m troubled by atheists who have told me, “I oppose the beliefs of Christians,” because I have no idea what brand of Christianity they’re talking about. What if their qualms are completely removed from how I live my Christian life?

            I agree with you that no two feminisms are alike. And no two feminists, either. But then why reject all of of feminism based on “the gynocentric victim lens of some feminist theorists?” Would you reject Civil Rights based on the militant back-to-Africa lens of some Civil Rights theorists? Would you reject gay rights based on the everybody-is-a-little-bit-gay lens of some sexuality theorists? Even though I believe that most of what Freud has to say is painfully insane, I can see how his research holds merit in the place it was conceived, given the sociological factors which led his concerns while researching, and as it was shaped the actions of his patients and their environments. I don’t “reject” him. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I realize that there are a lot of other psychologists out there, and they’re all interested in the brain.

            It’s true that a lot of blaming goes along with Second Wave feminism. And it’s true that a lot of Second Wave feminists exist in the world. But it’s also true that a lot of us Third Wave feminists, male, female, gay, pan, trans, cis, queer, straight, undecided, are trying to get into the world now and be heard. We’ve been taught that manhood and masculinity *are* feminist issues, gay rights and trans rights *are* feminist issues. But more often than not, we’re the ones insisting on this, and our professors go along with it and learn from us too.

            I recognize that I depend on the hard work of far more brilliant minds that have come before me, many generations back. It’s up to me to sift through their theories and try to find some element of what might be “true” – but this is an ongoing process, and I’m a feminist, and I’m reshaping feminism by pulling apart and re-arranging all the other feminisms. I don’t see any benefit to reading three, four, five people who happen to agree, taking that as my divining rod of truthiness for all of an issue.

            You have no idea how much I’ve learned about Republicans by actually asking my Republican friends what they believe in and why . But if I stuck with Fox News, I’d be “rejecting Republicanism” as fast as a lamp switching off. I hope you don’t take this to be some rallying call to “convert” to feminism. For many women, even, gender equality means rejecting the word feminist, and the long history of man-shaming and in-your-face political activism that comes with it. And that’s fine. But, just like I’d speak up if you called all Christians anti-gay bigots, I’m going to speak up if you define all of feminism solely by the “gynocentric victims.” Thanks for reading this through.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “I’m confused why you admit at the start of your post that there are many kinds of feminisms (” a great many theories and belief structures”), but then slide back into referring to “the tenets of feminism,” singular, and “feminist belief,” singular.”

              Because there are some belief systems and theories that are consistent throughout most/all forms of feminism. I do not accept the patriarchy and male privilege theories as outlined by many feminists. I think kyrarchy theory has its flaws and it’s injections of negative motive onto men/masculinity, but it is far closer than patriarchy. but many feminists still embrace patriarchy. There are many forms of feminisms, but a consistency I find amongst virtually all feminists, and that includes the good one, is the injection of negative motive to explain what is not understood. Men were deemed head of the household… why? well, we could look back throughout the development of society to see if there are biological and sociological reasons, or we could just say men oppressed women in order to exert their need to dominate and control. Why did men give their seats on the life rafts during the titanic disaster? Because men thought women were inferior and needed to be given special treatment.

              “But then why reject all of of feminism”

              Because there are beliefs and theories consistent through many, far too many, that I will not accept. Of the very few that remains, I choose not to identify as because I refuse to give voice to those that I disagree with. So long as I claim to be a feminist, the bigots in NOW can lay claim to that voice and use it against me (if you need to me to elaborate, let me know).

              “Would you reject Civil Rights based on the militant back-to-Africa lens of some Civil Rights theorists?”

              And here you make the very mistake I was addressing with DeLani. The correct analogy is, would I reject the black panther movement based on the militant actions of some members of the black panther movement. Yes, I would. But what your analogy does is, once again, equate feminism and equal rights as synonymous. They are not. I do not need to reject equality just because I reject how many feminisms wishes to attain it and/or define it.

              “Third Wave feminists, male, female, gay, pan, trans, cis, queer, straight, undecided, are trying to get into the world now and be heard.”

              And you’re welcome to do that. I won’t get in your way. But I will not support you ether. When you have ousted the bigots from the movement and reworked many of the theories to be less blaming of males and hold women more accountable, then I may reconsider. I don’t see that happening, except in very few places (I’ve mentioned iFeminism on a number of occasions as a feminism I do encourage, but I still will not join them. Those who wish to identify as feminists, I encourage seeking them out, but I will not become a feminist, until feminism is not a hostile word to me.)

              “We’ve been taught that manhood and masculinity *are* feminist issues”

              Yes. And who taught us that? Feminism. Many of which deem masculinity toxic and dangerous. You don’t see the self-serving tendency of claiming masculinity is a feminist issue, and then defining it in a way that better serves women, not men? Seriously, go to Simon Fraser University’s women center, and look up their male ally’s project. Read their poster and what is important about men that need addressing (hint: it involves how they treat women… ONLY). So long as so many feminisms are attempting to redefine men for women’s benefit, without regard to men themselves, they cannot be trusted. And the difficulty in identifying who is what type of feminist, without some effort, makes masculinity a men’s issue, outside of feminism. iFeminism understands this and so encourages a men’s movement.

              “gay rights and trans rights *are* feminist issues”

              You checked out NOW’s “important issues” page recently? Lesbian issues are of importance, but the rest of the GBT was left to fend for themselves. You should be fully aware of how trans women are rejected.

              “I’m going to speak up if you define all of feminism solely by the “gynocentric victims.”

              My apologies for the misunderstanding. Some of us here have had this discussion before, and I sometimes forget to take it into account. When I (and many others, I think we found this to be often men) say “feminism is like XYZ”, I am talking generalities. As a generalization, there is always room for exception. As such, I never actually mean “ALL”. All is an absolute that should be reserved for specific things, and generally speaking, very few things are so absolute as to require the qualifier “all”. If I meant “ALL”, I would say “all”. (notice the only time I’ve actually used all is 1: during a quote that uses it. 2: in my definition of what applies to all feminists, and in that, I do mean all. I don’t believe that was one of the statements you challenged ether. Just as an indication.).

              As to my specific definition of feminism, I actually believe I didn’t define it based on the gynocentric victims. But I do feel the definition of feminism must include them, and being for “equality” does not do that. Likewise, I do not believe feminism is about man hating, because there are feminists like Hoff Somers, Lisa and Julie (from here) and iFeminism that clearly don’t hate men, and so it again does not apply to all feminists. Being about female empowerment is consistent throughout all feminisms I’ve witnessed (to varying degrees and opinions on that empowerments relation to men). It is neither malevolent nor benevolent and is simply what its follower chooses to make of it. Far too often, it’s something ugly, in my experience, but I do not deny the good, I just reject is as necessary for equality.

            • To clarify: I am not contributing to the discussion on equality. I have nothing to say on whether feminism should or should be equal. But here I’d really like to talk a little more about why the way you’re talking about this makes it impossible for me to feel like we’re having a conversation.

              “Many feminists,” “NOW,” and “Simon Fraser University’s women center” do not my feminism make. And yet because these are the feminisms you’ve encountered, you’ve concluded that it’s all right to use the shorthand “feminism,” (not even “much of feminism,” or even more accurately, “the feminisms that I’ve encountered”) to base all of your examples off of. Maybe this is a product of the fact that we don’t have the same experiences and so we can’t use the same language. But I’m listening to you. I’m agreeing that in many feminisms, trans women aren’t accepted. That femmes aren’t accepted! That men aren’t even acknowledged, or if they’re are, it’s just to blame them. I’m listening and being educated by you about how the painful and often frustrating things that you find in those feminisms have made you think that it’s okay to generalize all of feminism into those things.

              But you’re not doing the same for me. You’re getting defensive about your right to generalize an extremely complicated dialogue into shorthand. “Feminism.” By which you mean NOW, I guess. I take this to mean that you don’t want to see the ground I’m standing on. It’s not NOW’s ground. And there are a lot of other people standing with me.

              I don’t know how to have a conversation with someone who can’t prove they’re listening. I’m not good at soap-box standing. But I can recommend some reading, and maybe the next time we talk we can have some common language. I’ve already started to look into the links you’ve provided, to NOW and the theorists you mentioned a few posts ago. Thank you for that, I’m learning a lot. Hopefully this way I can see where you’re coming from. My suggested reading list would be: Kate Bornstein, Audre Lorde, Chris Beasley, and Talal Asad.

              I don’t know what to say, other than, I hear you saying that it’s helpful for you to generalize. But your generalizations are still as offensive to me as if someone argued to you, “I might be using the word “men” only to refer to manly blokes who can press 500 pounds, but that’s because that’s all manhood has ever meant to me… and I don’t think wrestling is civilized, so I reject the idea of men.” That, exactly that broken logic chain, is what I hear, when I read you throwing NOW in my face, when I’ve been trying to tell you that it is completely legitimate for me, myself, my feminism and thus a feminism that it is lax to ignore in your generalizations of “feminism,” to call feminism a trans issue.

              I’m trying to let you know that your generalization of feminism is not helpful for anybody, and the feminisms you’ve chosen to reduce your shorthand to are even argued vehemently against by many of the feminists who will be leading the politics of tomorrow. Is it un-internet of me to ask: please listen and acknowledge?

            • Mark Neil says:

              I’ll finish responding to the remainder of your post when you answer these two questions:

              1: What is feminism. In particular, what is feminism to you.

              2: Why have you focused on my use of feminism despite the similarly monolithic not-monolithic use by other posters. Why is DeLani’s use of feminism to mean ” At its core, it is simply the belief that *men and women should be treated equally in all aspects of life*”?

            • DeLani Bartlette says:

              Wow. I am stunned that it has gotten to the point where simply stating that, despite all the different forms and schools of thought within feminism, the idea of feminism is that men and women should be treated equally, that this statement has become controversial. I had no idea that the divisiveness around feminism had gotten this bad.
              It’s obvious we can’t have any kind of conversation if we can’t even agree on our terms. Since my opinion isn’t welcome anyway, I’m bowing out.

            • The Blurpo says:

              I dont think somebody is attacking feminism as a personal philosofy, but most of the attacks are against the political and accademic arm of feminism (witch to me at least they are similar to the “good old” politburo from soviet times). The political branche (NOW Vawa ect) who goes strictly against equality and the breaking gender roles; and the accademic who borders on biggotism (male privilege, scroedinger rapist ect). Personally? I think a internal debate in feminism is necessary. Necessary to figure out how and why’s the movement has lost it course and what to do with the politicans (who rappresent the movement) and the accademics (who rappresent the ideological mind).
              But it has to come from feminist and feminist alone. it has be a internal debate, MRA’s and everybody else have no role in this.

              The basic tenets of the movement are one thing, how it is used is another.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “where simply stating that, despite all the different forms and schools of thought within feminism, the idea of feminism is that men and women should be treated equally, that this statement has become controversial. ”

              The controversy stems for the significant visible representatives of the feminist movement, and many of the internet variety, do not conform to that idea of feminism, but in fact, work against it. How can a movement “be about” something a great segment of it actually works against?

              The fact you’d rather claim the victim and leave is disappointing, but not unsurprising..

            • David Byron says:

              Well it’s not hard to show your opinion is false (or at least it wouldn’t be if you stuck around to read responses). You just have to look at some of the most representative work of the movement (in the US) and there’s a lot of sexism in it. Lobbying for anti-male laws for example. Not by “extremists” alone but broadly across the board.

    • DeLani, do you support financial abortion options for men? Just curious.

    • David Byron says:

      You are conflating feminism and gender equality. I’d say they were opposites. At any rate they are not the same thing.

    • Radically Feminine says:

      “That necessarily means men should be allowed to explore and express all parts of their identities and interests, even those not acceptably “manly” enough for our patriarchal culture. Examples include caring for children, being honest about one’s feelings, showing compassion, etc.”

      I agree. And it also means that men should be allowed to explore and express all parts of their identities and interests, even those not acceptably sensitive enough for our feminist culture.

  17. DeLani:
    Ok, first, if you “reject feminism,” than you are saying you do not believe in gender equality. That’s what feminism means. And I’m not accusing anyone of saying that!
    I can believe you don’t mean to accuse anyone of saying this however….

    How does that follow in the first place? How can it be said that someone that rejects feminism does not believe in gender equality? Did feminism somehow get the corner on the gender equality discourse to the point that if it one does not identify with it then they must be against gender equality?

    This is the type of association that turns people away from it. The presumption that feminism is synonymous to gender equality to the point that leaps of logic like that can be made.

    It is perfectly possible for someone to not embrace feminism (or not ID as feminist) and be all for gender equality.

    This is exactly where the road starts that leads to remarks like “If you’re not a feminist then you’re a bigot.”

    (But then people get their undergarments all in a bunch wondering why people are turned off from it….)

  18. All these -isms certainly seem to promote fruitful dialog and harmony. Maybe we need more. An ism for everyone! For example, I will be a Ulyssesist.

  19. @ Julie …. Sorry I didn’t respond to the following sooner. You said “Do you see any correlation between jobs and stagnant rates of pay, credit card culture, laws that allow for interest rates to hike on cards, etc influencing the ability for one person to stay at home? Given the salaries my husband and I both have, and given rents and home costs, food costs and bills, both people need to work. I agree that if men can’t get good employment that causes a piece of the system to move towards both people working, but I think there are more influencers then that. If hope costs are skyrocketing and rates of pay are not…then it takes two salaries to buy the house etc…Or it means that the couple has to make a choice to live at a much lower standard then expected with one car, small house or apartment, no cell phones etc in order to have one person at home. I see this as a complex ball of dynamics of which but feminism may be one piece, not the whole shebang. There have been wildly divisive economic decisions since the 70′s that have changed the playing field for all of us.”

    Before I forget, one of those economic changes was that if there was a daddy in the house, you can forget about getting welfare. Bye bye daddy.
    Yes, there are many dynamics to the situation we’re currently in and I agree that feminism is just one part of it. But I have to wonder what part did it play. Feminism laid a path, some years ago, that business career for women became a focus. But there was little interest in balancing it out with being a mom. There was a feminist that said something that made a lot of sense (yes, Tom B is acknowledging a feminist) and it was that the feminist movement back then was not to force women or better yet, expect women to do everything. It was to allow women who chose a career to have equal footing but it was not intended that women do both. Back then there was a lot of concerns as to how kids would be affected. They would be losing their moms to careers. Guess what? That’s exactly what happen. It was as though the kids were on the back burner.

    So here you are (not you personally but a generic you). Hubby works and is paid well, wifey has a good job that pays well and they have the life style to show for it. But what about the kids? What happens when the two of them want kids or have kids? Give up all that income, the prestige that goes with the “titles” in their career? Pfffft, heck no, send the kids to day care?

    Looking at the different dynamics, can you tell me why men are losing interest in marriage, kids, careers and education? Is there a common thread to all that influenced the situation we’re in?

  20. OK. So here are a bunch of important prominent women’s voices from the first half of the 20th century. But these women’s voices have been left out of the dialogue by the cultural marxists (“gender” feminists). Marxism, broadly speaking, is about theories of social control, social engineering with the notion that at the end of the road there is utopia. Most women reject these authoritarian philosophies and many women have made great sacrifices to fight against democidal utopian regimes.
    “A Woman’s Voice”: http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2012/06/womans-voice.html

  21. @Robert … thank you for posting the link …. wow

  22. Feminist Historians would prefer we not know about all the great, independent and empowered women that existed while Patriarchy reigned supreme and kept women “bare foot and pregnant in the kitchen.” Most of these women rejected feminism wholesale because they saw no need for “women’s rights”. They were too busy being innovative and productive members of society to complain about “male oppression”. Historical facts of the day defies the Feminist Narrative that women were nothing more than “slaves” to men.

    There have always been great women free to do whatever they pleased, and no one tried to hold them back. On the contrary they were encouraged to succeed. The Feminist accounts of female oppression and discrimination from the past is nothing more than propaganda/talking points.

  23. David Byron says:

    Um.. communism is the exact opposite of authoritarian. Communism is branded as bad by capitalist governments because of the threat of a bad example. It’s kind of like the word “terrorist”. It’s just used to mean “people we disagree with” by capitalist governments. Authoritarianism is associated with the right, not the left.

  24. Agreed. I’m absolutely shocked by the number of people who seem to think that women were forbidden to read, couldn’t have a job, have money, or own anything until around 1930 or so.

    It’s rather scary actually.

  25. When people defer to the oppression of women of the past, they are frequently talking about expectations and roles. This is an example that’s hard not to laugh at now: http://www.retronaut.co/2011/10/tips-for-single-women-1938/

    Prior to Title IX, it was acceptable to exclude women from school sports. Prior to the 1920s, we were not legally allowed to vote, meaning we were excluded from participating in decision making about the country we live in. I agree that some of the things people say about the way things were are not true, you’re right about that, but some of it was really the way things were.

  26. On the other hand, I *have* seen people discussing gender issues online say everything was so much better “before feminism”, when men were real men and women didn’t work (!) Yes, it’s scary.

  27. poester99 says:

    When were all men allowed to vote?
    Wasn’t it only about 5-10 years before? and due to an overwhelming tide of suffrage demands by millions of veterans returning home after ww1?

  28. Kacey,
    While women were fighting for the right to vote, men too young to vote were having their guts shot out in a war they didn’t understand, but were socialized to perform to protect the freedom of total strangers.

    In WWI a general in UK thought up the white feather campaign in which women were instructed to present a white feather to men in civilian clothes as a sign of shame for not fighting. This campaign was very successful. Many thousands of men thought the opinion of a stranger women was so important that they were willing to risk death and injury. The fact of the matter women had power to shape the culture whether they had the vote or not.

    My problem is that the theory of “male privilege” washes out relevant history which is overbriming with tales of male disposability (in other words both sexes were objectified, but at least women were treated as treasured objects that shouldn’t be risked in cavalier ways, while men were treated as blunt hammers that could and should be used until broken. When that man was broken with ptsd, injury, or death f*ck it there was a million more where he came from).

    Didn’t women win the right to vote without utilizing the right to vote? Quite frankly I think this voting thing is over-rated. Additionally, if you look back to the first society to vote which was the roman, only the citizens got to vote (mostly rich merchants). And it has been that way (that only a pre-selected group got to vote) until the mid to late 1800’s.

    In other words *all men* did not get the right to vote not very much before *all women* got the right. If you track back from the Roman empire (let’s say 1000 bc) to today and put those years on a 24 hour period (12:01 am to 11:59 pm) *all men* would have received the right to vote at 11:31pm, and women would have received it at 11:45pm.

  29. Here’s the interesting thing about suffrage…from all perspectives…there was never a point in U.S. history where a man wasn’t allowed to vote because he was a man. There was never a time where someone wasn’t allowed to vote because was “white.” Were there periods in our history where white men couldn’t vote? Yup…heck there are white men who are not allowed to vote even today…but the reasons they can’t vote have nothing to do with their gender or ethnicity. That, right there, is the difference.

  30. The interesting thing is though that the majority of the men were not able to vote from what I can understand since they didn’t have enough money/land/whatever. But often people say how women didn’t have the right to vote as IF all men had the right to vote, when there was a time from what I understand that only a few men with power had the right to vote? Is this accurate? If memory serves the right to vote for men as a group came in 10-50years before women?

  31. Heather,
    It’s not much of a gender difference if 80% of men were in the same boat as 100% of women. That’s sort of gender discrimination, but it’s mostly elitism and classism in the same way you keep pointing out to me that 95% of on-the-job deaths being male is more about corporations using people as commodities.

    It works the *other* way to. Since 80% of men could not vote, this is about classism and elitism more than gender. After all, each of the select few men that could vote stacked things towards their family which included many generations of women.

  32. Soullite says:

    No, that, right there, is your excuse for thinking that it’s different. Because you refuse to acknowledge that anything but gender actually matters. Because if you did that, you’d have to admit that gender isn’t nearly the the dividing line of ‘power’ that you like to pretend it is.

  33. Property qualifications disappeared in 1860, or there about, and women got the right to vote in 1920…so more like 60 years between the two.

    But again, that is missing the point. Property qualifications were class-based discrimination. There were also a bunch of laws put into place for the purposes of race-based discrimination.

    Here’s an interesting one: it’s only since 1986 that the law required that overseas military personal be allowed to vote. So were men being discriminated against in that? No, the issue was probably one of technology at first (imagine having someone overseas trying to vote in the 1940s). That same act allowed Puerto Ricans to vote in Presidential elections. So were men in Puerto Rico being discriminated against because they were men up until 1986? No, the issue was how Puerto Rico was viewed (not quite a state) by the U.S. government. That’s an issue of nationality.

    When women weren’t allowed to vote, it was because they were women. Back when you had to own property to vote, well women weren’t owning property anyway…but let’s pretend they did…wouldn’t have mattered, because they couldn’t vote because they were women. Didn’t matter what their ethnicity, nationality, or economic status was. They could not vote because they were women.

  34. poester99 says:

    There were property owning women that had the right to vote in the US *before* all men had the vote.

  35. Heather N:
    “When women weren’t allowed to vote, it was because they were women.”
    Agreed, but the men who were allowed to vote most likely voted in ways that advocated for the women attached to them. This is as much about elitism as anything else.

    I get the sentiment sometimes (not from you but others) that since women didn’t have the right to vote this is like some kind of original sin against men that we should all feel guilty about. But the plain facts is that 80% of men (or more) were in the same boat for the last 3000 years wrt voting.

  36. Can you and heather post a link to info when those property owning women had the right to vote before all men, or the info to show they couldn’t vote anyway? Having trouble finding the info, seems there are hundreds of answers…

  37. I am getting frustrated, so I apologize if my comment is going to sound frustrated. And I totally get that this article isn’t even about voting…but oh my goodness I am the type of person who always needs to reply to stuff (sorry).

    It isn’t about classism more than gender. It isn’t about gender more than classism…or racism, or whatever else-ism. Intersectionality: it was about all of these things, and they were addressed at different times. Even after women got the right to vote, there were still all sorts of laws in the south preventing African-Americans to vote. Does that mean that suffrage was more about racism than it was gender? No…it just means that different discriminations were discussed and examined at different times.

    It is “much of a gender difference,” regardless of how many men were prohibited from voting for reasons besides their gender…because the reason women couldn’t vote was because of their gender. That makes it a gender issue (at the time, and still in places today where women can’t vote). It didn’t matter if a woman was born in the U.S. to parents who were born in the U.S. It didn’t matter if she was one of the wealthiest people in the U.S. and owned acres and acres of land. It didn’t matter if she were considered whiter than the driven snow. She could not vote…because she was a woman. That is discrimination based on gender…that makes it a gender issue. The reason for the limit is what makes it discrimination.

    Take a step back, and when men couldn’t vote unless they owned property…well you could write the same sort of thing that I just did above but focus on the class issue. It didn’t matter if they were white, or natural born citizens, etc…they couldn’t vote because they weren’t landed. That is discrimination based on class…and that’s what made it a class issue.

    And then we can do the same thing for race. You get what I’m saying…intersectionality. It’s not a competition…it’s not about one group being more discriminated against than the other, or something. It’s about how the system (in this case voting system) created artificial barriers that prevented entire social identities and social groups from using that system (in this case voting).

  38. bell hooks’ theory of intersectionality is exactly what the writer is describing in this article. I’m so glad you brought that up. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could also check out Erving Goffman (I believe is his name) and Audre Lorde’s works on social constructionism. Goffman’s the classical social constructionist, Lorde’s the revolutionary.

    In any case, the theory of intersectionality came from hooks’ experience as a black lesbian woman. Because she was black, she had difficulty connecting with and fundamentally being understood by non-blacks. Because she was a woman, she didn’t share the same social and cultural frame of reference as men, and her ability to deeply and meaningfully communicate with them was somewhat limited. Finally, because she was a lesbian, there was an extra wall placed between her and other men. It had nothing to do with physiological differences or sexual preferences: bell hooks simply experienced the world through a very different frame of reference than all but a very small group of the people around her did. Each single disadvantaged status in and of itself was not extremely important, but she was the “intersection” of all of these combined social positions, and the sum effect of those three labels was more powerful than each one individually.

    That’s what we’re talking about here, but in much broader terms. We’re men. We experience the world differently from women. When we watch tv, we notice different things than our significant others, even though they’re sitting right next to us. When we go to the bars, we hold ourselves differently, speak differently, and act differently than women (that’s a really fun one to watch, by the way.) And when we talk about things like feminism and the history of womens’ rights, the connotations of the events are based on our experiences as men. In everything we do there are different cultural scripts and cues for men than women.

    Now, are we more open and honest with other men relating to issues specific to men because we share that space in the hierarchy and therefore innately understand the scripts? Do we do it because we fear the consequences of having these discussions with someone who will almost certainly misunderstand what we are saying and label us as pigs because they don’t share that script? Or do we just not want to spend the time explaining the scripts unique to our separate paths in life because we’re lazy? I don’t know. Ask a psychologist. I’m a sociologist – I don’t get paid enough to deal with that crap.

    All I can tell you is that there are basic differences in how we see and perceive the world based on identity factors we have no control over, like race, gender, sexual preference, body type, etc, and these basic differences hamper quality communication. Sure we might talk about feminist issues or even use feminist perspectives to discuss our own issues from time to time, but it’s in our language, and sorry, but I don’t think Barnes and Nobles carries a translator.

  39. I guess I am just curious after hearing that some female landowners could vote before the majority of men who were not landowners? If elite men and women could vote, but poor men and women couldn’t vote then it wouldn’t be about gender, but I haven’t seen any proof of this.

  40. And then we can do the same thing for race. You get what I’m saying…intersectionality. It’s not a competition…it’s not about one group being more discriminated against than the other, or something. It’s about how the system (in this case voting system) created artificial barriers that prevented entire social identities and social groups from using that system (in this case voting).
    I think the feeling of competition comes in when people see how folks will simultaneously preach about intersectionality but then want to surgically separate characteristics and isolate them from an issue when it suits them.

    Like when I’ve been told that the fat shaming I’ve faced in my day had nothing to do with my gender. Yeah apparently being a man has nothing to do with the fat shaming and body image issues that come with it. Nope when it happens to men it’s all about the fat but when it happens to women THEN it’s about fat and gender.

  41. Couple of things…first, I am familiar with bell hooks. Second, I pointed out that my discussion was focused on the ways in which what was being said about suffrage was just inaccurate. It wasn’t about perceiving it somewhat differently based on different social identities…it was about getting the information wrong.

    Also, the way you’re treating intersectionality is as if the different perspectives people have means that their discussion of issues is so totally separate that they can’t cross-over. I am white, and therefore my perception of ethnicity issues will be different than someone who is African-American, certainly. But that doesn’t mean that my discussions of ethnicity use a different language than an African-American’s discussions of ethnicity.

    And the way you’re treating gender is as if there is a single male perspective…or a single way that men will speak about men’s issues. (At least that’s how I read your final paragraph)…and that’s just not the case. Straight European men may talk about men’s issues differently than gay Asian men, or whatever. Again…intersectionality. :)

    You’re talking about gender differences and how social identities separate people into groups and thus colour their perceptions and perspectives as if that’s just the way it is and that’s the paradigm we’ve got to work with. I take it a step further, and suggest that perhaps a lot of those social divisions are part of the problem. Instead of creating separate spaces for men and women (which ends up reinforcing the idea that men and women are separate in the first place), if we create much more unifying spaces then perhaps we can stop thinking of men and women as such distinct and separate groups.

  42. Yeah, I wasn’t even going to touch the voting thing. I don’t remember how that even got started, since it’s kind of irrelevant for this discussion. I mean, congrats! You can vote for one of two corporate handpuppets now, same as us! In any case, my interest is in today, not in the injustices of generations ago, and I’m pretty sure that women’s suffrage isn’t a major concern in our society today.

    I understand that there are multiple male perspectives, which is why I frequently have difficulty relating as closely to some of the people who post on this website who are black. One article in specific sticks out in my mind… Something to do with getting screwed by the courts. Can’t remember what it’s called. In any case, I agree that there are different takes on the same issues. My point isn’t that there’s a single male perspective, only that male perspective(s) exist separately from female ones, and especially separately from modern feminist ones.

    I believe that that unified space you’re describing is pretty much the utopian dream of almost every social theorist. The problem is how to get there. For instance, I was discussing this very issue (the effects of feminist scholarship) with my girlfriend two weeks ago, and try as we both might we just couldn’t agree. We weren’t speaking the same language. I mean, we’re both all for equality of the sexes and bringing new perspectives into approaches to gaining and processing information, so it shouldn’t have been a big deal, right? Well, yes and no. We both agreed to the same basic principles, but we communicated our points so differently and focused on such different things that by the end of the night each thought the other was crazy.

    So. I guess you’re right. In my experience anyway, there is frequently a lot of common ground that we share just as humans, but the way we walk through life as men compared to women is just SO different. I’d love to see a perfect, universally understood language with indisputable meanings. I’d love to see a level of empathy in humanity that would allow everyone to simply envision themselves in whoever they’re talking to’s shoes and understand how life has influenced them. I’d love to see those cultural boundaries and social scripts dismantled. But I don’t think it’s possible. And, until then, I personally at least feel a lot more comfortable discussing stuff that’s close to my heart with the people who won’t have to stretch quite so far to understand where I’m coming from. Otherwise, that unified space just becomes a lot of loud noises and hot air (again, in my experience).

  43. Good try, but you’re never going to convince some guys that men are not a. radically, essentially different from women and b. pretty much all alike. Maintaining otherwise just fatally undermines their concept of “men.”

  44. “But the plain facts is that 80% of men (or more) were in the same boat for the last 3000 years wrt voting.”

    Um…the U.S. is just a bit over 230 years old…so no, you can’t talk about voting over the past 3000 years. Did you mean 300?

    And again, no…not in the same boat. If you’re only looking at the results and not the causes and reasons for different social problems, you’re only getting part of the picture.

  45. I was referring to all the way back to the first civ that (as far as I know) started voting: the Romans.

  46. “Agreed, but the men who were allowed to vote most likely voted in ways that advocated for the women attached to them. This is as much about elitism as anything else.”

    Right, even if that were the case, being treated like a child who needs a man to look after her is NOT elitism. For crying out loud!

    Secondly, that isn’t even true. That was part of the problem. Men weren’t voting for women’s issues…they were voting for what they thought was best for the women in their lives. It was like “oh hey honey, I know you can’t vote, but please tell me what policies I should advocate for.” It was “hey honey, I know that you’re an intellectually inferior person because you can’t help that being a woman makes you emotional, so here I’ll vote for things that I think you need.”

    That is elitism…on the part of the men assuming they knew what’s best for the women in their lives.

  47. “My point isn’t that there’s a single male perspective, only that male perspective(s) exist separately from female ones, and especially separately from modern feminist ones.”

    Ah but…what of male feminists? Male feminist perspectives are still male perspectives…and often male perspectives about what it means to be a man.

    As for the rest of your comment, I get what you’re saying. I do. But I’m a stubborn goat and someone who generally refuses to take society at face value. I would rather strain to understand other people’s perspectives than surround myself with people who come from the same place I do (which is partly why I’m here in the first place). And I’d rather strain to have other people understand my perspective who might not otherwise, rather than just tell people my story who already agree with me.

    And for the times that I do want to talk to people who don’t have to stretch to understand my perspective…well that’s when I talk to my personal friends about things. I’ve friends who challenge me and my ideas too, don’t get me wrong. But part of the point of my personal friends is that even when we come from different places, if I were to talk about something that I just need support on, we set aside our different perspectives and just provide support for each other.

  48. That’d be the Greeks…and I don’t know exactly when the Greeks first started voting. (Well, I say the Greeks…as far as I know it was only Athens that did it). And technically that’s only the first recorded democracy we’ve got. Theoretically some prehistoric cultures could have worked on more of a consensus-based system rather than a purely hierarchical-based system.

    But anyway…you can’t draw those sorts of lines through history.

  49. Mark Neil says:

    ” I know that you’re an intellectually inferior person because you can’t help that being a woman makes you emotional,”

    Injection of motive onto men, a motive you can not be certain of, a hostile motive towards women, in order to justify your position.

  50. Heather,
    “That is elitism…on the part of the men assuming they knew what’s best for the women in their lives.”
    Again elitist men might have had privileges handed to them, but the average man *purchased* his greater role in the household with much less systemic expectation of protection outside of it.

    Lyaing all the blame on men is where we part ways (I think). The difference is that women were also at fault for creating the environment that existed.

    You assume that women wanted the same rights as men to risk life and limb. The situation advantaged women in *different*, but equally enormous ways. Which would you rather have: a life of (possible) distinction and high regard if you make it through the 1% versus 99% crap shoot (or a life of misery and great likelihood of injury or death if you fail) of the role number 1, or the life that says you will be the first to be protected and last to die of role number 2, but with much less say *in public* (as if women didn’t have any ability to persuade men on what to do)?

    Women had a prominent (if not equal) role in the culture and the laws. And if the laws said women had less say so, the culture gave them much greater systemic levels of protection from all human harm.

    My argument is this: to summarily say women’s roles were *worse* or to say that women were summarily subjugated by a culture *only* created by men is simply not true and ignores an equally hellish existence of the vast majority of men.

  51. No. That’s an assessment of the cultural narrative at the time. It was “common sense” that women were emotional and men were intellectual. It was “common sense” that women needed to be protected from public life and politics. I don’t think men were being mean or hostile…I think that anyone who accepted that narrative (men and women) were just following the “common sense” of the time.

    But that doesn’t make that “common sense” any less discriminatory.

  52. “common sense” changes with the culture. It used to be believed, wasn’t it in the middle ages? that women were insatiable lustbeasts and men weren’t. Believing that women were childlike was of the time. The men weren’t being mean, in fact, “protecting” them was part of the kindliness of the common sense at the time.

  53. John, I did not say that it’s all men’s fault. I said that the cultural narrative of the time…the “common sense” of the time, suggested that men were rational and that women weren’t. Women bought into this narrative too….heck there are still men and women out there who buy into this narrative. That narrative also said that men needed to protect women from public life & politics…men and women BOTH bought into and created this narrative.

    But just because women also bought into this narrative, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a form of elitism and discrimination. It was a cultural narrative and a political system that discriminated against women and forced them to stay on the fringes of that political system all because of their gender.

    Women did have an important role in western culture during the late 1800s, and early 1900s (when women’s suffrage was kicking off). But that role was less valued than men’s roles, and it was restricted to what was considered the “private” sphere in many ways. Women did not have a prominent role in creating laws. Women had no role in creating laws until they started to vote and run for public office.

    As for the idea that women were better protected from human harm prior to gaining the right to vote (and other feminist advances)…well that’s inaccurate too. Anti-abortion laws actually do not protect women…they make women who seek abortions more likely to die from complications (as their abortions aren’t necessarily performed by actual doctors in sanitary conditions). Women were unable to be in control of their finances or even have custody of their children if there was a divorce. For a woman to get a divorce back in the day was to risk being unable to see her children at all and possibly end up destitute. Which brings us to domestic violence…in which silence on the issue was considered better than bringing it up. For one thing, bringing it up could result in divorce and financial ruin. For another, there was something of a cultural narrative that suggested men could hit their wives. How about the narrative that women should cover up because not doing so was inviting sexual assault (that’s still an issue we’re dealing with today).

    No, treating women like emotional, children that need protection actually doesn’t make women safer.

  54. Women weren’t sent to war or mines, no. But they had no real control over reproduction, abuse, or gaining an education. There is an intersection of gender and class that meant many people were treated badly (men and women alike).

    Being treated like a child isn’t any better morally than being disposed of in wars or mines for the rich, and some could question physically. It places value on the elite overall and takes away agency from both.

    I’d rather both genders have access to education, work, bodily autonomy, and a basic ability to have a voice in the political sphere. I’d say the biggest issue we face today has less to do with gender and more with class and a corporate culture that turns most of us into drones.

  55. Heather N writes:
    “For another, there was something of a cultural narrative that suggested men could hit their wives.”

    I’ve heard this before, and I don’t think that is accurate at all.

    There is a *presumption* that this was so because wives didn’t have special protections. The absence of anti-wifebeating laws is *not* proof of wide-spread wifebeating anymore than the lack of instant notification of missing children laws proves that millions of mothers are refraining from reporting missing children 30 or 60days later (aka the Casey Anthony case).

    I think it is unlikely that this was the view. Lack of laws is not substantiation of that claim. I mean after all, if women were treated like children, people get real pissed when you strike a child. You’re talking about a time period where men dueled with pistols to defend a dishonored woman, and women had reserved seating on lifeboats.

    It is entirely a more logical conclusion that wives didn’t have special protections because wife beating was so *rare* (as in my analogy to the Casey Anthony case. Missing Child reporting laws are *not* necessary because women like Casey Anthony who waited 60 days to report a missing child are extremely rare).

    If you look to countries still mired in very patriarchal cultures, you will see that harm of women is seen as cowardly and deserving of being beaten.

    Look at the video from India on youtube titled “how can she slap”.

    Lastly, the wife could always seek help or justice in the form of common assault laws.

  56. Well, many women of wealthy classes were taught, and in the late 1800’s coeducational education at higher levels was more common. That’s the intersection of class again.

  57. Julie,
    I agree 100%. You state everything in lock-step with what I am trying to say. My point is that a lot of feminists don’t seem to (excluding most feminists here) want to flip the “gender issues” cassette over and play side B that talks about male disposability and lack of agency.

    I’m not arguing that men’s oppression was any worse, I’m just saying I hate it when it’s minimized or dismissed (which it seems is a societal drive).

    It happens nearly in every forum I go into from every1 from every political perspective on youtube, usatoday and quite often when I visit feminist pages too.

    Once again, thank you for not minimizing male pain and advocating for equality. Thanks to you Heather for the same. I know I probably say that far too little.

  58. Mark Neil says:

    “Being treated like a child isn’t any better morally than being disposed of in wars or mines for the rich, and some could question physically. It places value on the elite overall and takes away agency from both.”

    And how much feminist theory acknowledges that? You know, as opposed to telling us how bad women had it and how privileged men were? The point is, the truth is more balanced (not fully, but much much closer to it) than feminist theory acknowledges. And the one sidedness of that theory has been damaging to men, and continues to be, both in the marginalization of men’s historical disposability, as well as the continued one sidedness of modern gender discussion and modern men’s issues. Nobody is trying to marginalize the inequalities of the past, but the gap was not nearly as wide as any feminists theories would have us believe. That is the argument being made here.

  59. Yes, good point.

  60. Um, no. Women couldn’t vote in the U.S. until 1920. Owning property for men to vote stopped being a requirement around 1810-1860 (I think different states sorted it out at different times). 1870 is when, technically, non-white men were given the right to vote (except that of course some states created ways around this, thus continuing to discriminate against “non-whites”). Some states allowed women to vote starting in the late 1800s, but it was limited and on a state-by-state basis.

    And again the difference is WHY people were being discriminated against in the first place.

  61. abyssobenthonic says:

    From Wikipedia:

    New Jersey in 1776 placed only one restriction on the general suffrage, which was the possession of at least £50 in cash or property (about $7,800 adjusted for inflation), with the election laws referring to the voters as “he or she.” In 1790, the law was revised to specifically include women, but in 1807 the law was again revised to exclude them, an unconstitutional act since the state constitution specifically made any such change dependent on the general suffrage.

  62. The Blurpo says:

    “That’d be the Greeks”

    I hearth it started in china, between sheppards (spelling?) but I dont have a sourche I can share, but I will see if I can find one. I know its OT but I dont think it will be a problem since it is only a small innocent sidestep, before going back IT.

    Anyways Athenian democracy and roman republican culture were two different things. The athenian was a direct democracy, that means the citicens voted directly the matter after it was pubblicy debated.
    The roman democracy, was based on class (the patricians) who elected a rappresentative to the senate. Later the plebs were also granted seats in the senate. But not before the romes major strike ever (perhaps the first recorded in history.

    Ok back in topik now :-)

  63. Yes, Mark. Yes. I understand that. I can’t do anything about theory I didn’t write, decades ago. Perhaps you weren’t noticing but I was allying with you and offering understanding. It’s often impossible to have discussions on the internet covering lots of territory like this without it looking like justification.
    I’m outside of these poles for the most part and looking at corporate influence on how we all behave.

  64. Mark Neil says:

    ” Perhaps you weren’t noticing but I was allying with you and offering understanding.”

    My apologies. I didn’t notice. Perhaps it’s because these latest comments don’t appear to be threaded together, but just individual comments at the end. perhaps I just knee jerked.

    That said, I do feel my point still stands for those that do follow those feminist theories. Those that still point to patriarchy theory as gospel and fail to realize it is only a one-sided view of history, set up to make women into a victim class.

    ” I can’t do anything about theory I didn’t write, decades ago.”

    Actually, you can. You can speak up to correct it, to fill in the missing pieces.

  65. I’ll rephrase:
    I can’t do anything about theory, I didn’t write, decades ago, that will have the global effect I believe you, and men similar to you, are hoping for.

    I can indeed speak up in my day to day life, comport myself as a person with agency that doesn’t buy into the tropes and trends I find problematic, raise my children in a way that respects their maleness etc. I am not an academic, book author, touring speaker or someone sought for magazine interviews. I don’t go head to head on shows with Amanda Marcotte for example. So, what I do, isn’t anything that you and your peers would probably ever see, unless I post it here, and even then, I have gotten ignored or less than supportive remarks, probably due to knee jerking as is part and parcel of the process. I understand that and accept it to some degree, though I have often needed to step back and just do the work in real time.

  66. Right well you brought up fat and gender, so let’s take a look at this in a bit more nuanced way. Saying it has nothing to do with gender would be wrong…but wrong in that it’s too simple. For a very long time our culture has stressed the importance on the way women look. Women are often brought up with the assumption that their value in life is based, if not solely, then primarily, on their appearance. We tell little girls they are “beautiful,” as a compliment, etc. Women are also supposed to take up very little physical space, and so a woman who takes up a lot of physical space is viewed as somehow doing something wrong. Women who aren’t actually overweight get perceived as ‘fat,’ and are basically told by society that they have no value…or very little value.

    Right with men, the social context for being perceived as ‘fat’ is different. Yeah, appearance and what-not is becoming more important for men (again), but the beauty industry is largely targeted at women. Diet programs are largely targeted at women. Men’s value in society does not rest on their appearance. There is a difference and fatness is more tied up in women’s gender roles than men’s.

    And while we’re on the subject…if we were to enter ethnicity into this, then that’d add another element of how fatness is perceived. Mainstream “white” U.S. culture has created a different narrative around fat women than African-American cultures have. Heck, they’ve even got different perceptions of what ‘fat’ even is.

  67. Were fat men were seen more as fat cats, tyrants, greedy, rich, etc in the past? I got a distinct feeling that fat men were seen in a gendered way relating to greed, and personality traits of tyrants.

    As a fat young adult there was very much a stereotype alive of fat women could get laid, but fat men were the worst off in trying to find intimacy, sex, or even a relationship. Amongst the youth I saw more fat women get a partner than the fat men, including myself. Whether this was widespread or just local to my area, not sure. Could possibly be that fat men had lower confidence and also less likely to ask out a woman, which is largely my case, and as men do most of the asking out/approaching the fat women had an advantage in that respect.

    I would have said that fat women were judged more harshly on their appearance and thus their attractiveness to men suffered more than men, however my experience as a fat man leads me to think differently. I was told of my lower attractiveness and shown it in behavior, as a few of my fat male friends also tell me and it’s similar to what my fat female friends tell me, seems fat men and women both have reduced beauty and attractiveness with the opposite sex.

    (Nothing scientific here, just my observations of interactions between people here in my town, it could very well be my area was fairly unique or at least very different to the U.S)

  68. But that nuance you offer isn’t what I’m talking about. Not “fat and men intersects in a way different from fat and women” (which I am fully aware of), but “fat and men do not intersect”. I appreciate you hearing me out on this but frankly, what you’re saying isn’t what I’m talking about. Saying that when men are fat shamed it has nothing to do with their gender isn’t just “too simple” it’s straight up wrong. Saying that the intersections are different is no where near as dismissive and incorrect as saying they do not intersect.

    Men’s value in society does not rest on their appearance.
    Even at that there are still ways in which that intersection is used in a harmful manner against men. From being assumed to being an unintelligent athlete, to dumb muscle, to being assumed to be a threat, to assumed to be a protector…. So while it may not be the biggest factor on a man’s value (which of course I didn’t say) it does have an effect on a man’s value. (If anything the biggest determining factor for a man’s value would be in regards to what he can do for other people, especially women).

    Of course adding race would be another element to the equation. Intersectionality is a useful tool when looking at these different crossings between different characteristics.

    But it won’t do much good when people are going out of their way to deny certain intersections just because they are scared it might take spotlight away from their own pet causes. (Unless talking about the intersection of men and fat actually does take away from talking about the intersection of women and fat somehow?)

    You just explained how they are different, that’s not what I was dealing with. But thanks for chiming in.

  69. “Were fat men were seen more as fat cats, tyrants, greedy, rich, etc in the past? I got a distinct feeling that fat men were seen in a gendered way relating to greed, and personality traits of tyrants.”

    Well if you want to go back far enough, fat women were seen as healthier, actually, as they had better access to food. And then there’s the whole jolly-fat person trope that gives us figures like Santa Clause. But those are rather irrelevant when talking about today’s tropes, as hey are no longer applicable. There aren’t remnants of the “greedy rich fat man,” hanging around in western culture, at least not that I’m aware of.

  70. Okay, well then someone who says that they don’t intersect at all just doesn’t understand intersectionality and normativity. All identities intersect, even the normative ones. For example, a straight white person is as affected by their identities as straight and white, as a gay African-American person is affected by their identities as gay and African-American. One of the first big ideas I had a bit of trouble figuring out in my gender studies 101 class was the concept that straight, white, men, etc. were all social identities same as gay, women, African-American, etc. Being straight actually intersects with the identity of being fat differently than being gay and fat, for example…even though being straight is the “normative” identity.

    (Yes, I am aware that gender issues are different to sexual orientation issues, as I’ve mentioned. However in the case of physical appearance, I would say that women’s appearance & physical attractiveness is still largely treated as more important than men’s. This is closing, though not in a good way…)

    Anyway, when you come across people who are misusing and misunderstanding a term or concept, the only thing to do is either try to explain it to them, or ignore them.

  71. Oh I’m aware that they don’t understand. But it can get pretty hard to try to explain when you have people piling on you over it. It’s things like that that lead me to wonder if it’s a failure to recognize or a refusal to acknowledge.

    However in the case of physical appearance, I would say that women’s appearance & physical attractiveness is still largely treated as more important than men’s. This is closing, though not in a good way…
    Agreed. My problem isn’t this, its over the fact that regardless of how important is it treated in regards to women this in no way means that it has zero importance in regards to men. In fact I think this may be the competition you mentioned above. Pointing out how the intersection of men and fat harms men in no way takes away from the conversation on the intersection of women and fat, yet that is exactly how it is treated. Zero sum game indeed.

  72. “Oh I’m aware that they don’t understand. But it can get pretty hard to try to explain when you have people piling on you over it. It’s things like that that lead me to wonder if it’s a failure to recognize or a refusal to acknowledge.”

    I’ve similar frustrations explaining feminism to people, frankly. And I too wonder whether people are just being purposefully obtuse in not understanding. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But I think it’s important (all around) to realize that if someone is misusing a term against you in a certain way, that doesn’t mean that everyone who will use that term will also be misusing it. There are actually quite a few gender studies terms which I have seen people vehemently disagree with (when they hear/read the term), and then totally agree with the concept when the term isn’t used. That suggests to me that there’s a problem of people misunderstanding and misusing the terms…and I’m going to go ahead and blame the internet for that.

    Anyway, I’ve been talking about my experience with MRAs and the MRM at the minute, but I am trying to make distinctions between that and masculists, or other people who may be working for men’s rights but not identify as MRM. Why? Because I want to emphasize that I don’t think everyone who is working for men’s rights is all misogynist or anti-feminist…I see this specifically as a problem with a lot of self-identified MRM spaces. I’m trying to use the terms accurately (as I understand them) and go from there. If we’re going to use terminology (and we must to keep our conversations relatively short), then we must first make sure we understand those terms.

  73. One thing I found in some articles is that they had a negative undertone of the MRM and mra, but also the way they talked was that of there were no legitimate rights or social issues for men to complain about. So I do believe quite a few people call the MRA/MRM as the entire men’s movement, whereas you are saying it is a separate movement.

    To be maculism is the MRM, and feminism is the FRM, but it looks like anything to do with male rights is so unorganized that it’s like anyone can call it what they want, that might explain why the MRA lack decent articles from what I understand of what you say.

    Articles like this would cover me
    ht tp://www.shakesville.com/2007/10/explainer-whats-mra.html
    Apparently I am an MRA as I advocate for male rights, male social issues, financial abortion, etc, unless they mean MRA’s themselves hold views I also hold.

    “With the novel idea that men and women should be able to map out their own destinies, free from being directed on what they’re “supposed to do.” It’s a political ideology called “feminism.” The MRAs with legitimate gripes would be well-served to embrace feminism. But given the overall hatred of women woven into the fabric of the movement, I won’t hold my breath.” (from that article)
    You see I tried this and got kicked out for “whataboutthemenz”, talking with my male privilege on new comment threads, accused of derailing when replying to a discussion on domestic violence (not dv against women) and talking of how men suffer and showing stats.

    So apparently I am an MRA according to them, Danny would be labeled as such, and other males here. I’ve heard the GMP was said to be an MRA site by some feminists too. So now the definition of an MRA seems to be very diverse (similar to feminism, hah), and I’m still unsure of what an MRA truly is.

    Just found this
    http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/vqu9n/feminists_gloat_over_obamacare_victory_mock_the/
    From my quick read over it most of the comments are actually decent and not misogynist, seem level headed and calm. A bit of generalizing going on, but to me it looks like a bunch of men worried that they’re left out in some parts of an act that is meant to help everyone? In fact the non-mras are the feministe site are acting quite snarky, but I’m glad some are actually debating and answering the questions. The MRA’s are concerned but I haven’t seen misogyny in that thread yet, if I was in the U.S I’d be worried too. It seems both sides though are taking an adversarial approach to each other a bit, in this case I’m seeing it mostly in the non-mra’s on the feministe comments.

    It is my impression that anyone commenting on a feminist site will usually get the MRA labelled applied TO them, I saw this very often and I even got it applied to me. I’m glad you are asking for self-identified MRA’s though, but I’m not sure the entire men’s rights section on reddit actually self-identifies and if so then I hope people show restraint in labelling them as such. It probably means many of the articles of how mra’s are so misogynist could be disputed because I’d guess not all of them self-identify as MRA.

    Now you make sure to use the self-identify MRA but I don’t think the majority of other feminists do, wouldn’t that muddy up the waters of what an MRA really acts like? Their logic means I am an MRA, do I speak with misogyny? Just because someone comments on the mensrights reddit it doesn’t mean they are MRA, hell quite a few feminists comment there probably, and I’d guess most don’t self-identify so keep that in mind. In fact by this logic, when I hear of how the majority of MRA’s are misogynistic then I wonder how many are actually talking about self-identified MRA’s and how many non-mra’s they catch in their net?

  74. Actually, thank-you for this. You’ve just proven to me that the majority of articles I’ve read by feminists of how MRA’s are negative, it actually invalidates ALL that self-identify as MRA. I’m getting the feeling a lot of people are just calling men who happen to have an interest in male rights an MRA, I’ve seen this time n time again with the accusations of someone being an MRA when they don’t identify as such, even myself. So basically we have a bunch of people guessing who is an MRA and who isn’t and using them to justify their view of that group, isn’t that just a bit dishonest? It broadly paints male commentators who support male rights as MRA as I’ve seen.

    Either your definition is wrong in the self-identify part, or a hell of a lot of feminists are unfairly labeling people as MRA’s when they don’t self-identify, and thus their view of what MRA’s is flawed and dishonest. Quite frankly, after this I’m not sure I really believe people who talk about MRA’s as misogynist unless they are ONLY talking about those who specifically self-identify as MRA. You would be the first I would believe if that is how you define it. Basically every article on MRA’s would need to include proof that person self-identifies as MRA, otherwise it’s really just someone guessing the belief of that poster. MRA-like views are not applicable, only stuff like them saying “I am an MRA” would qualify them to be included. Basically it’s a case of just because I went to a feminist rally, doesn’t mean I am a feminist. These men/women who are in MRA spaces aren’t necessarily MRA. But if no self-identified MRA is calling out the unidentified misogynists then yeah that issue still remains. Same goes in feminist spaces as well.

  75. I’ve been called a MRA and a misogynist often, for simply wanting true equality, services for all victims and caring about men at all.

    I’ve never identified as an MRA.

    Some feel a little bit bad about calling me a MRA as a trans woman, but then explain I have false consciousness or some such things, so it’s not all trans women that are bad like me (though men really are mostly bad according to their logic, so a male misogynist is not the exception but the rule).

  76. Soullite says:

    The biochemistry is different, therefore they are different intrinsically. Add to that the differences in experiences, and you are dealing with a group who’s thoughts and opinions are outside of your own. The male experience is beyond the female to truly understand. You can only know it through the words, thoughts and opinions of men. The moment you pretend that your experiences are the same – that’s the moment you start pretending that your views on their experiences are more valid than those of the people who actually experienced it.

    If you can’t accept that men and women have fundamentally different experiences in and of this society, then you will never be able to take the things men and women say about their experiences for granted. If you cannot take those experiences for granted – not giving them greater weight, but acknowledging that they are valid – then you will always attempt to substitute your opinions and views for their own.

  77. “The biochemistry is different, therefore they are different intrinsically.”

    There is a lot of contentiousness over that particular point. I personally hope it isn’t true, because if it is, it doesn’t define masculinity, it limits masculinity.

    I don’t know whether the bio position is supposed to explain male socialization or to put it off limits for debate.

  78. Soullite says:

    Then you will never accept that a man’s thoughts and opinions are valid when they differ from your own, because you won’t be able to accept that men have a different perspective than you do. I can’t help but thing that that’s the point – you want to deny the opinions and perspectives of men, and to do that, you pretend that those opinions are not grounded in different circumstances, but are instead simply invalid.

    And no, you’re just dipping into new-agey bunk here. There is no contentiousness – men have a different balance of hormones than women do. Their biochemistry is different. There are no credible bio-chemists or doctors in this or any country that would disagree with that. We don’t have all of the same organs, either. Pretending that there are no biological differences between sexes is pure fantasy.

    And no, it isn’t supposed to put things ‘off limits’ – but by what right do you have to debate this at all? By what right do you think you can decide for men what being a man means? By what right do you think you have can dictate our behavior, or our opinions, or anything else? Because from here – the male perspective – it looks like you want the right to harp on men endlessly without any social repercussions, and I seriously doubt you would afford men that same right when it comes to women.

  79. “By what right do you think you can decide for men what being a man means? By what right do you think you have can dictate our behavior, or our opinions, or anything else?”

    No more than the rest of men think they can dictate what being a man means to me. And that’s a right they have long arrogated to themselves.

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  8. […] -I usually avoid “The Good Men Project” because that shit is far too earnest for me-also, I’m not a man. But I had to read their article titled “Why Being a Good Man is a Feminist Issue”. News flash: it really is! This bit sums it up for me:  feminism began as a movement to liberate women from their stupid, limiting gender roles, but…….there’s no separating women’s horrible gender roles from men’s horrible gender roles. Every dumb cliché about how women are overemotional carries with it the connotation that men can’t have or express emotions. Every joke about men being lazy slobs implies that women are destined to do all the cleaning. The idea that women are helpless objects to be protected from everything is tied right in with the idea that men are disposable cannon fodder, whether in combat or civilian life. Men’s issues and women’s issues simply are not two separate problems, and the illusion that they are is just another outdated notion we need to outgrow.  Word. Sadly, it seems that a lot of fellas aren’t responding well in the comments to the piece. Anyway. Read more here http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-being-a-good-man-is-not-a-feminist-issue/ […]

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  12. […] A few months ago, I read an essay online that changed the way I view men and their interaction with feminism. The Good Men Project, mentioned above, is an online blog that focuses on providing a full and nuanced picture of masculinity. They take on pretty much any issue that touches men’s lives; sex, family, work, war, and politics are all fair game. This June, one of the original founders of The Good Men Project, Tom Matlack, wrote an article entitled “Why Being a Good Man is Not a Feminist Issue.” […]

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