Ask the Feminist Answers: Definitions, Recommendations, and Media Violence Against Men

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 1.56.52 PM

Resident feminist HeatherN tackles the first round of questions in our new series, Ask the Feminist. 

Editor’s note: This is the first set of answers from a new series called Ask the Feminist, headed up by our friendly feminist friend, HeatherN. To learn more about this series, see the original post here.

 

This first series of questions for Ask the Feminist have been really great. Since I can’t really answer everything in one article, I’ve chosen a few questions I think would be good to start. And, let me tell you, I had a hard time narrowing it down. So, if I didn’t answer your question, feel free to ask it again. And, of course, if you have a new question, don’t hesitate to ask it. You can write it in the comments below or you can e-mail me at [email protected]. So, now for the answers:

♦◊♦

Random_Stranger and KC Krupp both asked a few questions about the definition of feminism, so I figured that’s where I’d start. According to Professor Cheris Kramarae, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” It’s a bit of a snarky answer, but it fits. Feminism is the idea that men and women should be treated equally, and that society doesn’t currently do this. That’s really all there is to it. What that equality will look like and ideas about how society is currently preventing it, is where you get divisions between feminists. Here’s a handy little list of some different types of feminism, which I recommend glancing at. If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can scroll through a very long list of different kinds of feminisms, here, though even that doesn’t cover everything.

Part of the reason there are so many different kinds of feminism is because there are so many different kinds of women. A Muslim lesbian in India is going to have a different perspective on women and equality to a heterosexual atheist in the United Kingdom, for example. My feminism doesn’t neatly fit into any of the categories listed in the two links I mentioned above. It’s mostly academic, because I learned about feminism at university. But mostly I just tend to take bits and pieces from whatever branches seem to be working toward the most inclusive equality.

♦◊♦

Speaking of my feminism, Alastair asked me to list five books, five feminist thinkers, and five feminist blogs that I find particularly insightful. My top books are Understanding Patriarchy (which is really an article) by bell hooks, Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You by Agustin Fuentes, Gender Trouble by Judy Butler (which is available for free online), Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks, and finally Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein. Of all of those, Gender Trouble is probably the most difficult to get through; Butler is known for her inaccessible writing style. Speaking of which, one of my top feminist thinkers is Judy Butler, and if you have a hard time getting into Gender Trouble, try the Routledge Critical Thinkers book which explains a lot of her ideas. My other top feminist thinkers are bell hooks (no surprise there), Spivak (a post-colonialist), Anne Fausto-Sterling (who writes a lot about the category of intersex), and Michel Foucault (who wasn’t exactly a feminist, but had a lot of ideas that have contributed to feminism). The thing about that list, though, is that if you ask me again in a month it’ll probably change a bit.

As for my top five feminist bloggers: There’s Julie Gillis, whose writing always touches on the emotional heart of an issue. I quite like Jamie Utt’s blog, in which he discusses feminism from the perspective of a white man. There’s Danielle Paradis’ blog, in which she writes a long of things I wish I had written. Ozy Franz’s blog is awesome, as anyone who is familiar with zir’s No Seriously What About Teh Menz, might expect. And then last, but not least…is my blog. No, I’m kidding. Actually, I’d recommend Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog, for anyone looking for some introductory info on feminism. Also, I’m cheating and adding a sixth to this list. I really like Busty Girl Comics, on Tumblr. It is 300 very funny comics all about women and their breasts. It might not explicitly discuss what feminism is, but underlying every comic are feminist ideas.

♦◊♦

Glen asked about the different ways society reacts to violence against men, versus violence against women, in movies. I’ll answer this one with some feminist ideas about gendered violence in movies. Often violence against women in movies is all about showing how helpless the woman is. In some of the old comedies, a man might slap a hysterical woman across the face to calm her down. The idea there being that the woman is so overcome by her emotions she needs to be slapped out of it to return to sanity. In a horror or suspense movie, a female victim is there to look pretty and scream and then die. They are often there only to ratchet up the body count, and make the situation seem more frightening for the audience and the protagonist. The other thing feminists might point out is that violence committed by men against women is a statistically larger issue than violence committed by women against men.

Violence against men in films is also sometimes used to highlight how serious a situation is; the beginning of Saving Private Ryan comes to mind. In comedies, a woman hitting a man is generally used to highlight how nonthreatening the woman is. Often the laugh is generated by how much the slap didn’t hurt the man. Or the laugh is generated by turning this on its head, and it is the surprise at the pain of the slap (or in this case, punch) that is supposed to be funny. No one expects a woman to be able to hurt a man, so when she does, that’s supposed to be funny.

Of course, using violence against anyone in a comedy is simply playing off of ridiculous stereotypes. Whether it’s about how women are inept or about how men are strong and unfeeling, violence isn’t funny. Feminism is just starting to convince larger society that the old stereotypes that made violence against women in movies acceptable aren’t okay. It’ll take a whole lot of work to convince society that all the old stereotypes that suggest violence against men in movies could be funny aren’t okay either.

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About HeatherN

Heather N. is a Californian living in the United Kingdom. In order to survive, she has developed a keen appreciation for the color grey, rain, and sausage rolls. She spends far too much time reading, writing, blogging, and gaming. You can also find her saying witty things on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Random_Stranger says:

    Hi HeatherN,

    Thanks for answering. Its feels to me like perception is everything when it comes to gender inequality. For example, I’ve often felt the opposite about your movie experience. When men die in movies its often with little thought and in great volume (think rambo); when women die its seldom treated with insignificance (as you noted) -her cinematic death may or may not be portrayed desirably, but it is portrayed thoughtfully even if from a bad place. By contrast the cinematic death of men is almost always insignificant to the plot, story or protagonist -its barley noticed. As a boy and young man, I experience these messages as reinforcing my relatively anonymity and commodification as a male to my female peers who presumably must be worthy of attention.

    I guess the point is, we all agree that men and women have been /are being held to different norms and expectations. But, what troubles me most with feminism is an insistence that these differences exist to subjugate women and privilege men and that gender equity can be achieved by affecting the status of women. I guess it starts with the easy sequitur you made from “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings” to ” Feminism is the idea that men and women should be treated equally.” As though one simply begets the other without further examination. Implicit here, is that if women are freed from gender norms, than equality for all will be reached.

    I guess, my follow-on question would be, does feminism really believe that men are the primary purveyors of gender oppression and that substantial gender equity means addressing the inequities of women and the privileges of men?

    • (So I’m going to reply to your comment with three of my own, just to break up the topics a bit in case anyone else wants to jump in).

      “I guess, my follow-on question would be, does feminism really believe that men are the primary purveyors of gender oppression?”

      The simple answer to that question, is no. The longer answer is that feminism is about how the gender system we’ve currently got is the primary means of gender oppression. I was just reading a rather interesting discussion about misogyny within lesbian culture…that’s right, misogyny among lesbians. It’s totally possible, and unfortunately happens way too often. Here’s a link to it, in case you’re interested: http://www.autostraddle.com/butch-please-butch-with-a-side-of-misogyny-174442/

      As for achieving gender equality meaning addressing the inequalities of women and the privileges of men…that’s a very simple way of looking at it. Radical feminists would certainly agree with that statement. What the list I linked to calls “NOW feminists,” (feminists who think legislation is required to make women equal to men), might agree with that too.

      I tend to be a bit more radical (though I don’t mean internet radfem type radical) and I think we need to completely change the gender system. We don’t just need to bring women on par with men…we need to change a system which so strictly divides us between men and women. We need to change a system which places a higher value on the masculine, than the feminine…because, frankly, putting a higher value on the masculine hurts men too (when they can’t achieve that idealised masculine).

      • ‘As for achieving gender equality meaning addressing the inequalities of women and the privileges of men..” So, as a white male over 45 I’m definitely privileged, right? O.K., let’s see, from my ‘privileged’ carrier , my right knee’s been replaced (left one’s probably going to be swapped out this winter) my right arm.s held together with titanium screws, no cartilage left in my right wrist (shredded and had to be removed). No feeling in the skin on the right arm (got torn off and reattached, but the nerve endings got destroyed). I’m 1 1/2″ shorter than when I graduated high school (several compressed discs will do that to you). And although I’ve cheated death TWICE, 6 of my fellow workers haven’t been so lucky. So yeah, I guess I’ve lived a ‘Privileged Life’.

        • Social privilege is an interesting thing, in that it’s not about living a charmed life. It’s not monolithically either/or. I’m white, so I benefit from white privilege. Most of the time, the way I benefit from it is basically invisible. I don’t even think about my ethnicity…and part of the privilege of being white is not having to think about my ethnicity. I can walk through the streets in California, and no one looks at me and thinks “hey that person doesn’t belong here.” I can drive through whatever neighbourhood without a cop stopping me simply because of the colour of my skin. So on, and so forth.

          But on the other hand, I’m also queer. So I get to wake up every day and discover that some religious leader or politician has said something about how I’m evil and shouldn’t be given equal rights. I am lucky to live in the U.K. at the moment, so I can walk down the street with my partner (if I had a partner at the moment), relatively unscathed. But cat-calls are not uncommon. In other countries, I could be arrested…or assaulted and raped just because I’m queer.

          So intersectionality is the name of the game. No one is only one identity…I’m a whole bunch of different things (white and privileged, and queer and unequal). And it sounds like from your job, you’ve had a really tough time of it. That falls under class privilege…and the upper class are privileged, and the working class is treated completely unfairly and totally disenfranchised.

          • Random_Stranger says:

            ….hmmmm…I really think your confusing class privilege with the masculine experience of gender. I don’t know what bobbt does, but its very likely that bobbt job is a masculine job -reserved for men because of its hardship and risks that would actively discourage women from participating.

            The division into elite and underclass, what you call class is very much the masculine experience of gender and what I think of as male gender oppression. If women suffer from pressure to conform to a narrow, restricted role in society men are expected to flourish or perish. The extreme division of class is most pronounced among men, and cannot be separated from masculinity. By contrast, women were (traditionally) provided a place of value in society (but not power, granted) so long as she chose the socially favored path of least resistance. You might say, freedom from the tests and perils of extreme class division is/was a women’s privilege.

            • Alrighty…I’m not going to get into whether you or I are right or wrong. But I am going to try to explain what I think you are saying, and then explain what gender theory suggests about “male disposability.”

              So what it seems to me you are saying, is that in western society men are disposable…and this is mitigated (or alleviated) via wealth and class. Yes? You are quite deliberately combining men’s gender roles and class…assuming, as you say, that part of being classified as a “man” means feeling the effects of class quite acutely.

              Feminism (and gender theory) would disagree. Disposability is something that western society places on the lower class…and this is affected by gender. But it’s a class issue affected by gender, not a gender issue affected by class (if you get what I’m saying). Working class women are also considered disposable…you see this in a lack of access to healthcare when pregnant, a lack of access to maternity leave, a lack of access to assistance in raising children and housework (nannies and housekeepers cost money). And, of course, you see this in the way that women who work outside the home in “lower class” jobs are also treated as disposable, even in particularly feminine jobs (my sister is a waitress, and he’s treated as pretty disposable). – So how disposability of the lower classes affects men and women might differ…but again, it’s a class issue.

              I’ll close by saying there’s been a great deal of work done on how extreme division of class affects women, and unfortunately I’m running out the door or I’d look it up for you. Women aren’t free from the tests and perils of extreme class division….rather they are (traditionally) unable to mitigate or control the perils they experience via extreme class division.

            • Random_Stranger says:

              @HeatherN

              “Feminism (and gender theory) would disagree. Disposability is something that western society places on the lower class…and this is affected by gender. But it’s a class issue affected by gender, not a gender issue affected by class”

              Yes, I am saying that the polarity of class and gender are intertwined. But you cannot go further and simply say one is subordinate to the other because feminism believes it so. They are, in effect, one in the same.

              While men and women experience the stratification of class, that stratification is deliberately exercised more acutely with men. If civilization is structured according to patriarchy, and class division is an instrument of civilization, it stands to reason that the brunt of class division is meant to order the world of men in the main. One might argue, that as women experience the subjugation of working poor, they are in affect adopting the burden of masculinity as a function of crossing the gender divide.

              I don’t think its an unfair observation that the status of men tends to be far more polarized and skewed than the status of women whose femininity entitles her to a more homogenous status if she should so chose. Looking within our culture: If white men are privileged to white women, black men are subordinate to black women. If straight men are privileged to straight women, homosexual men are subordinate to homosexual women. If rich men are privileged to rich women, poor men are subordinate to poor women. If we have more men in congress, we surely have more men in prison.

              My point is, that extreme polarization of class IS the gender oppression experienced by men and simply not understood by feminism which is wholly and self consciously informed by the female experience of the gender construct.

            • The thing is, what you’re saying relies on the idea that polarization of class is felt more by men than women, and that just isn’t the case. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3177584?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101981217793

              Like, factually…class division is not something that men are more affected by than women. That’s where I’m running into problems with your explanation…IF men did feel class more than women, perhaps what you are saying would work. But considering women and men are both affected by class just as drastically (just in different ways)…that makes what you are suggesting not true…just like, factually.

              Gay men are not subordinate to gay women, black men are not subordinate to black women, etc. I could spend some time to look for references if you’d like, or you can trust me that I’ve read the research on it. That’s just not how the power structures in those subcultures works. As I highlighted with my link to the article about misogyny among butch lesbians….and with the way that gay men tend to be the face of same-sex marriage and what-not in the west…it’s actually gay men that tend to be privileged within gay culture.

              But in the end, my point is that by combining the two (gender issues and class issues) to suggest that they are one in the same…well that’s kind of what second wave feminists did. The big thing about intersectionality was in recognising that not all men’s experiences and not all women’s experiences are going to the same. Not all men deal with class oppression….and not all women deal with class oppression. What you are describing is a masculine experience of class oppression…but that doesn’t make class oppression inherently masculine. There is also feminine experiences of class oppression, that are just as severe.

              And also, feminism isn’t completely constructed by cis-women’s experiences with gender. It’s also been constructed by men’s experiences (Michel Foucault is a man, for example and his writing is key)…it’s been constructed by trans* experiences (Kate Borenstein is a trans woman, for example).

              And this probably sounds over critical…but what I’m trying to explain is that your interpretation of class and gender is predicated on a lot of assumptions about feminism and about gender theory that just aren’t true. Like, objectively speaking.

            • “it’s actually gay men that tend to be privileged within gay culture. ”

              Must be very different to society on the whole then because gay men cop violence far more than gay women do they not? Society is largely more accepting of gay women than gay men. Maybe gay men are the face more because they have been the ones that have copped more violence? Are you speaking of gay culture alone, not the rest of society?

              “Brazilian gay group Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB) reported 190 documented alleged homophobic murders in Brazil in 2008, accounting for about 0.5% of intentional homicides in Brazil (homicide rate 22 per 100,000 population as of 2008). 64% of the victims were gay men, 32% were transvestites, and 4% were lesbians” ht tp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_against_LGBT_people#Criminal_assault

              http://www.aic.gov.au/documents/D/2/2/%7BD22F8857-A477-4BA0-BAB8-5C04C2B1E7E9%7Dvpt2.pdf – This seems to show about 1.5 to 2x more assaults against gay men than gay women

              Society LARGELY is more favourable of gay women than gay men in my experience.

              As for black people, didn’t far more males get killed than females? These days society is far more harsh on black males, I witness far more racism against black males assuming them to be criminals than I have seen of females (Australian aboriginees, may differ in the U.S). Are the police not more harsh on black men than they are of black women?

            • This is a very big conversation about intersectionality…and I’m not going to stick my foot in my mouth to try to provide examples with regards to race. I will, however, attempt to explain what I mean with regards to gay men and gay women.

              What you’re talking about in terms of “acceptance,” of gay women is actually ignoring and invisibling gay women. Society isn’t more accepting of gay women…society is more willing to pretend gay women don’t exist. A lack of physical violence against a group does not automatically mean they are more accepted…just less visible.

              But yes, I’m speaking both within larger society and within lgbt power structures. I’m currently not talking about bisexual and trans* individuals because that would just make this even more complicted…but…generally speaking gay men have a larger voice within “gay culture,” than lesbians. And this is reflected in larger society…when people think about “gay culture,” it’s all glitter and pink and purple and Cher and musicals and what-not. The three BIG queer movies have been about gay men (Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, and Milk).

              So I’m very much veering off topic here, but it’s not as simple as saying ‘gay men are bashed more, therefore it’s lesbians who have more power.’ And going too much further into the intricacies of power between straight and queer culture, and power within queer culture would be really really off topic. The point, really, is just to say that the dynamic of men being the privileged group and women being the underprivileged group exists throughout a lot of other demographics (rich, poor, gay, straight, etc).

            • Random_Stranger says:

              HeatherN,

              We’re now at logger heads over perception and the complexities of race, class, sexual orientation and gender. Still, I must insist that you consider that acute class polarization is an intrinsic, and oppressive component of masculinity.

              Can you accept the following:
              1. The population of the power elite, such as major CEOs and high government officers, in western civilization are overwhelming male?
              2. The population of the lowest order of the underclass, consisting of the homeless, the incarcerated, the institutionalized, the criminal, the chronically unemployed and the prematurely dead, in western civilization are similarly overwhelming male?
              3. The population of persons classed within the underclass is much larger than the population of persons within the elite?

              If you can, and yet you still cannot accept the masculine nature of class stratification, than we must simply agree to disagree.

              Appreciate the dialogue.

            • Alrighty, what I’m about to write might not make a whole hell of a lit of sense. So, if it doesn’t just let me know and I’ll try to explain it better.

              But basically…your list consisted of masculine experiences with class, and then asked me if I thought that showed that class differences were inherently part of masculine oppression. But the problem is that the list you provided was treating masculine experiences of class oppression as though they were the definitive examples of class oppression.

              So let me try a counter example:

              1) Do you agree that people with the most spare time and most artive social lives are rich women?
              2) Do you agree that most single-parents without access to child care are poor women?

              Which, I’m not saying poor women have it worse than poor men. I’m just saying, again, that class oppression is part of every working class person’s experience. Gender affects how it is expressed.

            • @ Random. I can sort of understand what you’re saying but in my case, the “class” issue didn’t apply to me. I was a corporate world workaholic and had a great paying job. At 40, I had my first heart attack. At age 41, I had a quintuple bypass. I am now 59 and have had 5 more heart attacks.

              Friend of mine, president/owner of a manufacturing company in Chicago, 2 hours after his annual physical, while on his treadmill at home, he dropped dead.

              Another friend, a high school football coach on his way back from a down state game, had a massive coronary on the bus back to Chicago. Was pronounced dead by the time we got down to the hospital.

              Business associates were dropping off like flies. From nervous breakdowns to major medical issues such, I have seen many so called “white collar” men collapse. I’ve personally known four guys who have killed themselves. Two of the three gave up after losing what they’d built, one because of a nasty nasty divorce including false allegations and one guy with undiagnosed and obviously untreated depression. ALL of these guys were corporate professionals.

              I could go on with situations within my personal circle of friends and acquaintances.

              Statistics speak for themselves, men’s heath is not on the forefront of anyone’s minds.

              All these guys were white …. White privilege? NOT

          • List off my privileges as a white male, and I will tell you how far off you are.

            • Diz, I’d like to see what they are as well. I don’t expect an answer in that I and others asked in another string as to what rights do men have that women don’t. Other then forced selective service of course. Never got the answer.

            • Why ask for a list when you only need one?

              As a white male, you have more elected representatives in political power on the federal, state and local levels that represent your race and gender, than any other race/gender combination. (Assuming you are in the U.S. But I’d imagine it would hold for Canada, the UK, Australia and others.) That is what institutionalized patriarchy looks like. And I am NOT one to throw around the p-word lightly.

              I feel like when men ask for the “What exactly are my privileges” question, they’re looking at Micro-level things. They expect an answer like “well you can pee standing up!” or something stupid and shallow and easily shot down. And they want to come back with examples like Men can’t cry except at funerals but women can cry anywhere. All those little Micro-level things are manifestations of the Macro-level gender structure in our society.

              Look at it this way, there is a difference between lowercase privileges, and capital Privilege. While men and women have different privileges (acceptable display of emotion, job and family matters, wardrobe choices, whatever), white men still have Privilege. That doesn’t mean they have the advantage over women in every single situation, no. But that as a whole, as a gender, society gives them an advantage over women.

              So it doesn’t really make sense to ask for a list of individual privileges that can be bickered about back and forth, back and forth, ad nauseum with no resolution. Playing “who has it worse” is pointless anyway – and for the record, I get annoyed when femi nists do it too. Equality doesn’t mean we all suffer equally, but that we join in arms to handle own suffering and lessen that of others as much as we can. As the saying goes, we’re all in this together.

            • So basically, politicians share my skin color and gender. Can you list the ways in which I benefit from sharing skin color and gender with politicians?

            • Tom Brechlin says:

              diz, I look forward to hearing the response. The word “privilege” is thrown around so much, I sure as hell would like to know. Now we’re going so far as to clump Politicians skin color and gender into the picture.

            • John Anderson says:

              I think what she means is that it’s easier for you to become a politician than a woman everything else being equal. Feminists will look at disparities in outcomes and when the disparities are large assume that there is some systemic bias against women. If you believe that men and women have the same capabilities than they should have similar outcomes. It makes sense.

              MRAs tend to look for the tangible. Tell me why you’re being barred from politics. Usually they aren’t in a legal sense. Politics is a job like any other. The wealthy have more access to it as they have more connections and resources. Many families will have men as the primary bread winners and wealthy families only need one income earner.

              The big difference is as an MRA I believe that people have the right to find their own happiness. I also believe that choices have consequences. If you choose to raise a family, you will most likely negatively impact your career. Feminists and MRAs may both decry the societal forces that push men toward work and women toward child care, however, MRAs will accept a families decision to run their lives in a traditional manner if that is what they choose. Feminists are more concerned with equal outcomes.

            • Choice and agency…two really big words…well small words…but big meanings. And it all boils down to the age old question of free will. Just how much free will do we have?

              Feminists aren’t necessarily concerned with equal outcomes…rather, instead, feminists recognize that everyone acts in response to societal pressure. Literally everyone. You cannot get away from it. If I choose to have children…whether I raise them myself, hire a nanny, put them in childcare, am a working mother…whatever action I decide is always mitigated by social pressure.

              So feminists are concerned with the social pressures which create unequal outcomes. A man can have a family and a career and fill traditional male roles. A woman cannot have a family and a career and fill traditional female roles. That’s pretty simple. And so feminists look at the social pressures which make those two statements true. And then feminist activists try to change the social pressures which affect that.

            • A man can have a family and a career and fill traditional male roles. A woman cannot have a family and a career and fill traditional female roles.
              Can he really “have a family”? I ask this because usually in the traditional male roles have a family means making sure they financially supported even at the cost of not providing other forms of support.

            • “A man can have a family and a career and fill traditional male roles. A woman cannot have a family and a career and fill traditional female roles. ”
              That is a flawed view of it though because you fail to take into account the power of being allowed to be around your children. It’s more that A man can have a family he sees FAR LESS to have that career and fill trad male roles, and a woman gets far less of a career but far more time spent with the family. A woman also has a much higher chance of finding a breadwinner than a man does. A man cannot have a large amount of time with his children and be taken care of financially but a woman can spend a lot of time with her children and be taken care of financially. You can twist this dynamic in whatever way you want to prove the man or the woman has it worse off but it basically boils down to time spent with family, vs time spent at your career, choose 1. Careers in higher levels require huge amounts of time that do not accomodate well for children’s needs, the men gain the career, lose the family time. Even women are realizing you can’t have it all, you can’t have the awesome career and spend significant amounts of time with your family….men have NEVER had this either and it makes me question people who act as if men get both and women get one or the other.

            • I was trying to keep the comment short, but let’s break apart those two statements.

              Men having a family in traditional male role – means being a provider
              Men having a career in traditional male role – means being a provider

              Women having a family in a traditional male role – means being a caretaker
              Women having a career – well it doesn’t work with the traditional female role

              And so feminism started by looking at that last bit and focusing on that…hey let’s make it so that women can have careers! And as feminism has progressed, there’s been more focus on what it actually means for a man to “have a family.” Again, back to choices…if a man WANTS to be a caretaker, that isn’t possible within traditional gender norms. There is great societal pressure on men NOT to be caretakers…and this is something feminists also focus on.

            • “Men having a family in traditional male role – means being a provider
              Men having a career in traditional male role – means being a provider

              Women having a family in a traditional male role – means being a caretaker
              Women having a career – well it doesn’t work with the traditional female role”

              No, no, and NO.
              Men having a family in traditional male role – means providing for a family which there is a caretaker that is NOT the man
              Men having a career in traditional male role – means being a provider for a family which there is a caretaker that is NOT the man.
              Men’s gender role didn’t really allow them to be caretaker, they had to bring in the money/bread.

              “Women having a family in a traditional male role – means being a caretaker.” – what? Single parent? Compare apples to apples please.
              Women having a career – well it doesn’t work with the traditional female role – Again, compare apples to apple. Traditional roles meant women didn’t need a career, the man brought in the money n provided for them all. It also mean he didn’t need to be the caretaker, she was that. Neither of them could really just flip that, stay at home fathers even today are heavily stigmatized, men are still largely expected to earn as much or more than the woman.

              Feminism needs to open it’s eyes and widen the scope it views relationships with if that is the narrow-minded view they are taking. Men do NOT get to have it all, women do NOT get to have it all. A man wanting a family had to provide, a woman wanting a family needed to be caretaker.

            • That was a type-o, so let me retype what I meant:

              Men having a family in traditional male role – means being a provider
              Men having a career in traditional male role – means being a provider

              Women having a family in a traditional female role – means being a caretaker
              Women having a career – well it doesn’t work with the traditional female role

              That makes my analysis make a lot more sense.

            • “Men having a family in traditional male role – means being a provider
              Men having a career in traditional male role – means being a provider

              Women having a family in a traditional female role – means being a caretaker
              Women having a career – well it doesn’t work with the traditional female role”
              Men are providers, women are caretakers, what exactly is your point here. Women didn’t get access to the career move, men didn’t get access to the caretaker position. The cost of a family was to provide for men, and for women the cost is to care for them whilst being provided for. Men weren’t provided for by women so men couldn’t be caretaker. Both were equally fucked on this…

            • The point, or rather feminists’ points, on this…is that being the provider was more highly valued than being the caretaker, traditionally, and still today even. Careers are sought after. Caretaking is not something people aspire to.

              But also, my point is that feminists look at the social pressures which causes the divide, and actively try to close it. Feminists are all about making it socially acceptable for men to make the choice to be caretakers. And they are all about making it socially acceptable for women to make the choice to be providers. AND then on top of that, a lot of feminists are also working on trying to figure out how to make it so that’s not a choice people have to make…so men and women can be caretakers and providers at the same time.

              Also, the point is that feminism DOES examine how society affects men’s choices. That’s part of what feminism is about…looking at how society has made it less desirable for men to be stay-at-home parents even if they want to, and fixing it.

            • Today men have ONE choice and that is to work full time. Women have three choices that all work pretty well. Work full time, work part time or be a stay at home mom. It is not that there are no challenges with these choices for a woman but they are all perfectly doable. Tons of women have careers and families. My mother did. Yet the SAHD and part time options for men are not very workable options.

              In addition to societal expectations the big problem is female attraction. At exactly the point where a woman starts earning more than her man the chance for divorce goes up something like 38%. This has nothing to do with the woman being able to support herself outside of marraige with a sufficient salary because the divorce risk increased at just the point where she passes her husbands salary not by her salary per se and women with very high incomes that start to earn more than very high earning spouses experience the same risk increase as those with lower levels of income. So for a man not working or working part time leads to huge attraction problems in most cases.

              A man must also consider how his choices positions him for findinga nother partner after a possible divorce. Research shows that men with lower incomes and lack of status through career have very poor remarriage oportunities. So, for a man both his wifes attraction and his possibility of finding a partner after a divorce is based on him working.

              Societal pressures of various kinds come in addition to this further tying men to their jobs. The result is that women are a lot freer than men in how they live their lives. That is a HUGE female privellige, although of a recent kind.

            • Can you list the ways in which I benefit from sharing the same gender and skin color as politicians?

            • Random_Stranger says:

              KKZ,

              I would agree that the people in power tend to share a common life experience and that life experience informs their judgement of what is and is not worthy of investment. And as a person who shares their gender, more often than not, my perception of the world will be shared by those in power.

              But sharing common perception with those in institutional power does not necessarily translate to unbroken privilege -when these institutions demand sacrifices or define punishment, the male becomes the entity of sacrifice and punishment. Men may own property, but he must pay tribute. The government may represent him, but he must serve government. Men may have liberty, but he may be lawfully destroyed by judgement of his peers. Men may pursue happiness, but he may be sacrificed for the continuity of his peers. The privileges AND costs of having and maintaining a civilization have historically been merited out by those in power, defined and distributed for and among men like them.

              Long story short, I suppose as the privileges of institutions become more informed by a more representative collective in our modern era -it seems the costs of those institutions should be born more equally as well.

            • So it doesn’t really make sense to ask for a list of individual privileges that can be bickered about back and forth, back and forth, ad nauseum with no resolution. Playing “who has it worse” is pointless anyway – and for the record, I get annoyed when femi nists do it too. Equality doesn’t mean we all suffer equally, but that we join in arms to handle own suffering and lessen that of others as much as we can. As the saying goes, we’re all in this together.
              I think the problem some people have is that by not listing them people (namely guys) are left feeling like they are just expected to simply accept those privileges as real without proof. I know I’ve been in conversations with feminists who basically use the “you’re privileged so whatever you have to say means less or is inherently tainted or so forth.” Well how can you say that then you can’t even back up the claim that I’m privileged?

              It’s not about suffering equally its about recognizing where the inequalities are so they can be addressed.

              I agree that a joining of hands would be nice but again, when the hands join to address these things how do we know what we are addressing?

              I’m really not trying to be difficult here. I’m trying to explain why people are put off by the language.

            • Tom Brechlin says:

              Okay, I stopped holding my breath…. I guess I won’t really get the list. I guess I’ll just have to accept them as real without proof.

              Curious about what category this scenario would fit. Man and women get’s married. He works, she stays home as a home maker. Pretty common in a lot of circles. Many would consider the man being privileged in that he is likely to have a well paying career. But what about the wife?

              In the reverse, men who don’t work are still looked at as lazy slugs.

      • To the extent that any of our values are shaped by the stories we watch and read, and I think they are to some extent, I agree that both men and women suffer. Women have to look for a while to find women independently shaping their lives, and men have to look past the pile of men’s bodies that were sacrificed on the heroes journey.

        In so many action movies men are like sperm; many of us seem necessary for one to succeed. Pretty cool if you’re the one……and the hero/male stories help us believe that we’ll be the one. Just don’t do the math.

      • Based on how that article describes “men’s” behavior I don’t know any men. I think that would come as a surprise to a lot of people I know who thought they were.

      • John Anderson says:

        “We need to change a system which places a higher value on the masculine, than the feminine”

        Society doesn’t necessarily value the masculine more. They are valued differently. The bias in favor of women in family court is because the feminine is valued more when it comes to child rearing. Yes, I’ve heard feminists suggest that child care is considered beneath men as it’s in the realm of the feminine so that’s why men are denied custody in family court, however, it is disingenuous to suggest that courts are telling men that you can’t have your children because your too good for it even though this is what you’re requesting.

        When you have to start forcing the square pegs into the round holes to make it fit your philosophy, it may be time to rethink your philosophy. What would be so damaging to consider that the masculine and feminine could be differently valued rather than one be valued more all the time?

        • Random_Stranger says:

          Agree 100% John Anderson.

          I tend to perceive gender norms as a means of control intended to shape the choices of men and women towards activities that favor the expansion of the culture without regard to the well-being of the individual. Neither role is necessarily superior to the other, rather they are both subordinate to the collective.

          The problem with feminism is that it insists on a hierarchy to gender that causes the believe system to make some strange (and honestly frustrating) leaps of logic, as you pointed out, to maintain its narrative. Reminds me of an argument feminists used to describe the persecution of gay men: hate of male homosexuality is an expression of a hatred of femininity and misogyny instead of hatred for masculine non-conformity and an expression of misandry.

    • “I guess it starts with the easy sequitur you made from “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings” to ” Feminism is the idea that men and women should be treated equally.” As though one simply begets the other without further examination.”

      To be fair (to myself), I try to keep these answers short…and that means making a few statements without elaborating too much. So for this one, the underlying assumption of Kramarae’s statement is that men are considered human beings by society, is something that could garner further examination. Men, as a group, are considered the default human beings. They’re the neutral…whereas women are considered the modified versions, so to speak.

      I wrote a personal blog post about this, here: http://radicalcentristblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/men-and-gender-identity/

    • Your analysis of the movie you mentioned are missing one key component…the hero is male. And that is key…really quite key. In war movies and action movies, yes, swaths of men are gunned down like so much cannon fodder…and if you as a viewer are focusing on that, then it can seem to be saying that men are disposable. HOWEVER, movies are created with the idea that you will identify with the protagonist, not the extras. And the protagonist is almost always male (particularly in action films).

      What’s more, in the movies most of the time violence against men is committed by men. Now, on one level that’s not really any better (perpetuating the idea that masculinity is violent). On the other hand, it does mean that in the movies, while some men will be victims of violence, other men are able to DO something about it. So…Luke Skywalker, for example. In Star Wars all kinds of men die…but at some point Luke, the hero, is able to start doing things…able to take charge of his future and what-not.

      Which isn’t to say violence can’t be a very useful storytelling tool. One of my favourite t.v. shows is Spartacus (which just finished, I’m so sad). That thing is VIOLENT, oh my goodness. And a bazillion extras (mostly men) die in pretty much every episode…particularly once we get to the big battles and what-not. But men aren’t disposable in that show…not as a class…because the heroes are also men. In fact, part of what makes the Romans so horrible in the show is that they consider their troops (and their slaves) disposable. They also have great representations of women on that show, but I won’t go into that because that’d just make this comment way too long.

      • So are you saying ‘Saving Private Ryan’ should have shown women storming the beaches of Normandy?

        • Nope. Although, there’s an interesting thing that’s happening in some t.v. and movies right now. The BBC’s show Merlin, for example, has a person of colour playing Guinevere. And the previously mentioned Spartacus has got women in the rebel’s fighting force. I’m not completely sure whether that is accurate, or not…but I’m willing to bet it’s not quite as common as the show makes it out to be.

          Of course the difference there is that Merlin is largely about a myth, and Spartacus is about a historical figure so old it might as well be a myth. They’ve both got a healthy dose of “creative license” going on. Meanwhile, Saving Private Ryan was all about gritty realism…so obviously, no, women shouldn’t have stormed the beaches of Normandy. My point in bringing it up was that all that death and violence was there to set the tone for the movie…and let the audience know it was serious.

          • You seem to shrug off ‘Male Disposability’ as in “Those deaths just set the tone of the movie”. In the ‘Real Deal’ those weren’t extras, those were someones Brother, Father Son ,Uncle cut down in the prime of life. Many of them seeing their first ‘Action’. It seems a lot of Feminist like to go on about this thing called ‘Male Privilege’ (which I’m still waiting for someone to give me an example of how I’ve benefitted) , but they seem to want to gloss over ‘Male Disposability’ (if they’re even willing to admit it exists).

            • I’m interested in exploring the topic of male disposability, from issues of war to issues of the dirty/dangerous jobs going to men in general. But just like so many men go “What are we supposed to do about it?” when confronted with specific ways that women are harmed by male P-word, I can’t help feeling like what you’re saying is the truth, but what are we supposed to do about it? Stop sending our men to war? As I recall, it’s not women who are starting and pushing for war to begin with. Should wives not permit their husbands, or mothers their sons, to sign up for military service? Guess it doesn’t matter as long as Selective Service is a thing. I suppose what you would want is for women to start signing up for service themselves, volunteering for the most dangerous missions, and/or seeking jobs in the dirty/dangerous non-military industries. I don’t know what to say to that other than everyone has the right to pursue whatever job they want, blue collar, white collar, whatever. And if no one wants the dirty jobs that must get done… well, I don’t know what to say to that either, because it’s not like there’s some less-worthy third gender we can stick with those jobs because we don’t want them (a la most Americans’ attitudes toward hard-labor farming jobs that typically go to immigrants).

              Truth be told, every time I see a man or woman working in an undesirable job, I wonder what it is that put them there and keeps them there. Circumstance? Inheritance? Sense of duty (It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it)? For example, when I watch How It’s Made and it shows factory workers on a line, EVERY TIME the thought that goes across my mind is “How on earth do they go back to that job day after day? Don’t they want anything better for themselves?” Bam, there’s my white upper-middle-class Privilege showing. I not only had the opportunity to go to college and choose my own path, it was more or less a given, the expectation for me. I was groomed specifically into that niche; had I chosen to reject it and pursue a blue-collar job, every eyebrow in my family and peer community would go up. And because of this Privilege, I can’t even comprehend being in the position where a factory-line job is “good enough” for someone. I know how elitist and uncompassionate that sounds, I’m just being honest.

            • Tom Brechlin says:

              Ya know it kind of bothers me a lot when people look down on those who do dirty or the so called undesirable jobs. In my former career, (part of my job had to do with settlements of workmans comp and GL cases) I worked with all levels of employees. Weird thing is that when I met a lot of these factory workers, I found them to be far less complicated and happier in general. Where as you wonder how they could stand it, I looked at them and envied them.

              At the end of their day, they were done, go home and hang out with their loved ones. The end of my day often meant going back to my hotel room, or going to a dinner meeting or grabbing the next flight out to my next destination.

              Maybe because I grew up in a blue collar family, I have a different perspective. But the difference between me and my dad … he was home far more then I was. Between my dad and I, which one of us had the so called “male privilege?” My dad busted his ass to provide an environment that accommodated my mom being home with the kids. I busted my ass so as to provide an environment that my wife stayed home with the kids. My SIL (fireman) is providing an environment where my daughter is able to stay home with the kids. There simply is no “privilege.” None of us accomplished what we did because we were/are men. It’s simply doing what you need to do.

              KKZ, something that many women fail to understand is that many men are not out for the prestige of a corporate career. Men like to work, it’s that simple.

            • @KKZ- So why don’t you ask them, why they do what they do?
              Or do you just see them from the shareholder’s deck?

            • Privilege I think is meant to be more like the averages. Take an average male n average female, he is more likely to have better success in a job, she is more likely to have better success in having a stay at home parent relationship (as in a breadwinner for their family whilst she takes care of kid). She’s less likely to be a victim of physical/non-sexual violence, he’s less likely to be a victim of sexual violence (not by too much though). He has more role models on tv, she has more role models at school and in growing up (most teachers are female, more women get facetime than men with kids). If conscription exists she has privilege in not being forced to fight, on the flipside he has privilege of access to all military careers (these 2 are changing in modern western countries).

              Individual women can be far more better off than men, even some black people have hugely privileged lives over many white people (Oprah for example) but she isn’t privileged over her race or gender but her wealth, and there are far more white people with that level of privilege in wealth. Intersectionality matters a lot, the average man in poverty is far less privileged than say an upper class woman probably due to the power of wealth. But that doesn’t mean the gender of men aren’t privileged, nor women aren’t privileged because there are less female CEO’s, but that privilege is a tricky thing to quantify. It can be said that men have more privileges in peacetime in many countries, but even then women hold huge amounts of power of influence with children and privilege regarding childcare whilst men get privilege in the workplace for upper-level positions. But that doesn’t mean childcare isn’t extremely limiting when it’s expected of your gender, nor mean that being a soldier or working in dangerous jobs isn’t a huge burden either.

              The tricky part of privilege is that it often has other issues that influence it, responsibilty, risk, etc. For example it’s true men hold more positions of power BUT men also are over 90% of on the job deaths, “Men’s” jobs are FAR more risky, and in wartime this disparity becomes huge. It’s also true women have great power amongst influence of children but they are also at far more risk during childbirth of complications, permanent body changes, even death and also the gender role for women is limiting in that it slows their progression in a career as they find it harder to get promoted but also are expected to take time off to look after kids. The flipside of that is men are EXPECTED to work n keep working, men take on more of the financial burden in a 2-parent average hetero household with this gender role and with the state of jobs these days this can lead to huge health risks regarding stress (worsening now due to the GFC + rising of living but more commonly than before this burden is shared by women in that relationship as many homes are now 2 working parents). Of course then you get single parents who face the double-effect of this burden, they have to be provider and carer so they are less privileged than 2 parent homes.

              I’m not sure privilege is a good word to use though for this, because it fails to take into account the responsibility behind it. Men get more power, but get far more risk in war to earn that power for example. Privileges are rarely given for free between genders, between races though the privilege is far more evident especially in the past where slave-labour was used.

            • “As I recall, it’s not women who are starting and pushing for war to begin with.”
              It’s not men either, it’s society, both men n women as a collective although some monarch societies have a man OR a woman declare war. People often forget women’s role in war, how many women here marched against the IRAQ war? Voted in those who voted for war? How many females in the power structure voted to goto war? Women need to step up and take responsibility for their role in war, their hands are bloody too. Inaction isn’t an excuse, women played a massive role in ww2 in making the objects that kill, women have blood on their hands even if they never fired a bullet and they can’t claim ignorance on the matter since anyone with an iq above 70 understands weapons in wartime are used to kill, the person firing it has primary responsibility along with the leadership, the secondary responsibility is the person that made it for the purpose of supplying an army. It’s not like they were in peacetime and the bullet could be used for sport shooting at paper targets!

              “And because of this Privilege, I can’t even comprehend being in the position where a factory-line job is “good enough” for someone. I know how elitist and uncompassionate that sounds, I’m just being honest.”
              I don’t want many jobs in that type of job because I cannot handle doing the exact same thing over n over, I go crazy, hate it, I need dynamics to occupy my mind.

            • “the person firing it has primary responsibility along with the leadership”

              Remember that russian soldiers not willing to fight was shot. In many battles the option was run into certain death or be killed by your won officiers.

            • As I recall, it’s not women who are starting and pushing for war to begin with.
              But that doesn’t stop women from pushing for it and supporting it when it happens.

              I’m sure you aren’t interested in trying to start up an argument over who causes war but this bit right here comes off like you’re trying to say that when it comes to war women have nothing to do with it.

            • Personaly I don`t want women to go to war at all. I think they are ill suited physically and in most cases mentaly for it and that they do not function as well in the type of hyper masculine group dynamics found in the military and I think their presence weakens the group psychology in dangerous ways. They will start to try to acomodate the military to fit what makes them comofrtable and we are already starting to see with for example Norwegian officers in charge of recruiting women saying that we need to deemphasize masculine qualities and virtues such as disciplin in the military because the women report they don`t like it. Another example is that because the female soldiers can`t keep up with the male soldiers in training the US army has made the physical training signifiacantly easier so that both genders can train together. This has resulted in the male soldiers not gaining as much physical fitness (and the mental toughness gained by extreme physical challenge which is vital in preperation for war) as they did before.

              So the male soldiers are already become physically les capable, mentally less though and will soon become less trained in discipline (the cornestone of all armies at all times througout history) just to accomodate womens desire to also be soldiers. In itself the willingness to weaken the army in this way is the most alarming example of a weakening of the military mindset needed in the military. In order to win wars one must set aside ALL considerations for individual needs if the army as a whole needs it to win. IMO this mentality is very masculine, both the view that it must be so and enforcing this from the top and the willingness to set care for yourself to the side and harden yourself as much as needed for the goal as a soldier following orders.

              So, I disagree, strongly, with the view of many MRAs that there should be a female draft. I want men to be left alone to fight wars because it is safer for us that way, because it is more ffective that way and since we are the ones who realisticly will have to cary most of the burden of fighting wars anyway deserve to manage the fighting of them the way we see fit. We are evolved to fight them well while minimizing risk. Let us do that job without carying the burden of women taking part while recognizing that this is a harsh burden for men to burdened with and honour them for that.

              Norway is very close now to making it obligatory for women to serve in the military so we will see how this works out in the years to come. When teh military is going to train not just the women at the very highest levels of female physical capability but women of average and poor physical capability to training will degenrate completly. They won`t even be anywhere near able to carry their equipment and they will change the training so that the soldiers are treated with a form of care that makes the least though women feel comfortable and that means the training will be psychologically meaningless as it needs to be very harsh in order to prepare the soldiers to put aside all considerations for their own physical and psychological comfort in order to prepare for war situations where that has to be done or you and others die and the war is lost.

              I`m all for women in intelligence organisations though. Even in the most dangerous positions. This is partly because there are many things in intelligence a woman can do that a man can not simply by passing as a woman and partly for other reasons. We have also had women in intelligence organisations since their begining more or less and that has worked out fine.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ KKZ

              “it’s not women who are starting and pushing for war to begin with.”

              Have women never complained about lack of resources? When you demand resources, you are complicit in their acquisition. People may abhor what happened in Bangladesh, but then complain about why things cost so much and patronize the retailers that use this labor bordering on slavery.

          • ht tp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Servile_War
            Everyone who could fight picked up the sword/whatever n fought alongside Spartacus, women included and probably children too. In a war like that, EVERYONE has to fight. The creativity in that show is probably the model-looks on many of them, and somehow the slave women had makeup just before a fucking battle! That show is the epitomy of testosterone laden movies n reminds me of the 80′s action heroes quite frankly:P.

            Enemy at the Gates shows female soldiers dying, Pearl Harbour has female nurses cut down by “Zeroes”, anything on modern day military may have female soldiers being harmed. Saving Private Ryan I think has female civilians killed, but mostly men….the beach scene is one of the most horrific I’ve seen in a movie.

            Before the 80′s? Women were largely not a part of frontline soldiers, I think Russia was the only army (that I know of) to have women in it fighting but the rest were mostly male. Throughout history it’s usually been Men fighting, men get killed, women stayed at home to raise kids and keep the work going on (armies need to eat), and the invading army usually kills off the men, maybe the children and keeps the women to procreate with n have as spoils of war. There aren’t many military movies that could be made with female soldiers dying. Even crime movies usually have males because it’s largely males. Women were largely privileged in being protected from war where possible in the past unless you were on the losing team in which case everyone was up shits creek. Women were even used to shame men into fighting, and I’m sure the “cowards” that didn’t fight were socially ostracized n had a hard time finding a partner. When wars like that come around, males largely lose their privilege (conscription) and it’s the very elite who keep it (rich being able to stop their sons/themselves going to war).

            Anyone who is conscripted however loses privilege, their life is now a tool in the war machine (their agency is 100% denied, far far more than non-conscripts, they are now slaves to their government and are put in the most dangerous situation on Earth), to win their life back they need to survive. 80% of males born in 1923 I believe DIED in ww2, that is what conscription does. Given the recent advances of women in combat women in those countries may have just lost their privilege in the next megawar as the numbers may be filled with both men n women.

            Can’t really show mass murder of women without women being in such mass murdered situations for history apart from a few battles where I think EVERYONE was killed, and genocidal acts like the Nazi genocide of people of jewish + the physically n mentally ill/handicapped (T-4 “Euthanasia” program, ~200,000 people murdered, I think people forget this one). The only ever >50 women killed in a movie that I’ve seen is either the deathcamps of ww2, nukes or major disasters in movies (which don’t show the bodies much), and maybe movies of pre 20th century war. But I have seen countless movies of >50 men dying.

            • Agreed, throughout history war has been about men fighting for territory and resources to benefit the group. In hunter gather societies, the men didn’t have a choice, I suppose, because (a) if they didn’t fight, their neighboring tribe would come kill them and take their women and their hunting territory and (b) they wouldn’t have the opportunity to grab women and resources for themselves, and wouldn’t be seen as desirable mates by women in their own community. With the growth of civilization, war was scaled up massively but it is still largely about territory and resources which men are expected to defend on behalf of their community. which is often very unfair to the individual men, and the benefit to the community (nation) is often debatable.

            • which is often very unfair to the individual men, and the benefit to the community (nation) is often debatable.
              Individual men?

              I wonder. How many individual men does it take before we get to the point of acknowledging that it might be affecting men overall, on the average, or in some large scale capacity?

              I’m asking because it seems that when something harms men we are individuals but when something benefits men we are a collective entity.

            • It’s interesting someone suggested that it is feminists who are concerned with outcomes, but this kind of highlights the opposite. Let me explain.

              The number of men (or women) affected isn’t all that accounts for whether something is affecting a group as a collective entity, or as individuals. That’s part of it, certainly…but that’s not it. All that is, is outcome. What feminists and gender theorists (and social theorists of all kinds) look to is whether people in a group is affected because they are part of that group.

              So we’ll take slut-shaming, for example. Regardless of how many women are actively slut-shamed, the reason it’s a form of sexism is that women are slut-shamed because they are women. Privilege works in the same way…it’s not about how many people in a group are individually affected…it’s about the fact that privilege exists because they are part of that group. So…white people and politics. Most while people aren’t in politics…and yet having more access to the political power structure is a white privilege. This is because politicians are privileged if they are white…white politicians are privileged because they are white. And part of the outcome of this, is that most politicians are white (even though most white people aren’t politicians).

              So it’s the why…it’s the reasons and justifications society uses for oppression.

            • So from there….

              When it comes to sending people off to war its most often done on the basis that men are fit for it but women are not. Thus the vast majority of military casualties are male because males are supposedly the ones that are fit for military service.

              Or the ways male rape/assault victims are shamed and silenced. This shaming is not quote the same as the shaming that female victims go through. Yes when a woman is raped the shaming commentary is usually about what kind of woman she is. You don’t see quite as much “she’s a woman so that means she was asking for it” its usually more “look at what she was wearing, drinking, how she was dancing with that guy, etc…..”

              With men on the other hand its quite simply, “He’s a guy so he must have wanted it.”

              Yet those things are often not called sexism for the specific reason that supposedly men cannot be the targets of sexism.

              I know that its about the why, which was the point of my comment above. What I’m wondering is why does it seem that the why only counts part of the time while at other times the why is ignored or grudgingly acknowledged at best. Almost like the who matters more.

              It’s interesting someone suggested that it is feminists who are concerned with outcomes, but this kind of highlights the opposite
              I think the reason that is the case is because of feminists who spout phrases like, “When women make up 50% Congress then we’ll talk about how men are harmed!” like its a Finishing Move. If its about opportunity rather than outcome then wouldn’t that be, “When a woman has the same shot at a seat in Congress as a man then we’ll talk about how men are harmed!”?

              (I’m sure we can agree that such conditional statements are pretty bad.)

              When outcome is being held up as the bar for when equality is achieved its no wonder that people take that as what feminists are concerned with.

            • Mike L says:

              I don’t understand this part at all:

              ” Privilege works in the same way…it’s not about how many people in a group are individually affected…it’s about the fact that privilege exists because they are part of that group. ”

              By this logic, if I live in a state with a lottery, then I’m “privileged” because someone in my state will win the lottery and I have access to lottery tickets. People who live in other states don’t have access to lottery tickets, so they lack my “privilege.”

              But from a policy analysis standpoint this is absurd. The overall welfare of the state is unlikely to be different simply because a lottery has been introduced. A single lottery winner introduced into the state is not going to dramatically change the lives of anyone within the state. Likewise, a single lottery winner is not going to magically make the lives of everyone within the state better than the lives of those living in neighboring states; societal outcomes in general will not have changed.

              So we’re supposed to analyze society through the lens of privilege, even though privilege is defined in a way where it doesn’t actually change society (just as a single lottery winner is not going to change society)? That seems like a useless framework for analysis.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ Heather

              The other side of slut shaming is virgin shaming, which only affects men as a group. So are men actually privileged because they won’t be slut shamed or are women privileged because they won’t be virgin shamed?

              A feminist once told me that men had privilege because their sexual availability wouldn’t be determined based on what they wore. I said that is because men are always considered sexually available. At least women could theoretically signal that they are not sexually available while men can not so who is actually privileged? I would say the person with options.

            • I just meant that soldiers are told to go die for the sake of the nation, but for individuals who get maimed or killed, it sucks. It also sucks for groups of men who get asked to make sacrifices others don’t (lower income men and men of color who were disproportionately drafted during Vietnam for example). Dying for the folks back home is easy to believe in when you are George W. Bush sitting pretty in the National Guard ’cause daddy pulled some strings for ya.

          • Couldn’t disagree with you more. The scenes were there due to historical fact.

      • Random_Stranger says:

        ….yeah, I still think we’re looking through our respective restricted lens of the world:

        As a guy, I don’t experience a world that assumes masculinity carries a higher value than femininity -and I think most men would share that perspective. In my world, masculinity is highly disposable, and value is withheld, made scarce and granted selectively upon achievement of whatever high risk often self-destructive exercise society has for me. The fact that our heroes are men is not self-evident that the masculine is valued -you have to put that in context with an underclass which is also men. Is it better to live in a world where I must become Luke Skywalker, or experience a pitiless death as one of many, many faceless henchman?

        I don’t doubt that the experience of women within the gender construct is real, but I think its also fundamentally different from the gender oppression men experience. You’re right, I can become a hero but I’m also much more likely to be disposed of -which I think is different, not better, that the gender limitations imposed on women. Feminism cannot fully articulate the gender binary as a mutually imposed system to direct the choices of others, men and women so long as the standard of gender oppression is defined exclusively by the experience of women. I believe feminism, is deeply flawed and an inadequate tool for addressing gender without a more gender balanced movement.

      • Martin Nash says:

        I find your analysis of this interesting and mostly correct. Men do get most of the roles on both sides of the equation.

        Where it falls apart is the rare examples of female protagonists in action movies. Usually their body count is mostly male too (basically anything with Angelina Jolie). Women are certainly getting a much bigger share of the bad guy market (historically reserved for a single amazonian) and tis is not a bd thing, but it is only really in the past couple of years that male characters have been ‘allowed’ to fight them one on one. On top of this until recently most movie male leads were not seen to kill women baddies and this was usually left to be dealt with by the female sidekick/damsel in distress. Women on the other hand can kill who ever they damn well please.

        To develop this further, we now have a trend of movie heroes having back-stories explaining their trauma yet is it nearly always trauma caused by men, in very few cases are women responsible for the downfall of female leads.

        To be clear I am quite happy with movies showing violence of any kind and am a big fan of slapstick but any claim that male body counts in movies are a fair representation is wrong.

      • Saitek says:

        “Your analysis of the movie you mentioned are missing one key component…the hero is male. And that is key…”

        Of course the HERO IS MALE. There were no females on the beaches in Normandy. AFAIK, mothers didn’t lose 3 or 4 daughters in a war but they sure did lose 3 or 4 sons.

        I also believe that using movies to illustrate a point is extremely troublesome, you are using fiction to explain reality, when you could actually use reality, but the problem is reality doesn’t allow you to make your point because reality says you are wrong.

        Look at the news coverage of disasters, you know real life things, men aren’t mentioned because society doesn’t give a shit about them. That is reality Heather, and it sucks.

        As someone said above, sure we men get to be heroes in movies, that is because the other men in the movies by the hundreds get to be dead, what a privilege.

        • Saitek says:

          On another note: I watched some TV coverage of the Boston bombings on the local news here that was shot on a cell phone camera from a person at the race. The news commentator was asking the question and rightfully so. “Why are all the people running towards the bombing area MEN and most of those running away from it, WOMEN”

          It really does post a good question.

          • Tom Brechlin says:

            Saitek … I think you know the answer. It’s what men do. It’s simply one of those “Okay, I stopped holding my breath…. I guess I won’t really get the list. I guess I’ll just have to accept them as real without proof.

            Curious about what category this scenario would fit. Man and women get’s married. He works, she stays home as a home maker. Pretty common in a lot of circles. Many would consider the man being privileged in that he is likely to have a well paying career. But what about the wife?

            In the reverse, men who don’t work are still looked at as lazy slugs.

  2. Alastair says:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Heather.

  3. Mr Supertypo says:

    interesting…

  4. Hi Heather N., thanks for giving us a chance to pose our questions, I really do appreciate it.

    I have two questions for you: Firstly, how does feminism define privilege? For example, is it defined as financial and career opportunity, or could there be different types of privilege, such as emotional privilege, having the option of more time and closer connections with family, and so fourth? I have often noticed that different people seem to have access to different kinds of privilege, and that work and money are not necessarily the most important nor the most rewarding of the different types of privilege. As well, the degree of access to the various types of privilege seem to depend on how well the eligible candidates fulfil their socially assigned roles.

    Which leads into my next question: Is privilege distributed evenly across the groups that various feminist theories attribute them to? Are all men really able access “male privilege”? Or is there an aspect of feminist thinking that acknowledges that not all men are eligible for access to said male privilege (regardless of their orientation or colour).

    The reason why I ask these two particular questions is because I often feel, as a man, that mainstream society has failed to sell it’s idea of “male privilege” to men such as myself. To me, it’s nothing more than a ploy to get me to play a gender role… and I see myself as more than a gender role, I’m a human being. Being coerced into a role, whether it’s racial, gender, or even cognitively based (Asgerger’s, etc), in my opinion, is always dehumanizing.

    In my own case, I chose to refuse to fulfil my assigned role because it not only appeared to be a mind-numbingly soul-sucking role to fulfil, but because I didn’t want to partake in patriarchy. I honestly feel as though I have been short-changed, as have many young men, because we chose not to play those roles. What I’m saying is that refusing ones socially assigned gender role must come with consequences, or no one would bother fulfilling them. Loss of respect in the community and at work, social isolation, the refusal of emotional and moral support from family, and being passed up for promotions, and even companionship, are what a man might expect if he dares to be as open about his feelings, life and his struggles (such as coping with ptsd, eating disorders, or other mental health and trauma related issues) as women can be. The stigma that can be attached to letting down ones guard can effect a man more deeply than mere reputation. It could ruin a man’s life and career. So the carrot may be “male privilege”, but the stick is there to ensure that we take the carrot.

    And I suppose this leads me into a third question: do certain forms of feminist thought attribute dehumanization solely to the traditional female gender role, or both/all gender roles?

    Personally, I would actually prefer to be a stay at home dad, and a house husband, I’m the most domestic man I’ve ever known. But I’ve had women laugh at me and men get down right hostile for suggesting that a man would ever have a desire to do such things. Even my female friends who describe themselves as feminists have taken on a patronizing tone with me after I tell them this. And I’m not saying this for the sake of argument, it’s the honest truth.

    Personally, I’m currently indifferent to most of feminism at the moment, but utterly fed up with patriarchy and traditional male gender roles. Similtaniously, I indeed encourage women and girls in my sphere to study feminism and to get involved. Yet, personally, I feel like I’m always caught in the cross fire between the patriarchy and certain feminists; while patriarchy penalizes me for not living up to my assigned gender role, certain feminists accuse me of failing to admit to my place in that patriarchy.

    • wellokaythen says:

      My question about privilege, for you and HeatherN and others, is not so much about definition as it is about diagnostics. I’m less concerned about how you define privilege as I am about how you test it or prove it.

      However one defines privilege, what would you use as a credible, reliable test to detect it? Is it possible to examine a situation or person and test for a kind of privilege and detect none?

      I ask because most of the explanations I’ve heard about privilege (race, gender, class, whatever) seem to detect privilege everywhere. The test always comes back positive, which to me suggests that it’s a faulty test. There are more and more kinds of privilege detected everywhere, and all are accepted as true, especially if people admit to having it, and there is no way to disprove the existence of any privilege. If I say that I know that I have privilege X or am a victim of privilege X, I still think that should be testable by an outside observer — I could be a “privilege hypochondriac.”

      If there’s no possible negative reading, that leads to an inflationary spiral that calls into question the whole validity of the model itself. It reminds me of those shows were ‘paranormal researchers’ go to houses to detect if the houses are haunted. Lo and behold, every house they investigate turns out to be haunted. It would not just not do for them to go to a house that’s rumored to be haunted and they find nothing supernatural going on….

  5. Alastair says:

    A few more challenging questions:

    1. What, if any, privileges would women have to give up in order to create a more equal society?

    2. To what extent is the movement of feminism culturally and historically contingent upon the social and technological form of an industrialized or post-industrial society, upon a society where state and market rather than family, community, and civil society are the most determinative social realities, and where an individualistic liberal anthropology is the general consensus? What would feminism look like in a world without birth control and contraception, for instance? How about a society where the state was a far less dominant agent? Or a society where the family was the most determinative social reality?

    3. Following on from the previous question, to what extent should feminism understand itself as redress of historical injustices and to what extent is it contingent upon modern advances that enable women to have higher expectations of their roles within contemporary Western society, expectations that cannot fairly be anachronistically demanded of past ages, or less developed foreign countries? To what extent can societies that don’t conform to the current feminist ideal, whether those societies are historical or in other parts of the world, be accused of falling short?

    4. Feminism makes some pretty strong demands of society, calling it to change in a host of ways. For instance, it may call for an equal number of women in top positions or equal pay. For me this raises the crucial question of how responsive feminism itself is to empirical reality. A position that makes high demands but isn’t highly responsive to empirical reality can be dangerously ideological and cause immense damage to society. Where the rational person tries something and it doesn’t work, they revise their position and change tack: where the ideological person tries something and it doesn’t work, they just insist that we must push harder and harder.

    To what extent has feminism shown itself to be responsive to unwelcome or unforeseen empirical realities in the past and revised itself? Say, for instance, that the weight of evidence was shown to favour the position that men and their preferred forms of socialization are naturally more motivated than women and their preferred forms of socialization to establish the sorts of relationships that create social, economic, and political capital and power relations, and that this is highly unlikely merely to be a product of social conditioning, how would feminism adjust to that fact?

    5. Can you give an example of a few key claims that feminism makes that are open to clear proof or disproof? How could they be proved or disproved?

    6. To what extent is feminism’s commitment to equality a priori? If it could be shown that, relative to key relevant criteria, women were not in fact equal to men in some area of life (for instance, in the aptitude and motivation to create power relations), would feminism demand equality nonetheless?

    7. Is feminism’s heavy reliance upon a hermeneutic of suspicion a barrier to receptive and corrective dialogue with critics? To what degree does such a hermeneutic render feminism vulnerable to the dynamics of conspiracy theorists, who dismiss contrary evidence and disqualify the voices of critics, by colouring them as acting largely out of self-interest? If feminism is indeed suspicious of non-feminist critics, how does it open itself up to challenge and correction?

    8. My impression is that feminism has tended to find its greatest support in the humanities and has often had a fairly antagonistic relationship with certain sciences, especially fields such as evolutionary psychology, in many respects the sorts of disciplines that might expose underlying differences between men and women as groups that might lead to significant divergences in social roles. If this impression is correct, how might this antagonism be corrected? How could feminism start to hold itself more open to the findings of science, findings that might sometimes prove surprising and unwelcome?

    Most of the above questions cluster around the underlying question of the sort of thing feminism is. Is feminism a quasi-religious ideology, with a priori claims that are resistant to and dismissive of contrary voices, critics, evidence, and natural realities, or is it a movement that can claim a firm evidential basis, a basis held open to question, examination, and challenge, and responsive to the unexpected and unwelcome realities of a complex world?

  6. If you believe that objectification is a useful term could you explain it in a way that isn’t a simile or a metaphor?

    • I don’t mean to speak for Heather N but thoughtnI’d jump in. Many people are unaware that the concept of objectification comes from psychoanalysis, specifically a school of psychoanalysis called object relations. The idea is that you, and I, and everyone, see others through a filter of our own needs and past experiences. When we interact with people, in our mind, we are interacting with “objects” that we create. I am the subject (of myself), other people (everyone) are my objects. So, for example, to a baby, mother is a object which is the source of milk. A mature, healthy person is able to understand that other people are also their own subjects and are more complex than our own needs. Remember when you were a child, the first time you realized your parents had a separate life outside of caring for you and your siblings? It’s a jarring realization.

      The psychoanalysts, back in the day, talked about certain men treating women as “sex objects” in the sense that these men only related to women as a means to get their sexual needs met. Like a baby who can only think of his mother as a source of milk. On a societal scale, this tendency to see women as sex objects denied women their full humanity. An example would be a smart young woman working as a secretary in a 1960′s office who men only saw as eye candy and not as an intelligent, capable person who had the potential for a lot more. If she asked for more opportunities and responsibility, she’s laughed at.

      All of us objectify everyone, from this perspective — it’s impossible not to. Women can objectify men just as easily. it is a universal psychological phenomenon.

  7. courage the cowardly dog says:

    Why was my comment deleted?

  8. wellokaythen says:

    Several people have mentioned _Saving Private Ryan_.

    The movie is NOT really all about men. Only on a superficial level is it only about men.

    Even though all the main characters are (cis-)male, there a gigantic inter-gender dynamic at the heart of the plot. The whole point of the plot, and the source of title of the movie, is about a woman. There is a very illustrative moment in the film that clearly suggests a sense of male disposability relative to women. At one point, a male character quotes a letter from Lincoln to a woman in the Civil War, thanking her for sacrificing her sons on the altar of the republic. Anyone notice that? Just think about that for a moment. Her heroism comes continuing to live after the actual death of men in her family.

    The whole premise of the last 2/3 of the movie, whether this premise is all that realistic or not, is to prevent a woman back home from becoming any sadder at the loss of one more of her children. Not save her life, but to prevent her grief from getting any bigger. If momma Ryan loses one more son, she may not be able to take it. (Think how the sons themselves might feel about it….) The entire point of “saving” one soldier is not for his own sake, not because his life is precious on its own, but to save his mother any more grief. Several of the soldiers on the mission point out the absurdity of this, and Private Ryan himself balks at this illogical idea, but what answer do they get? Do your job. You’ll live if I order you to live, and you’ll risk your life if I tell you to risk your life.

    I found the masculine themes in the movie to be somewhat muted, actually. There’s just about a bare minimum of attention to the fact that they are men as men, very little conversation with each other about manhood. There’s no traditional John Wayne war movie swagger or monologues about “being a man” or long explanations about women. No one’s called a dick or a pussy or talks very much about sexual conquest. They don’t talk about penises or testicles. Their masculinity might even be downplayed more in the movie than it was in real life. They hardly talk like what you’d expect soldiers to talk like, actually. (What you might call the Ambrose-ization of the image of the American GI in WWII. Apparently we’re supposed to think the D-Day boys went to Normandy straight from Sunday School!) Even when the officers use the term “men,” it’s almost a bureaucratic term. They’re not so much individual gender units anymore as they are serial numbers.

    • Great comment. Men’s lives were disposable in order to save 1 womens GRIEF. Men were DYING to go find him, Men were put in harms way to save HIS life over their own to help settle the feelings of a woman who was 20000km away! It’s pretty fucking sick to be honest…

      • PursuitAce says:

        Archy, you make a lot of great comments. You know there is more to it than that. Come on now…

        • That’s the overriding message though. How many men with mothers died also? Is losing 3 sons worse than 1 son who’s your only son? Is their life worth less?

  9. Heather,
    Thank you for taking the time to write out these responses!
    While I may not agree with everything you have to say, I really enjoy the level of discussion your posts bring to these boards. I enjoy the level of measure, thought and decency you show to everyone on these boards; whether you are in a debate or in agreement.

    Please keep contributing!

  10. This is a very informative TEDx talk by Colin Stokes about how movies teach ‘manhood’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ueOqYebVhtc

    • Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to this…but yeah I’ve seen that TEDx talk, and I found it really interesting. As with so many things, there are multiple issues going on when it comes to portraying heroes in movies. It’s layered. So we almost always portray the hero as a man, particularly in anything involving action. The other, though, is definitely about how we’ve constructed a toxically masculine idea of what a hero is….a hero isn’t building communities and forging relationships. A hero boldly goes in, takes charge, saves the day and gets the girl, all by himself. (Or maybe with the help of friends, but that’s always a secondary issue to completing the mission).

      Or perhaps we can break it down like this…movies (generally) tell us the following:
      - If you belong to the category man, you can be the hero.
      - If you are a hero, you must be ultra-masculine, independent, heterosexual, etc.

      (Movies tell us a hell of a lot of other stuff too, but I’m just focusing on heroes in mostly action movies). So a person qualifies for the hero role by belonging to the gender “man,” but he maintains that role by being a certain kind of man…

  11. Regarding violence against men in media:

    I just want to make it clear that what I was writing about was feminist ideas about men in media. HOWEVER, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the same interpretation can be used to discuss actual violence against men. Movies aren’t real (of course)…and so interpreting what different characters and stories mean in a movie is different to interpreting those same events in real life.

    I’ll use Saving Private Ryan as an example, because we’ve already had some discussion about it. In the movie, all the extras are nameless and characterless. They are soldiers and their function within the movie is to highlight how dangerous, bloody and gruesome the invasion on Normandy was. The message is that this is horrific and tragic because of the number of people who died in such painful ways. The meaning of those shots is derived from the large scale of the scenes and the graphic violence of the scenes.

    In real life, of course, every single person who died at Normandy was someone’s family member. And so the meaning derived from the movie is totally different than the affect the actual invasion had on families at the time.

    The way the stories we tell (like movies) interact with the reality of things that happened (such as WW2) is interesting and kind of complicated. It’s rarely every as straight forward as it might seem.

  12. OirishM says:

    ‘“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” It’s a bit of a snarky answer, but it fits.’

    No, it doesn’t.

    It’s like saying Stalinism is the radical notion that workers are human beings. It’s a gross oversimplification that discards much of the conceptualisations unique to feminism (conceptualisations that are frequently deployed in questionable ways, like X is privilege, or Y is a manifestation of the patriarchy) while reducing it to an emotive definition that is just poisoning the well against people who do not elect to take the label of “feminist”.

  13. John Anderson says:

    @ Heather

    I’m willing to leave it at

    “Also, the point is that feminism DOES examine how society affects men’s choices. That’s part of what feminism is about…looking at how society has made it less desirable for men to be stay-at-home parents even if they want to, and fixing it.”

    I did want to say something about perception or framing. A commenter on the previous post ask the feminist had stated that feminism was about opposing gender based discrimination and asked who would be against ending gender based discrimination. I told her that the disagreement often comes down to what one believes constitutes gender based discrimination and pointed out that the MRM almost universally supports a ban on infant male circumcision. Infant female circumcision is already illegal including the ceremonial nick. Many feminists don’t see gender based discrimination in this case. So when you frame the family dynamic as:

    “Men having a family in traditional male role – means being a provider
    Men having a career in traditional male role – means being a provider

    Women having a family in a traditional male role – means being a caretaker
    Women having a career – well it doesn’t work with the traditional female role”

    You get the answer you want, but why do people get jobs in the traditional sense? They do it to earn money. The reason is financial. So lets reassess the dynamic considering the traditional role of employment to the family.

    Men having a family in traditional male financial role – means being a provider
    Men having a career in traditional male nurturing role – means being a provider

    Women having a family in a traditional female nurturing role – means being a caretaker
    Women having a family in a traditional female financial role – means managing the families finances, budgeting etc. There is a reason why advertisers adopted the stupid husband meme. My mom used to cut coupons and save stamps. Yes,a penny saved is a penny earned because it stretched the family budget.

    It was men who only had one role in the family unless you include disciplinarian. Just wait till your father gets home. You see how things change when you change the underlying definitions. Your looking at the traditional in terms of how we view jobs today as a source of identity and social interactions. People can develop satisfaction from their careers. That, financial independence (options), and the new two income earner I need all the toys reality is why it has become an issue for women (in a family) today.

    Not that these issues shouldn’t be addressed. I’m just pointing out that looking at thing “through a feminist lens” may blind you to the reality that’s out there.

  14. I tried to post on Ozy Frantz’s blog, to only have my posts held in moderation for a day and a half, and then deleted summarily. All of them, reasonable or not.

    And Finally Feminism 101 as a reasonable site? Seriously?

    The site that says female privilege cannot exist by definition, that sexism against men is impossible, and that treats the system of what they call patriarchy as Class A oppressing Class B, and saying that evidence that Class B isn’t oppressing Class A is proof that privilege is unidirectional.

    Wrong.

    System is setup so that Class A and B oppress each other irrespectively of their own class membership. This isn’t warfare, this is dividing responsibility and perks based on certain tasks, and punishing dissent while allocating tasks based on absurd characteristics like genitals at birth.

    In short, treating dolls like they’re a “girl thing” because girls can later be mothers later is stupid. Boys can be fathers, children can be parents. It’s not a girl thing.

    And it’s not boys doing it to girls, or girls doing it to boys. It’s everyone doing it to everyone that isn’t themself.

    • The thing is, Schala, I could levy critiques of every single writer, book and blog I mentioned. I never agree with anyone 100% of the time. So the reason I listed the things I did was because they are useful, relatively accessible and put for some amazingly important and interesting feminist ideas.

      Anyway, I’m not going to argue who is right or wrong…but rather again explain how feminism interprets gender oppression. (This is simplified, of course). But basically, on the one hand you are right. Our gender system places restrictions on men and women in what behaviour is deemed acceptable…and one could argue that is a form of social oppression…or at least a result of an inherently oppressive gender system.

      The big difference, however, is that feminism also highlights how women’s gender roles have been undervalued. Men’s gender roles are more highly valued. The masculine is treated as better than the feminine, in western society. THAT is what the Feminism 101 blog is highlighting with the explanation of gender oppression.

      • Schala says:

        The big difference, however, is that feminism also highlights how women’s gender roles have been undervalued. Men’s gender roles are more highly valued. The masculine is treated as better than the feminine, in western society. THAT is what the Feminism 101 blog is highlighting with the explanation of gender oppression.

        I will argue that, thanks to feminism smashing limitations on gender roles, men’s clothing options have lost value. Men’s clothing option no longer signify manly, masculine, rugged, virile. Now they signify, basic, useful, practical, and nothing else. They don’t express stuff anymore, and they’re unisex.

        Don’t tell me women’s clothing is inferior. It’s reserved for women not because it’s inferior, but because it’s superior.

        Like caviar is reserved for the very rich.

        The aristocrats got their own thing, the slaves/working class/proletariat, not so much.

        • You’re looking at it in too small a scale…fashion is more variable for women. However, this isn’t due to feminism…this is due to old gender norms.

          In post-industrial Europe, fashion has always been considered a thing that women concern themselves with. But also consider how frivolity, and non-utilitarianism has been treated. Women have more fashion options…but concerning oneself with your appearance is considered vain, flighty and unimportant. The utilitarian (i.e. masculine), is more highly valued.

          And yes, there is a HUGE industry around fashion…but it is a highly exploitative industry.

          • Schala says:

            In post-industrial Europe, fashion has always been considered a thing that women concern themselves with. But also consider how frivolity, and non-utilitarianism has been treated. Women have more fashion options…but concerning oneself with your appearance is considered vain, flighty and unimportant. The utilitarian (i.e. masculine), is more highly valued.

            Wrong, concerning yourself with vain things has been considered the province of things *rich people do*, because poor people barely got by, they didn’t have the means or the time to indulge in such.

            Aristocratic men also indulged in this.

            Being useful is also the mark of a slave – pure usefulness. By your notion, it should be superior to the one who has lots of time to waste on leisure.

            • Well first, responding to everything with, “wrong,” is really off-putting. Telling something directly that they are wrong, particularly when we’re talking about such subjective issues, is kind of unhelpful when it comes to a debate.

              But that little bit aside, I’m actually not going to continue arguing about this, because we’re going to venture way off topic from the original article. Suffice it to say, you’re kind of over simplifying things. Being a useful thing is a mark of a slave….being a human being who values utility, that’s the mark of a good, Puritan human being. Quite different. Again, a lot of it comes down to cultural narratives. Men were seen as being able to indulge in frivolities when they were lucky enough to have free time…but frivolities themselves were viewed as unimportant feminine indulgences.

              But again, as I said…I’m not going to keep arguing about this, because it’s really not going to get anywhere.

  15. Schala says:

    Men were seen as being able to indulge in frivolities when they were lucky enough to have free time…but frivolities themselves were viewed as unimportant feminine indulgences.

    Because society needs little docile beasts of burden, called men, or robots. It doesn’t need them indulging in stuff.

    While women’s usefulness to society is making children. Or even the potential thereof. As such nothing preventing them from indulging in stuff. Ask yourself why there is no imperative for women to support themselves financially at all costs as there is for men?

    Because society values men more?

  16. Schala says:

    EVERYONE wants to indulge in friviolities to an extent. We call this leisure. Hobbies. Culture. Talents unrelated to work.

    When men indulge in too much leisure or concern themselves with their own well-being as opposed to their responsibility towards society, they work less. And their ONLY value is in working.

    A man who is supported by someone else is seen as valueless, even if he does other stuff. He’s “not pulling his weight”.

    His value is extremely conditional.

    Women’s value is conditional on the hypothetical possession of an uterus (thus why known trans women get shat on – they don’t have one ‘for certain’).

    Gay men are valued less because they’re not supporting a woman. Lesbian women are valued less because that’s less potential babies. But because of hyperagency attributed to men and hypoagency attributed to women, the gay men are blamed for it, the lesbian women are excused for it “not really their fault”.

    Patriarchy: Making excuse for women by blaming men for what she did or didn’t do, since 2000 BC. As recently as the 19th century, a man was responsible for his wife’s crimes, and would pay the fines and do the jail time for her. And if she didn’t do what she was asked to do, it was also his fault.

    And in that time, men would get default 100% custody of children. Until the Tender Years doctrine got introduced. Which is NOT part of patriarchy.

    I want fairness, and as a trans woman, I see that men get the shaft. And they’re still told they have it all and shouldn’t complain.

  17. Schala makes some interesting points. I fail to see how being valued as a work-horse is humanizing. The fact is, is that our humanity is never derived, or bestowed. No one gives us our humanity, not our families, friends, or society. So having or doing anything that society considers more worthy than another does not mean that one is given more humanity than anyone else. We are all born equally human beings, and that innate humanity can not be given, but it can be taken away. And the belief that one’s humanity is dependent upon ones utility to their society is dehumanizing, for both men and women. I would have thought that this would be in agreement with most, or at least some, feminist thinking. Personally, I think life is about enjoying life, and not about proving how useful, or able to earn money, one is.

    • What is, and what is perceived can be two different things. So, for example, we are all born equally human…but society doesn’t really recognize that. Yes, feminism definitely suggests that it is dehumanising for “one’s humanity” to be “dependent upon ones utility to their society.” Most certainly. That’s why a lot of feminism is quite tied into Marxism, or at the very least tied into a critique of capitalism.

      But, so basically…from a feminist perspective…it’s capitalism (and a very specific kind of post-industrial capitalism) that treats humans as utilities for society. As cogs in a machine…and this is something that affects men and women. This is true both for traditional working class male roles, and traditional working class female roles. Middle classes too, really.

      There is a gendered difference, however, in that men are treated as utility subjects…as people doing things for society, which make them valued. Women, on the other hand, are treated as utility objects…as the things themselves, which makes them valuable. A man is valued for what he can do for society, whereas a woman is valuable for what she is perceived as (i.e. a walking womb).

      • There is a gendered difference, however, in that men are treated as utility subjects…as people doing things for society, which make them valued. Women, on the other hand, are treated as utility objects…as the things themselves, which makes them valuable. A man is valued for what he can do for society, whereas a woman is valuable for what she is perceived as (i.e. a walking womb).
        How does that not mean that a man is valued for being percieved as someone that can do something for society?

        • Well first, just to clarify, obviously when I’m talking about “man” and “woman,” I’m thinking in the most traditional gender terms. “Man” and “woman,” here could possibly be better understood to be physical embodiment of the masculine, and physical embodiment of the feminine…this isn’t absolute..we’re talking about narratives and trends…but…okay I digress…

          So how does that not mean that a man is valued for being perceived as someone that can do something or society? It does mean that. That’s what I’m saying…men=perceived as doers. Men are valued members of society…more highly valued and appreciated based on what it is they are doing. That is, that’s how they are valued economically, and in western society finances are damn important.

          Women, on the other hand, are valuable…more highly valuable for various aspects of being (not doing). Being beautiful. Being fertile. Being young, etc. Women are not viewed as contributing to society through their actions. Women are viewed as objects of society.

          It’s the dichotomy between subject and object that is key. Between doer and the one being done to. Between being valued and valuable.

          • I appreciate the clarify but not needed in this case.

            I’d argue that between beautiful, fertile, young, etc… I’d say that a lot of those point back to being valued to do something specific. Being able to bear children. And that’s the thing that women are viewed as being contributors of. Yes its cold, limiting, and sexist but that is the expected contribution.

            But before this goes off the deep end I do think that regardless of who is labeled as what and all that we do agree that the expectations imposed on both are limiting, sexist, and unfair right?

          • Sorry, I should have posted my comment below as a reply to this thread. Unfortinately, I’m not able to move my response back to the appropriate thread. Anyway…

            All this leads me to another question, if I may:

            If we can not and should not attempt to set “objective standards” then how can people determine if
            one group or individuals experiences should be compared to those of another? How can we determine
            if one person has it worse than another, or that one person’s trauma is more significant than
            another person’s, as people debating gender politics often do. I have often heard it argued by self described feminists, for example, that although boys might experience sexual abuse, that their trauma is not commensurate with that of girls of the same age with similar experiences, and they often attempt to objectively quantify the degree of suffering experienced by victims of different genders on the basis of statistics. That is to say, a girl or woman’s suffering is often claimed to be more important because the statistics on violence against women is said to be more statistically significant. But the claim that the severity and seriousness of an individuals experience of violence on so called statistical
            significance is, in itself, based on an objective standard. If we are not to use such objective
            standards, then how could such people argue that anyone human being’s suffering is more important
            than another person’s, merely because of a difference in gender and how those cohorts experiences are quantified?

            Much of my question is motivated by my personal experiences in attempting to be recognized simultaneously as a man, and a victim of sexual abuse. I not only am told by my fellow man that it is not possible for a boy to be sexually traumatized by a women, but I am also told by a number of women feminists that the severity of my experience is not commensurate to that of a woman or girl’s, supposedly because certain theories and statistics say so. Apparently, because of these objective values and standards I am not suppose to call myself a victim, lest I contradict feminist theory, and be labelled a misogynist. As a man, does my subjective experience of trauma not count, or my victim-hood warrant validation, even in the realm of feminist theory?

          • “Women, on the other hand, are valuable…more highly valuable for various aspects of being (not doing). Being beautiful. Being fertile. Being young, etc. Women are not viewed as contributing to society through their actions. Women are viewed as objects of society.”

            Women give birth, that is EXTREMELY valued, women have often been elevated to a level between human and angel because of that, why do you think chivalry existed? Women’s contribution is one of the most important aspects….we need new humans to replace old humans. I am not so sure either gender throughout history really has been valued above the other in all aspects of life in many cultures, just valued differently. A man that didn’t work was seen as useless, a woman that didn’t give birth for example was seen as less useful, probably useless to some. In many cases a woman was seen as more valued than a man because men would DIE for women far more than the reverse.

  18. “What is and what is perceived to be” is exactly what I was attempting to get at. In my opinion, objectively and externally established sets of standards are inherently coercive to individuals, if their only choice offered to them is to accept these standards, or be subject to judgement and the eventual stigmatization that is inexorably derived from them.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to the second instalment of my Ask the Feminist series. The first set of answers generated a lot of really interesting conversation, and I’m hoping this second set [...]

  2. [...] and I try to answer them. Here’s my first set of answers, which was originally published here. So head on over and ask me some questions…or tell me how wrong I am. Either [...]

  3. [...] incorporating gender theory into their research. Agustin Fuentes (whose book I mentioned back in the first set of answers) is a biological anthropologist and part of that book is a scientific examination of [...]

  4. [...] These comments are from KKZ and Tom B. on “Ask the Feminist Answers: Definitions, Recommendations and Media Violence Against Men.“ [...]

  5. […] in May, 2013 I started a short-lived series at Good Men Project in which I was answering questions about feminism. The first question I […]

Speak Your Mind