No Poetry, No Gender War, No Bullshit

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About Tom Matlack

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

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  1. But I’d like to add that only part of my dismay at not being included in conscription has ever been about being viewed as weak. Just like…okay with men I suppose theoretically the “benefit” is being viewed as strong and the responsibility is being the protector and being disposable. But you only really get the ‘benefit’ if you fit a certain masculine ideal. Otherwise you’re stuck being viewed as somehow less of a man, and yet still expected do perform your responsibility and protect women and children.

    So for women…theoretically the benefit is being protected and the trade-off is being seen as weak and sub-adult. But that only works if you’re someone who wants protecting, which I know plenty of women who do. But for me it wasn’t just an insult that people think I need to be protected, it went against my personality. I would much rather be the one _doing_ something to fix a problem then waiting around for it to get fixed. (Mind you, I’ve never been in immediate danger as an adult, so maybe in that circumstance I’d freak out and be unable to think or do anything.)

    And I think this is the match that would (or maybe did) ignore the gender war. Well not this exactly but the fact that men and women benefit and suffer, just in different ways, and the different people on different sides are hell bent on showing that the other side doesn’t have it that bad. (Bear in mind Heather I’m not saying you do this just that I saw you example of pointing out both men and women beneift and suffer and went with it.)

    • I agree with you Danny…at least I agree with what I think you’re saying. That both sides (feminists and the mra) seem to be really focused on proving that they have it worse. It’s like Christians and the LGBT community. Christians cry out against LGBT rights saying that it just goes to show that the US is waging a war against religion. And then the LGBT community has a tendency to decry all things Christian in politics, saying that all Christians are waging a war against equal rights. The two don’t need to be mutually exclusive (there are plenty of Christian LGBT people), but when it comes to politics they are put on opposite sides and they complain about who has it worse and hurl insults at each other.

      Now I’ll be honest, in the example I gave I definitely have chosen a side…but I do my damndest to think of the ‘opposition’ as people, and not as some monolithic entity.

      • That’s pretty much it. Sides pitted against each other that have the objective of proving that the other side doesn’t have it so bad and are just out to attack by any means possible (while at the same time of course swearing by all that is holy that their is being treated unfairly).

        • The difference is that feminist organizations actually use their clout to advocate against men.
          Like when NOW and 80 other feminist groups created the alliance called WEAVE who’s sole purpose was to grab a slice of the stimulus pie for women.
          NOW’s pres said: “we are against this stimulus going to burly men”.
          This statement at a time when 80% of the jobs being lost from the fiscal meltdown being male heavy sectors. This at a time when male unemployment was twice as high for women, and female heavy sectors actually had job growth.

          The list of advocacy that feminists do against men is literally never-ending. In DV (banning of researchers and male victims from VAWA reathorization and VAWA’s stipulation that no grants can be assigned to shelters that house male victims), parental rights (NOW issues an action alert in every state in which shared parenting legislation is pending–what is to fear of dads getting 50% parenting time?), education (over and over feminists minimalize and stymie solutions in the boy crisis).

          The list just goes on and on. Unlike feminists, I have never seen a serious MRA organization say: “men have it worse”.

          They only point to areas where it can be demonstrably shown that males are more in jeopardy and under-funded such as homelessness, suicide, on-the-job deaths and so forth.

          The above argument that both sides are grand-standing to make each gender look like the oppressed isn’t even close to the actual truth.

          • Well and, ya know, in my analogy I’d argue that the LGBT community really does have it worse than Christians. I could make a list, but seeing as this is tangential to my main point, I’ll refrain. And the list of how Christian groups advocate against the LGBT community is long, and much more deliberate than a lot of the harm feminist groups have done to men. Again, I could make a list, but it’s not the focus. But much like your view of feminist lobbies, Christian lobbies have cash, a large membership, and a heck of a lot of political clout.

            The thing is, though, pitting myself against all Christians isn’t going to help the situation. Doing what I can to reverse the actions of the big Christian lobbies that have hurt the LGBT community will help, yes. But demonizing the Christian right doesn’t do anything but piss people off. I mean look at all the crap that went down after Prop 8 passed in California and the protests outside Mormon churches. Even I had to admit that some of the protesting went too far.

            So that was the analogy section – now back to the actual two groups we’re discussing. Now, my own interaction with the MRM has involved a fair bit of grand-standing and ‘men have it worse,’ and ‘feminists are evil.’ I think our perspectives are just different. Just like, it took awhile for me to realize how much a lot of the more radical feminist rhetoric demonized men, and played the game of ‘we have it worse.’ Just…go read a few articles at some of the MRM sites you listed and try to pretend you’re a woman and a feminist.

            Finally, I don’t think each side isn’t trying to make the other gender look bad. I think each side does some grand-standing and demonizing to make the other political organization look bad. Feminists and the MRM aren’t the same groups as men and women.

            • I would agree that gays are certainly more maligned then men. I would also make the same statement for blacks.

              I think it’s interesting that you mention religion as the main group to oppress gays.
              Some of the reactions I get from feminits (like TRU) is that their feminism is a belief system.

              It has no basis upon rationality or evidence. Look at TRU’s off-the-cuffs demonization of MRA’s. While I’m not going to go into why she believes as she does I have argued on boards like ampersands and feministing. Many feminists DEVOUTLY believe that feminism is the “one true faith” that leads to equality.

              Therefore, any who oppose that faith are EVIL. If feminism stands for equality, then anybody against feminism stands for oppression.

              Look at TRU’s hyperbolic reaction to men fighting for their own rights. She has no desire to look at, measure, quantify, notice (and certainly not advocate for) those areas in which men suffer more than woman. She outright resents efforts to budge the victim spotlight on men 1 inch.

              There seems to be this mentality (even among more sane equity-minded feminists) that women’s issues are everybody’s business, but men’s issues certainly aren’t their (or her) business. Look at the silence of saner equity feminists when radical feminists pass clearly anti-male laws. It seems like the the concept of ADVOCATING FOR MEN is so foreign to the milder feminists that they leave beating back the histrionic fundamental feminists to men.

              It seems that as long as the rads push for more female entitlement, many other feminists are willing to be silent since they stand to gain and THEN turnaround and say “not all feminists do that! I certainly don’t believe that, and I am a feminist.”

              Yet, these other feminists don’t believe in (equality for men) so HARD that they are willing to politically advocate for it in any meaningful way. It’s not just the beliefs that you hold, but the ones you are willing to fight for that matter most in measuring a persons conduct.

              So, in some ways feminist is monolithic in that the saner man-loving feminists are willing to let the rads speak for them (by shutting the hell up) and advocate for them (by not starting a counter march or bulletin board, blog or what have you).

              The list of feminists who SPECIFICALLY talk about male issues are actually quite small.
              You have I-feminists, genderattic, a few outspoken editorialists like Cathy Young and authors like Hoff-Somers and Paglia.

              No feminist ever expressed outrage or scorn at Germaine Greer when she stated she liked looking at pictures of nude boys, the exact quote was:”not shaved young men mind you, but nude little boys”.

              GWW’s blog is called “own your sh1t” and I think that’s as good a rebuttal to feminists who state “not all feminists are not like that” as any I have heard in a long time.

              I agree that feminist advocacy doesn’t need to go away, but I do believe that those institutions that can’t adapt to the new world where men are finding their voice and demanding solutions to male specific problems will shrink and eventually disappear.

            • Whenever you say “rads” I think of Fallout 3. Totally unrelated, but true. :)

              Anyway, as we’ve been having this conversation I’ve been thinking…maybe part of the reason the more radical feminists are able to get so much attention is just cuz they’re radical. I mean really, how often do you hear about centrist opinions on anything?

              Plus, a hell of a lot of the ways in which women are discriminated against (whatever you want to call it) are social, not institutional. This isn’t always the case (I’m talking to you U.S. military), but mostly it’s a social problem not an institutional problem. It’s about changing social customs and personal opinions – which isn’t achieved by holding a huge protest or political lobbying. So what’re the political lobbies left doing – being crazy radical.

              Whereas with men, a lot of the ways they’re getting the shaft is institutional. Protests and political lobbies, and changing actual policy are what is actually needed to help solve a lot of their problems. At the moment…but it won’t always be like that. What’ll the MRM do after institutionally, men and women are treated equally? Will we end up with two organizations trying to out-shout each other?

              Or maybe we’ll all end up ignoring the radicals in either feminist or MRM organizations and we can get to the work of actually making our society equal.

              Anywho…I am loving having this conversation with you, mate, but we are beginning to become a bit circular. Soooo…how abouts you e-mail me and we can keep it going? Plus, then we won’t be breaking up our arguments into little chunks here and there. lol.

          • John you said: “The difference is that feminist organizations actually use their clout to advocate against men.”

            So just one more thing…I think this is another way in which our different perspectives color how we interpret the same facts. To me, it seems more like feminist organizations often end up focusing so heavily on advocating for women, they fail to see or fully understand how their policies will hurt men. I don’t think they’re actively trying to throw men under the bus.

            But seeing as neither of us are in charge of NOW or any other big feminist organization, we can’t know for certain. All we have are our own perspectives with which we view the situation.

            • Heather,
              I’m not talking about feminist groups advocating for women to the neglect of men. I am talking about feminists advocating against MRA advocates when they fight for their rights.

              The La Musga vs La Musga case is a good example.
              This case is about a custodial mother who wanted to move 1000′s of miles against the non-cust dad’s wishes.

              The case climbed various levels. At the California Supreme court level it looked like the Calif SC was going to rule for the dad, because some of the commentary coming out was that the court had a duty to protect the NCP-child bond.

              90 different feminist DV organizations wrote in separately or in an amicus brief begging the court not to overturn the burgeous precedent decision (which says a custodial mother can move the kids anywhere as long as the kids material situation was improving and the move was not in bad faith against the NCP). The court did rule in favor of the father stating that the destruction of the NCP-child bond should weigh heavily in and of itself.

              What was feminists reaction for a precedent which seems to protect justice, fairness, rights for both parents, and rights of a child to have a relationship with both parents?

              Feminist orgs in Calif tried to pass a bill doing by legislation what they couldn’t do in courts. The bill would have done away with the La Musga decision and let custodial parents move the children anywhere they wanted.

              Luckily this bill was defeated by Sacks.

              The fact that VAWA grants can’t be given to any shelter that helps men says a lot. The fact that feminist activists stole almost half of the $800 billion stimulus package because they were against helping men (whether need or not).

              The fact that evidence-based sound gathering studies have showed for the past 20 years that DV has gender symmetry in the levels of attacking and yet these researchers (and male victims) are BANNED from VAWA reauthorization hearings says a lot.

              Look at TRU’s post at the top of the page. If men FIGHT FOR THEIR rights, she is essentially saying they are whining and need to be shut out of this space.

              This is the way most feminists (who feel like TRU) deal with men’s rights: shut their eyes and hums. But, those at the top seem to think EXACTLY like TRU. And with the power and clout they wield, they don’t need to close their eyes and hum.

              They pass bad anti-male, anti-father laws.

              There are dozens and dozens of studies which show fathers are just as necessary as mothers to parenting. Their styles are very complimentary.

              In fact, one study shows that the #1 indicator of high self-esteem in teen girls is having a loving fit father in her life.
              NOW and other feminists hateful campaign to put fathers parental rights into mothers hands has done a very great deal of harm to millions of children.

              It just goes to show nothing is so sacred that it can’t be destroyed on the altar of feminism (even the well-being of children).

            • This list is just the tip of the iceberg I can remember off the top of my head. The large feminist organizations have positioned themselves as the enemy of men.

              Also, the fact that F&F is starting to join hands with LBGT groups and other largely feminist groups tells me that things are starting to change.

              But that change is largely being brought upon by MRA’s and equity feminist groups, not groups like NOW.

              As it was said in Goonies: “It’s our time now”. It is time for men’s issues to come to the forefront (where and when those issues demand it and can’t be overlooked anymore).
              People are waking up to the incredible harm radical feminist laws has caused. If you look on youtube there are TONS of posters (close to half women) calling bs on feminism.

              NOW is a dinosaur, and hopefully it will find itself kicked out of the feminist movement by egalitarian feminists as things change even more so that the voice of men can be heard.

              I wonder what women like TRU will do with increasingly smaller and smaller organizations to represent their histrionic vilification of men.

            • “NOW is a dinosaur, and hopefully it will find itself kicked out of the feminist movement by egalitarian feminists as things change even more so that the voice of men can be heard.

              I wonder what women like TRU will do with increasingly smaller and smaller organizations to represent their histrionic vilification of men.”

              Look this is where we agree. But I think it’s time for people’s issues to come to the forefront. I think it’s time to discuss human rights and do our gosh darnedest to keep gender out of it as much as possible. We need to fix where things have gotten unbalanced, and then leave it. And I think rail-roading feminism (as a monolithic group) won’t help. We need to be very specific about what type of feminism we are calling BS on.

              And…as a side note, the LGBT movements and feminist movement has had a long and sordid history. They aren’t the natural allies you might assume.

            • Heather says:
              “I think it’s time to discuss human rights and do our gosh darnedest to keep gender out of it as much as possible. We need to fix where things have gotten unbalanced, and then leave it.”

              Again, it seems like we agree with 96% of things, but the 4% is what generates all the discussion.

              Heather writes:
              “And I think rail-roading feminism (as a monolithic group) won’t help. We need to be very specific about what type of feminism we are calling BS on.”

              Agreed. That is why I try to display exactly my beefs with feminism and which parts (even though it gets exhaustive typing the same disqualifiers again and again).

              Heather writes:
              “And…as a side note, the LGBT movements and feminist movement has had a long and sordid history.”
              It makes me wonder if the MRM might be a more natural fit for some portions of the LGBT movement.
              The near identical ostricization of lesbian social mothers and NC dads from their families by a vengeful ex is interesting.

              I wonder where else the marginalization of men and lesbians becomes parallel. It seems the constant pandering to women from the powers-that-be disappears when the spotlight moves from hetero women to lesbians. I wonder how much of the pandering from male authority figures over women is based on some kind of sexual excitement at being the night in shining armor to save the day (even when the judge is actually not doing any saving but rather siding with a mother to keep dad out of the children’s lives).

              I have often heard it said that fathers in divorce court get something slightly closer to a fair shake from female judges who are more adept at seeing through female crocodile tears.

            • As for us focusing on the little bits where we disagree – that’s where it gets fun and interesting. It’d be boring if all my discussions here were just me pointing out where we agree. :) But do know that I’m reading what your writing; I’m hearing what you’re saying; I’m picking up what you’re putting down…and so on. :D

              Oh and as for the railroading feminism comment – I should have specified I didn’t think that’s what you were doing. I realize you are specific with your beefs (and your porks and lambs as well). :) I feel ya with typing the same thing over and over…it’s too bad we can’t link to specific comments on an article so we could be like – just go read it here. I said it all already.

              The LGBT/Feminism thing stems back from the 60s with the butch/femme dynamic of lesbians at the time going against the feminism of the time. I’m not exactly sure how the GBT have historically interacted with feminist organizations. As for whether the MRM would fit better with the LGBT movements now…I dunno. They’re sort of off doing their own thing anyway – where it intersects most would be with regards to trans men and women, and as far as I am aware neither the feminists nor the MRM is paying particular attention to trans issues. (Which isn’t to say either has screwed over the trans community, I’m just saying I don’t think either is focusing on it).

              Which again sort of highlights the fact that having two sides to the story sort of isn’t enough.

            • Okay so for your example, with La Musga, I wasn’t there so obviously I don’t know any of this…but just bear with me…

              What if the feminist organizations that advocated for the mother to be able to move away from the father were worried about the precedent it would set. What if they were worried that if the father was abusive, the La Musga case could be used to force the mother to stay close to an abusive father? I’m not saying it would have. Hell, I’m not even saying more men are abusive than women. I’m just saying, that could have been their logic.

              Or yes, they could have the blinders on and be so focused on mother’s rights that they are ignoring men’s rights. And that’s horrible. And they should wake the heck up and realize what they are doing. But I don’t think the people in NOW (or whoever) are sitting around saying – how are we going to make men’s lives more horrible today? I think it’s more likely that they’re sitting around saying – how are we going to protect women from men today? Their goal isn’t to screw up men’s lives, it’s to make women’s lives better (even if that means ignoring men). It’s not a better way of looking at things by any means, but it does point to different motivations.

              So I’m not saying NOW and TRU haven’t done things that hurt paternal rights. The case you just referenced clearly does hurt paternal rights. I just don’t think they’re trying to be malicious.

              And nothing is so sacred that it can’t be destroyed by the fundamentalists of any ideology.

            • However, feminists did try to pass a new bill shelfing the La Musga decision.
              I’m not necessarily surrendering the argument about the DV groups, I’m just going to table it for now and point out something else.

              That can’t be seen as anything but that they want fathers parental rights doled out at the mothers whims.

              As far as I know this new bill (which Glenn Sacks defeated) was not about relationships in which DV was alleged, but ALL divorced relationships. In other words, they wanted to give ALL custodial mothers the right to move the children 1000′s of miles away (or even to other countries) irrespective of the harm to the father-child bond.

              The simple fact is that in areas in which gender relations are NECESSARILY a zero-sum game (like parental time–if fathers gain, mothers must lose, or due process between accuser and defendant in rape cases) you ALWAYS know which side of the fence the extremist feminists will land on.

              It reminds me of a buddy I used to play wargames with. The simple fact is that the vast majority of table-top wargames have rules in which quite often players will have to make their own rules clarifications.
              When confronted with a rules clarification one of my high school friends named Matti would ALWAYS advocate for whatever would advantage him.

              Even when he played a different side in the same game, he would then advocate changing the rule back to advantage the side he was currently on.

              That’s about what I expect from radical feminism.

            • “When confronted with a rules clarification one of my high school friends named Matti would ALWAYS advocate for whatever would advantage him…That’s about what I expect from radical feminism.”

              Yeah I’m saying I agree. I’m just saying…I think your friend (and radical feminists) are focusing so much on their own interests their ignoring those of the other players (people). But I bet your friend (like radical feminists feminists) wasn’t setting out to screw you over; he was just setting out to benefit himself the most.

              I totally agree that feminism needs to include men’s rights in their policies. I think feminism needs to move more toward the center. I don’t think it needs to go away entirely.

            • As I mentioned, I think the vast majority of rank-and-file feminists are truly good-minded people who want the best possible outcome for all.

              I think even a lot of rank-and-file feminists who advocate for women want the best for everybody, and probably they advocate for women, because that is what they are being taught will help everybody.

              I don’t have that much of a problem with rank-and-file feminists. But the women leading the charge are women a heck of a lot smarter than me. They have lots of letters following their names (as in degrees).

              They DO know the score. They DO know that stacking the law to allow mothers to rip loving fit fathers from the children will do a great deal of harm to those kids. They DO know that they are willfully obstructing male victims of DV from getting help. These are really sick twisted people who hide under the cloak of egalitarian goals to pass some sick twisted laws.

              For these handful of individuals I see them like senator palpatine in the Star Wars saga. They really are just bad hateful bigoted people.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        Thats a really nice analogy. Kudos.

  2. Mark Greene says:

    We need a gender neutral egalitarian movement. This hot headed binary gender argument is the personal being cast as the political. You have to listen in order to be heard. You have to own your own bullshit in order to critique the actions of others.

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