Trigger warning for mentions of suicide, domestic abuse, and rape.
I care about every boy that was ever called a fag or a pussy or a sissy for being emotional, or sensitive, or unathletic, or just not manly enough. I care about the boys who are afraid they’ll lose their manhood if they admit they like boys that way. I care a whole fuckload about the ones, gay and straight and other, who commit suicide about it.
I care about the three-year-old that just wants a doll. I care about the fourteen-year-old who just wants a pair of high heels. I care about the (straight!) college student who loves his skirts and dresses and will never be able to wear them outside the confines of hippie school.
I care that men are less likely to get to college than women, and I care that no one seems to be pissed the fuck off about it.
I care that, although their median income is still higher than women, men’s real wages have remained stationary since the 1970s while women’s have grown.
I care about male rape survivors. I care that some people think male rape can’t exist. I care that our justice system is ignoring systematic rape of prisoners, and that many people regard it just part of the punishment. I care about the twelve-year-old boy whose rape by a teacher is regarded as good luck instead of pedophilia. I care about the rape survivors who have never realized that what they went through was rape.
I care about stay-at-home dads and men who want to be stay-at-home dads. I care about men who want to do their share of the child-rearing, whether they work outside the home or not. I care that fathers are far less likely to get custody of their children in a divorce.
I care about male domestic abuse survivors. I care that many people consider abuse of men to be a joke, the stuff of sitcoms. I care that many people see male abuse survivors as weak and not real men. I care that there are no male-only abuse shelters.
I care that the most male-dominated jobs are also the most life-threatening, from lumberjacks to firefighters to soldiers. I care that formerly male-dominated blue-collar jobs have disappeared overseas, leaving many working-class men without a livelihood. I care about men who want to be elementary-school teachers and nurses, and the mockery they get, and the fact that they are far more likely to get promoted to doing administration and management because a male nurse? Whoever heard of such a thing!
I care that women can’t be drafted while men can.
I care about every man who doesn’t seek help for his mental illness because real men tough it out. I care about men who find alcoholism more manly than therapy. I care about mostly-male soldiers with PTSD that has never been treated. I care that, even though women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to succeed.
I care that men live four years less than women. I care that unmarried men are less likely to go to the doctor for regular checkups and more likely to ignore their illnesses until they get too bad to treat.
I care about men who have been virgin-shamed. I care about men who don’t really want casual sex but have it anyway because they’re supposed to like it. I care about men who have never felt desired. I care about men who date thin women while they dream of BBW. I care about guys who pedestalize women, and guys who think they have to become jerks or remain celibate, and pick-up artists and dudebros and Nice Guys ™.
I care about how hard it is to keep guys– talented guys, guys who have a passion for singing and dancing and acting– in musical theater.
I care about men who like romance novels. I care about male Twilight fans. I think they have bad taste, but I care.
I care that no one fucking teaches male college students how to do laundry and clean their rooms and cook, as if they’re not going to have to do that ever.
I care about men who had to learn to fight or get beaten up themselves. I care about men who can’t relate except with their fists. I care about men who have repressed every emotion except for anger. I care about the bullshit that is “boys don’t cry.”
I care about the health problems athletes have– even student athletes– because they’re encouraged to play through injuries and given inadequate safety equipment. I care that football players have long-term neurological damage from multiple concussions. I care that, for too many minority and poor men, sports seems like the only way out.
I care that I could go on with this list for hours and still not be done. I care because this is not about men, this is about my father and my boyfriend and my best friends and the guys whose books I’ve stolen and the guys whose hearts I’ve broken and the guy who broke mine and the greatest English teacher the world has ever known and my Greek professor and next year’s roommates and Neil Gaiman and Gerard Way and Joey Ramone and Jim Butcher and half of the people I have ever loved or hated or feared or wanted to be.
Now it is time for the yelling.
Feminism, overall, you are doing a shitty fucking job of incorporating men. Yes, there are many feminists who are awesome about raising awareness of men’s issues; yes, there are counselors of male survivors of domestic abuse; yes, men have benefited as a side effect of feminism. But overall, do you see major feminist blogs posting about issues mostly of concern to men even half as much as they post about issues mostly of concern to women?
Uh-huh. Thought so.
I mean, have we learned nothing from when we got black people in the movement, and poor people, and queer people, and trans people, and disabled people? The side of “well, we shouldn’t help with that, it’s not our thing really” has never, ever, ever, ever turned out to be the right side! You would think we would have caught on to the trend by now!
And what’s that about “well, men should start their own anti-prison-rape and pro-stay-at-home-dads campaigns”? Yes, ideally, they would. But the men’s rights movement is a bit of a non-starter and, frankly, we are going to need people trained in analysis and activism by the single largest and most politically powerful movement about gender issues! It would be perfectly fine to have a movement mostly focused on women, if the movement focused on men even existed.
Listen, ladies and gentlemen, we are not going to solve this whole sexism thing as long as we’re only looking at half the problem. You want women to be equal to men, then you damn well have to make men equal to women.
And, no, a bunch of talking about how men need to be more feminist does not count as work on men’s rights. I agree, men need to be more feminist. But we’re not going to get them more feminist unless we show them what feminism can do for them, and that involves working on their problems in addition to being all “men can fight rape too!” Well, you know what, women can fight gender-policing too.
MRAs, no, you are not getting off the hook.
In fact, you are the single most childish excuse for a worthwhile movement it has been my misfortune to see.
First of all, sexism is not a zero-sum game. Just because sexist shit happens to men doesn’t mean sexist shit doesn’t happen to women. The shit is raining down on everyone! You’re stupid to complain “men have so much shit and women don’t have any shit at all” because, well, that’s not true, and also because it’s completely irrelevant. The point is not an equivalent distribution of shit to everyone, the point is to find out what’s throwing the shit on everybody and make it stop!
Second, women are not evil. Let me say this again in big letters for the confused people: WOMEN ARE NOT EVIL BITCHES OUT TO GET YOU. We are people, just like everyone else, and some of us are bastards and some of us are saints and most of us are just muddling through. Some feminists thought that this whole “sexism” thing was the fault of evil rapey woman-hating men back in the seventies, but as it turns out with a few shining exceptions men don’t hate women. Sometimes they have mistaken beliefs about women, and sometimes incentive structures are set up so that sexist behavior is rewarded, and sometimes a lot of other stuff that’s nobody’s fault, but very rarely is someone like “aha! I will go oppress women today!” In fact, it would be easier if it was, because we could just go shoot that guy and then the problem would be solved and candy and kittens would fall from the sky.
Sometimes it seems like your entire movement is just taking a bunch of ridiculous shit some people said in the seventies and changing the genders so instead of saying “all men are rapists” you’re saying “all women are golddigging bitch whores who cheat on you with men with big black cocks.”
Third, some things are not issues. Chicks liking the guy with the motorcycle more than the Mathlete? Not the most important social issue of our times. (Although Mathletes are damn sexy.)
Fourth, and most importantly, movements are supposed to move. Hey, wait a second, let me yell again. MOVEMENTS ARE SUPPOSED TO MOVE. I look around the men’s rights movement and you know what I see? Some two-person protests where someone pretends to be Batman, some petitions that can’t gather a thousand signatures, a few activist groups with almost no political power, some pick-up artists, some socially awkward people not dating anyone anymore and a whole lot of complaining in comments sections. Listen, you guys. Shakesville has organized letter-writing campaigns that got ads taken off TV, Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman have published books and spoken at colleges, the SlutWalks have started a damn international movement. It is totally possible! I mean, I’m a little bit of a hypocrite here because I’m a blogger who does a lot of complaining in comments sections, but I’ve also volunteered for Planned Parenthood and feminist congresscritters, and I have my congresspeople’s numbers on speed dial, and I’ve signed so many petitions I get phone calls every day with people trying to make me give them money.
You want to know why your movement isn’t going anywhere? Because you don’t have enough footsoldiers like me and too many footsoldiers who want to sit in a corner and talk about how when the apocalypse happens those women who didn’t like me in high school are totally going to be sorry.
This post is what No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz? is about: creating a male-oriented gender egalitarian space, where we can concentrate on issues primarily of concern to men of all sorts– whether they’re queer or straight, white or non-white, gender-conforming or gender-non-conforming, cis or trans, disabled or abled, poor or rich– and fight anti-male sexism and misandry.