Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


But yeah seriously, what about teh menz
October 3, 2011 4:19 PM   Subscribe

“What About The Men” is a term of occasional derision and dismissal in feminist circles, used by those who either don’t want conversations about women’s issues constantly derailed, or perhaps sometimes don’t want to provide space for men’s issues. They’re hijacking and reclaiming the phrase with a little tongue-in-cheek mockery at those who use it, since they think that men and men’s issues should have a bigger role in feminism, and that, additionally, men need spaces dedicated to their issues as well. So it’s not “What About The Men” to chase the guys out; it’s “No, Seriously, ‘What About Teh Menz?’” to bring them back in to the feminist fold. (FAQ) For a 10 second minute introduction to what inspired this blog’s creation, read our seminal piece, Who Cares About Men’s Rights?.

Endorsed, and occasionally contributed to by Holly Pervocracy of previous Mefi fame, and the authors of Man Boobz Misogyny. I Mock it
posted by Blasdelb (108 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Who Cares About Men’s Rights? link is well worth a read.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, if you only want one thing to read from this, it's that.
posted by grouse at 4:32 PM on October 3, 2011


wow that blog's comments are a train wreck.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:33 PM on October 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


"read our seminal piece, Who Cares About Men’s Rights?."

Not only are their politics right on, but they are also subtle punners! I'm so adding this blog to my Reader feed.
posted by Kattullus at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the essay, I had to look up MRAs. Magnetic Resonance Angiography? Michigan Reading Association? Mountain Rescue Association? I got there in the end.
posted by feckless at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


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?

"Traditionally, in American society, it is the members of oppressed, objectified groups who are expected to stretch out and bridge the gap between the actualities of our lives and the consciousness of our oppressor. In other words, it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes.

I am responsible for educating teachers who dismiss my children’s culture in school. Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world.

The oppressors maintain their position and evade responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future."

—Audre Lorde, “Age, Race and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”
posted by yeloson at 4:40 PM on October 3, 2011 [64 favorites]


Which is not to say I don't agree with most of what they're saying, just that I think of the many things to criticize (women in) feminism for, "failing to include the men" is probably not a strong argument.

Doing exactly what they're doing is the right thing - that is, being a man to step up for feminism is what needs to happen, along with being aware of not drowning out the messages of women along the way, and also being mindful of the men who will only listen to feminism provided it comes from a man's mouth.
posted by yeloson at 4:43 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


[Folks, could we skip the predicting-the-thread's-doom-as-early-contribution-to-the-thread stuff, joking or not? Hard subjecst don't need the extra nudge, let's let a thread breath a little.]
posted by cortex at 4:44 PM on October 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


Less jokey time. The Lorde quote can be representative of a not-so-good dynamic that I hope the blog will help to address. The "it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes" thing is a thing which happens, but the groups "oppressors" and "oppressed" are not static and fixed, even in a patriarchal system. If you read that quote (with reference to gender) as always about being men/oppressors and women oppressed it gets pretty nasty, as it leaves no room for discussion of the crap that men get as part of the system.

If, on the other hand, you understand that sometimes (as in the case of gender policing of men) it's men/oppressors men/oppressed, or women/oppressors men/oppressed, or any other combination, you might get a more interesting discussion.
posted by feckless at 4:49 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Teh menz?"
posted by shii at 4:51 PM on October 3, 2011


men need spaces dedicated to their issues as well

Really? There is a paucity of such spaces? OK, I get it now. This is a parody, right?
posted by Wordwoman at 4:52 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really? There is a paucity of such spaces? OK, I get it now. This is a parody, right?

Um, the world is not exactly thick with places where men can discuss feminism in a real and honest way, as far as I have seen.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:56 PM on October 3, 2011 [24 favorites]


As a feminist dude I am grateful for any discussion of men's relationship to feminism and issues pertaining to non-traditional masculinity and anything associated. Those discussions really do not go on in public (as far as I've seen. Plz let me know if I'm just missing it!).

I've been thinking about how to do that for myself and my non-trad friends and for all of us for a long time. Haven't started that blog/group/part/?? yet, though.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:57 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really? There is a paucity of such spaces?

That there are a paucity of spaces in which complaints among those enumerated in the "Who Cares About Men's Rights" post are actually taken seriously, yes. That's so clearly the case that it's hard to imagine arguing against it. Whether you think that there are more important issues to hand is somewhat beside the point.
posted by mhoye at 4:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


If, on the other hand, you understand that sometimes (as in the case of gender policing of men) it's men/oppressors men/oppressed, or women/oppressors men/oppressed, or any other combination, you might get a more interesting discussion.

I think those discussions have to be with a lot of awareness, you know, like talking about the smaller details under the glaring flashing neon sign that is patriarchy. Otherwise, it slides really easily into "reverse sexism" logic and everything and anything to avoid looking at the total problem.

I would not criticize women for "failing" to educate me or make inclusive spaces for me. The people with less privilege are not required to do more - especially since often the basic battle is survival.

I've learned a lot from hanging around some 2nd wave folks who did a lot of work back in the day, and I got to hang around them not by waiting for an inclusive space, but by checking my privilege.

They didn't need to change their space for me, I needed to change me to meet their space.
posted by yeloson at 5:01 PM on October 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Really? There is a paucity of such spaces? OK, I get it now. This is a parody, right?

For real. Anyone who thinks there aren't these spaces everywhere is crazy. I was at a local sports bar just a week or so ago, having a great conversation about men as victims of rape and how threatened men are by male friends who like wearing skirts, when the friendly hockey dad at the next table called us a bunch of fucking faggots.

Wait, I think I did that wrong.
posted by Jairus at 5:05 PM on October 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


I've learned a lot from hanging around some 2nd wave folks who did a lot of work back in the day, and I got to hang around them not by waiting for an inclusive space, but by checking my privilege. They didn't need to change their space for me, I needed to change me to meet their space.

That sounds like great advice for learning about feminism, but it doesn't sound like a great way to get people to listen to important male-oriented issues.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:11 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The big weakness of the feminist movement I just clued in to: it gave/gives the impression (though it was actually being fairly balanced) of us v them, men v women.

I think instead it should just be a people movement. People v the gender/role/attractiveness/etc police. Or perhaps just people against culture by clique.

Then again, there were those other posts a ways back about High School never ending so...
posted by Slackermagee at 5:13 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think those discussions have to be with a lot of awareness, you know, like talking about the smaller details under the glaring flashing neon sign that is patriarchy. Otherwise, it slides really easily into "reverse sexism" logic and everything and anything to avoid looking at the total problem.

Well, optimally, I would like to see men talking with other men about how the Patriarchy hurts them, and dig into that in a meaningful way. I mean, it's not like "Patriarchy" means rule by men, it means rule by patriarchs. And the patriarchs are more than happy to see "surplus men" used up in war or prison or college sports as long as it benefits the patriarchs. Getting to be a patriarch is the brass ring that gets held out to all men to make them support the system, but, of course, all men can't become patriarchs; that would devalue the system. So the fewer men that play that game, the better it is for everyone, I think. And this is something men need to talk to men about.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:14 PM on October 3, 2011 [31 favorites]


"men need spaces dedicated to their issues as well

Really? There is a paucity of such spaces? OK, I get it now. This is a parody, right?
"

There is certainly no lack of space for men to receive an amazing array cultural messages not available to women in the same way that is absolutely a reflection of enormous privilege, but there is a lot missing in that, which remains nonetheless important and worth addressing. Where can men go to discus their relationships to gender in a real and honest way? Say you were a man who wanted to cry in the presence of other people, something that is incredibly therapeutic, where would you go? Is it really so wrong that there are people of all sorts of genders trying to communicate that such a thing is ok?
posted by Blasdelb at 5:16 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you have a father, son, uncle, brother, grand father, or male friend you better care...
posted by Increase at 5:19 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm fortunate enough that most discussions of men's issues are entirely theoretical for me, but the men I've known who were victims of severe domestic violence really didn't have a lot of space to talk to other men about them. I'm not talking about highjacking women's spaces, but about finding a space of their own. That said, nothing excuses a dog-pile of Internet comments taking away women's spaces with derails irrelevant to the topic at hand.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:20 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm... pleasantly surprised to see you all sincerely responding to a thoughtless comment that obviously came from someone who read the title of the article, but not the article itself. Very gracious of you.

Metafilter: Maybe not so bad at some things after all!
posted by danny the boy at 5:25 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


That said, nothing excuses a dog-pile of Internet comments taking away women's spaces with derails irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Agreed. Or, worse than a dog-pile on the internet, the undercutting of women's issues by a focus on men's -- this has to be a compliment to feminism, a coalition of fellow travelers, not a competition or "alternative," or it's just the same old same old.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I dunno. It annoys me that whenever "men's rights" comes up, people love to throw out the most ridiculous, over-the-top examples they can find, in order to discredit the very idea that sometimes men are at a disadvantage and have rights that get trampled.

So they drag out the "laughable" men who go on masculinity retreats, dancing around fires and beating drums and whatnot. Then they drag out the crackpots who are all like, "men have it worse than women" and get some choice quotes of them sounding like idiots. And everybody has a hahaha good laugh, because we all know that men have the absolute advantage in absolutely every situation (including divorce proceedings and custody arrangements)

And I'm tired of it. I mean, you could do the same with feminism if you wanted to, drag out all the most stereotypical militant feminists and just kinda point and laugh at them. Talk about how they want to overthrow the world's governments and institute some kind of Martial Militant Lesbian Law (tm) or something. And you know what? I think that's exactly what the media did to feminism for a really long time. It wasn't okay then, and it's not okay now.

Look, the gender dynamic has changed, and our relationship to that dynamic has changed. Women have made gains in some areas and men have lost ground in others. Can't we agree that disadvantages exist on both sides without having to engage in that famous reductio ad absurdum of American liberalism, "Who has it worse?"
posted by Afroblanco at 5:33 PM on October 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


I will only post here once, and in a totally non-inflammatory way - To say... I mostly count as on "your" side.

Right up until you dismiss any and all issues of reciprocal fairness as irrelevant in the light of thousands of years of oppression.

And you could apply this same comment to racism, feminism, classism, theocentricism, etc.
posted by pla at 5:34 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


this has to be a compliment to feminism, a coalition of fellow travelers, not a competition or "alternative," or it's just the same old same old.

I don't actually agree with this most of this. You can say that the civil rights movement was a compliment to (white) women's lib, or argue that gay/queer/trans/etc rights are a spiritual coalition with other oppressed people, but that's not the case for men.

Men who are sensitive to the gendered issues facing them (and I'm not talking about the crazy MRA types) have the seemingly unique situation where the people they need to reach are their social peers and brothers, rather than a different group with clearly drawn lines.

I think that men everywhere should be allies to feminism, but I don't believe that the way men solve gendered issues that men face is through feminism, if only because there are a lot of men alive today who are never, ever going to be open to being introduced to these issues through feminism. My brother or I might learn about the horrifyingly everpresent nature of sexual violence in our culture through Gloria Steinem or Kathleen Hanna, but there are a lot of other men who are only going to learn about it from their own brothers, fathers, and sons.

(Also, it's not feminism's job to make these spaces for men. It would be nice if feminists would consider themselves to be allies of gender struggles wherever they see them, but they're not obligated to be. It's also not the role of men to colonize feminist spaces by wearing feminism as a sword and shield while defining what that role means.)

It's up to progressive men everywhere to get other progressive men interested in making the world a better place for men and boys who aren't into what being male is about today, and it's up to men to do that as though a single feminist or gay rights or black activist is ever going to lift a finger towards it. We can show them what we're doing and ask for their support, but it's our job, not theirs.
posted by Jairus at 5:41 PM on October 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


This is a good start, but it manages to miss the most important political point: men, just as much as women, have an interest in reproductive rights. No man wants an unplanned pregnancy, any more than a woman does. I am not sure why feminism has not pushed this point harder - men are not just "allies" on birth control; they are on the same damn side.
posted by yarly at 5:44 PM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Women have made gains in some areas and men have lost ground in others.

Now this I don't agree with. It's not like this is some "men have to lose for women to win" situation. The male privilege extended by the Patriarchy is essentially poison for most of the men that take it. Getting rid of that benefits men and women.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:48 PM on October 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


No man wants an unplanned pregnancy,

I believe that the problem has traditionally been that men (as society leaders) tend to do all the planning when it comes down to the hows, whos, whens and ifs regarding pregnancy.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:50 PM on October 3, 2011


And I'm tired of it. I mean, you could do the same with feminism if you wanted to, drag out all the most stereotypical militant feminists and just kinda point and laugh at them. Talk about how they want to overthrow the world's governments and institute some kind of Martial Militant Lesbian Law (tm) or something. And you know what? I think that's exactly what the media did to feminism for a really long time. It wasn't okay then, and it's not okay now.

With all due respect -- I don't think people ever stopped doing this to feminism. (why else do you have so many women who preface all of their feminist statements with "I'm not a feminist, but....."?)

But that's all the more reason to pay attention to men who are paying attention to feminism - "wait! We're on the same side! We can work with this!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 PM on October 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think that men everywhere should be allies to feminism, but I don't believe that the way men solve gendered issues that men face is through feminism, if only because there are a lot of men alive today who are never, ever going to be open to being introduced to these issues through feminism. My brother or I might learn about the horrifyingly everpresent nature of sexual violence in our culture through Gloria Steinem or Kathleen Hanna, but there are a lot of other men who are only going to learn about it from their own brothers, fathers, and sons.

This is kind of a reductive view of feminism. At its heart, feminism is just the idea that women are, and should be treated as, the equal of men. It's not the philosophy as espoused by Gloria Steinem or anyone else, and a man can be a feminist (or, at least a feminist fellow-traveler)* without having read any feminist theory or even talked to any women about it (although that would be kind of strange, but never mind that now).

*I am always hesitant to call myself a feminist, because, when I was in college, most of the guys who were vocal about being feminists seemed to be so in order to get into someone's pants. So I have a slightly skeevy feeling about male feminists, but I admit that's mostly my feeling and my problem....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:57 PM on October 3, 2011


There certainly is no paucity of male dominated space, but there does seem to be a paucity of space where men can (or will) discuss gender-related issues in a serious and thoughtful manner without intruding into and subverting feminist dialogue. Feminism is strengthened by enlightened men, yet so often feminist discussion is drowned out by "teachable moments" as seemingly endless waves of men engage the conversation from the same starting line. Clearly, I think, men need to speak openly with each other about gender issues without intruding into and derailing feminist discussion to do so. I could be wrong, but that seems to me like it benefits everybody, and should be heartily encouraged.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


People v the gender/role/attractiveness/etc police. Or perhaps just people against culture by clique.

If you did that, it wouldn't be feminism. It'd be humanism, or peopleism or anthroism, or something.

I don't actually know a lot about isms. Point is, the word describing the idea shouldn't exclude half the population it's meant to include.


The people with less privilege are not required to do more - especially since often the basic battle is survival


That's sort of bunk. Men do have privilege in some contexts and lack it in others (class, race, etc.) . If you're going to demand accountability for the one, then you should give credit for the other.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:01 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not the philosophy as espoused by Gloria Steinem or anyone else, and a man can be a feminist

I don't want to get into a debate about if men should be feminists or not, but that's not really true. Germaine Greer, for example, defines a feminist as someone who self-identifies as a woman before she identifies herself as belonging to any race or class.

I know a number of (female) feminists who think men should absolutely be feminists, and I know a number of (female) feminists who think men should absolutely not be feminists. Personally, when dealing with the political space of an oppressed group, I would rather be invited by some and not present than unwanted by some and present.

None of this is really relevant to my ultimate point, though.
posted by Jairus at 6:02 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I strongly disagree with that point of view, Jairus. I really think it does a disservice to the goal of overcoming the attitudes and social structures that promote gender inequality. I do not think that feminism needs to change or make room for men's issues, but I do think that it is very useful for people of all genders to consider how traditional gender roles affect them and those around them, and that no allies should be cast aside in this pursuit. This is not a case of "men have the power, if they don't like it they should change it" which seems to be how you are framing it. It is a case of deeply ingrained attitudes and expectations held (and enforced) by both men and women. And unfortunately, in the case of marginalized men, the language of feminism is often co-opted (by the very people it is meant to criticize, who benefit from the existing gender dynamic) to silence them. This has tended to cause a huge amount of tension between communities which would both benefit from open discussion.
posted by Nothing at 6:08 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is kind of a reductive view of feminism. At its heart, feminism is just the idea that women are, and should be treated as, the equal of men.

...and no, saying that some men will never be reached by feminism is not necessarily due to a reductive view of feminism. In this case, it's due to an understanding of men (and a necessary set of fraternal tactics towards reaching those same men men) who treat feminism with open hostility and fear.
posted by Jairus at 6:08 PM on October 3, 2011


I do think that it is very useful for people of all genders to consider how traditional gender roles affect them and those around them, and that no allies should be cast aside in this pursuit

I absolutely agree, and I've been very clear in my posts that men should be allies to feminism, and I would hope that men have the support of feminists in their own work.
posted by Jairus at 6:10 PM on October 3, 2011


I guess my disagreement is with your specific exclusion of marginalized men from what you described as a spiritual coalition, simply because they share a gender with those who benefit from traditional gender roles.
posted by Nothing at 6:13 PM on October 3, 2011


I would hope that men have the support of feminists in their own work.

Not going to happen.
posted by Scoo at 6:14 PM on October 3, 2011


That declaration was fantastic! Wonderful find. Bookmarked.

That said this one thing stuck out:

Now, I mean this as a sincere question. "I care about the rape survivors who have never realized that what they went through was rape" seems to me an odd formulation of compassion. Rape is Bad, yes, but if you don't realize that you've been raped and are not vicitimized at all, live your life normally, etc. etc, what is achieved by post-hoc actualizing that rape? Perhaps I am misunderstanding this, but that seems counterproductive for the individuals well-being.
posted by Chipmazing at 6:17 PM on October 3, 2011


From the "Who cares about men's rights" link:

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?

I for one think that it is reasonable for feminists to spend less than 50% of their time thinking about men's issues. Here's one reason why...


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.

Women need to get a bachelor's degree to earn the same income as men without one. To put it another way, women who might not otherwise go to university are willing to go thousands of dollars into debt just to claw their way up to wage parity.


Now it is time for the yelling.

I submit that it is time for the listening and the thinking.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:18 PM on October 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I guess my disagreement is with your specific exclusion of marginalized men from what you described as a spiritual coalition, simply because they share a gender with those who benefit from traditional gender roles.

To be blunt, it's not that marginalized men cannot be allies with women, it's that I don't believe a feminist men's movement is capable of being seen as credible to the bigoted men living today who are most in need of what feminism has to teach them.

In the places where men's movement are starting to make a very real difference in the lives and ideas of men (like Nicaragua), those movements are by men for men, and no one in those movements is at all interested in bringing feminism into the debate, because they tried that for twenty years, and no one listened.

Not going to happen.

See, this isn't helpful. I've got the support of many feminists in my community. Maybe you're doing it wrong.
posted by Jairus at 6:22 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was at a feminist caucus last week at this nice house in the suburbs.

The conversation turned to the host's adorable cats as it often does. She commented that for some reason her male cats were usually friendlier. Someone else noticed that too, but thought it was because the males were just so much stupider. The whole room cracked up except a couple guys there who just ate their cheese awkwardly.

It was great cheese though.
posted by Winnemac at 6:22 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is kind of a reductive view of feminism. At its heart, feminism is just the idea that women are, and should be treated as, the equal of men.

...and no, saying that some men will never be reached by feminism is not necessarily due to a reductive view of feminism. In this case, it's due to an understanding of men (and a necessary set of fraternal tactics towards reaching those same men men) who treat feminism with open hostility and fear.


What is reductive is claiming that feminism must be viewed through a complex lens of feminist theory as constructed by people like Gloria Steinem etc etc (I don't want to be seen as picking on Ms. Steinem). There is both a rich history and current activity in feminist thought, which would probably be useful for the interested to read, but I will stand by my statement that the central tenet of feminism is that women are the equal of men and should be treated so. If you accept that, you can probably call yourself a feminist with a clear conscience, although you will no doubt be able to find someone to disqualify you, no matter what your gender classification. Because movements are like that.

The fact that some men are never going to accept this basic idea hardly invalidates the idea.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:22 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Now, I mean this as a sincere question. "I care about the rape survivors who have never realized that what they went through was rape" seems to me an odd formulation of compassion. Rape is Bad, yes, but if you don't realize that you've been raped and are not vicitimized at all, live your life normally, etc. etc, what is achieved by post-hoc actualizing that rape? Perhaps I am misunderstanding this, but that seems counterproductive for the individuals well-being."

There was an AskMe about something like this earlier that you might be interested in, the answers are pretty enlightening. The presence of so many awesome feminists in that thread was really great and created a space that allowed me to share my experience.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:23 PM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm glad this exists. People get stuff all twisted up and it makes things worse for everyone when it becomes a suffering pissing contest. If it's annoying when men derail feminism discussions, then the obvious solution is men should bring those issues up in another setting where it doesn't derail anything or dismiss others' suffering. So okay, blogs like the one linked here arise. Great! Except now, proving the point, some women are basically shutting down *that* outlet too by saying men always have a place to discuss this stuff -- except they don't, and that kind of response is precisely part of the problem. (Another part of the problem being that the very problems that need to be addressed make addressing problems seem "unmanly.")

Advocacy for primarily male problems gets shouted down by a lot of people of both genders and that's wrong. It's absurd and harmful to treat it as a zero sum game; our goal should be to take all suffering seriously and work to lessen it. Letting men have a space to talk about primarily male issues isn't going to cost women anything, so that dismissive attitude is embarrassing. In fact, women will be better off if, you know, men had a space to deconstruct and address the harmful beliefs society pressures them to buy into, but even if women didn't gain anything it still wouldn't hurt women and it would STILL be the right thing to do. Laughing in the face of someone who is suffering just because their life isn't a wreck in every conceivable way is extremely cruel. It is odd to me that some people will push passionately for others to have more empathy for them, yet cultivate none for those people. Unfortunately, it's all too common for some people to want equality so they can do the oppressing for a change, rather than, you know, consider that maybe it'd be great if no one were oppressed. The impulse to lash out at people is strong when you've been dealt a shitty hand, but that impulse is what drives the whole cycle and the only way out is to show some maturity and overcome it.

Can anyone honestly say that men do NOT deserve a place where they can talk about those issues? If anyone really feels that way, there's no sense in talking to them. But I keep seeing this idea that every space is that space. Even if we pretend for a minute that's true -- and I don't think it is, I think they have next to no spaces to do this -- then how is it any different to barge into that space and be dismissive of it than when a man does it? "Because they have privilege" is not a sufficient answer. Going into a male rights thread on a website and being dismissive is just as obnoxious and hurtful. If you think men should be able to talk about these things somewhere, you can't seek them out when they're not derailing and follow them around always demanding that, well, they talk about it somewhere *else* because they have so many places to do it; if you, or someone like you, always interjects with that, they have no place. At that point you have to look at yourself and realize, oh crap, I've become the kind of asshole I've always hated! I'm helping ensure they have no place to discuss anything! And then next thread about men's rights you either help out or have the common sense and humility to not barge into someone's house and control the conversation.
posted by Nattie at 6:24 PM on October 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


In the places where men's movement are starting to make a very real difference in the lives and ideas of men (like Nicaragua), those movements are by men for men, and no one in those movements is at all interested in bringing feminism into the debate, because they tried that for twenty years, and no one listened.

Actually, I realized right after I posed this, that this isn't 100% true. The main men-against-violence group in Nicaragua does have a high-school prom-style dance with a local (and quite generous) feminist group as a kind of final exam for the men who participate in the program.
posted by Jairus at 6:25 PM on October 3, 2011


Now it is time for the yelling.

I submit that it is time for the listening and the thinking.


Hey! How come there isn't a word pair equivalent for yelling that would mean, like, really intense listening? Now is the time for that. Now is the time for really intense listening. With frowny concentration lines and really intense respect.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:26 PM on October 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I will stand by my statement that the central tenet of feminism is that women are the equal of men and should be treated so. If you accept that, you can probably call yourself a feminist with a clear conscience

I'd rather not, but thank you. I understand what you're saying, I agree that women are the equal of men, and feminists are my friends, sisters, and lovers; but I fly different flags.
posted by Jairus at 6:28 PM on October 3, 2011


most men think things are just fine and they don't need a movement, unless it's to combat feminists who want to change things

which is unfortunate
posted by pyramid termite at 6:34 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks blasdelb
posted by Chipmazing at 6:37 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Really? There is a paucity of such spaces? OK, I get it now. This is a parody, right?

Plenty of male-dominated spaces, sure, but if mefi is a boyzone (as has been claimed many times) then those spaces are likely to be boyzone^10--picture beer joints with football games up on the big screen, senators at Bohemian Grove, military officers at Tailhook--and chances are any discussions of "mens' issues" in those spaces are going to end in consensus that may not be, uh, helpful.
posted by jfuller at 6:39 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I will stand by my statement that the central tenet of feminism is that women are the equal of men

The first task of feminism isn't eliminating inequality but pointing out where inequality exists.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:41 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


GenjiandProust: I literally just now got the pun in your name, because as I was scrolling up to peer at things I only saw the "Prou" for a second so my brain put the whole thing together as "Genji and Prowst". I always just kind of thought you liked very, very long fictional works. I say this to it:

Hah! Nice.

Anyway. Thanks for posting this link! TBH I'd never even thought of this as a problem that needed solving, for the very reasons addressed in the "No Seriously" post. I think it's a difficult problem that requires some delicate handling, and the bloggers seem to so far be doing a pretty good job of it. Neat!
posted by kavasa at 6:42 PM on October 3, 2011


I'm straight, white, and male. My close friends span such a spectrum of gender and sexuality that assumptions been happily muddled in conversation for years, so much so that I regularly have to explain, yes, totally straight, never tempted. The most important relationship in my life was with a lesbian, who is still one of my closest friends after ~4 years of being together ended. Another very good friend of mine came out in (their gender omitted) mid-20s and is now married to someone of the opposite sex. Both my ex and my other friend said the same thing when asked "I thought you were gay" after people met their partners (meaning me and my friend's spouse). They said "I don't like the opposite sex, I like this person."

When I first met my ex, she was convinced that heterosexual relationships were inherently unfair and creepy, because of the imbalance of gender power in society. We then went on to have the most fair and respectful relationship we could manage. By which I mean we loved each other very much, wanted the best for each other, and tried to fix things when we fucked up and hurt each other, which we did. As far as I can tell, this is the lot anyone draws by entering a serious relationship with an open heart. Gay, straight, male, female, whatever.

I think what this (pretty compelling and refreshing) blog and this discussion is trying to deal with is the fact that discussions about gender overwhelmingly suggest that straight men are the only ones with an invisible backpack in all situations and therefor are some sort of empty control group that needs no consideration. Or at least I think they feel that way to anyone with a less-than-scholarly engagement with the discussion. What I appreciate about this blog, and other writing in the same, emerging tradition, is that they are trying to John-Stewart the discussion a bit. They are saying It's Not that Simple and they are rejecting the Us-vs.-Them dynamics in favor of a view that the dynamics of social fairness involve complicated power relationships which are influenced by individual circumstance on a finer scale than what we hear in the media.

I have many other reasons for sharing this position (the list of things I've experienced that Male Privilege is supposed to insulate me from is long and storied), but I think these two examples illustrate it best. In each circumstance, the invisible backpack, Sharia law, DADT, or the difference in size between the Women's and Men's studies sections in my friend's bookstore didn't matter for shit compared to the personalities of the people involved, or how they chose to treat each other.

It should no longer be a question that we need underprivileged cultural narratives that push back against privileged ones. Or, rather, there are broad contexts, such as metafilter, where it isn't in question. (And then there's the much longer conversation about the shift from a context defined by dominance to one defined by plurality, which I will bow out of because this isn't a postmodernism thread.) There are still, and may always be, contexts that haven't gotten there, but living in one where that step has been taken doesn't mean that the work is done. (Remember all those ridiculous "is racism over?" articles when Obama was elected?) We have to get used to issues of power and identity that require constant updates and additions. When we carry policy and social mores into our relationships, we have to retain the freedom to manipulate or even contradict them when they fail to fit the person we are dealing with. We have to accept, whether we identify as privileged or not, that they will often fail to fit. Some men are rapists, and some men are hopeless, fedora-wearing victims of being raised without a legitimate or realistic narrative for manhood. Some men are institutionally-sexist because, like many of my fellow Americans, they are apparently allergic to critical thinking. Some men are well-adjusted, fine human beings. These are far from our only options, but I would be overjoyed if the literature reached a level of dialogue that could engage just these four.

I'll finish with a suggestion for those of us from western countries who don't agree with our governments' foreign, military, and/or financial policies. Go to a country that feels badly done by your country. For the US, it's easy to choose. The UK works very well for this, despite their own long, long list of options. (French > Haiti, And so on...). Go to a mid-range bar or cafe. Have conversations, talk about current events. Tell people where you're from. You will have the same negotiations and conversations that this blog is trying to address, that decent straight men in a post-feminist society have every day. It's not total-privilege, it's not victimhood, and it's not easy either. So! Glad to see that we're starting to have it in public.
posted by nímwunnan at 6:43 PM on October 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Interesting link, thanks.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:46 PM on October 3, 2011


Ok, edit: ...this (pretty compelling and refreshing) sort of sprawling but thoughtful blog .. etc.
posted by nímwunnan at 6:50 PM on October 3, 2011


What's interesting is that the article talks about things that actual "mens's rights" people aren't particularly worried about.

If you look at reddit's /r/MensRights you'll find, well, an enormus amount of hatred and bitterness towards woman for one thing. here are some examples

One of their biggest worries is false rape accusations, followed by women stealing sperm or in other ways tricking guys into impregnating themselves and then claim child support, followed by unfairness in family court stuff (like custody and so on)
I dunno. It annoys me that whenever "men's rights" comes up, people love to throw out the most ridiculous, over-the-top examples they can find, in order to discredit the very idea that sometimes men are at a disadvantage and have rights that get trampled.
Well a big part of that is that most men are not going to find themselves disadvantaged for being men. I know I'm a guy and I don't particularly feel like I've been disadvantaged in any way by it. So the people who are worried about mens rights tend to be outliers.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on October 3, 2011


most men are not going to find themselves disadvantaged for being men.

A large part of Who Cares About Mens Rights just is a laundry list of ways in which men are disadvantaged for being men--being draftable, being raped in prison, being emotionally closed and living shorter lives, living in such sexual bad faith that being raped seems like an accomplishment, for example.

Virtually all of that is a consequence of living in a partriarchy, and it's both appropriate and useful to discuss those things, and to create a space in which they can be discussed safely without falling prey to the errors of MRAs, which is see women as the root of these problems, and not other men.
posted by fatbird at 7:16 PM on October 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I remain mystified and disappointed at the championing of this blog, whose FAQ includes this statement: "Just as men have an advantage (or privilege) over women in society in any respects, the reverse is also true." For more nuanced discussions about men, feminism and gender roles, check out the National Organization for Men Against Sexism.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:17 PM on October 3, 2011


Huh. I'm a regular Man Boobz reader but the rest is new to me. Thanks for the interesting links!

I too care about those issues mentioned in the "Who Cares About Men’s Rights?" article, and I am totally down with men having their own space to discuss gender issues (not that they need my approval, of course!). But I guess.. why does feminism have to address these issues? Honestly, a lot of the points mentioned in this article are class issues to my mind, and not gender issues, and they are things that I am for or against as a socialist or as someone who believes in the basic fundamentals of a civilized society, but that don't apply to me being a feminist.

Feminism is, at the end of the day, about women. That's not to say that men can't participate, or that men don't have their own gender-related issues, but saying that feminists need to appeal more to men to be successful seems.. an awkward line of thinking, anyway.
posted by jess at 7:23 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I must share this gem as well from the FAQ:

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!

Yes, we are to feel sorry for these men because they are disproportionately promoted!

Ah Metafilter, you disappoint me.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:39 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"A large part of Who Cares About Mens Rights just is a laundry list of ways in which men are disadvantaged for being men--being draftable, being raped in prison, being emotionally closed and living shorter lives, living in such sexual bad faith that being raped seems like an accomplishment, for example."

Because of course women never vote for war hawks or governors who are 'tough on crime' who appoint wardens who arn't tough on rape, of course it is exclusively men who mock sensitivity and value the 'toughness' that leads to isolation, depression, and under-use of medical infrastructure.

Our fucked up gender issues as a society are just that, ours, but if blaming issues that affect men is necessary for them to be seen and acknowledged, well then I can be happy with that
posted by Blasdelb at 7:43 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wordwoman - your answers are exactly why I always read gender posts without commenting. As a dude, there is nothing we could say that you would like. I don't feel like you're helping the conversation.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:48 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Eh, it's a valid nitpick. A lot of people work for the best compensation, not any one calling and ease of promotion is a huge benefit there.

That said, there are also people (and I think a lot of people in nursing and teaching) who do see helping people heal or learn as a major part of who they are. If getting the most money is your goal these aren't usually the first choices even though they tend to be good jobs.

I'm not sure it's really true that there is a major advantage in promotion for male nurses, but I think there is probably a lot more social pressure on men to make as much money as possible and to have choices guided in that context.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:58 PM on October 3, 2011


Wordwoman: Yes, that last example in particular made me cringe, but rejecting any attempts to address patriarchy or gender disparity that aren't perfectly in line with your own feminism sort of doom the whole business to being two solitudes, doesn't it? It's not productive for either party.

What always gets me about these discussions on Metafilter is that we're often talking about the most prostate, leftist, sensitive man sort of approach being presented, and it's still tossed out as being sexist at it's core and not really worth considering seriously or engaging. That way lies despair.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't feel like you're helping the conversation.

Why? Because she's a bit cynical about some of claims in this post? You're already interpreting her comment as attacking men as a whole. I think she has a point that complaining about prejudicial promotion in this case is a bit...thin. And I think reactions to her (understandable in my view) irritation are immediately being jumped on as reverse sexism.

The problem is that a lot of the time, it's like feminist discussion is this nice patch of garden that a number of women have worked really hard to fertilize and weed, even if they can't always agree on what should be planted in it.

And men's issues, they're kind of like this nice plant you'd really like to add the same patch...but unfortunately, say...10% of the time, this nice plant mutates and chokes out all the original plants.

So whether you want to plant the two in the same patch depends on whether or not you're willing to risk the original plant's welfare for the sake of diversity in this environment. It's not a zero sum game. But it's a real tendency (as demonstrated by the very first commenter on the linked blog above).

we're often talking about the most prostate, leftist, sensitive man


...what's wrong with your prostate now??
posted by daisystomper at 8:05 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah Metafilter, you disappoint me.

Yeah, you know that thing about creating safe spaces for having difficult conversations about privilege and patriarchy and feminism and gender issues?

You're doing it wrong.
posted by fatbird at 8:09 PM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


"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!"

"Yes, we are to feel sorry for these men because they are disproportionately promoted!"


Well the author might actually know some nurses. Most of the nurses I've ever known love their jobs, went into the business for patient care, couldn't see themselves doing anything else and I'm sure would rather quit than take a fully administrative position. But then they are more free to being at least a couple varieties of not male. They don't need to feel the same pressure to conform to being an object of status and thus being more free to live their own lives in addition to not having the sexist expectation that their lives don't make sense.

I don't know about anyone else but this does feel like an awfully familiar variety of cluelessness. Even if the blog is not perfect, there are even typos everywhere, it would be awesome if this could continue to be a safe place for men and those who care about them to talk about hard issues.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:15 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


...what's wrong with your prostate now??

And I looked right and that, and thought 'not prostate', and then clicked Enter. Ah, for the edit window...
posted by stinkycheese at 8:17 PM on October 3, 2011


right *at* that

(going to bed)
posted by stinkycheese at 8:18 PM on October 3, 2011


Yes, we are to feel sorry for these men because they are disproportionately promoted!

I don't think the point is that they're promoted, it's that they're pressured out of a profession that's stereotypically female. It's another example of how a patriarchal society affects men in sexist ways.

Is part of the problem with this blog that people feel it creates an equivalence between how men and women are oppressed by our patriarchal society? Nothing I read implies that men are equally victimized; the purpose seems to be to address something that's underserved by everyone except loony, hateful men's rights activists.
posted by fatbird at 8:20 PM on October 3, 2011


Men's Issues: The Plant That Chokes Out 10% Of Your Feminist Garden
posted by stinkycheese at 8:20 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The oppressors maintain their position and evade responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.

I kind of thought activism was about "educating the oppressors", at least in part. And saying that oppressors are evading responsibility implies that there's some higher moral authority in society that they answer to, when no such thing exists. They are the authorities! I get that its unfair that the burden of creating change lies with the oppressed, but who else is going to do it? The oppressors?

In my opinion, derailing is a problem because people self-select into groups with very different assumptions and norms, and when they interact it causes a huge problem because there's almost no shared ground on which to contest someone's beliefs. This problem is exacerbated because a lot of social activism of the last 20 or 30 years has switched away from crafting critical arguments and moved towards a strategy of opening up spaces to allow oppressed voices to be heard and speak about their experience of oppression.

I'm sure there are benefits to that, but one negative result is that you have tiny pockets of the internet which are friendly to minority voices that are outweighed and outmatched by huge areas where homophobic, racist, sexist, etc., remarks go unchallenged, or are at best weakly challenged.

I've heard that people don't want to spend their time going through Feminism 101 for every random comment from a clueless man. OK, your choice. But if feminists aren't going to do Feminism 101, who is?
posted by AlsoMike at 8:24 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am so very grateful that no one in this thread has used the word "mansplaining" yet. (Except for this.)
posted by Kloryne at 8:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it really that hard to keep guys in musical theatre?

I feel like I know tons of guys who would do anything to do actual musical theatre. Maybe that says more about my social circle than it does about the world though.

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.

Is this really still true?
posted by millipede at 8:29 PM on October 3, 2011


No one taught me to do laundry. I read the instructions on the machine. It wasn't too hard.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:31 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What kind of instruction is required to clean a room, pray tell? I must be a PRODIGY.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:33 PM on October 3, 2011


Maybe the point about the laundry has to do with boys and young men being kept ignorant because certain things are "women's work". Yes, this is oppressive for women but it doesn't work so well for men either. Ignorance is not actually bliss.

I think one of the most important things to understand about system of dominance between human beings is that it doesn't really work to make a good society for anyone.
posted by Danila at 8:41 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, who likes to live in filth or waste time and money because the people around you have applied subtle pressures or used explicit commands that kept you from being able to take care of yourself as you'd ideally like to?

As a woman with some awareness of gender inequality I have often reflected on how much my own life has been made narrower because of the many things I wasn't allowed to do, or encouraged to do, or even made aware that it was possible to do. This applies to boys and men as well, it's like two sides of a coin.

There's a lot we don't know that we don't know. We have all been cheated by this system, men as well as women.
posted by Danila at 8:48 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I get that its unfair that the burden of creating change lies with the oppressed, but who else is going to do it? The oppressors?

I think there's an important distinction to be made here.

Members of an oppressed group SHOULD be responsible for supporting themselves and demonstrating their own value, visibly, to an oppressive majority. This is because it is for the benefit of themselves and their own minority group. Having demonstrated their value and solidarity, they have no responsibility to the majority group; that is, if the oppressors don't change their minds and actions in the face of profound evidence that their beliefs and actions are flawed, at some point you can't continue to hold the minority responsible for "failing to educate them."

So if we've come to an age where gender discrimination is (supposedly) UNIVERSALLY accepted to be wrong, then it seems understandable that feminists get discouraged at continually having to backtrack to Feminism 101 for the sake of recalcitrant non-feminists. I imagine climate scientists feel the same about constantly having to argue again and again about the validity of human-caused global warming.
posted by daisystomper at 8:53 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Men's Issues: The Plant That Chokes Out 10% Of Your Feminist Garden

Other way around. It's some small percentage of blame-assigning MRAs that choke out not only feminist discussion, but legitimate concerns for all genders.
posted by daisystomper at 8:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Asking feminists to do more with regard to men's rights seems to me like asking the NAACP to worry more about the advancement of people of European American ancestry.
posted by Cassford at 9:45 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That analogy doesn't really hold. Black folks can feasibly form their own communities without the involvement of "European Americans", whereas an all-female community (Michigan Women's Festival, aside) is not really a practical, long-term idea. Unless you had an artificial insemination lab, I guess.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:55 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Black folks forming their own communities" seems a bit of a ghetto mentality...maybe different races aren't as dependent on each other in a long-term, fate-of-the-human-race-populating-a-new-planet sort of way, but surely that kind of community isolationism can't be ideal.

Regardless, the analogy holds insofar as it exemplifies a point that's already been raised before: that is, oppressors making the oppressed responsible for educating and engaging them, effectively blackmailing the oppressed group into making their concerns more palatable to the majority before really accepting them as equals.
posted by daisystomper at 10:13 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that these writers are discussing some particular issues that intersect with the MRA, who largely work with one stock plot:

1) Legitimate Bad Thing happened to a man.
2) Feminism did it.

The ultimate effect of this is a legitimate Bad Thing has occurred that is now disregarded because its only advocates are mouth foaming woman haters on reddit. Without fail almost any legitimate injustice I have heard of from the MRA crowd has nothing to do with the victim's masculinity/gender and has everything to do with his class and/or relative power within the patriarchy.
posted by ndfine at 11:01 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The NAACP is not a separatist organization. In fact, they welcome people of all ethnicities, but the focus is on improving the lives of the people disproportionately negatively effected by racism: the people of color. Gender equality (or racial equality) is not a zero sum game and as I think Justice Stevens once wrote (about affirmative action), we shouldn't disregard the difference between a "No trespassing" sign and a welcome mat.
posted by Cassford at 11:09 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Black folks forming their own communities" seems a bit of a ghetto mentality...maybe different races aren't as dependent on each other in a long-term, fate-of-the-human-race-populating-a-new-planet sort of way, but surely that kind of community isolationism can't be ideal.

Not ideal whatsoever, just possible.

I'm not saying the NAACP would be interested. Do I really need to add all these qualifiers?

My point is simply that ethnicity or "race" does not equate with sex. You only have to go one generation without male-female co-habitation (or reproduction, in any event) to go extinct, in the most extreme sense.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:25 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really a derail to the main topic. I apologise for that, I just took exception to the comparison and think it's a little more complicated than sexism = racism.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:26 PM on October 3, 2011


Regardless, the analogy holds insofar as it exemplifies a point that's already been raised before: that is, oppressors making the oppressed responsible for educating and engaging them, effectively blackmailing the oppressed group into making their concerns more palatable to the majority before really accepting them as equals.

I agree that, in this much, the analogy holds, yes.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:32 PM on October 3, 2011


Members of an oppressed group SHOULD be responsible for supporting themselves and demonstrating their own value, visibly, to an oppressive majority.

I don't really agree with how this is stated. It implies that there already exists a forum where the oppressed can go to be fairly heard and get some remedy. It seems to me that the whole point is to contest the mainstream notion of fairness on the grounds that minority oppression isn't recognized.

if the oppressors don't change their minds and actions in the face of profound evidence that their beliefs and actions are flawed, at some point you can't continue to hold the minority responsible for "failing to educate them."

I don't hold the minority responsible for doing anything, as I said, and also because not every minority is an activist. It's reasonable to not want to talk to anyone about whatever you don't want to talk about. But it seems that the minimum definition of an activist is that you advocate for and argue for what you believe in. Obviously not everyone wants to be or needs to be an activist.

But it kind of sounds like you're arguing that no-one should be an activist because activism is futile, and once you have proven to your satisfaction that they are wrong, there's nothing more that can be done. And that gender discrimination is not really a problem since everyone already knows it's wrong, except for a few stragglers, in which case it makes sense that you would not think much of activism.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:41 PM on October 3, 2011


For more nuanced discussions about men, feminism and gender roles ...

If you really want people to participate in a nuanced discussion of a challenging topic, consider not leading off with "this is a parody amirite" next time.
posted by mhoye at 2:09 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


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.

Is this really still true?


Based on my observations at my university, yes. To be fair, many female students also seem to have this problem. I have often thought that a course in high school that would focus on -- how to cook cheaply, how to sew a button on a shirt, how to rewire a lamp, how to read a contract, how to balance a checkbook, etc. would be of great use. Not so much the subject at hand, but, still.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:47 AM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Generally speaking this is a topic I think a lot about so should be able to muster some coherent statements. In lieu of that ...

What we have—what I see around me—are lots of dudes who don't identify with traditional male identities (though sometimes enjoy or identify with parts of it) but don't have anywhere else to turn for the things they need. (Of course for them this old-world masculine space doesn't really provide enough and in fact usually constricts more than it enables. But, for some, hanging out with dudes who sometimes throw around the word "faggot" is better than not hanging out with dudes at all.)

What's missing in contemporary masculinity is a strong feminist male identity that encourages/enables bonding among men, accepts and celebrates a broad range of male sexuality/sexual expression, and provides a framework and language for promoting gender equality along side male success (and probably some other stuff that I'm not thinking about).

And while it's not women's responsibility here to do anything about this, I wonder if there isn't a way for feminist women to use their experience in casting off received—and creating space for new—gender roles to assist in birthing* this new masculinity. Certainly this happens already to some extent—feminist mothers, teachers, mentors etc. do this in their daily lives … I guess I'm asking: what can men who are looking for new ways to "man" learn from the similar paths that women have walked before us? And where and how would we learn these things?

* sorry
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:50 AM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Asking feminists to do more with regard to men's rights seems to me like asking the NAACP to worry more about the advancement of people of European American ancestry.

That depends. Some feminists are pretty open on the view that feminism is for women, as the name indicates. This is the group that you are talking about. There are other feminists who claim that feminism is about helping the equality of everyone and mean it. Those are the ones that the person you were replying to was talking about - and many of them are quite open in their belief that "The patriarchy hurts men" (as it does). Finally, and IME a very common group, are those who claim that feminism is about helping the equality of everyone but then turn round and say that men should found their own organisations and that they don't have the blindest bit of interest in anything that doesn't help their side.

And it really doesn't help anyone that Mens Rights Advocates are generally a group of sexist fuckwits (as the Reddit link illustrates).
posted by Francis at 2:57 AM on October 4, 2011


So, you know how sympathy trolls like to object that, if feminism doesn't favor women over men, then it should be called androgynism, or the Gender Equality Movement, or somesuch?

Now I see that there are a lot of feminists who object to the idea of including men in feminism, so I'm more sympathetic to the objection than I once was.

Maybe feminism and... er... butchism should be different "wings" of Gender Activism and Theory (non-incorporated)?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:32 AM on October 4, 2011


The mission statement was really well done and I'm looking forward to delving deeper into the blog later. The point that gay men's issues should be thought of as a subset of men's issues, not just gay issues, was an especially clear one, and something I haven't heard articulated so clearly before. Outside of what was said on gender and sexuality issues, though, the following quote should absolutely be used, mutatis mutandis, by every progressive movement everywhere:

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!
posted by Schismatic at 5:16 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


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!

This ties in with my comments about the Patriarchy above. The Patriarchy is not just about gender, it involves class, race, physical/mental ability, and all that stuff. It doesn't mean "rule by men" but "rule by rich, white, straight men" (at the least; there are probably other adjectives that go in there). So the Patriarchy gives men a bunch of advantages, but takes most of them back via racism, classism, homophobia, etc. That way, the poor black man is at least as likely to direct his anger at the black women, black gay men, poor white men, etc. within his reach than the patriarchs who seem unimaginably far away.

And the system perpetuates because it offers partial acceptance -- "sure, you are only a woman, but you could marry a rich guy, and that's better than being a woman and poor;" "sure, you are poor, but you are a white man, and that's better than being a black woman;" "sure, you're poor and black, but you're straight, and that's better than being gay." So we all grind along in our little ruts, and we can't address the big picture, because we are all struggling for the crumbs from the table of the real problem.

I think getting men to see that the privilege the current system offers is mostly an illusion and that a more equitable approach would benefit nearly everyone, and that we are not our enemy is a good idea. This needs to be done in partnership with women, but some of the conversation needs to be done between men -- especially the parts where "women are not the enemy" needs to be articulated. I think that's where the MRAs have (mostly) gone horribly, horribly wrong.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:37 AM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Coming in a little late to this party, but two things.

First, I think something that should be fairly uncontroversial is that we desperately need more male teachers, particularly male teachers who don't teach STEM subjects (or gym), particularly in high school. High school is when most people first start trying to figure out what it means to be a person of their particular gender (or expression thereof), and the fact that the significant majority of teachers in the US are female (76%, to be exact) is a disservice to everyone.

Men are pretty strongly discouraged from becoming teachers, for two reasons that I can see. First, it's sort of considered a "girl job," for whatever reason, and there's a lot of social pressure not to go into education. But second, the massive media attention focused on pedophilia has discouraged a lot of men from even wanting to try. Think about all the teacher sex scandals you've heard about in the media. Almost all of them involve female teachers, even more than their demographics would justify. As one who deals with insurance and tort litigation for a living, I can tell you that some of this is because the parental and administrative red flags go up with male teachers way, way more quickly than they do for female teachers. It's just incredibly difficult for male teachers to form even the most basic of relationships with students without someone flying off the handle, and there are school administrations out there that actively discourage this. So this is just terrible.

Okay, second, and about this: "men need spaces dedicated to their issues as well".

This is true, but I think it's skipping a step. It's not just that men need spaces dedicated to our issues, it's that men are actively discouraged from forming real, substantive friendships with other men. Andrew Sullivan* has written about friendship at some length. He thinks that the main problem here is homophobia, but this homophobia results not from a completely understandable twentieth-century phenomenon, i.e. the conflation of friendships with sexual relationships. I heard him speak about a year ago, and he said, flat out, "You don't have sex with your friends." But the fact is that these days, not only do many people do just that, but there's this sort of hierarchy of relationships that people have in their heads, i.e. one moves from stranger, to acquaintance, to friend, to sexual partner, each relationship being somehow "higher" than the last. Blame the Romantics, if you like, who put romantic love at the top of all human experiences. This leaves no room for any kind of asexual, Platonic friendship, the kind which has historically been so key in the maintenance of a healthy persona.

The problem is that because sexual relationships are now put at the peak of the relationship hierarchy, men are all of a sudden discouraged from forming intimate friendships with other men, because there's no intellectual space for wanting to be close to someone while not wanting to have sex with them. And let's be honest here: most men don't want to have sex with other men. But in the absence of any intellectually viable option for having close relationships with anyone that don't involve sex, most men simply opt not to have them, period.

This is a huge problem. Creating a "space" where men can honestly discuss issues isn't really going to matter unless men can figure out how to have honest, intimate relationships to fill those spaces.

*Of whom I'm generally skeptical but who is quite insightful for this particular issue.
posted by valkyryn at 6:24 AM on October 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


"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!
QFT. This rationale also seems to underlie a lot of conservative viewpoints, especially among poorer conservatives (my relatives). They seem convinced that if there's a guaranteed amount of shining the world, everyone should get their fair share. Sort of a reverse socialism, and one that ignores privilege.
"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.)"
I'm a (former) Mathlete who owns a motorcycle. E-mail's in profile, ladies.
posted by Eideteker at 6:31 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


men need spaces dedicated to their issues as well

"Men's issues"? Whatever. Just give me a free prostate check every couple of years and I'm happy.
posted by Decani at 8:01 AM on October 4, 2011


What we have—what I see around me—are lots of dudes who don't identify with traditional male identities (though sometimes enjoy or identify with parts of it) but don't have anywhere else to turn for the things they need.

This describes my husband to a T. Also my two best friends' husbands, come to think of it. It's a problem. And actually, it's one of the things I'm kind of grateful to the hipsters for -- WAIT LET ME FINISH -- because hipster guys are definitely creating an identity of maleness that references traditional gender roles, but also makes space for ways to diverge from them. That's good, and you don't have to be a hipster fan to see that it's good.

It's not just that men need spaces dedicated to our issues, it's that men are actively discouraged from forming real, substantive friendships with other men.

I once asked a large group of my male friends "How many of you have ever cried in another man's arms?" and got a big fat zero for an answer. A lot of the men my age and older seem to only be able to really find emotional support from women; their wives, their mothers, their girlfriends. Men deserve to be able to find that support from each other.

I'm the wife of a . . . can we come up with an adjective to describe these kinds of men, men who are definitely completely 100% masculine but who are not tied into the traditional masculine identity? anyway, I'm the wife of one of those guys, and I'm the mother of a son and a daughter. We bought the girl books about trucks, we're buying the boy books about fairies. It's important to me that my children know that "gentle" and "strong" are words without gender, just like "love" and "determination" and "smart." I desperately want a space that my son and my husband can go to to be men without being, you know, dudes, or whatever the term is that we're using.

But I don't think women can make it for them. I don't know if it's appropriate for men to ask the feminist movement to give them this gift. This is something that men have to make for themselves, or they'll never truly have it. As long as men are still asking women for permission to be emotionally intimate, they'll never really be able to own it. I don't know; like I said, this is very important to me, and I would do anything I can to make it happen, but I don't know how to help without being really unhelpful.
posted by KathrynT at 10:32 AM on October 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


I desperately want a space that my son and my husband can go to to be men without being, you know, dudes, or whatever the term is that we're using.

But I don't think women can make it for them. I don't know if it's appropriate for men to ask the feminist movement to give them this gift. This is something that men have to make for themselves, or they'll never truly have it. As long as men are still asking women for permission to be emotionally intimate, they'll never really be able to own it.


I don't know whether or not that's true. But I do know that it's fucked up.

It's sort of a catch-22. Part of the mythology of marriage these days is that your spouse is supposed to completely fulfill your need for intimacy of all kinds. Almost every woman I've dated has talked about wanting to "marry my best friend." This goes part and parcel with the whole concept of thinking of romantic relationships as sort of a "step up" from intimate friendships rather than a difference in kind.

It's kind of a stereotype for wives to be jealous of their husbands' pursuit of friendships with other men. An otherwise questionable Slate article has one thing right: it's no longer really socially acceptable for men to spend all that much time out drinking/playing golf/whatever. So the trend has been towards "man caves," i.e. private substitutes for formerly public spaces where men pursued friendship with each other. But because they're private, instead of fostering friendships, men watch TV and tinker with their hobbies. I think the space issue is secondary to the fact that men--and really just spouses--are largely operating under the assumption that because spouses are supposed to be best friends, and that romantic relationships are just an increase in degree from friendships, that friendship with other men isn't something that's really allowed.

So if you're looking for a way to encourage male friendships, a great place to start is to stop penalizing men* for seeking emotional connections outside romantic relationships or even for just spending time with people other than their spouses. Friendships act as sort of a "safety valve" for romantic relationships, i.e. a guy who can spend an hour or two a week talking with his buddies about "the wives" has a way of working through emotional issues without taking them out on his wife.

Also, recognize that what husbands and wives have may involve friendship, but that it is not superior to friendship or any kind of "step up" from friendship. Recognize that one spouse seeking emotional support from anyone but the other spouse is not necessarily an act of infidelity, particularly when the other person is a true friend, i.e. one with whom sex is absolutely off the table.

This goes both ways, as it turns out. Husbands should be just as supportive of wives seeking friendships with other women, for pretty much the same reasons.

*And I am in no way saying that you, in particular, are doing this KathrynT; I'm just speaking to the room.
posted by valkyryn at 11:37 AM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I once asked a large group of my male friends "How many of you have ever cried in another man's arms?"

To draw any sort of conclusions you'd have had to ask the same group how many of them had ever cried (as an adult) in a woman's arms, particularly one he wasn't romantically involved with. 'Cause I really don't think not having cried in a man's arms means you're somehow emotionally deprived or cut off.
posted by Justinian at 12:21 PM on October 4, 2011


I don't think I've ever cried in anyone's arms. I don't like people touching me if I'm crying. That is a weird question to ask people.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:25 PM on October 4, 2011


Kind of my feeling as well. The whole idea makes me feel icky inside.
posted by Justinian at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2011


> 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 do hope there'll also be an AP exam so those of us who learned these all by ourselves before middle school can test out of the classes.
posted by jfuller at 6:28 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


« Older Amanda Knox freed by Italian appeals court...  |  These guys... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments