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Yes, but how do I benefit?
December 6, 2012 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Women's rights are for men? Arguments for expanding women's rights on the basis that men will benefit have a long history. Two well-known examples from the US: During the struggle for women's suffrage in the US, one of the arguments put forth was that
women deserved the vote because they were different from men. They could make their domesticity into a political virtue, using the franchise to create a purer, more moral "maternal commonwealth." This argument served many political agendas: Temperance advocates, for instance, wanted women to have the vote because they thought it would mobilize an enormous voting bloc on behalf of their cause, and many middle-class white people were swayed once again by the argument that the enfranchisement of white women would "ensure immediate and durable white supremacy, honestly attained."
A similar argument crops up in debates over coeducation at formerly all-male liberal arts colleges history of coeducation at US colleges, where "[s]upporters of coeducation often argued that the presence of women would have a civilizing effect on male students," and the decision by administrators to admit women was often based on largely economic concerns.

(I recall that reading the student newspaper archives on the occasion of the 25 anniversary of coeducation at the college I was attending at the time was instructive. Finding similar resources online proved tricky, but here are a couple relevant links: Yale, Haverford, Bowdoin.)

While women's suffrage and attendance at elite institutes of higher education are almost universally regarded as good things in western society these days, the "but what about the men?" response to feminism or women's rights is still with us.

On a side note, the first-wave feminist advocates for coeducation would likely be pleased to learn that some US college now have coed dorm rooms.
posted by eviemath (185 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am not clear on the point of your post; is it about how men benefit when campuses or coed, or when women vote?

Do you have examples or counterexamples of the effects on men?
posted by emjaybee at 8:15 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Related Jezebel link: Oh God, Please Don’t Let White Male Victimhood Be the Next Big Social Movement.

I am so, so fucking tired of explaining that social justice isn't a zero-sum game and that patriarchy hurts men too. Partially it's because having to explain the same thing over and over again is infuriating and partially it's because the whole thing is rooted in this MRA bullshit about how feminism is an attempt to take away the rights of men because of female on male abuse and also custody and wahhhhhh what about the menz, and it makes it impossible to have a conversation when you have to explain, no, what it IS about the menz, and then you never end up talking about the womenz, because there's too many dudes yelling about how terrible it is to tell MEN not to rape because WOMEN rape too.

I guess what I'm saying is that I need to stop visiting reddit.
posted by NoraReed at 8:17 AM on December 6, 2012 [56 favorites]


many middle-class white people were swayed once again by the argument that the enfranchisement of white women would "ensure immediate and durable white supremacy, honestly attained

I've heard this before but I've never understood how it was supposed to work. Women gaining the right to vote would increase the total number of both white and non-white voters, and it's not obvious to me how that would somehow change the overall proportion of voters to be more white than it already was.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:17 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


NoraReed, I stopped visiting Reddit for just that reason, and I've felt much better about my day ever since.

The one virtue of the men's-rights movement, such as it is, is the atrocious stupidity and sloth of everyone involved. I just wish they would stop ruining websites and blogs.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:26 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I believe the post is quite self-explanatory about its point, emjaybee. These are the (to me) very obvious questions immediately brought to mind:

1.) When we try to convince men to support equal rights for women on the basis that giving equal rights to women will benefit men, does that not reinforce the idea that men are more deserving of rights and power than women, and also the idea taht women's role is to support and serve men?

2.) Would it be better to argue that a traditionally oppressed class of people should be given equal access to rights and power just because it's morally correct, or is the "women's rights benefit men too" style of argument simply a practical necessity for success, because people in power do not like to share it, and it's human nature to ask "what's in it for me?"

3.) Can we quantify, in retrospect, ways that advancements in women's rights have benefited men? Does that matter?
posted by BlueJae at 8:28 AM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you're interested in the history of suffrage, read about the history of suffrage in Utah. Suffrage in the pre-state Mormon communities in the west had made full voting rights for women law long before the 19th Amendment, and it was annulled by the federal government. One of the arguments against suffrage was that it would give Mormons too much voting power.
posted by deathpanels at 8:29 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think emjaybee was employing humor (based on her previous body of comments on similar topics)?
posted by eviemath at 8:37 AM on December 6, 2012


I've heard this before but I've never understood how it was supposed to work.

"Honestly attained" just means you can stick to literacy tests and poll taxes without actually having to bludgeon anybody to death on the sidewalk. The gap between white and black women was a lot bigger on education and money than it was between white and black men.
posted by queen zixi at 8:41 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Equal rights for women are of course beneficial to men, but even if they weren't, they'd still be fucking mandatory because it's equal fucking rights and I'd like to think that we're human beings and not vermin.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Not humor, so much as confusion...I wasn't saying that the topics weren't important/valid, just that I wasn't sure of the overall thrust--are we discussing the effect of feminism on men in general, in terms of suffrage, in terms of coed universities...? Do we have more than pro/anti discussions or do we have some concrete things we are measuring?

I liked BlueJae's list, provieded eviemath agrees with it.
posted by emjaybee at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the Jezebel link:

" Potentially false rape charges and "unfair" child support payments deserve equal or greater outrage, they say, alongside actual rapes and centuries of systemic, enforced poverty. And I don't mean that those problems are bullshit—all injustices deserve attention and care—but we're trying to cure cancer over here. You have a stuffy nose."

Yeah, you don't say it's bullshit. You just say it's bullshit.

Here, a man cleared from a false rape after 22 years in prison. One of may such cases you can find with a half minute search.

So twenty two years in prison is Jezebel's stuffy nose. Guess what? To the person that happens to it's no freaking stuffy nose.
posted by bswinburn at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh God, Please Don’t Let White Male Victimhood Be the Next Big Social Movement.

As whites become a minority over the next 40 years or so, it's going to be become a legitimate movement, with a dash of crazy entitlement. It's going to be fun!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


2.) Would it be better to argue that a traditionally oppressed class of people should be given equal access to rights and power just because it's morally correct, or is the "women's rights benefit men too" style of argument simply a practical necessity for success, because people in power do not like to share it, and it's human nature to ask "what's in it for me?"
emjaybee

Justice Ginsburg, back when she was General Counsel of the ACLU in the 70s, used this tactic to great effect in cases like Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld (1975), in which she successfully challenged a provision of the Social Security Act of 1935 that gave special benefits to widows but not widowers caring for children.

As whites become a minority over the next 40 years or so, it's going to be become a legitimate movement
Brandon Blatcher

No, it won't. Privilege is not about numbers. Whites being numerically the minority will not change their structural privilege until the structure itself is changed. There are plenty of places in the world where the ruling elite is a minority within the greater population. It wouldn't matter if white males were only 10% of the population if being a white male still gave you an advantage in employment, education, housing, etc.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Edited post per OP request. Please do not turn this into an argument about the jezebel link that wasn't part of the post. They do GRAR-inducing stuff on purpose, don't be trolled.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So twenty two years in prison is Jezebel's stuffy nose. Guess what? To the person that happens to it's no freaking stuffy nose.

The argument isn't about specific instances, but about systemic problems. Of course it's tragic and a real injustice for someone to spend twenty years in prison for an act they didn't commit -- no matter what the act was. But the best evidence we have suggests that there are many orders of magnitude more women who don't report rape because of how they think they'll be treated by the justice system than there are men who have been unjustly accused or imprisoned.
posted by Slothrup at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I just stumbled across this in an 1878 issue of Punch:
RIGHTS OR WRONGS?
(The Diary of a Female of the Future.)

Monday. — Just as I had settled my household work for the day I was called away to serve on a Jury, and had to remain in the Law Courts until the evening.
Tuesday. — Some riots having taken place in our neighbourhood, was forced to act as a Special Constable. Paraded the streets all day long in a state of constant alarm.
Wednesday. — Received a letter from my friend SUSIE, who has heard that the Militia are to be called out. Visited her, and discovered that women, as citizens, are now liable to military service.
Thursday. — Had to attend an inquest as a Coroner's Juryman. A very unpleasant duty indeed, as it was held upon a person who had committed a most horrible suicide.
Friday. — Having failed to obey the orders of a County Court Judge, was locked up in prison for contempt. I owe this scrape to the extravagance of my husband—a man who will buy hats and coats, and who will not work for our living.
Saturday. — In deep tribulation. The Governor of the gaol is a female, and, as a matter of course, favours the male prisoners. Asked for a book, and was furnished with a work upon Roman Law. Cried myself to sleep over a passage which told me that no one could obtain the privileges of a citizen without accepting a citizen's duties and responsibilities. Oh, why did I give up the privileges of a real woman for the miseries of a mock man!
posted by XMLicious at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2012 [20 favorites]


No, it won't. Privilege is not about numbers. Whites being numerically the minority will not change their structural privilege until the structure itself is changed.

As the number of minorities continues to rise the US, there probably will be some bona fide discrimination against whites, hence there will be a movement to protect said rights.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 AM on December 6, 2012


So do most US college students have to share rooms? That seems the most alien thing about this to me, is there no movement for privacy?

Also, I am slightly confused as to how the move to mixed dorm rooms is a reaction to the Clementi episode, can anyone clarify as to what the goal is? How would it stop bullying?
posted by biffa at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2012


On the subject of gender equality on university campuses, the Christian Union* at Bristol University was in the news a couple of days ago after it was made clear that women would not be able to teach at its main weekly meetings, and that women could only teach during their away weekends and certain special events if they were accompanied by their husbands. In the ensuing media shitstorm, they have reversed their position, now claiming that "BUCU is utterly committed to reflecting the core biblical truth of the fundamental equality of women and men".

*Most (all?) undergrad universities in the UK have a Christian Union, which is basically a student society / club with a focus on... well, being Christian, usually run on the same terms as any other hobby or sports club. My very limited experience suggests that they skew mostly Baptist / Catholic, against a background of UK Christians being mostly Anglican. They occasionally run into trouble over being overtly homophobic (the CU in my undergrad had chosen disaffiliation from the wider students' union rather than giving up its constitutional homophobia), but this is the first one I've heard about that has got into trouble over sexism.
posted by metaBugs at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


(trigger warning for this comment)

bswinburn, the Jezebel article is poorly written, but the facts are:
FBI reports consistently put the number of "unfounded" rape accusations around 8%. However, "unfounded" is not synonymous with "false" allegation. The largest study, published in 2005, was based on 2,643 sexual assault cases and found 3% of false reports. A much criticized 1994 study of 109 rape complaints made between 1978 and 1987 found 41% of false allegations.
Furthermore:
...The qualitative research also suggests that some officers continue to exhibit an unjustified scepticism of rape complainants, while others interpret such things as lack of evidence or complaint withdrawal as ‘‘proof’’ of a false allegation. Such findings suggest that there are inadequacies in police awareness of the dynamics and impact of sexual victimisation and this further reinforces the importance of training and education. However, the exact extent to which police officers incorrectly label allegations as false is difficult to discern.
Should anyone go to jail for being falsely accused of anything? Of course not.

Does that mean that false rape allegations are larger than problem than rape itself? Of course not.

There are 100,000 documented cases of rape in the United States every year, and that doesn't count instances that aren't reported, which is probably another huge number. The sexual victimization of women is an enormous problem compared to the relatively tiny number of cases of false allegations, and any assertions to the contrary without a basis in fact are wrong and unethically so.

It's not much different than pointing to affirmative action as an injustice of reverse racism while hundreds of thousands of minorities rot in jail because they are systematically targeted by the American Legal system. Both problems need addressing, but let's allocate the resources according to the actual magnitude of the problem instead of thinking only about your self-identification group.
posted by tripping daisy at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


So twenty two years in prison is Jezebel's stuffy nose. Guess what? To the person that happens to it's no freaking stuffy nose.

This example seems a little off in the comparison its making though, as the impetus for the false conviction wasn't a false statement of rape. From what I gather from the story there isn't doubt over whether the woman was raped. The error resulted from faulty eyewitness identification at the lineup stage.
posted by bizzyb at 8:59 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


biffa: "So do most US college students have to share rooms? That seems the most alien thing about this to me, is there no movement for privacy?"

It is (or was) typical for freshmen and sophomores. Juniors and seniors tend to get preferential housing arrangements, which translates into a single, rather than double, dorm room. There was always an air of forced socializing about the whole thing, but I suspect there was also a cost issue for some colleges to provide single rooms for so many students.
posted by boo_radley at 9:01 AM on December 6, 2012


I guess what I'm saying is that I need to stop visiting reddit.

I love this comment by koeselitz in an otherwise exasperating Meta, particularly this part:
The core issue is that the Men's Rights Movement, as a group, believes wholeheartedly and entirely that feminists believe women are better than men, that feminists believe women should be privileged over men, that, most of all, feminists believe the solution to inequality is to privilege women over men consistently.

Feminists do not believe this. There are probably crazy feminists somewhere who believe this, but they do not exist on Metafilter.
There are many, many situations where I believe men's rights activists blame feminism for things that are wayyyy more closely tied to stereotypes based in traditional rigid gender roles. It's frustrating, because you can find lots of common ground, for example:

- Advertising that portrays men as incompetent is horribly sexist and offensive to everyone!
- Women abuse men sometimes. It SUCKS that that happens, and it SUCKS that our society doesn't take it very seriously!
- Men are limited in their choices because society imposes crazy masculinity standards on them. Most feminists hate this!
- We SHOULD be asking hard questions about why men are incarcerated at astonishingly high rates, and why prison rape is minimized!
- Women's limited role in combat situations/draft-ineligibility SHOULD be revisited!

I get the urge to stay away from reddit, and specifically /r/MensRights, but sometimes it makes sense to engage in conversations about this stuff. Finding common ground between the MRA crowd and feminists is easy sometimes! It gets prickly around issues of reproductive rights and dating/sex norms, and I do think MRA spaces have a certain subset of defined-by-misogyny-women-haters. But some of their major talking points are things feminists find problematic too, and we should be encouraging that discussion, not running from it.
posted by almostmanda at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2012 [25 favorites]


Pope Guilty:
"Equal rights for women are of course beneficial to men, but even if they weren't, they'd still be fucking mandatory because it's equal fucking rights and I'd like to think that we're human beings and not vermin."
I think part of this (from back int he day) is adjusting your message for whom you're talking to in order to get what you want. If everyone thought equal rights were how things should be there wouldn't be a movement in the first place. So you buy off the bigots by making them think it is to their benefit, get the laws passed and then let the new social structure change the generations to come.

"Fuck those guys" feels good, but when "those guys" have power you have to decide what your actual goals are. Back then the power imbalance was much more lopsided so there was much less room to tell bigots to go fuck off.
posted by charred husk at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine you get into an argument with somebody about who gets to hold an incredible baseball bat. (The details are irrelevant.) The argument degenerates into a scuffle, and from there into a phsyical fight. Eventually, you win, and stand triumphantly over your bleeding opponent. What do you do? Do you help them back to their feet and offer to take turns sharing the baseball bat, or do you use the baseball bat to put them into the hospital so that they never move against you again?

For any pragmatic person, your decision depends primarily on what you think your opponents response will be. If you help them to their feet, bandage their wounds, and offer to share the bat with them, will they smile and accept your offer of friendship? Or do they harbor a grudge? Will they take the baseball bat and use it to beat you into submission the second you put it into their hands? I think most reasonable people can all agree that this is the most important question you should be asking yourself. Not "Who deserves to have the bat?" or "Who started the fight?" but rather "What will happen to me when I share the baseball bat with this other person?"

It may not surprise you to learn this is an analogy. The baseball bat represents power. The person who won the fight is a stand-in for white males. And the reason it's important to show empathy for them is because your behavior towards them offers clues to them as to how you will treat them once you have the bat. Obviously sexism towards women is more damaging than sexism towards men, in much the same way as being struck with a baseball bat is far more damaging than being struck with a fist. Nobody would argue that. However, striking with a fist is equivalent to striking with a baseball bat when it comes to demonstrating hostile intent.

We've had a certain class of feminist commentors on Metafilter who actively mock men whenever we point out instances of sexism against us, and trivialize it in comparison to the suffering that women experience from sexism. And that's a fair point, from a purely moral perspective. But from a pragmatic perspective, feminism involves asking somebody with power to hand over that power to another group and trust that it will not be used against them. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some empathy from the group receiving that power, because if somebody doesn't have empathy for you, it's completely illogical to give them any sort of weapon or leverage that might be used against you in the future. So while it's certainly not hypocritical for feminists to work exclusively towards the betterment of women, it seems naive and counterproductive, given that buy-in from the dominant power group is critical towards achieving that goal. I'm not talking about morality here, I'm simply talking about pragmatism.

One feminist woman I dated started calling herself an "equalist" to symbolize a distinction from the zero-sum style of feminism, to signify that she views men primarily as potential allies rather than potential oppressors. Given that approach to life, it shouldn't surprise anybody that she's also been incredibly successful in her professional life and personal relationships as well, since converting people is always much more effective than fighting them.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


What do you do?

Break the bat and throw it away.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:27 AM on December 6, 2012 [27 favorites]



I got a kick out of O'Reilly complaing on election night that the "White Establishment" (men) are now THE minority".

Not A minority. THE minority.

Apparently, other minorities don't even count as minorities when white men are around.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:27 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


We've had a certain class of feminist commentors on Metafilter who actively mock men whenever we point out instances of sexism against us, and trivialize it in comparison to the suffering that women experience from sexism.

If you have an issue with sitewide politics, bring it up in MetaTalk. This thread is not that thread. Bringing grudges over from other threads and citing one comment from a user not even in this thread in order to imply that there is some sort of a trend is not cool and is actively making this thread a worse place to discuss the topic of this thread in a good faith manner.
posted by jessamyn at 9:30 AM on December 6, 2012 [34 favorites]


If you have to break down your analogy like that, it is not a good analogy.
posted by boo_radley at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The spermmines are where the action is at, baby.

More seriously, telling women to please ask more nicely is kind of cheesy.
posted by Forktine at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2012


It boggles me how much we talk about how women's rights benefit men. It's basically the biggest derail in the history of feminism. It takes a conversation that absolutely should be centered on women and broadens it to include an already-privileged group.

I love men. I think the myth of masculinity/femininity is as damaging to them as it is to women, but I am seriously tired of needing to explain the benefits of feminism to men as if that's the only justification it needs. The only justification it needs is that women are half the people on this planet.
posted by annekate at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


"What will happen to me when I share the baseball bat with this other person?"

So you're saying that sexism should continue until men can be assured that they will not be harmed?

And you wonder why these sorts of views get "actively mocked"?

One feminist woman I dated started calling herself an "equalist" to symbolize a distinction from the zero-sum style of feminism, to signify that she views men primarily as potential allies rather than potential oppressors. Given that approach, it shouldn't surprise anybody that she's also been incredibly successful in her professional life and personal relationships as well, since converting people is always much more effective than fighting them.

Bingo here I come!
posted by Sangermaine at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


Given that approach to life, it shouldn't surprise anybody that she's also been incredibly successful in her professional life and personal relationships as well, since converting people is always much more effective than fighting them.

One anecdata point means every other tactic, no matter the circumstances or context, is wrong and will fail?

Also, what's the definition of "fight"? Are fighting people and converting people mutually exclusive - that is, you must fight all the people or convert all the people?

When I was in college, at a formerly all-male institution where there were still pockets of resentment that "cohogs" were admitted, we both fought people who were dead-set against this and persuaded people to join us. I guess we were doing it wrong?
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on December 6, 2012


Finding similar resources online proved tricky

Here is one example from the May 23, 1969 edition of Time.
[Franklin & Marshall College has] been strictly a men's college for 181 years.

But we think we have a lot to offer the girls. And we know the girls have a lot to offer us.

For one thing, they'll be a big improvement on campus. Esthetically. Socially. And academically.
This was a *recruitment* ad, mind you. And it was still being discussed in the College's first women's studies courses, many years later. Flickr also turns up this image from F&M; it ran in newspapers across the nation.

This and other images of women's arrival at F&M are in "An institution re-founded : coeducation at Franklin & Marshall College an oral history."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The extent to which feminist rhetoric is inoffensive to misogynists is the extent to which feminist rhetoric is empty and useless.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


It may not surprise you to learn this is an analogy. The baseball bat represents power. The person who won the fight is a stand-in for white males. And the reason it's important to show empathy for them is because your behavior towards them offers clues to them as to how you will treat them once you have the bat. Obviously sexism towards women is more damaging than sexism towards men, in much the same way as being struck with a baseball bat is far more damaging than being struck with a fist. Nobody would argue that. However, striking with a fist is equivalent to striking with a baseball bat when it comes to demonstrating hostile intent.

The fact that you continue to conflate the desire to share power with the desire to take power and insist that it is (and perhaps should always be) a violent process on the behalf of those who desire said power is pretty damn scary.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:52 AM on December 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


The extent to which feminist rhetoric is inoffensive to misogynists is the extent to which feminist rhetoric is empty and useless.

Absolutely correct. But as was discussed over in the Social Justice thread it is also true that the extent to which feminist rhetoric is offensive to their voluntary allies is the extent to which it is counterproductive.

This discussion (even here on Metafilter) seems to get caught up in artificial dichotomies -- hey, if you don't say "all men are potential rapists" you're saying that rape is ok! -- or if you acknowledge any mistreatment of a member of a privileged class, you are aiding and abetting their privilege!

Yes, it is about fighting for equality, and everyone should take up that banner and raise it high. Equality for all, and don't sweep mistreatment under the rug, even if the victim is of a privileged group.
posted by chimaera at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


wolfdreams01: “It may not surprise you to learn this is an analogy. The baseball bat represents power. The person who won the fight is a stand-in for white males. And the reason it's important to show empathy for them is because your behavior towards them offers clues to them as to how you will treat them once you have the bat. Obviously sexism towards women is more damaging than sexism towards men, in much the same way as being struck with a baseball bat is far more damaging than being struck with a fist. Nobody would argue that. However, striking with a fist is equivalent to striking with a baseball bat when it comes to demonstrating hostile intent.”

Hm. Well, I disagree with this analogy. I'll try to say why.

Most saliently, it kind of ignores everything this post talks about: the fact that feminism tends to benefit men. Please note that feminism doesn't benefit men simply because equality is a nice thing; people tend to get far too hung up on equality anyway, in my estimation. No – feminism benefits men because patriarchy hurts men.

This is one of the things a lot of us men misunderstand, I think. We hear the term "patriarchy" and we envision a sort of mafia of males wherein all men benefit at the expense of all women, in a very simple relation. But it isn't really like that. In the patriarchy, masculinity, such as it is, confers privilege; but maleness does not necessarily confer masculinity, as the patriarchy sees it. The patriarchy invents a whole host of arbitrary qualities which supposedly confer masculinity, and then attributes privilege accordingly. Patriarchy demands a binary society of gender-conforming male men and gender-conforming female women. Non-gender-conforming anybody gets no privilege and no place whatsoever.

What that means is that women and men carry a ridiculous burden of constantly conforming to a weird and arbitrary ideal of how they should act like a real woman or a real man. In the case of men, because men are at the top of the privilege chain, these ideals are more exacting, and the cost for failure to conform is often a little higher. Limp wrist? Not a man. Talk softly? Not a man. Like books? Not a man. And heaven forbid one be really nonconforming and, for instance, be gay. I could probably go on all day, and I think men will probably recognize the toll this has taken in their own lives if they think about it for a moment: the bullying, the harassment they get, largely from other males, from a very young age – it leaves a mark on us. A very real mark. Homosexuals have suffered most under this weight, I think, but no man is 100% gender-conforming every moment of every day, so even the most "masculine" man suffers some because of self-doubt or because of the constant fear that he will deviate from what he's supposed to be.

So it's pretty clear, I think: patriarchy hurts men. Patriarchy has always hurt men. Patriarchy is what sends men to die in wars. Patriarchy is what says that men and only men are supposed to "provide for their families." Patriarchy is what robs men of the equal societal partners that women can and should be.

Sorry if all this seems a little pedantic, but I want to make it clear why I think your analogy is wrong: because feminism absolutely is not about wresting power from men and handing it to women. It's about wresting power from the patriarchy (which is not identical to "men") and giving it to everyone – all people, as it is deserved. You talk about men beating women down with a baseball bat but receiving punches right back from the women; that isn't how it works at all. We're all getting pounded and punched by the patriarchy. It isn't women vs men; feminism is about understanding that, and recognizing that this is not a battle we wage against each other, it's a battle we wage against the strictures of a system that has hurt all of us by privileging a few of us.

“One feminist woman I dated started calling herself an ‘equalist’ to symbolize a distinction from the zero-sum style of feminism, to signify that she views men primarily as potential allies rather than potential oppressors.”

With due respect to your friend, that is a divisive and frankly counter-productive way to treat feminists. She's assuming that feminists 'view men as potential oppressors' and that feminism means engaging in a zero-sum game. As far as I can tell, there are very, very few feminists who are like this; and assuming that they're like this is a recipe for creating conflict. It's a lot better to assume people are your allies than to assume that they're your enemies.
posted by koeselitz at 9:59 AM on December 6, 2012 [98 favorites]


"What will happen to me when I share the baseball bat with this other person?"

So you're saying that sexism should continue until men can be assured that they will not be harmed?


Clearly, this is not what was being said. Rather, I think it was being suggested that men have less reason to buy into feminism or equality if they feel their concerns will not be heard or if it is not obvious that they will benefit (or not lose out). This is not saying it shouldn't happen anyway, but that if men do not buy in it may not happen as quickly.
posted by biffa at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Absolutely correct. But as was discussed over in the Social Justice thread it is also true that the extent to which feminist rhetoric is offensive to their voluntary allies is the extent to which it is counterproductive.

You'd be amazed at how many of those "allies" turn out to only be allies on the condition that a particular bit of misogyny they're fond of not be challenge.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


You'd be amazed at how many of those "allies" turn out to only be allies on the condition that a particular bit of misogyny they're fond of not be challenge.

You might be amazed at how small your list of allies is when you perpetually search for signs they are insufficiently orthodox. Do we really need to hash that out in this thread as well?
posted by chimaera at 10:06 AM on December 6, 2012 [16 favorites]


Also, one more reason why it doesn't really help to see this as women vs men or men vs women: because that really isn't how the lines are drawn, unfortunately. Some men are feminists. Some women are anti-feminists. Some women for some reason see themselves as high enough up in the gender-conforming privilege chain that they believe it's to their benefit to fight against feminism. I've known more than one mother who said that she would not have accepted her daughter if her daughter had been a lesbian. That's part of what patriarchy does.

It just helps, I think, to see that we're not battle gender vs gender. We're talking about this power structure – patriarchy – that we want to bring down.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Bringing grudges over from other threads and citing one comment from a user not even in this thread in order to imply that there is some sort of a trend is not cool and is actively making this thread a worse place to discuss the topic of this thread in a good faith manner.

Sorry Jessamyn, I didn't mean to call any users out specifically. I was simply trying to cite an example of a particular type of feminism which I feel is counterproductive, since I feel like concrete examples reinforce a point better than abstract scenarios. This was intended to relate to the "Feminists are sexist" link in the FPP.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2012


[sorry crayz, I removed your comment for derailing the discussion, please everyone try and be nicer to each other]
posted by mathowie at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metatalk.
posted by boo_radley at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2012


Do you help them back to their feet and offer to take turns sharing the baseball bat, or do you use the baseball bat to put them into the hospital so that they never move against you again?

For any pragmatic person, your decision depends primarily on what you think your opponents response will be.


Maybe I'm just not a pragmatic person but this seems fairly disgusting to me.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


You might be amazed at how small your list of allies is when you perpetually search for signs they are insufficiently orthodox. Do we really need to hash that out in this thread as well?

In my experience, it happens organically as the discussion moves in whatever direction it moves in, but feel free to imply whatever you like about me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:46 AM on December 6, 2012


The argument degenerates into a scuffle, and from there into a phsyical fight. Eventually, you win, and stand triumphantly over your bleeding opponent. What do you do? Do you help them back to their feet and offer to take turns sharing the baseball bat, or do you use the baseball bat to put them into the hospital so that they never move against you again?

I wouldn't have let it get into a physical fight in the first place, because seriously, I don't need to. But if it did, and I won, I'd walk away and go find some other guy and ask him, "okay, so that guy there is wack, wanna share my bat?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always argued that patriarchy is hard on men. Yes, it usually treats women worse, but we all stand to gain from moving on and bettering our situation. This becomes really obvious if you understand anything about feminist theory or history.

It doesn't have to be men standing on women versus women standing on men, that's a bullshit dichotomy, and anyone that can't see beyond that isn't trying very hard. We're not swapping positions in a race, we're changing the entire damn game.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:51 AM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I kind of hate the whole "patriarchy hurts men" thing sometimes because it puts the focus on men. The whole point of patriarchy is men men MEN MEN MENZ LOOK AT THE MENS and that line of argumentation, while true, is still accepting the patriarchy's framing of reality.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]



Clearly, this is not what was being said. Rather, I think it was being suggested that men have less reason to buy into feminism or equality if they feel their concerns will not be heard or if it is not obvious that they will benefit (or not lose out). This is not saying it shouldn't happen anyway, but that if men do not buy in it may not happen as quickly.
posted by biffa


Okay well, counter point.

People are rarely liberating by appealing to the good sense of the relevant authority. A well organized movement won't require the buy-in of men.

Women will be liberated regardless of what men as a generalized group have to say about it; movements to end discrimination can't afford to rely on buy-in from the people doing the discriminating. If men want a voice in what the liberated world is going to look like, it might be time to start finding common ground instead of entrenching and digging in heels.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


If men want a voice in what the liberated world is going to look like, it might be time to start finding common ground instead of entrenching and digging in heels.

Meet the new boss / same as the old boss?
posted by Chuckles at 11:01 AM on December 6, 2012


The Growing Difference in College Attainment between Women and Men:
While expanding opportunities and economic benefits for women can explain women’s increased college attainment rates, the stagnation of male college attainment rates (at rates well below women) is harder to explain on purely economic grounds. Analysts have begun to stress differences in young males and females (such as maturation rates, behavioral problems, and noncognitive skill acquisition) that may make college, and schooling in general, more costly for males to invest in than females. As the economists Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz, and Ilyana Kuzeimko put it—men may have higher "effort costs" to engage in schooling than women, and thus, everything else equal, educational investment looks less attractive to males.
data points:
• 74 percent of the women went on to attend two- and four-year colleges, whereas only 66 percent of the men did
• 25 percent more females took AP tests in high school in 2010 than males
• 43 percent of the men [age 24-25 in 2009] had gone no further than high school. This compares to 32 percent of women.
• 60 percent of women in the 2003 freshman class at four-year colleges graduated within six years. The rate for men was 55 percent
posted by crayz at 11:01 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


> If men want a voice in what the liberated world is going to look like...
...they will have to do nothing, because they will have equal rights.
posted by gilrain at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


if it is not obvious that they will benefit

It's sort of wildly fucking pathetic that people wouldn't work for something that would benefit more than half the population with no loss to themselves unless there was a clear benefit to themselves as well. The benefit inherent in being a decent human being is being a decent human being.
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on December 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


elizardbits, it's sort of wildly dishonest of you to leave out the next four words of that quote:

if it is not obvious that they will benefit (or not lose out).
posted by Dasein at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dasein, I don't understand why the next four words of that quote make that much of a difference.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2012


quoted by crayz: “While expanding opportunities and economic benefits for women can explain women’s increased college attainment rates, the stagnation of male college attainment rates (at rates well below women) is harder to explain on purely economic grounds. Analysts have begun to stress differences in young males and females (such as maturation rates, behavioral problems, and noncognitive skill acquisition) that may make college, and schooling in general, more costly for males to invest in than females. As the economists Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz, and Ilyana Kuzeimko put it—men may have higher ‘effort costs’ to engage in schooling than women, and thus, everything else equal, educational investment looks less attractive to males.”

Exactly. This is what patriarchy does. This is why all of us men should be feminists.
posted by koeselitz at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, you don't see the difference between not benefitting from something and being harmed by it?
posted by Dasein at 11:20 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But from a pragmatic perspective, feminism involves asking somebody with power to hand over that power to another group and trust that it will not be used against them.

I just don't understand how this metaphor is supposed to play out-- what kind of power, exactly, do you think is exchanging hands? I'm a feminist. I don't see men as potential oppressors. I see situations in which difficult stereotypes and gender norms work out poorly for people. I don't in general look at sexual harassment laws or abortion rights and go, "yeah, next we'll wield the sword of oppression against THEM!" as if somehow, there were an equivalent demeaning or restrictive measure that would be levied against men. Are considerations of equal pay a baseball bat to you?
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:23 AM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wasn't clear - I don't see how the difference applies in this particular instance. Can you explain why it would make a difference in this specific case?

I mean, if you're gonig to be accusing people of being "wildly dishonest" for not making that distinction.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on December 6, 2012


elizardbits, it's sort of wildly dishonest of you to leave out the next four words of that quote

I guess you missed the part of my statement that says "at no loss to themselves".
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Exactly. This is what patriarchy does. This is why all of us men should be feminists.

I don't understand how patriarchy would be the best causal hypothesis for why educational performance and attainment is skyrocketing among females while simultaneously collapsing among men
posted by crayz at 11:52 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


We call the females of the human race "women". It's just like "men" so it's easy to remember!
posted by elizardbits at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2012 [28 favorites]


what kind of power, exactly, do you think is exchanging hands?

Yeah the baseball bat metaphor makes no sense. In a world where women are judged by their ability and accomplishments instead of just by their looks...men will be judged primarily by their looks? In a world in which requires equal pay for equal work...men will earn less than women? In a world where sexual harassment is not tolerated...men will be sexually harassed more?
posted by straight at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2012


These all sound like trailers to really unsuccessful Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich movies.
posted by elizardbits at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't understand how patriarchy would be the best causal hypothesis for why educational performance and attainment is skyrocketing among females while simultaneously collapsing among men

Because boys who prefer reading to playing sports are ridiculed? I think there's lots of ways patriarchy pushes boys toward attitudes and activities that reduce their chances of getting a good education.
posted by straight at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Feminism is called feminism because what is discounted gender-wise is the feminine; the soft, the gentle, the nurturing, the colorful, the collective, the sacrificing. One of the issues with feminism as it's grown up has been is embrace of the hard, the strong, the competitive, the neutral, the individual, and the self-nurturing at the expense of those other things, instead of in addition to those things.

Feminism operates at two levels; at one of them it's about increasing individual choices, allowing women in particular but men as well to express who they are as individuals before who they are as gendered beings. On the second level it's about elevating qualities and characteristics that are discounted and underpaid, making our being a collective species that takes care of each other as important as our being an individualized species that seeks unique self-expression.

For the first, maybe you could use "equalism" and have it be meaningful, but I wouldn't count on it because so far there isn't a widespread men's movement embracing the feminine virtues; the most vocal men's movement is doubling down on masculine virtues while blaming all of the negative consequences of them on feminists. The movement to broaden men's self-expression is actually primarily happening through the male gay movement and things like being "metrosexual", which brings serious homophobia into play as a weapon against men broadening their accepted territory. Most of the feminist men I know are feminist at least in part because they want to broaden their own world as well as have equals and partners in women.

I support and love the men who do this work, but it's not work I can do as a woman - especially since one of the feminine values I'm working to put into balance is that of helping others; women are largely expected to do the "emotional work" for men, so part of men moving into equality is their doing their own emotional work instead of waiting for women to do it for them. I know there are men doing this now, individually, and eventually it will probably become a movement because these are strong, wonderful men, but it is a movement I can only be an ally to simply due to the nature of how "masculine" is defined.

I think the reverse is not true because one of the qualities of masculinity is individuality and distance, along with not doing emotional and social "work", so men who step into feminism and begin to work through it are actually stepping outside of their own gender-essentialism already, and so advancing feminist goals. The qualities on display are important, though, and I think people often want "rules" which can be stripped of their context as to how to behave - but the "rules" are inherent to the context, and the context (and individual demographics) matter when you're talking about what happens. There isn't some Platonic Ideal we can identify and act according to; this is the messy, interactive bit of being alive.

I don't know what a world of true equality will look like. I try to imagine it sometimes, but it's so alien to anything I've experienced - especially with my internalized sexism - that I really don't know. I do know, however, that I am really, really tired of being told I need to be more gender conforming (more gentle, more loving, more focused on men, more careful with my language, more practical, more focused on ends and not means, more manipulative, less angry, less strong, less forthright, less focused on myself) in order to be allowed to be less gender conforming.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2012 [31 favorites]


Feminism operates at two levels; at one of them it's about increasing individual choices, allowing women in particular but men as well to express who they are as individuals before who they are as gendered beings. On the second level it's about elevating qualities and characteristics that are discounted and underpaid, making our being a collective species that takes care of each other as important as our being an individualized species that seeks unique self-expression.

I would frame this. This is really helpful to me. Thank you.
posted by gauche at 12:08 PM on December 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sorry Jessamyn, I didn't mean to call any users out specifically. I was simply trying to cite an example of a particular type of feminism which I feel is counterproductive, since I feel like concrete examples reinforce a point better than abstract scenarios.

wolfdreams01, your "concrete examples" here are jokes that were made at your expense when you suggested that Metafilter was welcoming of misandrous attitudes (and kept suggesting, and kept suggesting). Please do not conflate this with feminism. That response and all those jokes do not equal "a certain type of feminism", just as genuine misandry (infrequent though it may be) is not part of feminism either.
posted by jokeefe at 12:09 PM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


data points:
• 74 percent of the women went on to attend two- and four-year colleges, whereas only 66 percent of the men did
• 25 percent more females took AP tests in high school in 2010 than males
• 43 percent of the men [age 24-25 in 2009] had gone no further than high school. This compares to 32 percent of women.
• 60 percent of women in the 2003 freshman class at four-year colleges graduated within six years. The rate for men was 55 percent


It's the college apocalypse! Seriously, what is the point of these statistics? That men should work harder in high school? Or perhaps that the culture which equates scholastic success with sub-par masculinity be addressed? Because feminism is your friend here.
posted by jokeefe at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


The temperance movement is such a bizarre slice of American history. I recently watched the Ken Burns Documentary on Prohibition and the lead-up to the 18th ammendment really was the most fascinating part.

It was a movement of nothing but good intentions. They thought they could end alcoholism and the associated diseases and social ills like spousal and child abuse all in one action.

It was a mix of progressive campaigners who wanted to use the power of government to better our lives and religious crusaders trying to enforce morality. It's weird how far apart the progressives and moral crusaders have become today in comparison.

It was of course a massive disaster for all the reasons everyone knows, but one of the final points of the Burns documentary is that thanks to the speakeasies the American male only saloon tradition was eradicated and women started to drink at the bar right alongside the men.

Social and political movements can have weird unintended consequences.

We call the females of the human race "women". It's just like "men" so it's easy to remember!

Both "female" and "male" are all over this thread. We use both male or men and female or women in our language.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of hate the whole "patriarchy hurts men" thing sometimes because it puts the focus on men.
God forbid we discuss the subtleties of an issue rather than just its blatant implications. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
posted by Evernix at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


• 74 percent of the women went on to attend two- and four-year colleges, whereas only 66 percent of the men did
• 25 percent more females took AP tests in high school in 2010 than males
• 43 percent of the men [age 24-25 in 2009] had gone no further than high school. This compares to 32 percent of women.
• 60 percent of women in the 2003 freshman class at four-year colleges graduated within six years. The rate for men was 55 percent


It's okay, we still make 72 cents to every dollar a man makes.
posted by winna at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


crayz: “I don't understand how patriarchy would be the best causal hypothesis for why educational performance and attainment is skyrocketing among females while simultaneously collapsing among men”

When one group suffers in a case where another group doesn't, you can usually blame undue distinctions being made between groups. Patriarchy is the source of those distinctions. It's the source of a lot of ridiculous demands that were and often still are made of men in order to qualify for their privilege. The structure of patriarchy is weakened today, but because of that it's made those demands in a more and more lopsided way.

My point is that we're fighting the same battle. This perception that men and women have completely different interests is misguided; it's an oversimplification of the way the world works. If we see this as a situation where men will suffer if the station of women is raised, we're all bound to lose.
posted by koeselitz at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would frame this. This is really helpful to me. Thank you.

Thank the European feminist movement, which focused on the latter (the US movement focuses on the former). I didn't think of it, I just combined the two movements in my head after a long while of pretending the second part of feminism didn't exist because it made me uncomfortable to elevate as important qualities that I thought made me a lesser person.

"I kind of hate the whole "patriarchy hurts men" thing sometimes because it puts the focus on men."

God forbid we discuss the subtleties of an issue rather than just its blatant implications.


Actually, the issue really is that women are expected to focus on men and not ourselves, so any time we focus on ourselves the instinctive, unconscious impulse is to return the topic to where it usually is - men. This impulse exists even within feminist women; verbalizing it helps us all remember. It's also an opportunity for men to practice paying attention to what women think and feel with respect, instead of focusing on our appearance or on "appeasing" us via flowers and chocolate.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:16 PM on December 6, 2012 [9 favorites]



The extent to which feminist rhetoric is inoffensive to misogynists is the extent to which feminist rhetoric is empty and useless.

This seems to point out a useful dynamic. One logical objective of a feminist might be to put her(him)self out of a job. Rights are not given or earned. They are taken. Those in power don't usually give it up, it's wrested from them.

The struggle can be expensive: creating political enemies, in this case, fellow humans with reciprocal plumbling, but few other badges of handy identification. The issues between men and women are not any more analogus than are issues of inequity among races. In the broadest terms, one is the fucker and one is the fuckee. Still, the moral high ground isn't the issue. The key phrase, as I see it, is inequity.

Feedback loops are deadly and inevitable: the sexist in one camp doesn't cancel out the sexist in the other camp. At some point the rhetoric has to evolve to make allowances for the "we" aspect of dealing with inequity. Unfortunately women are up to their asses alligators, and it seems to me that the water level isn't subsiding. From where I stand, it's my problem, to deal with the tender points associated with being among the entitled, and not liking the rules. Shame and embarrassment are my issues, not the issues of feminists struggling with inequity.

I am hesitant to offer advice to those who are steeped in the myriad details of struggle, but I will: Equity is not an entitlement, and it's not a right. In this light, a military example may be helpful: muzzle control; be aware of which way your weapon is pointed, and identify your target. Friendly fire isn't friendly, and it may eliminate someone who might be watching your flank.
posted by mule98J at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


At any rate, I would just like to thank eviemath for posting the link to Catherine Redfern's "Feminists are Sexist" because it's one of the most articulate takes on "What about the men!" that I have read. That it dates from 2003 is a little sobering.
posted by jokeefe at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Men have defined the parameters of every subject. All feminist arguments, however radical in intent or consequence, are with or against assertions or premises implicit in the male system, which is made credible or authentic by the power of men to name. -- Andrea Dworkin
posted by shakespeherian at 12:36 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Both "female" and "male" are all over this thread. We use both male or men and female or women in our language.

Yeah, and I am pretty sure you know exactly what I mean, so quit frontin broseph. When people say "men" and "females" instead of "men and women," it is dehumanizing and creepy towards women, because where "men" signifies individual human beings of the male gender, "females" could literally be any species at all whatsoever. It's othering.
posted by elizardbits at 12:41 PM on December 6, 2012 [27 favorites]


wolfdreams01, your "concrete examples" here are jokes that were made at your expense when you suggested that Metafilter was welcoming of misandrous attitudes (and kept suggesting, and kept suggesting). Please do not conflate this with feminism. That response and all those jokes do not equal "a certain type of feminism", just as genuine misandry (infrequent though it may be) is not part of feminism either.

Yes, those were sexist jokes that were used to dismiss and trivialize a legitimate point I made rather than engaging with it. "It was just a joke baby! I was just kidding when I was talking about menstrual mines and boob-jacking. What's the matter - don't you have a sense of humor?" I mean, when you think about it, isn't that the most classic way for sexists to trivialize their victims?

I acknowledge your point that the people who did this are not feminists - or at least, that they did not do a good job of representing the cause of feminism when they made those comments. I would never attempt to conflate that behavior with feminism as a whole. But my example was not meant to be a snub towards feminism - simply to show how a transfer of privilege could potentially affect men negatively. In order to maintain diversity, Metafilter allows people who claim minority status to have more privilege to voice their opinions that they would in the wider world (not my opinion: I'm simply paraphrasing what a mod said at one point) - and in some cases, they abuse this privilege to inflict exactly the same kind of intolerance that they have been on the receiving end of. I'm not saying that this abuse of privilege would happen throughout all of society once a full transfer of power is complete... but surely you can see how behaviors like this don't encourage the dominant group to have faith in an equitable power-sharing agreement? Nobody wants to be in a scenario of "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss." Especially not the old boss.

Again, I'm not saying this from a judgemental perspective. From a moral point of view, women are perfectly entitled to feel poorly done by in a world that has often been oppressive to them. A certain degree of resentment for white males is perfectly understandable. But pragmatism tends to take precedence over morality, and if it comes down to a choice between being oppressed or oppressing others, most people would choose the second option. It's thus beneficial for feminists to ensure that this doesn't become an either-or choice, and being sympathetic to men's issues shifts the gender division away from conflict scenarios and more towards a mutually beneficial partnership. Wouldn't you say that's a good thing? Or at least a more advantageous strategy?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am actually quite ok with more discussion of patriarchy hurting men. It's easier to see how it hurts women than it is to see how it hurts men, and it's going to take both groups to change things.

I don't think it's zero-sum or that discussions here always go back to men. There are men on the Blue and I want them to participate in discussions. Women aren't being shouted down or belittled. And women have been talking for decades about how it affects us and will continue to do so.

I don't want men to support feminism only because it's right, as though they were doing it strictly out of altruism, but because a world that is not a patriarchy is a better world for everyone. I don't want a matriarchy, I have no interest in enslaving or silencing men, and as the mother of a son, I'd really like it to be ok for him to be whoever he without a lot of macho bullshit.
posted by emjaybee at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I kind of hate the whole "patriarchy hurts men" thing sometimes because it puts the focus on men.

Actually, I've only ever seen "Patriarchy hurts men" being said in response to a guy who's complaining that this whole feminism thing is all just women who think they're better. In other words, it's being said in response to a guy who's taking the focus so maybe he'll knock it off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


wolfdreams01: “Yes, those were sexist jokes that were used to dismiss and trivialize a legitimate point I made rather than engaging with it.”

Why are you focusing on this? I could respond, but it seems like a divisive endgame. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
posted by koeselitz at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2012


In order to maintain diversity, Metafilter allows people who claim minority status have privileged status to voice their opinions that they would in the wider world (not my opinion: I'm simply paraphrasing what a mod said at one point) - and in some cases, they abuse it.

El oh el, you linked to my comment as your example, and I'm as dude as the day is long. I was making fun of your insistence that another specific member of the site provide evidence that she had behaved in a way that you specified was required or else admit that Metafilter is welcoming to misandry. It was a completely bullshit argument and has nothing to do with the site liking me better than you because I'm a minority, which I am not.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, when you think about it, isn't that the most classic way for sexists to trivialize their victims?

The difference is that men are not actually victims of spermjacking to any significant degree.
posted by cdward at 1:00 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the achievement of full equality for women will be detrimental for men considered as a whole in the long run, but since it is unquestionably the right thing, so what? -- as Pope Guilty already said.
posted by jamjam at 1:03 PM on December 6, 2012


In order to maintain diversity, Metafilter allows people who claim minority status to have more privilege to voice their opinions that they would in the wider world (not my opinion: I'm simply paraphrasing what a mod said at one point) - and in some cases, they abuse this privilege to inflict exactly the same kind of intolerance that they have been on the receiving end of.

El oh el, you linked to my comment as your example, and I'm as dude as the day is long.

Don't do this. Go to MetaTalk or MeMail if you want to have this argument, it has nothing to do with this thread. All of you.
posted by jessamyn at 1:05 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


But pragmatism tends to take precedence over morality, and if it comes down to a choice between being oppressed or oppressing others, most people would choose the second option.

I'm sorry but I feel like this kind of extremely stark, divisive rhetoric really doesn't apply to the way most people view gender relationships or feminism. Feminism isn't oppression. Feminists do not universally bear resentment towards men. Many men are feminists. And I suspect that many men who don't consider themselves feminists would still hesitate to describe their actions as "oppressive" or as a "pragmatic" decision instead of a moral one.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Both "female" and "male" are all over this thread. We use both male or men and female or women in our language.

Yeah, and I am pretty sure you know exactly what I mean, so quit frontin broseph. When people say "men" and "females" instead of "men and women," it is dehumanizing and creepy towards women, because where "men" signifies individual human beings of the male gender, "females" could literally be any species at all whatsoever. It's othering.


Women was used in the FPP section about education, but colleges only for men were referred to as "all-male". The author was not implying the colleges may be for male cats.

It can be othering in some contexts, but it is also a common and inoffensive quirk of language in others. I am not "fronting", misrepresenting myself, in discussing this distinction.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the achievement of full equality for women will be detrimental for men considered as a whole in the long run

Maybe for a handful of powerful men who will lose some of their power over others, but not for men in general.

As one example, if you think of all men in abusive relationships, you might think they enjoy wielding a sort of power. But don't you think they'd actually be better off and happier in a world where they didn't have that option? In a world where the only way to get a woman to stay with you is out of genuine love and respect rather than reluctantly staying with you out of fear of violence or economic hardship? I think most men would have better lives in that kind of world.
posted by straight at 1:11 PM on December 6, 2012


once a full transfer of power is complete

When women got the vote in the U.S., all enfranchised men lost a very real degree of power that they had and no one else did. Nothing as tangible was given in replacement - they still had power, but less of it. People who had previously had no real political voice now had one.

Did women use their new franchise to vote all men, most men, or even some men, out of office? Were numbers of laws proposed restricting the kinds of jobs and schooling that men could have access to?

Right now, in the present day, women hold a whopping 17% of Senate seats and slightly less than that in Congress. How long are we supposed to hang around waiting for this (obviously pragmatic choice that most people would make, according to you) transfer of power to be complete?
posted by rtha at 1:12 PM on December 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


And my point, which you are ignoring, is that "men and females" is offensive when used in place of "men and women" just as "women and males" would be in place of "women and men". Using "all-male college" as an example of why my entirely different point should somehow magically be rendered inoffensive is disingenuous at best.
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Elizardbits, this may be a hill you'll have to die on another day....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is feminism succeeding today? I don't think it is, although that's not unique. Except for gay rights, every major Left project is on the decline and playing defense. We don't try to win arguments, we just try to not lose. We don't try to persuade people, we try to avoid getting talked out of what we believe. One example is how frequently you see people, supposedly feminist activists, talk about how tired they are of having to deal with people outside the insular world of feminist blogs. Or activists who claim that it's not their job to educate men about feminism.

Then you have major public figures like Marissa Mayer, Katy Perry and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy disavowing the feminist movement, and surveys that show younger women basically supporting the past achievements of feminism, but seemingly not interested in taking it further. Men don't see how they benefit from feminism, but the movement is not exactly successful at convincing women that they benefit either.

I think that's because the movement doesn't have any real political ambitions, or any vision for what a more equal society would look like. It seems content with being marginal, and resigned to the permanence of patriarchy and occasionally writing critical blog posts about it from the sidelines. Activists tell people to stop mansplaining, or to check their privilege, and everyone agrees that this is an important victory for the cause. But it's actually incredibly minor and that says a lot about the ambitions of the movement and how satisfied it is with being on the sidelines. But arguing about comments on a website has almost zero impact on the 90% of people who hear from Katy Perry that feminism is irrelevant.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:28 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


What you are experiencing is a disagreement. It is not me "fronting/misrepresenting myself" or ignoring your point or being disingenuous. I referred you to a sentence in the FPP where women is used to refer to women and male is used to refer to men. That they are not directly separated only by and seems trivial. Determining if the use is problematic needs a little more context. I think it's safe to assume good faith from fellow Metafilter users unless shown otherwise before breaking out the "dehumanizing" and "creepy" stuff.

This isn't like blurting out the N word. The words are commonly viewed as interchangeable. Look at what Crayz had just been reading through. Random paragraph with "male" in it:

The end of the draft removed the deferment
incentive to attend college, helping to stem the rise in
male college attainment.

Women’s rate of college attainment also rose during the
1960s and 1970s at a relatively quick pace, but unlike the
male rate, it continued to increase during the 1980s.


It's not othering language, it's just the language.

Now, when an MRA posts a rant full of female instead of women while referring to men as men, I'm right there with you, but you are jumping the gun to suggest there is an issue with it when a poster who had been using both male and female and women and men continues in that style.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:30 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think several people have tried to make this point, wolfdreams01, but it isn't the majority of feminists who are casting the redress of sexist thinking and practice as an either/or proposition that pits powerful men against women who may someday be powerful and avenge themselves somehow. This bogus framework is itself a tool of misogynists, who use it to cry foul at any behavior or criticism they find threatening to their own perspective of who they are and how they are privileged. Insisting that women be "sympathetic to men's issues" is a way of putting an additional burden on feminists, and reducing men's responsibility for being receptive to criticism and open to change. In your dichotomy, if men are reluctant to admit their behavior is sexist, then they can claim that they felt threatened by women, and that their reluctance was only natural, because all criticism from women is equivalent to a physical attack. Once that kind of argument becomes common within a community, it can be pushed again and again to counter any sort of feminist protest by construing it as "counterproductive." It's become extremely common, in American political discourse at least, to frame anyone who disagrees with us as the attacker, as a "radical" unwilling to work toward progress (as the "offended" party defines it).
posted by daisystomper at 1:37 PM on December 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


AlsoMike, pretty much everything you said is wrong or oversimplified; I started to parse it but we'd be here all day.

The Left is under attack, as it has always been, by entrenched interests that see it as a threat. It has had more ascendancy, but there is no Past Utopia of Leftianism that we've fallen from.

And feminist groups for damn sure have political ambitions. The fact that you don't know that makes me not take you seriously, as a moment's research would reveal dozens of activists, nonprofits, and other organizations with extremely focused specific goals that further feminist goals, including increasing the number of women in political office.

And if it makes you feel oppressed to be told to do some research, then I can't help you.
posted by emjaybee at 1:41 PM on December 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, Drinky Die, in the passage you cite:

male college attainment= "male" is an adjective modifying "college attainment"

Women's rate of college attainment = "women's" is a plural possessive noun

That's in the article. However, in crayz's own statement: both "men" and "females" are nouns. Why use "females" in this context? While all four terms "female," "women," "men," and "male," are used "all over the place," as you say, I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that "male" is most commonly used as an adjective in the article, and not so often as an alternative for "men." To me, it suggests that crayz's use of "females" as a replacement for "women" does have a note of disrespect to it, because it's a more generic, nonhuman-specific term.
posted by daisystomper at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


emjaybee, I'm sorry, but I'm not persuaded by "Oh, but it's only a flesh wound!"

If the feminist movement was making an impact, I wouldn't have to do research to find out how. Why isn't it making headlines? "The media controls the patriarchy!" The Left loves to blame the enemy for their failures. On one hand, it's obviously going to be true, but it's like saying the reason you lost a basketball game is that the other team was better than you. It's bullshit. It's an excuse, a sign of defeat and resignation.

Stop blaming the other side. Find a way to win.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:03 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Find a way to win.

Health care reform, maternity leave for mothers and fathers, Lily Ledbetter fair pay act, increased women's salaries, women allowed to be in combat positions in the armed forces, more women in Congress, more women in the president's cabinet, more people understanding what "rape culture" is, more women news anchors, more women astronauts, more women CEOs... all of these are "winning". Progress is slower than many of us would like but it's still progress.

The feminist movement doesn't (thankfully) need everyone to agree with their explicit and implicit goals to make strides with what it's trying to accomplish. And being feminist means that you don't have to care what Katy Perry says necessarily. She's her own person too and is entitled to her own opinions.
posted by jessamyn at 2:11 PM on December 6, 2012 [27 favorites]


That's in the article. However, in crayz's own statement: both "men" and "females" are nouns. Why use "females" in this context?

He already answered that it was accidental. I think we can leave it there.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:18 PM on December 6, 2012


So, as someone who trawls through such spaces (for reasons why, feel free to look at my history), here is, in a nutshell, "why the MRAs don't like feminists 101".

Why do words like "patriarchy" and "privilege" cause such hair-trigger responses? Because there's a feeling (and not an unjustified feeling) that the way these words are used has the real effect of rewriting history or reality, in ways that marginalize or erase lots of horrible things that have actually happened to actual people. Talking about "patriarchy" in historical terms, for example, tends to erase the huge numbers of men -- and yes, white men too -- who've died ugly violent deaths at the hands of forces beyond their control, or who've spent their lives toiling away in backbreaking slavery (either "real" slavery or wage slavery). It tends to produce pointed questions, like (to take a common example) how it makes sense to say that a man who died of black lung after years of labor in a coal mine, with an armed force on call to ensure he kept at that labor under pain of violence and possible death, can't be considered "oppressed". It tends to question narratives which say that "women were the real victims" because their husbands/fathers/brothers were being brutally killed while the women got to stay alive. "Patriarchy hurts men too" is a hollow reply to this, because ultimately it blames these victims (who are, under many common definitions, assumed to be actively if not consciously part of "the patriarchy" and working to support and perpetuate it) for what's happened to them.

Talk of privilege causes similar issues, and leads into a secondary problem: the ease with which legitimate concerns are routinely dismissed or ignored. There are real problems faced by men and boys, real problems which are inherent in the way our society is structured, and which feminism -- as a movement -- seems to have no interest in. This covers everything from health to education to advocacy and services for victims of physical or sexual violence to reproductive rights to... well, a whole lot of things. The worst-case response to discussion of these issues is "oh noes what about teh menz", which carries with it the implication that these aren't real issues and that anyone who cares about them should be shamed for doing so. The best-case, sadly, is a cycle of "well, feminism cares about these issues" into "but this is a space for women's issues" into "because feminism cares about these issues, you don't need your own space to talk about them" and round and round we go; well-intentioned, but ultimately ensuring that no useful progress happens.

And from there we get into the whole series of nasty cans of worms that can be opened up: "women's rights help men", for example, needs to be contrasted with the fact that a lot of the sufragettes A) didn't want universal suffrage (they wanted wealthy-white-people's suffrage) and B) were, as a side project, participating in things like white-feather brigades, which do not mesh well with feigned concern for those poor men. Similarly, the never-ending Games of the Oppression Olympiad. This isn't just about whether oppression is zero-sum; it's also about attempts to reframe and redefine in order to paint opponents as privileged or to erase actual victimhood in order to achieve a better arguing position (see, again, "women are the real victims" as cited above, or the fact that we paradoxically only start calling many kinds of violence in war "gendered" once they start affecting women as well as men, bringing the implicit assumption that violence toward men is simply to be expected).

There's a lot more of course, but that's a decent five-minute summary. Wrap it all up in a far too eager tendency (both sides) to call the opposition nasty names, and it's not hard to see how easily this goes toxic. The primary difference is that, oddly enough, we've become accustomed to the angry woman as an acceptable figure, but the angry man is still viewed as an aberrant threat.

Anyway. For a thirty-second summary in case someone wants a tl;dr, I've said before, and will say again, that I think there are a lot of parallels between Feminism vs. Men's Rights, and Feminism vs. Women of Color. It took a while, but thankfully at this point I don't think many serious people hold the notion that Feminism (using the big-F as an umbrella term here) has a deeply troubling history of problems with race. And the result of that history is that there are still and likely always will be separate groups and movements for women of color, because they feel that big-F Feminism doesn't care about their issues. There's also still a lot of hostility there, and a lot of white feminists still respond in very ugly ways to critiques coming from the racial angle. This is not so terribly different -- as a dynamic -- from the way feminists and MRAs often end up interacting.
posted by ubernostrum at 2:35 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


transfer of privilege

I think a detail that is missed is that social justice movements seek not to transfer priviledge to the underpriviledged but rather to share priviledge with everyone so that it ceases to be a privilege and becomes a right.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


And missed the edit window: "hold the notion" should be "deny the notion".
posted by ubernostrum at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


especially since one of the feminine values I'm working to put into balance is that of helping others; women are largely expected to do the "emotional work" for men, so part of men moving into equality is their doing their own emotional work instead of waiting for women to do it for them.

I wish I could favorite this comment a thousand times.

I'm the mother of a daughter and a son, and one of the things I've tried very hard to do with my daughter is to make sure that I don't set up "desirable" things in opposition with "girly" things. I have bought the pink frilly dresses, I have bought the Barbies, I have bought the dinosaurs and the ride-on trucks; when she wanted to play the Princess vs. the Dragon, I helped her pile on all her fancy things, dresses on dresses and tiaras on tiaras, and then I flapped my arms and roared at her while she chased me up and down the hall and then pulled me down on the ground and pummelled me with her tiny fists. I helped her make dresses for her dinosaurs; I helped her play International Fighting Spy Pirates with her Barbies. It's been pretty easy, if by "easy" you mean "manageable as long as you are constantly thinking about it." And overall, so far it's been pretty successful.*

With my son, even so far (he's two), it's been much more complicated. The oppositional framing I've worked so hard not to pass on to my daughter is still really present in my head, and I find myself avoiding books for him that have female protagonists, or wrapping him in a not-so-fresh red blanket instead of a totally clean pink blanket. He's a very different kid than his sister, and some of that manifests along stereotypical gender lines; the only time I've ever seen him pick up a Barbie was to use it to reach a toy car that had rolled under the bed, for example. I just want him to grow up as a kind, wise, open, emotionally capable man. I do my best, and it helps that my husband is a loving, emotional man who connects with him on that level already, but I wish I didn't feel like I was riding so blind.

*We were walking past a Cinderella display, and Lillian was making "ooh ohh I want it" noises, and I asked her if Cinderella was her favorite princess. "Nope," she said. Who is your favorite princess, I asked? "I have three. Mulan, Rapunzel, and Merida. Because they fight."
posted by KathrynT at 2:43 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think several people have tried to make this point, wolfdreams01, but it isn't the majority of feminists who are casting the redress of sexist thinking and practice as an either/or proposition that pits powerful men against women who may someday be powerful and avenge themselves somehow. This bogus framework is itself a tool of misogynists, who use it to cry foul at any behavior or criticism they find threatening to their own perspective of who they are and how they are privileged.

That's a very good point, Daisystomper. But it's worth pointing that the argument runs both ways - women can equally frame anybody who disagrees with them as misogynist. For example (and I mean this with no disrespect to you) in this thread it seems like you and elizardbits are really stretching to cast crayz as being disrespectful to women simply because he used the word "female" at one point instead of "women." Isn't that a bit of a stretch?

Don't get me wrong, the thrust of your argument is well taken - it's natural that misogynists would try to adopt that argument to disempower women. It's actually something I'd like to reflect on more thoroughly. However, just because an argument might often be co-opted by misogynists shouldn't invalidate its logic. In fact, if the argument was co-opted by them, wouldn't it be more likely that they did so specifically because it resonates with more people?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:44 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Patriarchy hurts men too" is a hollow reply to this, because ultimately it blames these victims (who are, under many common definitions, assumed to be actively if not consciously part of "the patriarchy" and working to support and perpetuate it) for what's happened to them.

I'm slightly unclear on whether you are actually positing this or are attempting to posit it as a true belief of a third party which you do not yourself identify with, but: the patriarchy consists of pretty much everyone, women included. It's not a cabal, it's a system: criticism of patriarchy is akin to criticism of capitalism. 'Patriarchy' refers to a system of beliefs and behaviors which privilege certain markers of masculinity in certain ways. Nothing about this means that men cannot suffer or that any given man necessarily has a better life than any given woman: That's incredibly overbroad and no one argues that. The issue with patriarchy is that it quite literally posits 'Men are like this, women are like this,' and punishes through a wide variety of overt and covert means anyone who strays outside of its demarcations.

And I think that this is stated a lot in these conversations, so anyone who has participated in more than one of them and insists that feminism is strictly pointed at Men Who Are Bad is uninterested in genuine conversation.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:48 PM on December 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


And the result of that history is that there are still and likely always will be separate groups and movements for women of color, because they feel that big-F Feminism doesn't care about their issues. There's also still a lot of hostility there, and a lot of white feminists still respond in very ugly ways to critiques coming from the racial angle. This is not so terribly different -- as a dynamic -- from the way feminists and MRAs often end up interacting.

It's hugely different: groups and movements for women of color generally don't oppose feminist aims, or specifically blame feminism for the problems they see in society.

MRAs are reacting against feminism, not just travelling a different path.
posted by cdward at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


to cast crayz as being disrespectful to women simply because he used the word "female" at one point instead of "women."

There is a big difference between saying "the use of men and female is one of the ways women are others" and "you are a big, bad, meaniepants."
posted by Deoridhe at 2:59 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I found where he got "disrespectful" from.

To me, it suggests that crayz's use of "females" as a replacement for "women" does have a note of disrespect to it

to cast crayz as being disrespectful to women simply because he used the word "female" at one point instead of "women."

I can't seem to find the source of "meaniepants" though.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:12 PM on December 6, 2012


shakespeherian, and right there is one of the problems -- ask three feminists what the word "patriarchy" means, and you can easily get fifteen definitions, some mutually contradictory :)

The one you appear to be using is, shall we say, mild. Which is both an advantage and a disadvantage: it's unlikely to provoke much rancor, but also less likely to provoke action. Which is yet another issue: definitions which inspire serious action also tend to have serious problems and be on the receiving end of serious ire.

cdward The dynamic itself is not so different. Both "men's rights" activists, and activist women of color, have a history of strong critiques of mainstream feminist thought. The difference is that only one of these groups gets called "anti-feminist" for doing so :)

Also, "MRAs" (a term as tricky to use as "feminists"), in my experience, often oppose particular programs espoused by "feminists", or particular positions. They do not, as a rule, oppose the goal of equality; a lot of it is a disagreement about how to get to the goal and how to describe and explain the situation we're currently in.

Specifically, they oppose those programs and positions which tend to create or reinforce, rather than redress inequality (and there is a whole branch -- not just among MRAs -- of thought that there is such a thing as "patriarchal feminism", a brand of feminism which is content to support and perpetuate aspects of patriarchy when those aspects are advantageous to women). This is why family law, for example, is such a big deal: a lot of MRAs are really father's-rights people who ended up with a bigger label stuck on them. And they are well aware of which movements have been staunchly opposed to any attempt to do away with the "men are assumed to be providers, women are assumed to be nurturers" dynamic -- that doesn't just come from crazy conservatives, it comes from quite progressive and, dare I say, feminist groups (i.e., NOW has strongly opposed attempts to reform custody laws toward equal presumption of parental fitness).
posted by ubernostrum at 3:17 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience, it happens organically as the discussion moves in whatever direction it moves in, but feel free to imply whatever you like about me.

I was actually using the editorial "you" in my response, not specifically you. My apologies about the ambiguity there.
posted by chimaera at 3:18 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was only pointed out to me recently that referring to women as "females" could be problematic (and/or creepy). I always figured that using "male" and "female" was preferable to "men" and "women" because it stripped out any unnecessary connotations and just left a bare-bones, totally neutral descriptor. I've since corrected my usage, but now feel bad for having inadvertently creeped out a lot of women over the years.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:36 PM on December 6, 2012


shakespeherian, and right there is one of the problems --ask three feminists what the word "patriarchy" means, and you can easily get fifteen definitions, some mutually contradictory

Forgive me, but I guess I don't understand how this applies to what you said earlier about feminism being a too-blunt instrument incapable of nuance. This seems to argue for the opposite, and would indicate that saying MRAs are justified in thinking feminism is a misguided attempt to brand all men as oppressors is, in fact, totally untrue. Maybe instead of siding against some monolithic notion of feminism which you yourself does not admit is really less useful than you'd like.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:50 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


ubernostrum, where do you find these MRAs who merely have critiques of feminism? The ones I'm familiar with describe themselves as anti-feminist, say things like "Anti-feminism is the radical notion that women are adults.", and blame feminism for the draft, suicide rates, and the collapse of the family. (And as koeselitz notes below, most of them don't seem to really understand feminism or feminists.)

(This is a genuine question. It would be great if MRAs and feminists could be allies - or even adversaries - instead of enemies.)
posted by cdward at 4:01 PM on December 6, 2012


ubernostrum: “‘Patriarchy hurts men too’ is a hollow reply to this, because ultimately it blames these victims (who are, under many common definitions, assumed to be actively if not consciously part of ‘the patriarchy’ and working to support and perpetuate it) for what's happened to them.”

Citation needed. There is no definition of "patriarchy" I know of that assumes all men to be part of it. As I said above – clearly and distinctly – "The Patriarchy" and "all men" are not the same thing. I gave examples of women being part of the the patriarchy.

The issue here is the same issue it always is – MRAs are confused about what feminists believe and what feminists want, and therefore see them as enemies. You're not giving me any reason to feel differently. Neither has r/mensrights, which I've spent the last three or four months visiting daily.
posted by koeselitz at 4:04 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


ubernostrum: “shakespeherian, and right there is one of the problems -- ask three feminists what the word "patriarchy" means, and you can easily get fifteen definitions, some mutually contradictory :)”

And count on MRAs to ignore all of them and invent a new, mendacious one as a straw man to oppose.
posted by koeselitz at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It was only pointed out to me recently that referring to women as "females" could be problematic (and/or creepy). I always figured that using "male" and "female" was preferable to "men" and "women" because it stripped out any unnecessary connotations and just left a bare-bones, totally neutral descriptor.

I think one thing which has to be given up as a goal in social justice discourse is the idea that there are any words which are totally neutral. All words have connotations and gain more as they are used. Tracking how words are used, by whom, and when is an important part of understanding language, and from language communicated culture. In my opinion, we have become an increasingly abstracted culture at least in part due to the belief that we could find some Platonian Purity of words which would somehow be impervious to change, but that is simply an irrational belief; while some linguistic aspects may be hardwired in (and anyone who wants to geek on that, I adore it like an adoring thing that adores but now is prolly not the time) the specifics of language and language used as communication are all culturally based, and thus not neutral and never without connotations.

That being said, I think there are times for using all words - the trick is to use them consciously and learn the new connotations. The "female" used as an insult is a particularly new one in my experience (others can correct me if I'm wrong) and came from the use of badly-designed Evolutionary Psychology as a blugeon to claim that stereotypes of women are actually accurate because Stone Age Times (my favorite remains that we like pink because we picked berries, since pink was so recently a powerful, masculine color). The neutral connotations you ascribe to the word are actually part of why it is used - women existing as something to be studied and quantified by knowledgable and experienced male scientists is the connotation they are aiming for, since this pairing of stereotypes have men as rational agents and women as irrational objects/patients.

The idea that a person is objective because she has not personally experienced something is actually a rarification of lack of experience dressed up as something superior and used to discredit people who have personal experience. It shows up a lot, since our culture values "objectivity" so highly while completely losing it's origins in objectivity being a collective accomplishment between a variety of people and not individually possible (the collective aspect of objectivity is actually coded feminine, as colloborative instead of hierarchial social structures are coded feminine, so it is unsurprising this aspect of objectivity was lost and people began to claim an individual could be objective. I use the term "coded" because I personally believe these are persistant socialization patterns instead of intrinsic characteristics of men and women).
posted by Deoridhe at 4:06 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


ubernostrum: “Talking about ‘patriarchy’ in historical terms, for example, tends to erase the huge numbers of men -- and yes, white men too -- who've died ugly violent deaths at the hands of forces beyond their control, or who've spent their lives toiling away in backbreaking slavery (either ‘real’ slavery or wage slavery).”

Yes, millions of men have died ugly violent deaths; yes, millions of men have spent their lives in slavery – because of patriarchy.

“It tends to produce pointed questions, like (to take a common example) how it makes sense to say that a man who died of black lung after years of labor in a coal mine, with an armed force on call to ensure he kept at that labor under pain of violence and possible death, can't be considered ‘oppressed’.”

It can be considered oppression – men die of black lung after years of coal-mining because of patriarchy. Men are demanded to fight in wars, told that this is their gender-bound duty, because of patriarchy.

Patriarchy is our common enemy. It is not "men." Women and men can be part of the system that upholds male privilege. Women and men can fight against it. The men's rights movement is borne out of a misunderstanding of this fact, and a misunderstanding of our common cause.
posted by koeselitz at 4:16 PM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Perhaps shakespeherian and koeselitz would now like to chat, since apparently they have contradictory definitions of "patriarchy" :)
posted by ubernostrum at 4:17 PM on December 6, 2012


It tends to produce pointed questions, like (to take a common example) how it makes sense to say that a man who died of black lung after years of labor in a coal mine, with an armed force on call to ensure he kept at that labor under pain of violence and possible death, can't be considered "oppressed".

You're not quite saying, ubernostrum, that feminists think the only people who can be victims of oppression are women, or that feminists think white men can never be the victims of oppression, but you're strongly implying it. In my experience of feminism, a feminist would not find such a question pointed. They would find it blindingly obvious. Of course such a person as in your example would rightly be called oppressed. No matter the color of their skin or what they had in their pants.

I say I have _never_ encountered such a feminist, not that such a feminist does not exist, because of course the prudent limitations of knowledge prevent me from making that claim, but I am tempted to ask you to show where a rigorous, considered feminism (as opposed to a slogan shouted from a protest) is unable to call what you describe "oppression" when it happens to white men.
posted by gauche at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


In what way, exactly?
posted by koeselitz at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree with nothing koeselitz has said.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:21 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


ubernostrum: “Perhaps shakespeherian and koeselitz would now like to chat, since apparently they have contradictory definitions of ‘patriarchy’ :)”

No, we don't. We seem to be operating under precisely the same definition of patriarchy. This was shakes' definition:

shakespeherian: “'Patriarchy' refers to a system of beliefs and behaviors which privilege certain markers of masculinity in certain ways.”

This was my definition:

me: “In the patriarchy, masculinity, such as it is, confers privilege; but maleness does not necessarily confer masculinity, as the patriarchy sees it. The patriarchy invents a whole host of arbitrary qualities which supposedly confer masculinity, and then attributes privilege accordingly.”

As far as I can tell, these definitions are effectively identical. It'd be nice to hear how you believe they differ.
posted by koeselitz at 4:22 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


How are you reading the definitions as contradictory, ubernostrum? I'm not seeing it either.
posted by rtha at 4:24 PM on December 6, 2012


the patriarchy consists of pretty much everyone, women included

vs.

There is no definition of "patriarchy" I know of that assumes all men to be part of it.

Please to be reconciling these statements with each other. If y'all are willing to present an actual cogent argument for A) a definition of "patriarchy" you're willing to stand behind, and B) an explanation of why you believe it is primarily or solely responsible for the ills faced by men and boys, both historically and in the present, I'll be happy to do what I can to figure out what the pseudo-MRA reply would be (grant that it requires a bit of acting on my part to do that, but I'll do it). If you're just going to contradict each other and then say you're not contradicting each other, there ain't a whole lot of consciousness-raising I can do, for obvious reasons.

Also, a fun issue: many of the MRA crowd get angry with the "Not All Feminists Are Like That" or (not all feminists believe that, etc.) runaround, because it hints that anything an ill-informed Tumblr Feminist says can be disavowed as unrepresentative, while anything an ill-informed Reddit MRA says must be held as representative of an entire movement. Suspect a lot of what koeselitz has seen, and a lot of "anti-feminism", boils down to this, and is one reason why most of the time I try not to bother sorting out people on either side.
posted by ubernostrum at 4:31 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


To get votes to pass feminist laws, you need to get men on board. That is a reality of our democratic system. If women were 80% of the population this would not be the case.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:31 PM on December 6, 2012


how it makes sense to say that a man who died of black lung after years of labor in a coal mine, with an armed force on call to ensure he kept at that labor under pain of violence and possible death, can't be considered ‘oppressed’.”

This is actually why I personally shifted from patriarchy to kyriarchy (rule of lords/kings) several years back after some fantastic Womanist writers shared the word (Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza coined the term). A man who was a coal miner struggles with oppression based on class (and possibly race, defining that very losely as including things like the Irish not being white for a while), but benefited from being male; the details of who he is inform each other, rather than contradict each other.

One of the flaws with both the Civil Rights movement and Feminism that Womanism directly addresses is that in both movements black women were marginalized. In the Civil Rights Movement, black men were the central voices of the movement and often called for increases in the oppression of black woman because their seeking independence undermine the roles of black men as fathers and husbands. In the Feminist movement, white women were the central voices of the movement and often called for increases in the oppression of black women because their seeking independence undermined the roles of white women as the pure and moderating voices of reason and compassion as well as making having servants more expensive.

Approaching the world from a more intersectional point of view (you can so tell I'm third wave feminist, can't you?) allows for acknowledging the suffering caused by class-oppression and how it interacts with oppressions along other axes. The framework for us all actually supporting each other is still in development, but I personally like having the language for examining the complexity of discrimination and prejudice as an important step before figuring out how to dismantle the system and create something better in its place.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hands up if you think übernostrum gives a toss what patriarchy actually means.
posted by Catchfire at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Deoridhe, I think you and I would get along really well :)

(now, back to putting my evil-MRA mask on)
posted by ubernostrum at 4:36 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


you know what? don't put on "evil MRA masks." Please have the decency to engage in this subject honestly, as yourself. Otherwise, it gives the impression that you think this is a fun game, and it's not, it's my life. Even if that's not the impression you intended, that little parenthetical was gut-wrenching to read.
posted by KathrynT at 4:41 PM on December 6, 2012 [22 favorites]


Please to be reconciling these statements with each other.

Not to put words in his mouth, but I'm pretty much 300% sure that koeselitz, in his response to your question about feminists thinking male coal miners are incapable of being victims, was correcting your straw feminist notion that the patriarchy is all men and no women. Which is also what he has said both earlier and later than that in this thread, as have I, as have several others.

I am not really interested in quibbling with you about this any longer because I no longer actually think you are asking these questions seriously.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:41 PM on December 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


ubernostrum: “Please to be reconciling these statements with each other.”

Well, that's easy. "Part of" is meant in different senses. I meant all men are not "part of" the patriarchy in the sense that (as I think I explained pretty well) it isn't some kind of mafia where "members" all set up a system that only benefits them unilaterally. I think shakespeherian meant that all men and all women are "part of" the patriarchy in the sense that they all exist within that system and take part in it to various degrees. If that's not what he means, I'm sure he'll explain it.

“If y'all are willing to present an actual cogent argument for A) a definition of "patriarchy" you're willing to stand behind, and B) an explanation of why you believe it is primarily or solely responsible for the ills faced by men and boys, both historically and in the present, I'll be happy to do what I can to figure out what the pseudo-MRA reply would be (grant that it requires a bit of acting on my part to do that, but I'll do it).”

Since we already did that – since I put a lot of effort into doing it, in this thread and others – I'm not entirely sure you really want to. Nor am I sure I want you to. Don't tell me a pseudo-MRA position. I don't really care. I know how most MRAs would feel about this.

I care more what you think. That's what I'd like to hear. Do you think all of this is bullshit? Do you think "patriarchy" is a ridiculous term, like Deoridhe does? Do you think we're just saying a lot of stuff but not noticing the inherent contradiction in fighting 'patriarchy' and working for equality? Whatever it is, I'd like to actually talk with you about what you think – and what I think (which is kind of what I've tried to lay out here.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:47 PM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


(now, back to putting my evil-MRA mask on)

If you really are devils advocating it then the admiration is not mutual.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:58 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


It boggles me how much we talk about how women's rights benefit men.

I can see how it would - and I certainly have gotten fatigued in this respect myself in the past. However - I don't know about you, but for me, most of the circles I run in (outside of places like metafilter) are not places where words like "feminism" or "patriarchy" are very well understood, certainly not to the point of agreed meaning.

What this means, for me, is often people I am around me - men and women - are talking about feminism based more around decades-old stereotypes than anything remotely approaching the complex, heterogeneous realities of 21st century feminism.

As such, they don't know what the broadly accepted meaning of "patriarchy" (or feminism, for that matter) actually is, and they have never contextualised that meaning to their own day-to-day lives, where - of course - it's omnipresent.

So I guess, talking about the partriarchy hurting men, and feminism helping men, is doing some heavy conceptual lifting for these peeps. Firstly, they have to think about what these concepts could mean, and then they have to understand the relevance to their own lives. That's a big ask in some casual, polite, conversation on topics a lot of people don't really think about very much.

If talking about patriarchy hurting men is the crowbar I can use to crack open some nascent feminism - and a heightened awareness and interest in feminism - I'll talk about it all day long if that's what it takes.

I don't feel that it's a dichotomy (talking about the costs to men comes at the expense of talking about the costs to women) - or just another male-centric realignment (I mean, we're talking about a society problem, for me it's often about busting the discussion out of false, gender or politics-based corrals).

I guess I feel like it's an important thing to do, to remind people that they have skin in the game - as men, or as parents of men, siblings of men, children of men, co-workers of men etc etc - and that there is such a thing as society, and it didn't just naturally evolve this way and it doesn't have to be this way, either. It lets people consider their own positions in relation to feminism and the world, and makes it relevant, corporeal and day-to-day for them. That's why I do it, anyway.
posted by smoke at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


And, in the interest of actually getting a conversation about this going, I'll say this:

I'm not particularly wedded to the term "patriarchy." I don't care that some men feel insulted by it; they're insulted by their own misunderstanding, and there's no way to come up with a term that won't offend anybody. Moreover, it's a legitimate term for a system of male privilege. However, ultimately it doesn't really matter what you call it.

What matters is that, in society, we have historically had a system of enforced gender roles. What this has meant is that women have spent thousands of years as second-class citizens, had almost all sources of power removed from their hands, had justice denied them, had their own agency in determining their own lives taken away from them. Meanwhile, men have been told that to be "real men" they must be ready and willing to commit violence for various reasons; they must spend all of their time earning money to support others; they must cede care of children to women; they must never, never sexually desire other men.

These issues all flow from the same source: the enforcement of gender privileges that demands that men prove their man-ness in order to partake in privilege, and that demands that women conform to an ideal of femininity in order to get any privilege at all.

I really do believe this – that the issues we're talking about are the same issues. At their very best, men's rights activists seem to want to talk about equality, and about how gender balance is necessary; but I want to go a step beyond that. I want us to recognize that the root of our problems are the same; our enemy is in common. It doesn't really matter whether we call that enemy "patriarchy" or "kyriarchy" or "foo." What matters is that we come together to fight it, on all fronts.
posted by koeselitz at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


Do you think all of this is bullshit? Do you think "patriarchy" is a ridiculous term, like Deoridhe does?

Um, I never, ever said patriarchy is a ridiculous term. I said I shifted to kyriarchy because it took into account the intersectional nature of discrimination and prejudice. Kyriarchy is like patriarchy in technicolor, not an indication that patriarchy as a concept is ridiculous.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


(Sorry – that was unnecessary. Point taken, Deoridhe.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:04 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


What this means, for me, is often people I am around me - men and women - are talking about feminism based more around decades-old stereotypes than anything remotely approaching the complex, heterogeneous realities of 21st century feminism.

This sounds right. Most of the young people I know who avoid calling themselves feminists link the word to some radical-feminist boogeywoman rather than to the idea of equal rights for women and men alike. They may actually agree with feminism's goals, but use that word to describe them and they look at you as though you were an idiot.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2012


No worries, koeselitz.


If talking about patriarchy hurting men is the crowbar I can use to crack open some nascent feminism - and a heightened awareness and interest in feminism - I'll talk about it all day long if that's what it takes.

One of the ideas it took me a long while to become aware of and verbalize was the idea that a healthy, good, effective rights movement needs to have multiple means of approach because people are in such variety that a single party line doesn't work very well.

I love that you want to spread feminism through finding how it could benefit the people around you and selling them on it. I do something similar via my work, but outside of my work it feels ethically wrong for me, so I'm instead a collator of ideas which I refine until they are as clear as I can make them and then plaster them all around places hoping they help other people have those precious lightbulb moments. There are other approaches as well - people who agitate, people who preach, people who wheedle, people who bribe. I am a fan of people identifying and then acting along their strengths, taking into account their ethical framework and what they believe is practical. I believe a plurality of responses, where we all try to understand each other and support each other, is the way to go. The ones who get the most inter-group critique, though, tend to be the agitators - the Malcom Xes and Black Panthers, if you will; my world changed when I learned the California Black Panthers ran a very successful elementary school breakfast program for poor children of all races.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:14 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A side note on kyriarchy - one major flaw is that it is a very obscure word with a very specific meaning. One major advantage is that it is a very obscure word with a very specific meaning. I don't expect other people to use it - in many ways I use it so I can cast INFODUMP on people (you get so many points with the INFODUMP spell, and sometimes even the Achievement "Retire to Ivory Tower"!).
posted by Deoridhe at 5:20 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Devil's advocate" is a bad way of describing what I try to do.

I tend not to like the label "MRA", or the label "feminist", very much, for reasons having to do with seeing people as multi-faceted rather than one-dimensional. I see things that are good, and worth discussion, coming from people who've had those labels applied to them, and I am largely sympathetic to the fact that the perspective of the people labeled "MRAs" tends to be treated with scorn and dismissiveness in spaces where that perspective can be valuable (i.e., spaces in which the perspective of the people labeled "feminists" tends to dominate).

So every once in a while, in a fit of poor judgment, I try to present points from that perspective (typically, ones that I agree with at least in principle), in hopes of making some headway toward breaking down the prejudice against it and reaching people who I think could benefit from having that perspective.

Hence, for example, I think people whose knee-jerk response is "oh those poor white men" should be confronted, loudly and often, with all the (poor, because class is absolutely a huge deal) white men who've died in mines, and in wars, and in other dirty dangerous violent ways. They should be confronted with the idea that insistence on "patriarchy" as a universal explanation has issues (depending on one's definition of the term), both real problems (i.e., reasonable definitions of the term lack sufficient explanatory power, and unreasonable ones are, well, unreasonable) and problems of outreach (since "patriarchy hurts men too", like it or not, is heard by male victims as "it's your fault this happened to you"). They should be confronted with the fact that "feminism" in all its various incarnations is not a panacea.

But it ain't easy.
posted by ubernostrum at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


(since "patriarchy hurts men too", like it or not, is heard by male victims as "it's your fault this happened to you").

Speak for yourself, buddy.

It's really interesting to me that you don't like labels because you feel it's important -- and you're right! it is! -- to see people in all of their multi-faceted glory and not as one-dimensional stereotypes, and yet in the next paragraph you write about how important it is to toe the line against a feminism that is pretty damn one-dimensional.
posted by gauche at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually, I feel it's pretty darned important to wipe Tumblr (your one-stop shop for one-dimensional SJ activism at its worst) off the face of the earth. Or at least to round up a lot of those people and forcibly educate them. But I can't do that, sadly.

And while "feminism" is not a monolith, the brands of feminism and feminists which need exposure to other perspectives do tend to have a lot of things in common. Some of them show up on Metafilter (i.e., insistence on "our society is set up to advantage men as a class" -- a common definition of "patriarchy" -- as an explanation for "why our society so frequently disadvantages men", without any critical reflection on how that sounds when you actually parse it out).
posted by ubernostrum at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe a plurality of responses, where we all try to understand each other and support each other, is the way to go.

Amen. It's so critical to effective advocacy of any stripe. The difference between telling someone "This is what you should care about" and asking them "What do you care about?"
posted by smoke at 5:52 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


insistence on "our society is set up to advantage men as a class" -- a common definition of "patriarchy" -- as an explanation for "why our society so frequently disadvantages men", without any critical reflection on how that sounds when you actually parse it out.

Actually, I think there's quite a bit of critical reflection on here, and also that you are bringing to the table a definition that is not necessarily meant here: patriarchy, as has been painstakingly explained to you in this thread, is a system set up to privilege and reinforce a particular hierarchy of normative behaviors, and to punish those who transgress that hierarchy. This is not the same as "advantaging men as a class" and I am not sure who, besides you and others who are critical of feminism, is using that as the definition. The fact that people keep explaining this to you over and over again is not a great indication of your participation in good faith in this conversation.

Can you please start to take it as a given that sometimes, when people say "patriarchy" they might mean what they say they mean and not the definition that you keep supplying? The charitable principle of argumentation holds that one should construe, to the extent possible, one's opponent's position to be as logically consistent as it can be. You appear to me to be doing the opposite, and I'd ask you to consider why you feel the need to do so.
posted by gauche at 5:53 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kyriarchy is a terrible word.

First of all, it's a word made up so Fiorenza could talk about intersectionality without actually talking about intersectionality; making up new words for things to avoid using the existing vocabulary is suspect at best.

Second, by referring abstractly to "kyriarchy" instead of referring to specific oppressions/structures such as patriarchy, it fails to refer to any actual oppression. Eventually you're going to have to talk about real, actual oppressions, and at this point you're back to saying "patriarchy", "white supremacy", "cissexism", and so on. It accomplishes nothing but wasting time in getting to real, concrete discussion.

Third, it solves a problem that doesn't fucking exist. Feminists, anti-racist activists, and other activists have been writing about the intersection of various oppressions for decades. You could fill a bookstore with nothing but feminist writings about this stuff; the use of "kyriarchy" as if it's some novel concept effectively erases this work. Feminism already has a word which serves the purpose of "kyriarchy", and that is "society".

Finally, when you say "kyriarchy" to avoid talking about specific oppressions- to avoid offending men, say- you are not only tailoring your allegedly feminist rhetoric to please misogynists, you are only delaying the point of having to talk about specific oppressions and start to use words like "patriarchy" and "white supremacy". You are not avoiding pissing off the racists and misogynists, as odious as that aim would be, you are only delaying it. Sooner or later you are going to have to address the fact that a power structure which elevates men at the expense of women is encoded into our society.

It's a bad word for a bad purpose, and it doesn't even really meet that purpose.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:54 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


While expanding opportunities and economic benefits for women can explain women’s increased college attainment rates, the stagnation of male college attainment rates (at rates well below women) is harder to explain on purely economic grounds. Analysts have begun to stress differences in young males and females (such as maturation rates, behavioral problems, and noncognitive skill acquisition) that may make college, and schooling in general, more costly for males to invest in than females. As the economists Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz, and Ilyana Kuzeimko put it—men may have higher "effort costs" to engage in schooling than women, and thus, everything else equal, educational investment looks less attractive to males.

This is why I like linking back to early sources: my read of the early feminists calling for co-education and allowing women into higher ed in general is that they would be as appalled at this biologically determinist explanation for why men are somehow less adapted to the educational environment as they were at the time appalled when similar arguments were applied to women. They were anti-biological determinism. (Unlike the "women's natural virtue will make a positive contribution to politics" group that became more vocal in the women's suffrage movement a short bit later.) This flip-flop on which group is supposedly at a biological disadvantage for formal education reminds me of the change in gendering of the color pink, and makes me even more suspicious of such claims than I would be based on my core underlying doubt in biological determinist arguments for observed aggregate social differences between sexes.
posted by eviemath at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hence, for example, I think people whose knee-jerk response is "oh those poor white men" should be confronted, loudly and often, with all the (poor, because class is absolutely a huge deal) white men who've died in mines, and in wars, and in other dirty dangerous violent ways.

I'm not sure how this is a counterpoint to talking about sexism or how sexism hurts women. My extended family is mostly made up of blue-collar workers and guess what: all the women work(ed) difficult, often dangerous jobs (as well as doing most of the cooking, cleaning, and childrearing.) In fact, my grandfather who was a miner until he switched to highway construction never got hurt at work, but my grandmother was permanently and painfully disabled at her warehouse job when she was in her 50s. It's not like women are exempt from the effects of poverty, and being poor doesn't immediately equalize the sexes and make sexism irrelevant. Rather the opposite: poor women tend to suffer a lot more from limited reproductive health care and sexual harassment on the job because their options are fewer.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:13 PM on December 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


(On a side note on the woman/men, female/male issue: I try to use women/men when I'm talking about gender-based categories, and female/male when I'm talking about sex-based categories. When I learned the terms, they were presented as interchangeable (gender and sex being different categories is still not as widespread an idea as I'd like), so I don't end up sticking to this scheme perfectly. For example, when I'm referring to what other people have said (eg. "women's natural virtue"), I generally use whatever language the person or group I'm referencing used - even for indirect quotes, when I could and arguably should use the gender/sex distinction. Although, I think growing up that I still got the sense that female/male were more clinical, and women/men were the warmer, fuzzier, more personable terms to use. I'd agree that when someone predominantly uses the gender term for one group but the sex term in the other case, eg. using men and not male, but female and not women, then that seems to reflect an attitude that (i) gender and sex are identical, and (ii) men are defined by their minds, personalities, fully actualized person-ness, but women are defined by their physical bodies. I would read such usage as problematic, and indicative of some underlying sexism. But I would like to make the case for the biological terms male/female not being seen as inherently insulting, and in fact an important tool for helping ourselves to distinguish between gender and sex.)
posted by eviemath at 6:13 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Class is a serious problem, but in a comparison of men and women of the same class men have an advantage due to their gender. The same process shows up in other intersections, like race. As I said above, race interacted with gender in the Feminist movement to privilege white women (as did class, etc...). Gender interacted with race in the Civil Rights movement to privilege black men. One disadvantage does not erase another - they intersect and sometimes amplify each other (one peephole into the intersection of race and gender is through the lived experiences of trans gendered people of various races who share the differences in how they are treated depending on whether they are percieved as male or female). This is why I prefer kyriarchy as a term over patriarchy; the latter holds a gender-as-basic-demographic connotation that I personally dislike; depending on the culture and circumstances, race or class can be just as if not more important (though gender still and always intersects with other demographics).

This flip-flop on which group is supposedly at a biological disadvantage for formal education reminds me of the change in gendering of the color pink, and makes me even more suspicious of such claims than I would be based on my core underlying doubt in biological determinist arguments for observed aggregate social differences between sexes.

I would definitely agree with this. Not only are all of the changes far too rapid to be a result of genetic changes (even relatively superficial changes take thousands of years, which are an eyeblink to evolution) but there are so many confounds to these correlational claims that I have difficulty believing the claims are based on anything other than "women are doing slightly better than men and that means Something Is Seriously Wrong", which is itself a symptom of sexism (the basic assumption that men must always outnumber women unless it is feminine thing, and that if women outnumber men it must be a feminine thing).

I do think, however, that the emphasis on being still, the de-emphasis on exercise and the arts, etc... is a bad thing for all children; due to differences in socialization (which begin in infancy, mind; fascinating study where infants were treated and described differently depending on the gender the person was told even when it was inaccurate), girls might not have the same disruptive displays that boys might, but that does not mean they aren't suffering from inactivity and lack of creative expression. I am a true believer that we need to overhaul our educational system to emphasize learning, critical thinking, and problem solving over route emorization (but then I would, as I loathe and am bad at route memorization).
posted by Deoridhe at 6:23 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think the trouble with the MRA argument that feminism doesn't account for men who have been harmed in various ways, is that it assumes an even more fundamental disagreement with feminism in order to build a straw man. That is, as Deordidhe and other allude to, feminism is based on the idea that there is such a thing as structural oppression; that power structures exist as an emergent property of society that then feeds back on interactions between individual members of society. Feminism focuses on the power differential between males and females (a century ago in the western world, even males who did not fit masculine ideals had structurally more power than females) - and now that we've started breaking this down to the point where some females have gained power comparable to some males, the power differential between men and women or masculine and feminine. In general, though, once you allow for the possibility of structural oppression, it's hard to ignore that oppression occurs on a variety of different bases: sex, gender, and sexuality; class; race, culture, and ethnicity; dis/ability; etc. But "oh that's easy: those coal miners, while likely benefiting slightly within their family structure from male privilege, are experiencing oppression based on class and also likely race", or "yeah, there's kyriarchy, and patriarchy is one facet of it, but there are many other facets", is not an acceptable answer if you don't believe in structural oppression in the first place.
posted by eviemath at 6:31 PM on December 6, 2012


I try to present points from that perspective (typically, ones that I agree with at least in principle), in hopes of making some headway toward breaking down the prejudice against it and reaching people who I think could benefit from having that perspective.

This seems awfully condescending of you.

It's also weird, because maybe the chief reason I am a radical feminist (other than, y'know, common sense) is that-- I used to think this way too. I used to think that feminists were too ideologically dogmatic, that what we really needed was to move past -isms and labels and, like, understand each other, man. And all the while I was being a complete utter shite of a creepy Nice Guy misogynist. I don't think I ever described myself as a Men's Rights Advocate but I was totally on board with a lot of the platform, such as it is, and I had a wicked crude caricature of feminism in my head that was causing as many problems as it claimed to be trying to solve.

Guess what? I was wrong. I was being an idiot.

I've already had the idiot perspective, which is why I know this one is better.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:39 PM on December 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


if you don't believe in structural oppression in the first place.

I dunno, most MRA I have read seem to think there used to be structural oppression of women, but now the pendulum has swung the other way. Yes, there doesn't appear to be any actual evidence of that, but hey in the U.S. we have Christians who think their religion is being suppressed too. I'm not sure they actually believe that, or if they don't believe in structural oppression like you say and are simply trying to hijack the powerful rhetoric of people who fight against it.

The problem in trying to play reasonable devil's advocate for them is the same as trying to do it for Republicans. In trending towards reasonable you may trend away from accurately reflecting the point of view of the people you are trying to rationalize for. I say that as someone who thinks both MRA and Republicans raise a few legitimate issues, but irrational demonization of those they perceive as enemies is just one of the things that taints them as stewards for those issues.

It isn't the responsibility of feminists to fight for those legitimate issues men face regardless of the source of that oppression, it's for anyone who cares about those issues and has the resources and the inclination to do so. There is no need to bring the MRA groups along for the ride.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:56 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


wolfsdreams:

in this thread it seems like you and elizardbits are really stretching to cast crayz as being disrespectful to women simply because he used the word "female" at one point instead of "women." Isn't that a bit of a stretch?

It's entirely possible that crayz meant no disrespect at all to women by using the word "female" -- just as another person might honestly mean no disrespect by calling Asian people "Oriental." Because of the historical and cultural implications, both of these terms are...suboptimal, and a person who uses them is at best demonstrating a lack of sensitivity on their part, and in the worst case being outright bigoted. I feel elizardbits, eviemath and I have presented some compelling reasons -- contextual, grammatical and historical -- why "female" is not an acceptible alternative for "woman" in many instances. It's hardly a stretch.

just because an argument might often be co-opted by misogynists shouldn't invalidate its logic. In fact, if the argument was co-opted by them, wouldn't it be more likely that they did so specifically because it resonates with more people?

Historically, lots of false ideas have "resonated" with people -- that women were naturally more virtuous, that disease was transmitted by vapors, that acquired traits could be passed on genetically to one's children. I think it more likely that such an argument resonates with misogynists' own preconceived notions. There hasn't been any casting out of men from leading roles in government, or hard evidence to suggest that the advancement of women's rights has in any way led directly to a widespread reduction in the rights of men. I know Men's Rights Activists frequently cite marital law and child custody issues; however, these are issues selected to have an anecdotal appeal to men who have received unfavorable results from these situations. Misogynists' arguments do not base their appeal in truth, nor (as far as I can tell) particularly care to convince anyone who isn't already emotionally sold on the men vs. women scenario.
posted by daisystomper at 7:02 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die, in my experience, Men's Rights advocates seem generally to believe in discrimination as something that can happen to individuals, but ultimately they seem to believe that there is another individual or group of individuals actively causing the discrimination? So if something bad happens to you, then someone is to blame; it can't be the case that an institutional structure is bad, and that individuals went along with it, but no one individual had specific malicious intent. So they believe in discrimination (even discrimination that happens on a widespread, institutional level), but not that broader, more nebulous, emergent phenomenon of structural oppression. Am I out on a limb here, or does that align with others' experiences as well?

It seems to explain observed phenomena without assuming that MRAs are completely stupid or crazy, but just assuming that they have one or a small number of fundamental misconceptions that lead otherwise decent, reasonable humans to poor conclusions. One of the consequences of this world view, for example, is the idea that fighting oppression/discrimination (which get conflated, because there's nothing additional or different for oppression to refer to) is necessarily an oppositional act between individuals, and thus a zero sum game. If this is your starting point or understanding of reality, then rather than intersectionality, groups harmed along differing axes of oppression really are competing with each other for whose oppression is worst, and thus who has the greatest moral claim toward more power.
posted by eviemath at 7:42 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I out on a limb here, or does that align with others' experiences as well?

Yeah, I see a lot of that. The idea that if someone is discriminated against there must be a cackling villain somewhere.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:45 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, which also often leads to meeting any complaint of victimization with demands that someone's prejudice be confirmed.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:52 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


gauche, the definition you're alluding to -- essentially, a set of ordained roles according to gender -- is, as I said, a very mild definition for "patriarchy". I suspect that a lot of "MRAs" would agree that such a system exists and has long existed in our culture; they just don't use the word "patriarchy" to refer to it. Because, to be frank, that's an awfully loaded term -- it carries the implication (reinforced by so many textbook-type definitions) that this system is/was created by/was and is supported by/exists for the benefit of/is perpetuated by/is the responsibility of... men. I mean, that's basically what the word itself says. And one of the big points that some of the cleverer MRA folks like to make is that pinning that level of responsibility on men as a class is very difficult to do within the framework of actual history.

The preferred term, then, would be something closer to "traditional gender roles", which is something a lot of MRAs agitate about getting rid of. This is an area where they could have common ground with feminists, except in many cases they don't see feminists as really working toward that goal -- they see feminism as trying to achieve a halfway measure of freeing women from traditional gender roles, and not really caring whether men get that too or even actively working to keep men trapped in those roles. Plus, the issue is nearly always framed by feminists as primarily or solely affecting women; this despite plenty of evidence that men are ongoing victims of all sorts of consequences of their assigned role.

A good example of this, by the way, is the occasional hand-wringing article that shows up in certain publications, where either the publications themselves or the authors of the relevant pieces identify as and are identified by others as "feminist". The theme is something like: "where did all the good men go?", and tells stories of "man-children" who pursue their own hobbies and interests, don't particularly seek to climb to the heights of corporate or political power, mostly prefer to spend time with their male friends, etc., with discourses about how they won't "grow up" or "accept adult responsibilities". But once you parse through all of it, you discover that the thing they're accused of doing is following their own interests, and the thing they're accused of avoiding is getting married and having children. Which, essentially, means the question is "why aren't they just settling contentedly into their assigned gender role?" Why is it considered a problem, by people who are, we're told, "feminists", that men are rejecting their traditional gender role?

This plays back into the notion of "patriarchal feminism", and a whole host of other issues.

But hey, they're probably all just a bunch of raging misogynists anyway, right? :)
posted by ubernostrum at 10:16 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


A good example of this, by the way, is the occasional hand-wringing article that shows up in certain publications, where either the publications themselves or the authors of the relevant pieces identify as and are identified by others as "feminist".

Can you cite one of these articles?
posted by KathrynT at 10:19 PM on December 6, 2012


And one of the big points that some of the cleverer MRA folks like to make is that pinning that level of responsibility on men as a class is very difficult to do within the framework of actual history.

This has been addressed a number of times already.

they see feminism as trying to achieve a halfway measure of freeing women from traditional gender roles, and not really caring whether men get that too or even actively working to keep men trapped in those roles.

Then they are wrong, as I am sure you are now well aware.

But hey, they're probably all just a bunch of raging misogynists anyway, right? :)

Please say things which you mean.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:23 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


And one of the big points that some of the cleverer MRA folks like to make is that pinning that level of responsibility on men as a class is very difficult to do within the framework of actual history.

One of the crazy things about history is that when you look at how real people actually lived, you realize that someone is always in a worse position. So sure, there are coal miners getting black lung... and their wives were having babies without medical intervention, had no access to birth control, had to run the household economy without adequate resources, and had to do wage work during the days while their husbands (assuming they were married) were underground.

In other words, the men's rights people who are being dishonestly parroted here are frequently presenting a historically dishonest picture of the past, and suggesting that this has anything relevant to say about feminism, much less modern society, is cheesy at best and fictitious at worst.
posted by Forktine at 11:15 PM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


So they believe in discrimination (even discrimination that happens on a widespread, institutional level), but not that broader, more nebulous, emergent phenomenon of structural oppression. Am I out on a limb here, or does that align with others' experiences as well?

I think this is a problem in general - it comes up a lot in anti-racism work as well. I think that fundamentally it is difficult for people to conceive of inherent bias, to accurately perceive how our perceptions are changed by our expectations. We have a growing body of experimental evidence for this, but it will take a long while for people to catch up experientially. It is, frankly, a weird idea - that there is this whole layer of processing done about information that is almost wholly unconscious and that we don't have direct access to it. I'm more comfortable with this idea, but I'm Jungian and we have entire whole structures of the mind we presume we know little to nothing about, so it's a bit more expected.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:25 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was good friends with a misogynist once. Obviously I didn't know he was one when I met him and we became friends, anymore than I knew another friend was a racist, but over time it became clear to me. I can remember him getting very, very drunk and crying about how all women were gold-digging whores out to take everything from men that they could. That women couldn't and didn't love because we didn't have emotions like men did. That we were bitches, and shrews, and harpies, and evil. That he should become a homosexual because there wasn't a single woman in the world worth being in a relationship with.

And now and then he'd remember I was there and look up and say, "Not you of course, Deoridhe."

At one point I left him alone and the other person I was there with, also a man, followed me into the kitchen and asked me what was wrong. I don't remember what I said; I was very confused. He wasn't. He was 100% accepting of his friends opinion - despite being married himself and despite having me - a woman - as a friend. I remember when I tried to express how profoundly fucked up I found the whole situation he tried to reassure me with, "But he doesn't mean you."

It was really difficult to parse my emotions while this was going on. I knew I was deeply, deeply disturbed by the whole interaction, that it was a fractally fucked up situation, but it was difficult to break it into pieces and really understand it; I don't think I have still, though I've broken off big pieces and can verbalize some aspects of them.

I was helped by having an almost perfect inverse reaction happen with a female friend; she didn't get drunk, but she spent a long time insulting men - our mutual ex we were seeing later in particular - and suggested we become lesbians. I was, again, completely disturbed and completely unable to understand what was going on, and so said very confusedly that I was flattered, I'm sure, but not sexually attracted to women, so being a lesbian would be rather pointless. Later, when we were both spending time with our mutual ex she was entirely focused on him, ignored me entirely; the contrast between what she SAID and what she DID helped with my insight.

The emotion they both seemed to be expressing (imperfectly, inaccurately, and wholly confusingly) was resentment. Not a rational resentment against someone who had injured them - a discrete individual around discrete events where some sort of reconciliation could be accomplished - but rather a resentment against an entire gender which could be used to justify anything, including a change in sexual orientation! In both cases the trigger seemed to be a member of the opposite sex who didn't behave as the person would like, but instead of being sad about it, mourning it, and letting the person go, or even setting reasonable boundaries, both of my friends created vast resentment fantasies in which they were the wronged party and all members of the other gender were culpable.

This is profoundly, unendingly, unceasingly, rather disturbingly irrational - and normally I'm all for a bit of irrational to keep things interesting.

There was another aspect of being the "except for you, Deoridhe" though, which really haunts me to this day - in a rather startling way, this sort of statement is an attempt to turn me against all other women, as the exception. I would have expected myself to fall for this in a heartbeat, but apparently when it occurs and it's NOT a romantic fantasy involving vampires and/or the Phantom of the Opera, I find it disturbing (actually, I find it disturbing with the Phantom as well, but that's part of the fun of that particular fantasy).

If someone is making statements about all women, even if they're my friend, I am not an exception, and pretending otherwise is insulting. I am a woman, and I like being a woman, and I'm a rather virulently femme and cis gendered woman, and I always have been. To mark me as an exception to "all women" is a way of saying I'm not "really" a woman. From a friend I find that particularly disturbing because it's trying to negate my identity, and a part of my identity I identify strongly with.

I've been a friend to a misogynist, and he preferred to ignore my gender than to see me as who I was because I threatened his resentment fantasy simply by existing as myself. That was one of my more disturbing relationships.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:09 AM on December 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


Can you cite one of these articles?

I'm not sure if they'd be categorized as written from a feminist perspective, but I could see someone as perceiving them as feminist writings if they didn't have a good idea of what feminism was (and like I said, I'm not sure if they are written from a feminist perspective)

"Where have all the good men gone."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704409004576146321725889448.html

"What me, marry?"
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/308654/
posted by eagles12 at 1:21 AM on December 7, 2012


oh hey look at that: previously and previously

It's like there's a body of thought, comment, and analysis that people conveniently ignore aren't aware of.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:20 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the idea that men die in wars and women don't die in wars is completely ahistorical. Starvation, massacre, systematic sexual assault, and slavery have all been the fate of women in war zones. No discussion of dangerous occupations is complete without talking about sex work.

And speaking of dangerous work, if one considers reproductive labor to be labor, which I do, it has been and continues to be very dangerous to women outside of the very recent past, and even now outside of certain groups of people in wealthy countries it remains dangerous.

In many places, women are forced into pregnancy and childbearing via sexual assault or via "marital duties" that they are expected to carry out whether they want to or not, and they are harmed and die from childbirth and pregnancy on a regular basis.

That's not to say that women have it bad, but that the old "men die in wars and have dangerous jobs therefore structural sexism against women is a lie at the expense of men" is really not sensible when you look at the issue with nuance and context.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:47 AM on December 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


And the college thing: there are a few things I wonder about that.

1. The breakdown of college achievement by race, because of the intense impact that the racist criminal justice system has on young black college-age men and, even before then, how the school and juvenile justice system work together to deprive black male children of the public education to which we are all entitled (I know less about its impact on other demographic groups)

2. The breakdown of college achievement by class, because for a lot of pink collar jobs with benefits and security you need more education and/or experience than for the equivalent traditionally male job. For CUNY public jobs with benefits, decent job security, and similar pay scales: Security guard: no college, one year experience. Office assistant: 2 years experience, or 2 years of college.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:51 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I too have a deeply personal story to share. Me and another male co-worker in the finance department used to tease each other about liking Justin Bieber - since it is obviously the height of unmanliness to do so, and thus this qualifies as a humorous insult (also known in the vernacular as "busting on someone"). For example, he would pick up the paper, see that there was a Justin Bieber concert the previous night, and ask me "So, how was the concert?" And I'd respond, "Sorry, I didn't go. Why, were you looking for me in the crowd?" And he'd say "Come on, I know you're a Belieber!" and it would end with us teasing each other by emailing Justin Bieber mp3s and jpgs which we photoshopped to have fake signatures "To my biggest fan, (name of coworker here)." And until now, I didn't realize that by engaging in this banter, we were unknowingly conforming to gendered roles, and thus reinforcing the patriarchy by following predefined norms about what masculinity is.

But hearing all these talk about gendered roles has given me the courage to admit that recently, I heard "Beauty and the Beat" and I thought it was actually pretty good. So even though I still don't like Justin Bieber, I have to admit the kid does manage to excrete a decent song every now and then. And thus a blow for freedom was struck against the shackles of the patriarchy. ;-)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:29 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's with all the emoticons in this thread? >:/
posted by absalom at 7:05 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I too have a deeply personal story to share.

I don't know what you mean by introducing your comment this way, but it comes off, considering what follows, as a snide put-down of Deoridhe's story.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:10 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm tempted to tell a glib story about how I repeatedly induced Kempf's disease in a colleague by giving him a neck rub as a joke several times, and therefore overthrew the patriarchy.

The only thing is, by telling that story I'd really only be underscoring how badly I'd missed the point or how unseriously I was taking this conversation which seems to be important to others here. I might as well just write "I couldn't care less" over and over again.
posted by gauche at 7:11 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nah, I just felt things were becoming a little too serious. I didn't mean to deprecate Deoridhe's tale, although if you're determined to see it as an affront I guess I can't stop you from believing whatever you want.

Gauche, I would love to hear your story about Kempf's disease and neck rubs. In fact, it's a little cruel of you to lead us on with such an awesome build-up and then let me down with the equivalent of "...but that is a tale for another time."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:14 AM on December 7, 2012


Kempf's disease. Oh geez that's funny.
posted by agregoli at 7:41 AM on December 7, 2012


I didn't mean to deprecate Deoridhe's tale

Then you may need to try harder at "reading the room" because that's how it came across to me and many other people in this thread.
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 AM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Seriously, try harder.]
posted by cortex at 8:40 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


If someone is making statements about all women, even if they're my friend, I am not an exception, and pretending otherwise is insulting.

I have been friends with women who've been through some shit and have a very low opinion of men generally, and have expressed that very low opinion to me at times. I am not saying it's a healthy or positive reaction, but I wouldn't go so far as to ascribe all those broad brushes to simply "resentment."

But generally it just makes me sad, and I don't think being so wed to my identity as a "man" that I must defend that label from attacks would help anything in these situations. If I simply choose to identity as myself rather than the "man" label, the hate thrown at that label by friends is something I can understand and empathize with.
posted by crayz at 8:40 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have been friends with women who've been through some shit and have a very low opinion of men generally, and have expressed that very low opinion to me at times. I am not saying it's a healthy or positive reaction, but I wouldn't go so far as to ascribe all those broad brushes to simply "resentment."

We are clearly very different, then. I was as disturbed by the resentment and over-generalization when it was my female friend as I was when it was my male friend. Clearly there's no way you could have known that, though, as I didn't mention her at all.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


almostmanda: "Finding common ground between the MRA crowd and feminists is easy sometimes!"
  1. I've tried
  2. No, it isn't
The fundamental problem is that I believe that most Men's Rights advocates really have other issues going on. It might be unfair, in a similar vein to people assuming every woman in sex work is there because of how they were raised as a child, but it's hard for me to think that someone could simultaneously have had a healthy and positive relationships (and here I mean in the social rather than romantic sense) with women and still think they crazy things they think.

They also show a pathology towards what they perceive as "fairness" and an inability to see context. So they will never see the usefulness of, say, a girls-only science program.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:37 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed. I have tried engaging with the MRA here in Vancouver, and unexpectedly took a real emotional hit when I realized that they wouldn't treat anything I said-- no matter how carefully phrased, no matter how approachable, no matter unconfrontational-- as worthy of being responded to simply because I'm female. I was addressed as "cupcake" repeatedly, mocked, and in response to any comment was greeted only with "Are you a feminist?" rather than an answer. I ended up nearly flooded with the kind of anger at personal injustice that I haven't often felt since I was a child, and dropped out of the conversation. As far as I'm concerned, it's not possible to have a serious discussion with anyone associated with that group.
posted by jokeefe at 8:06 AM on December 13, 2012


My experience with Men's Rights Activists has regrettably been similar. Although I strongly believe that men do have rights and are entitled to speak up for them - and the principles of the organizations in question sound reasonably benevolent in theory - in practice, they tend to be havens of misogyny. (At least, such is my own perception.) I hypothesize that part of the reason for this is because the phrase "Men's Rights" currently has a social stigma attached to it, and therefore the men who sign on in defiance of that stigma tend to be the radicalized ones (ie, the haters).

However, it's worth noting that while this may constitute the majority of Men's Rights Activists, I've definitely met one or two who were actually very decent people who respected women. It's also worth noting that I've encountered radicalized feminists who espouse exactly the same kind of hateful behavior towards men that many MRAs have towards women, and yet this misandrist behavior is often overlooked by other feminists. So it's possible this issue might be a little more complicated than one can encapsulate by simply saying "This group is the Good Guys, and this group is the Bad Guys."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:45 AM on December 13, 2012


I hypothesize that part of the reason for this is because the phrase "Men's Rights" currently has a social stigma attached to it, and therefore the men who sign on in defiance of that stigma tend to be the radicalized ones (ie, the haters).

Well it's more like-- to use an inflammatory example-- no one thinks that white people should have zero power, but 'White Power' has kinda a social stigma attached to it, for reasons. I don't think there's anyone who thinks men should not have rights. But I also think that 'Men's Rights' as an ideological movement means a shitton more than 'we advocate for men's rights!' in exactly the same way that 'White Power' as an ideological movement is about more than advocating for fairness and equity for put-upon white folks.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Don't turn this thread into a rapey anti-feminist pro-MRA discussion. It's an aggressive derail at this point bordering on self-parody of internet discussions. MetaTalk is available if you need some assistance with this. Take sidebar discussions directly to MeMail.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:38 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]




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