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This article about Warren Farrell,
February 6, 2001 1:57 PM   Subscribe

This article about Warren Farrell, ex-feminist, now a "masculinist", raises some interesting points for pondering. Is the emphasis on feminism inherently as unfair to men as chauvanism is to women?
posted by jammer (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I agree with Farrell. Feminism kind of makes me sick, at least the way it works today. I agree that women have never been and probably still aren't treated fairly, but the large majority of "feminists" aren't proposing anything better: an exact reverse. Farrell is a good example... The beginning description of him in the Salon article says it all.
posted by swank6 at 2:22 PM on February 6, 2001


Indeed. I didn't want to unnecessarily editorialize in my link, but I have been endlessly annoyed for some time with the fact that one of the most persecuted minorites in America, recently, seems to be the white male. Seemingly, we're to blame for everything.

Sure, there are alot of dicks with dicks out there, but there are also entirely too many women saying "You are male, therefore, you are evil" -- it's reverse chauvanism, and the ultimate in hypocrisy.

Proud to be politically incorrect...
posted by jammer at 2:27 PM on February 6, 2001


I always find it interesting when people find feminism disgusting, and hate it, yet have never read anything of it, and if they have, mostly the most knee-jerk crap.
posted by Doug at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2001


Feminism is the belief that women should have equal rights as men. The word is not always used that way anymore.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2001


Here we go again.

[soapbox]
If he weren't labeled as an "ex-feminist" (what that word means I would really like to know) his opinions would hardly warrant an article being written about them. They are not exactly revolutionairy.

Regarding feminism and the feminist movement in general, far too many sweeping generalizations are made when refering to either in public debate. These words mean very little except to betray the prejudice of the speaker, either "for" or "against". Unfortunately that is a problem with all public debates these days, no one is interested in nuance - most Americans prefer sound bites.
[\soapbox]

So, again, here we go.
posted by dante at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2001


Doug, I hate it when people make arrogant assumptions on what people have read, and use it as an attack on their viewpoints. How do you know what I have or haven't read? Do you have anything concrete to offer, or just snide remarks?
posted by jammer at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2001


Feminism is about changing the overall societal structure the devalues women. If that bothers you, too bad. Suck it up. Be a man.
posted by amanda at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2001


I think one of his most interesting points is about how "Historically, men have been servants...slaves to the greater community, the servant-protectors of women, children and old men. The mistake of feminism, says Farrell, is that women equated serving with power and privilege, when in fact both sexes were simply acting out their roles."

In other words, women used to think men got to have all the fun by going off to work, when in fact work wasn't necessarily any fun at all for men. And I notice in the popular culture lately all of the complaints of stress from women trying to juggle careers and families and all...it's like they're suddenly realizing that the breadwinner role men have been stuck with isn't really all it's cracked up to be.

It's not in this particular article, but elsewhere he's discussed the tirades about violence against women. Sure, it's awful - but what about violence against men? When Thelma & Louise shot men in that movie, it was heralded as a great feminist statement. But if the genders had been reversed, those same feminists would have lambasted the movie. Why that difference? It's like it's ok to kill men.
posted by dnash at 2:49 PM on February 6, 2001


Pretty much snide remarks, Jammer. I think anyone who thinks white males are the most persecuted segment of the American population doesn't deserve much better.
posted by Doug at 2:52 PM on February 6, 2001


Yeah people with wrong opinions shouldn't be educated otherwise. And I'm always right.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:55 PM on February 6, 2001


didn't we just go through this? oh yeah. we did. and as usual, maura said smart things. geez, keeping track of all the feminism-baiting threads around here gets exhausting sometimes.
posted by judith at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2001


Doug, I said "one of", not "the" ... I am sure there are people out there who are treated worse, and I realize that for the most part I am very fortunate (and I'm thankful for it). However, everywhere I go, there is flak from one group or another because of who *I* am.

If I have a child, I have little to no say over it, should I ever disagree with the mother, because the courts almost always agree with the "biological mother"; what about the biological father, I ask?

Do you know how many promising young men get turned down for university admissions, job opportunities, or whatever, because some less-qualified minority was hired to fill a quote? Some may say that's "giving them a chance" -- it's just newspeak of discrimination.

I am entirely for men and women (and whites and blacks, and Christians and Jews) having equal rights. But it is wrong, very very wrong, to raise the rights of one group above another. For centuries it was done to anyone who wasn't white and male. Now we seem to be the only ones who *aren't* protected by some law or another.

And for those who would say it was comeuppance -- grow up. Correcting one wrong with another never did anything but double the sum total of misery. No one is equal when any one person is defended more than any one.
posted by jammer at 3:02 PM on February 6, 2001


*sigh* Why is it that we can't concentrate on the class struggle instead of the ass struggle?
posted by snakey at 3:08 PM on February 6, 2001


snakey: Coz as long as there are people there will be inequalities. Zero-sum game. The only way to relieve this is by voluntary effort on the part of the more fortunate.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:10 PM on February 6, 2001


Feminism is about changing the overall societal structure the devalues women.

That doesn't bother me at all, Amanda, as I believe women are very equal to men, and I agree our society has devalued them in a very unfair way (well, I guess there's no such thing as a fair way). What does bother me is when those "feminists" turn it around and begin to encourage the devaluing of men, which if you really start to pay attention to is happening all too often nowadays.

Not being a white male, I don't really want to argue with you Doug. But I don't think jammer really meant so bluntly "white males are the most persecuted group today", he meant that they are now often receiving attacks based on reverse everything-ism, when in fact many white males are not guilt of anything.

I do not hate the idea of feminism where women seek to end the discrimination against them throughout history, and establish an EQUAL status with males. I very much dislike the idea of feminism where women seek to shift the control of power completely onto their side, and thereby do the same thing that has been done to them in the past. It seems that in recent times the latter version is starting to take over more and more.

I mean, when you have women who accuse you of being sexist when you offer to take their coat or pay for dinner, that is going just a little too far.
posted by swank6 at 3:10 PM on February 6, 2001


The article and Warren Farrell have not much to do with feminism. Parental custody rights and the need to be a nurturing parent to one's children have more to do with the system than the bad woman keeping them down.

I howled at his assertion that male birth control wasn't a viable option because women want it that way. I also had to scoff at his outdated notions that women marry for money and that women trick men by having unwanted babies.

Somehow, Farrell, thinks that men marrying women for their looks is acceptable. I find that strange.

And, lastly, I had to snicker at his sympathy for the sensitive man who most wants to be with his children but, because he is sensitive, is least likely to go the distance as far as court is concerned. So, basically, what he is saying is that those guys in court are the dirtbags who don't really care about their children and just want to hurt their ex-wife. And he wonders why the system is where it is right now.


posted by amanda at 3:13 PM on February 6, 2001


Thank you, swank6, you said pretty much what I was trying to say, but probably didn't as elegantly, because I was annoyed at ignorant assumptions being made regarding what I have and haven't read/seen/done. :)

I'm better now. People who won't even consider divergent viewpoints aren't worth my time and blood pressure.
posted by jammer at 3:14 PM on February 6, 2001


Swank: how were men valued before that they are not being valued now?
posted by amanda at 3:14 PM on February 6, 2001


dnash - Your question is only relevant if one supports Farrell's supposition that men were traditionally "servants" of the greater community.

He leaves out an important part of the 2000+ years of human history he is describing: women were EXCLUDED from participating in the "community" until the 19th century. They didn't have a whole hell of a lot of options. (For example, they couldn't vote, they couldn't own property, they couldn't divorce, they couldn't run for public office, they couldn't obtain a higher education, etc.) They did not choose a "role."

As such, I have a hard time defining earning an independent living, having the ability to divorce, owning property, and going to college with "serving".

Just my, $.02. Okay, maybe $.03
posted by dante at 3:17 PM on February 6, 2001


In other words, women used to think men got to have all the fun by going off to work, when in fact work wasn't necessarily any fun at all for men. And I notice in the popular culture lately all of the complaints of stress from women trying to juggle careers and families and all...it's like they're suddenly realizing that the breadwinner role men have been stuck with isn't really all it's cracked up to be.

I disagree with this characterization. No, men did not get to go off and have all the fun. Neither did women. For the vast majority of history, most men and women have had to work hard and have had little power and little reward for this. All of my grandmothers were working class and they all had jobs and none of them had any say in the matter. All of my great-granmothers were working class and they couldn't afford to have jobs because the household was not mechanized and it took hours to prepare food, wash clothes and keep track of a household each day.

In any society, however, there is an elite sets the stage. Before the 1900s (and later, some might argue), the men in this elite had a lot more power than the women. Yes, they tended to have to work, so it was not all fun and games for them. But they also got to define literature, art, government and social norms. The women in the elite, for the most part, did not have much say in the matter. Some of them had fun not having to make any difficult decisions. Some of them resented not being free to rule their own lives. To each her own, I guess.

Today, the elite has changed. It tends to consist of leaders of corporations, politicians, and intellectuals. There are both women and men in the elite who have power. I happen to think that the men have more power, although that is changing.

The centuries old biases about women's abilities and roles are still present in our culture, and they make it damned hard to be a woman today. But the centuries old biases about men's abilities and roles are also limiting for them.

These biases are a lot more subtle today than they were a few decades ago, when women were fighting to be promoted and recognized in the work place, and that makes it harder for people of both sexes to bring them out into the open and fight them.

The vast majority of white men have no say in any of this, so I can see your frustration jammer. But I don't think you're right to say you have it worse than other people _because_ you're a white male. Guess what -- the vast majority of everyone has no say in the situation the world is in.

I don't want to turn this into a race thing, but you mentioned the whole "white male" thing, so why not. I happen to think it's a lot harder for non-whites, who have to deal with the subtle shit just like the rest of us, but who also have to deal with the blatant discrimination that, yes, still exists.

You're absolutely right that it is wrong to raise one group above another. But we're not on an equal playing field, and some people have to be raised just to reach the field.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:30 PM on February 6, 2001


dante (and whoever else) -- traditional "gender roles" don't necessarily say women have to stay at home and make babies, and men get to do whatever they want. they can be just as bad for males. for example, in ancient Sparta, women were expected to be mothers, and men were supposed to be soldiers -- no one had a choice.

I believe in equality between the sexes. I think the problem with feminism is it's unrealistic to expect a group representing one sex to accomplish this.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:41 PM on February 6, 2001


(For example, they couldn't vote, they couldn't own property, they couldn't divorce, they couldn't run for public office, they couldn't obtain a higher education, etc.) They did not choose a "role."

***

Most of these claims are contingent on geography. In Britain, women were perfectly capable of holding property before the twentieth century; what they couldn't do was keep it after getting married, although this problem was partially fixed by the Married Women's Property Act (1870; a second Act was passed in 1882).

Women could vote and serve on _local_ councils from the 1860s onward, although they didn't receive the national franchise until 1918. And while women could not hold national political positions, this did nothing to prevent many women, particularly aristocratic women, from engaging in various kinds of political work (canvassing, mediating, hosting salons, etc.).

Getting a divorce was a fairly miserable situation for anyone until the Divorce Act (1857), which instituted secular divorce. (However, it _is_ true that while men merely had to prove adultery in order to get a divorce, women had to prove adultery + physical abuse or incest.) It was much easier for both sides to obtain a separation. It is also true that for much of the nineteenth century, child custody was automatically awarded to the father, no matter what; although several Acts were passed to slightly ameliorate this situation, the father was considered the child's natural custodian throughout. We have, in essence, flipped this position around.

Finally, colleges for women were founded during the second half of the nineteenth century, so they were not wholly excluded from higher education. It's worth remembering, however, that aside from the socio-political benefits to be gained by attending a university like Oxford, the _educational_ benefits could be little or none; many of the nineteenth century's great minds never went to university at all, and even university instructors often savaged the quality of education on offer. Mark Pattison's _Memoirs of an Oxford Don_ is particularly stunning in this regard.

posted by thomas j wise at 3:54 PM on February 6, 2001


I think the problem with feminism is it's unrealistic to expect a group representing one sex to accomplish this.

My dad is a feminist. At least two of my brothers are feminists. I can count 4-5 male friends who are feminists. I am a feminist (and female). So which sex do we represent?

That said, maybe old school feminism ("women and men are equal") needs a new name, because Rush Limbaugh et al have pretty much tarnished the one I use today.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:56 PM on February 6, 2001


Amanda, I guess value isn't the right word to use. I don't mean men are being devalued the way women are in Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire. I mean men are starting to receive treatment that women would complain about. At least where I live, some women seem to have it in against those "evil men" of this world. Using my example from before: a guy takes a girl out for dinner and tries to pay for it, but instead of being thanked for his attempt at chivalry, they are attacked for being sexist and objectifying women. This is wrong.

What I am trying to say is that though I believe in the principal idea of of feminism, many self-proclaimed feminists of today take the concept too far. Men like women. I read Maxim - I think it's a great magazine both for the stunningly beautiful women as well as the articles. But some feminists would use that against me and call me a sexist pig. Why? There isn't anything devaluing to women in the fact that they are pretty. When a guy likes a girl and wants to show it to her, he's not calling her his posession.

Okay, I guess I'm kind of rambling now. I hope you get what I'm saying.
posted by swank6 at 3:59 PM on February 6, 2001


When a guy likes a girl and wants to show it to her

You can get arrested for that, you know.
posted by kindall at 4:04 PM on February 6, 2001


No, Swank, I don't get what you're saying. And I happen to think that Maxim is unintellectual trash but that's beside the point.

You say that men are starting to receive treatment that women would complain about. So what? Do something about it! Just quit complaining that women did this to you or to man. Women had to fight to get where they are now in the public sphere. If men have to fight to get into the home and for fatherhood -- then, do it! Frankly, I hear a lot of whining and a lot of blaming and don't see a lot of action.

If men feel that society shuns the male house-husband or devalues a man who puts childcare and rearing above breadwinning then men need to attack this problem at its root -- societal structure.

Structure in society is very difficult to change -- you don't have to just change laws (which is difficult enough) but you have to change perceptions, ingrained stereotypes and history.

The structure of American society is geared toward male as top dog. Frankly, if men feel that they want changes in our society then they should be looking to other men for those changes. You built it. You fix it.

Then you say this:
At least where I live, some women seem to have it in against those "evil men" of this world.

To that, I say, that at least where I live, some men seem to have it in their mind that I am still public property. They feel that they have a right to grope me when I walk by in a bar. They feel they have a right to comment loudly on my tits. They feel that they have a right to belittle me when I open my mouth loud enough to be heard. So, I would hazard to say, that some women might have a grudge. But, then again, you men might need to work on your PR a bit.

Lastly, your example of who pays for dinner is sort of silly, don't you think? Maybe I don't hang out with "real" feminists but this wide-reaching epidemic of women rudely unaccepting "chivalrous" gestures goes back to the 1980s and the first (70s) feminist backlash. I've never known a single woman who didn't appreciate a gesture offered in the spirit of politeness. And, frankly, if the woman freaks out at you -- maybe you should date someone else.
posted by amanda at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2001


::takes a deep breath::
I will discuss this like a rational human being. No, really.

Historically, men have been servants...slaves to the greater community, the servant-protectors of women, children and old men. The mistake of feminism, says Farrell, is that women equated serving with power and privilege, when in fact both sexes were simply acting out their roles. What a crock of shit. Oh wait...rational discussion...alright...let's try this again.

Ahem. Women were essentially property to their husbands or fathers. They did not equate "serving" with power and privilege, they equated it with having basic human rights, as well as the right to vote, to divorce, to own property, etc. Although I hardly think that falls under the category of "serving".

"...but what about violence against men? When Thelma & Louise shot men in that movie, it was heralded as a great feminist statement. But if the genders had been reversed, those same feminists would have lambasted the movie. Why that difference? It's like it's ok to kill men."

Violence against men. Yes, that's an epidemic. Men are raped and molested and beaten and mutilated by women everyday. The man who was shot in Thelma and Louise, from what I remember of the crap that was that "film", was attempting to rape Geena Davis' character. The genders couldn't have very well been reversed. Only the most radical and, sadly, the most vocal of feminists man-bash. The rest of us simply want respect and equality between both genders, not one superior to the other.

Male birth control isn't a viable option because women want it that way? What women has he been talking to? Most women love the idea of male birth control.

"I mean, when you have women who accuse you of being sexist when you offer to take their coat or pay for dinner, that is going just a little too far."

Swank, that type of woman makes me sick. The whole point of feminism is to establish respect and equality between the sexes. If a man wishes to take my coat, I take it as a sign of respect and chivalry, not sexism. Sexism would be refusing to let the woman pay or making her take your coat as if she were a maid.

I personally do not agree with the required quota of female workers. For one thing it goes against the principles of feminism. The fact the law exists seems to say that women need help in order to get work. That they are not intelligent or able enough to get the job on their own. It continues the idea that we are different and in some way inferior. By singling out a gender or race you say that they are not the same. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the only way to get even the deserving women a job because of the sexism that still exists in some work environments.

"So these rich women, not understanding that their husbands were demonstrating their love the best they knew how, had a lot of time and money on their hands. Rich women went to therapists. Therapists told them they were oppressed. A movement was born."

That quote is so unfounded, unintelligent, irrational, insulting, and just plain stupid that I don't even feel the need to further comment on it. It speaks for itself in it's absurdity.

"There are 2 million men in jail. That's a national crisis!" What does that have to do with feminism? Are women the cause of all crimes? What am I missing here?

I actually kind of agree that white males are being blamed and even a bit persecuted recently. If everyone could just stop trying to place blame and instead work to find a solution the world would be a much less annoying place.

The only thing I read in the entire article that was at all redeeming was "[He]...believes that there should never have been a women's movement that blamed men for the ills of society. There should not be a men's movement blaming women. There should only be a gender transitional movement that encompasses both genders. Though i have to point out that the women's movement did not start out blaming men, at least not that I'm aware of. It mutated into that.
posted by crushed at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2001


It took me entirely too long to write my comment...there were about a billion new ones posted during my writing. Probably all saying, much more eloquently, things I was attempting to say.

::sigh::
posted by crushed at 4:31 PM on February 6, 2001


Zero-sum game.

Oh no it's not. One person's success absolutely does not require that someone else fail. The amount of potential wealth in the world is infinite. If it were a zero-sum game, there would never have been any more money in the US than there was at the time the dollar was created.
posted by aaron at 4:31 PM on February 6, 2001



because Rush Limbaugh et al have pretty much tarnished the one I use today.

Oh Christ. No wonder this thread is all over the place.
posted by aaron at 4:39 PM on February 6, 2001



Amanda, you're looking at it from a much larger and more complex viewpoint. What you say about men restructuring society just as women had to is not what I am talking about.

You say that men are starting to receive treatment that women would complain about. So what?
I'm not going into anything about what men should do about this, I am simply stating the fact that women who do this type of men are hypocrites. Plain and simple.

They (rightfully) say they are being unfairly treated. I agree with that. But by trying to solve the problem by reversing things so that women have an advantage is hypocritical. I am not trying to find the solution to societies problems or anything, I am just making that observation of today's "feminism" and saying I dislike it.

When people grope you in a bar, that is completely inappropriate, and I urge you to fight against things like that happening. However, it is just as wrong to assume a man does all those things you describe that are done to you - which some women do. Women have been treated unfairly throughout history, but that does not mean that today a mother deserves the custody of a child more than the father. Equality should be the goal. We can't change the past. Women who fight for women's rights but ignore men's rights have no room to complain in the first place.
posted by swank6 at 5:02 PM on February 6, 2001


Oh yeah, and on a lighter note - in defense of Maxim, it really is an interesting magazine. It's not something that should be taken seriously, but their writers are actually very witty and come up with some funny stuff. I don't believe that the pictures devalue women. Guys like seeing pretty girls. Is that such a crime? It doesn't mean guys have no respect for women, or think they are any less intellectual, or have no personality, or anything.

I have yet to get a girl to agree that Maxim is a cool mag (despite the growing number of women who write letters of support to them), so I don't expect you to either. But at least I tried...
posted by swank6 at 5:07 PM on February 6, 2001


Feminism is about changing the overall societal structure the devalues women.

Amanda, that is what feminism is supposed to be about. Farrell's point is that unforunately, many people have attempted to hijack that word and apply it to something else entirely; something far less noble.
posted by Potsy at 5:10 PM on February 6, 2001



thomas j wise - Thanks for the information and particulars.

To go back to Farrell's supposition, that men were servants of the community, etc., your post shows another example of how he is misguided. Women were, in the ways available to them, affecting spheres outside of the home and hearth prior to the women's movement. They had already taken on this "role" when they could.

So, I guess to refine my point, men were not exclusive in their work outside of the home, as Farrell suggests, they were however given many more rights and ways to affect the public sphere than women were.

Regarding Sparta. It is an interesting example, if an extreme one, in this discussion. Sparta was a community which was HIGHLY regulated. It is true both men and women had no control over the roles they played, but men could gain citizenship. (Although this opens up another can of worms, I'm assuming here that ALL men couldn't become citizens, most likely not slaves, although I could be wrong, just hear me out.) Their roles were both HIGHLY restrictive, but men's roles allowed them more, if limited, rights as a member of the community.

And I never thought I would say this, but . . . I agree with swank6 on Maxim. It is ocassionaly witty, and doesn't always take itself too seriously. My roommate reads it, and I have found myself laughing out loud at times. Oh, and I am girl, it doesn't usually matter, but I thought it might for the Maxim thing.

posted by dante at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2001


Ah Potsy, thanks, that is a great way of putting it.
posted by swank6 at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2001


Too bad the posts don't update while you type, or I'd have a lot less... but..

WOO HOO DANTE!!!
posted by swank6 at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2001


Two things, Swank:

1. Feminism is about levelling the playing field, not about a total reversal of our power structure. (You don't really believe that a cute, sweet thing like myself could do that, do you? I didn't think so.)

2. Your example of a woman rejecting chivalry as an example for why all women are conspiring to keep men down is just as wrong as my example about groping as an indicator that all men are trying to keep women down. However, I think you can see how one complaint may have more weight than the other. It is that weight which still needs to be counter-balanced.

And to Potsy -- I realize that some people think 'feminism' is a dirty word. That's not my problem, though. Feminism has done a lot for women and I'm not going to shy away from the word for what people erronously think of it. I'm especially not going to shy away from it just because men don't like it. *snort* That would be pretty counter-productive.
posted by amanda at 5:25 PM on February 6, 2001


Maxim -- who cares?
posted by amanda at 5:27 PM on February 6, 2001


Amanda, I'm not saying all women are conspiring to keep men down. I'm saying that those women do exist in the world, that they are hypocrites, and that I do not like them. I know you probably don't assume all men are gropers, but some women do, and it's them that I don't like. I'm not saying anything about women who are fighting for equality.

Regardless of the fact that you and I know what 'feminism' originally meant, neither of our opinions can control how language evolves. The fact is that today 'feminism' is often used wrongly. Some people DO say it is in support of 'feminism' when talking about that father who can't see his child. While they may be wrong, 'feminism' has taken on new meanings.

I don't suggest that you shy away from the word 'feminism', I suggest you shy away from the people who have done the type of things that cause this butchering of meaning (whew). And by that I don't mean just men who whine, I mean women who try to gain the upper hand rather than gain equality. That too is counter-productive.
posted by swank6 at 5:44 PM on February 6, 2001


I'm saying that those women do exist in the world, that they are hypocrites, and that I do not like them.

Dude, that's fine. But, I don't think it has anything to do with feminism or with this Salon article. Women probably found reasons to hate men and be rude about it long before feminism was around.

And, that is why I have been taking such a broad view of the issue and not getting granular with whether some girl that your friend dated got huffy when he picked up the check. It has no bearing on the issue. What does have bearing is whether or not you take a granular issue and use it to sweepingly denounce an entire movement.

Your comment re: "the upper hand" is addressed in an earlier post.
posted by amanda at 5:58 PM on February 6, 2001


I am not denouncing the entire movement - I am denouncing an aspect of the movement, and its seemingly rapid growth. Maybe the movement needs to work on its PR too, because all around me and in the media I hear of cries for advantage or special treatment rather than equality.

You're taking my date comment too harshly, it was just a small example. I think the examples mentioned in the article about husbands losing custody of their children, or women who praise male beauty pageant exercises but turn their heads against women taking the role of men in getting rejected are much more important ones.

I believe the movement is a very just one, and has accomplished a lot, but it has also hit some bumps that exist today.
posted by swank6 at 6:09 PM on February 6, 2001


And the upper hand thing, you didn't really address it. You said feminism is about leveling the playing field, not total power reversal. Yes, that is technically true, but there are people who think it is about SOME power reversal. The definition does not always apply 100% to real-world situations.
posted by swank6 at 6:11 PM on February 6, 2001


My dad is a feminist. At least two of my brothers are feminists. I can count 4-5 male friends who are feminists. I am a feminist (and female). So which sex do we represent?

Ahem. I always thought "feminist" was somewhat related to "feminine" and "female". If you want a movement that is not about being female, I'd suggest you call it something besides "feminist".

(come on... you guys already stole the word "gender" from linguists. where will it end?)
posted by dagnyscott at 6:32 PM on February 6, 2001


One thing I found interesting was the bit about forcing men to take part in beauty contests. Surely all that would demonstrate is that it's not pleasent to be forced to do something you don't want to do?
posted by davidgentle at 6:36 PM on February 6, 2001


No one "cares" about Maxim. It was just an offtopic aside. I read the post, gave a nervous laugh of recognition, as I have guffawed when reading Maxim, and then realized that the four horsemen of the apocalypse must be hoisting on their saddles because I agreed with swank6. That's all. It has no bearing on my views of Farrell, feminism, the feminist movement.

That being said, who stole the word gender? Are they going to give it back? I'm confused.


posted by dante at 6:38 PM on February 6, 2001


(Linguists never "owned" the word gender, we just used it. But it never denoted sex in Latin (genus).)
posted by rodii at 7:02 PM on February 6, 2001


it's so easy to get a platform if you're a 'revolutionary' who's parroting the status quo but snarling while you do it. yawn.

look, like i said (hi judith, and thanks for the shoutout!), things are bad for everyone right now. no gender, race, sexual orientation, age group is left unaffected by the general malaise currently making its way across the planet. can we get past the identity politics and 'who held my door' and get into some solutions to these problems? it's obvious that things are not okay, especially when you hear the edges on the voices of those who are proclaiming things are fine.

bleh. i am so frustrated. discussions like these are why it's impossible to achieve any sort of progress these days; the essentialist debates can never be passed, and it's just so -- so -- ANNOYING!
posted by maura at 7:15 PM on February 6, 2001


Directly above: "can we get past the identity politics... and get into some solutions to these problems?"

Exactly. It's less about male/female :: black/white and more about rich/poor. Poor people of all stripes are the victims of systems of oppresion/persecution that I don't believe I need to outline here. "Poor" tends to be a quality that constellates around women and minorities more than around white males, hence feminism and identity politics. It isn't always-- a poor white male is in a greater position of persecution than, say, Nancy Reagan, no doubt --but pointing that out just generates pointless infighting. Most feminists that I know operate with class consciousness.

We've heard over and over again in this thread that it's "OK" to want to be treated equally but "not OK" to want "special treatment." Let's follow Maura's lead and talk solutions. I'd like to hear, from the denouncers, exactly how you hope to end up with equality between the sexes without resorting to the methods that you've denounced. There's no evidence that structures of power will eventually reach a egalitarian equilibrium on their own: I speak as a mostly straight, completely white, male when I say that I'm open to so-called "reverse discrimination" as a pretty reasonable way to artificially generate an equilibrium. But I am open to other plans of action.


posted by jbushnell at 8:03 PM on February 6, 2001


Side note: to DNash, who writes: "When Thelma & Louise shot men in that movie, it was heralded as a great feminist statement. But if the genders had been reversed, those same feminists would have lambasted the movie. Why that difference?"

Just wanted to point out that that movie was directed by a man (although scripted by a woman), which, to my mind, muddies the waters considerably. If the movie seems to celebrate that man's murder, it's (arguably?) a man who has manipulated the strings to make it strike us that way.

But I think an analysis of the film which says that the film unambiguously celebrates that man's murder is overly simplistic. I think the movie presents both of the central female characters as being fairly ethically complicated, and I'd resist any interpretation that splits the film into "good guys / bad guys." (Witness Harvey Keitel, cast against type as the Good Liutenant.)

I also have to call you on "if the genders had been reversed, those same feminists would have lambasted the movie." Come on. How many movies are there with male action heroes and female villain henchwomen where the woman bites it at the hands of the guy? I can think of a dozen without breaking a sweat, and nobody blinks an eye because it's downright common.
posted by jbushnell at 8:23 PM on February 6, 2001


Linguists and Latin students have a saying: "Nouns have gender, people have sex." The saying does not, but should, conclude: "And boy howdy, do they ever."
posted by kindall at 9:12 PM on February 6, 2001


I'd like to hear ... exactly how you hope to end up with equality...

I'd like to postulate that many of the participants in this thread would likewise have differing feelings as to what would constitute "equality." Just for starters: Equality of opportunity or equality of result?

("General malaise?" I'd say that all in all, things are pretty damn good at the moment, compared to the past.)
posted by aaron at 9:47 PM on February 6, 2001



equality 1. The condition or quality of being equal; agreement in quantity or degree as compared; likeness in bulk, value, rank, properties, etc.; as, the equality of two bodies in length or thickness; an equality of rights. [from dictionary.com]
posted by Neb at 11:42 PM on February 6, 2001


I think the concept of "feminism" begins to take on a negative connotation when the principles are abused
posted by owillis at 11:54 PM on February 6, 2001


How many movies are there with male action heroes and female villain henchwomen where the woman bites it at the hands of the guy? I can think of a dozen without breaking a sweat, and nobody blinks an eye because it's downright common.

You're right. It's downright common. And there are lots of feminists out there complaining that it's wrong for movies to show women getting killed all the time...slasher films, for example, often come under a lot of fire for this. There are those who make out anything bad that happens to a woman as somehow worse than if it happened to a man.

Violence against men. Yes, that's an epidemic. Men are raped and molested and beaten and mutilated by women everyday.

Yes, actually it is an epidemic. Men may not be raped, molested, beaten, and mutilated by women everyday, but they are raped, molested, beaten, and mutilated. When these things happen to women, it gets discussed as a special category, "violence against women." When it happens to men, it's just "commonplace" violence. I simply think it should be equally horrible to both - and that special categories like "violence against women" in part contribute to the "women=victims" mentality that we have to get past somehow.

Here is a Salon article about Christina Hoff Sommers' book The War Against Boys that also helps make the point I'm trying to make - Achieving gender equality isn't just about improving the lives of women, it's about improving men's lives also. We all have to get there together.
posted by dnash at 7:27 AM on February 7, 2001


  dnash: I meant violence against men by women. That's what I took your statement to mean at the time.
   Rape and molestion however are most commonly committed against women. Most women have either been sexually abused, molested, or harrassed if not raped. I don't think the same thing can be said of men. FGM is still practiced in many places throughout the world. Wifebeaters are still common, as well. The reason Thelma and Louise was praised was not because the violence happened to the men in the movie but because the women fought back against a violent act that is committed every day, practically always toward women. I do agree that violence should be considered equally horrible to all victims regardless of their sex. However women tend to face much more horrible acts of violence more often then do men.

   aaron: Equality of opportunity.
   One phrase I've heard many times is "equal but not the same." I've heard lots of argument that this idea is impossible and that it just goes along with special treatment. I don't think so. The people who think that idea is impossible are the people who follow a version of this definition of the word equal: Showing or having no variance in proportion, structure, or appearance. If you go by that definition then not only men and women would be unequal but men and men. Another def: Having the same quantity, measure, or value as another. The point of feminism is to make society realize that women are as valuable as men. We are different but we are not inferior. Men and women are not the same. I doubt many of us want to be the same. However, we should be considered equal.

  To sum up: The point of feminism was and is to promote the idea that women are not inferior to men. We may be different but we have just as much right to vote, speak our minds, and live as men do. I recommend this link to all the men and women who are more than a little disenchanted with feminism.

(And the award for the heaviest usage of the words feminism and equal goes to...)

posted by crushed at 8:18 AM on February 7, 2001


dnash: The link helps make the point you mean? Or the book?
posted by crushed at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2001


Regarding gender equality and men's needs, I think it is pretty presumptuous that now that women have achieved some tiny semblance of equality that we are supposed to stop fighting for the rights of women and now fight for the rights of everyone. (Damn uppity women!)

Dnash writes:
Yes, actually it is an epidemic. Men may not be raped, molested, beaten, and mutilated by women everyday, but they are raped, molested, beaten, and mutilated. When these things happen to women, it gets discussed as a special category, "violence against women." When it happens to men, it's just "commonplace" violence. I simply think it should be equally horrible to both - and that special categories like "violence against women" in part contribute to the "women=victims" mentality that we have to get past somehow.

I think the women=victims mentality is getting by the wayside. One reason for that is that women finally have some recourse for what happens to them. And as for the stuff that men do to each other -- I think there is no one that agrees that violence is right. However, feminism as a movement should in no way be held responsible for that violence. Doesn't that seem *really* backward to you?

Like I said earlier, if men feel that they have been historically denied a place in the home then it is your movement to change the system because you still (like it or not) hold most of the reins in this system. If man on man violence is a serious problem (of course it is) then I suggest you address it. Keep in mind that historically, men have been expected to be violent. Anyone remember "boys will be boys"?

Women can support the movement just as men have (somewhat) supported the feminist movement. However, FEMINISTS DIDN'T DO THIS TO YOU -- so stop blaming them. I just can't fathom supporting a movement that blames feminism. That's just whiny, whiny bullshit.
posted by amanda at 8:53 AM on February 7, 2001


Okay, this stuff about men being servants - I just had to laugh. When have women ever *NOT* been servants, too?

Through most of history and prehistory (that is, until the advent of widely available reliable birth control), women have been servants, usually without much choice, to their children. It's a big fucking job, from pregnancy onward, and it's dictated largely by biology.

Men "serve" women by assisting with food, resources, etc in the maintentance of the homestead because *it's their own genetic lineage* that the woman is busy serving.

Yeah, okay, in industrialized societies we can get a bit more complex with this, but still:

Men cannot carry babies, or lactate *.

* except for a few experimenters who know that people (such as Child Protective Services) would freak out if they knew about it.

The key is this: we have certain biological limitations and tendencies that are the result of how we evolved. The very interesting and difficult problem is this: how do we come up with a reasonably fair way of living within these constraints, that allows children, men, and women to live their lives with reasonable freedom and choice?

It's a toughie. But we're not going to get any closer just bickering back and forth. Can't we just look at what's historically been bullshit treatment (by all sorts of people towards all sorts of people) and avoid it? Geez!

And I think the whole "what do we do when a woman wants an abortion and the man doesn't?" question is one of the stickier ones. But I'm pretty damn sure that the man doesn't have a right to compel the woman to gestate and birth a child she has no desire to mother. I don't know how to adequately balance the man's rights in such a situation, but I know the answer is NOT giving him de facto control over the woman's body (and putting her through rather significant discomfort, risk, hormonal and bodily changes is not to be taken lightly).

Plus, who would provide the breastmilk for the baby? Dads can sure do excellent infant care, but dooming a child to go through life without the benefit of breastmilk really sucks.

Requiring people to get a license before having a kid would fix some of these problems, but then you'd open up a whole can of new ones...

And what's the deal with men whining that a night of sex means they have to endure 18 years of child support? WAKE UP! That's how the rules work now - watch where you put your penises, guys. Use a condom, get a vasectomy, *something*, but don't go around conceiving babies and then whine about how put upon you are. Keep your penis to yourself if you can't handle the responsibility to watch where you put it. Those things are dangerous, you know.

Just ask any fatherless kid...
posted by beth at 10:48 AM on February 7, 2001



And of course Heinlein wrote:

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can - and must - be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a 'perfect society' on any foundation other than 'Women and children first!' is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly - and no doubt will keep on trying.
posted by beth at 10:53 AM on February 7, 2001



Ok, so I had this whole post written, thought I posted it, came back later and now see it's not here.

However, feminism as a movement should in no way be held responsible for that violence. Doesn't that seem *really* backward to you?

I never suggested feminisim is reponsible for violence. Neither, I believe, did Farrell. I believe there is, however, a difference in how violence against men and women is percieved. I merely brought it up, (again, as I believe Farrell does) to indicate that when bad things happen to men we don't seem to think of it as quite so tragic as if it happened to a woman; i.e. there's a, perhaps unconscious, supposition that men are more expendable. The truth is neither side is expendable.

Crushed: re, the link, I think the article I originally intended was this one, from the Atlantic.

posted by dnash at 11:09 AM on February 7, 2001


>And what's the deal with men whining that a night of sex means they have to endure 18 years of child support?

What's with it is this: A woman forgets her IUD or skips the pill or something, has a night of sex and can still have the option of an abortion. (I'm all for that, mind you.) But the man doesn't have that final option. Yes, yes, you're right, everyone should act with more responsibility with regard to sex, but I don't think sentencing a man to 18 years of child support is any more fair than it would be for a man to force a woman to have an abortion she doesn't want.
posted by dnash at 11:16 AM on February 7, 2001


The guy should take responsibility for birth control.

AND

The woman should take responsibility for birth control.

If you don't like the consequences of the possibility of failure of birth control, then don't have sex. No one's forcing the man to let loose his sperm, ya know.

How fair is it to the kid to sentence it to growing up without support from the father? Not very...
posted by beth at 12:20 PM on February 7, 2001



And er, the ability to consider abortion after conception is a privilege of womanhood that corresponds to the burden of womanhood of the danger and cost of pregnancy/birth and so on...

Yeah it would be nice if there were a fair way to give both parents a niiiiice looooong time to decide "gee, do I really want to have a child or not" *after* they've conceived the child. But it just doesn't work that way - decide beforehand. Be glad you have the ability to do so!
posted by beth at 12:26 PM on February 7, 2001



What I've read here backs up what I've thought for awhile now. We need a new group. A combination of "masculinsts" and feminists. Both sexes have to change their perceptions etc in order for there to be equality and a semblance of peace between them. We need to stop bitching about one another in fluff mags and start having HONEST and intelligent discussions with one another. Treat each other like something that isn't the enemy.

Any ideas on how to get the ball rolling?
posted by crushed at 12:43 PM on February 7, 2001


You mean something like this?
posted by frykitty at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2001


Hmmm...perhaps frykitty...but isn't the term humanist already taken?
posted by crushed at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2001


You'll notice that I stayed far away from the pre-birth issues of parental rights. Those are very, very sticky and very, very complicated. I don't think we're at a point in our society where we can really comprehend how this might work to everyone's benefit. After all, we're still (in America) hung up on marriage as an institution and what in the heck to do with all these wacky gay people who want a part of it.

Beth says:
If you don't like the consequences of the possibility of failure of birth control, then don't have sex. No one's forcing the man to let loose his sperm, ya know.

A sentiment that I heartily applaud. I think most women fully grok this concept, a concept which sometimes seems difficult for men to comprehend.

Dnash says:
I never suggested feminisim is reponsible for violence. Neither, I believe, did Farrell. I believe there is, however, a difference in how violence against men and women is percieved. I merely brought it up, (again, as I believe Farrell does) to indicate that when bad things happen to men we don't seem to think of it as quite so tragic as if it happened to a woman; i.e. there's a, perhaps unconscious, supposition that men are more expendable.

I hear what you are saying here. I really do. I think you may even be right. As I have said before, this stuff is the type of stuff that is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. However, framing this information in the context of what Feminism has done to our society is wrong. I think Farrell is wrong and I think you are wrong.

Man on man violence has nothing to do with feminism. In fact, it doesn't have much to do with women at all. I might also argue that woman on man violence has nothing to do with feminism either. So, I'm not saying that your thoughts about violence are off the mark they just don't fit within the 'blame Feminism' framework that Farrell has set up.
posted by amanda at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2001


It is hard to distinguish between the Humanist religion and the Humanist movement. Irritating, but still the word fits. For years I've used the term Gender Equality Movement hoping it would catch on. It even has a cute acronym.
posted by frykitty at 1:44 PM on February 7, 2001


Maybe the point is that violence to men shouldn't be treated any differently than violence to men. You don't have to blame feminism, per se, but you can certainly demand that if feminists really believe in the equality of the sexes, then they should treat violence against both genders equally.
posted by shylock at 1:47 PM on February 7, 2001


A lot of these birth control/abortion issues are going to have to be considered in a different way at some point simply because of what nwe technology makes possible. What if a man could have the child instead of the woman? Or if the child could be brought to term outside of the womans body? Both of these are possibilities.
posted by davidgentle at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2001


One of the problems with men being violent towards women is that sometimes, especially in the case of spousal abuse, it really is a gender issue.

There are, I agree, many situations where violence against a woman perpetrated by a man is just violence without ulterior motive. I think it harkens back to the discussion on hate crimes a little while back, and since that one didn't (and probably never will) reach resolution, I was really hesitant to draw a parallel. Prejudice is prejudice though.

I'm much more in favour of an Equality Movement that encompasses everything - gender, race, sexuality, religion and anything else people are discrimated against because of, but perhaps I think too big sometimes.
posted by cCranium at 2:50 PM on February 7, 2001


...you can certainly demand that if feminists really believe in the equality of the sexes, then they should treat violence against both genders equally.

Violence against women is singled out for many reasons. It often, as far as I can tell, surpasses that of men on men crime in its violent and grotesque nature. Some types of it occur because the idea that women's bodies are property still exists (obviously more in foreign countries than in the US). It also sometimes occurs simply because the person is female. Just as some crimes occur simply because the victim is black, gay, etc.

If a robber shoots a woman while trying to get away, it would be treated the same as if man was shot. "Violence towards women" only encompasses the crimes which are usually or always aimed at women, such as rape, FGM, and the like.

We should attempt to curb all violence, yes. But when you are trying to fight for women's rights, violence that happens to women tends to be more of an issue then that which is solely male based.

frykitty: would that make us Gemmers or Gemmys or what? Just gems maybe?
posted by crushed at 3:03 PM on February 7, 2001


I like Gemmies m'self. Any movement that sounds like a fruit-flavored candy has got to be a good thing, right?


posted by frykitty at 3:25 PM on February 7, 2001


It's got to be, yes.
:)
posted by crushed at 3:35 PM on February 7, 2001


From the "Block That Analogy Dept." (I'm sorry, but I just have to dog this one to its bitter end):

Dnash says: if the genders in Thelma and Louise had been reversed, feminists would have lambasted the movie.

To which I responded: but there are lots of movies that are like Thelma and Louise with the genders reversed, in which heroic men kill villanous women, and nobody bats an eye.

To which DNash responded: right, like slasher films. But those come under fire all the time.

? But slasher films aren't analogous to "Thelma and Louise." "Thelma and Louise" with the genders reversed is not a slasher film. I don't think I need to point out the important areas of difference.

I don't think you're a sexist or a bad person, DNash, I just think you're working with a sloppy analogy, and as an English teacher, that makes my hackles rise. (Sorry to all for the "instant replay," just trying to draw out a minor point in a long thread.)
posted by jbushnell at 4:04 PM on February 7, 2001


Deep up out of the space of time, babies sometimes floppy floppy. Underlings, from Kansas, taking separate walls dripping down the last of the terrible cats were flying huge cubes so thin that no one, not even speakers can make sandwiches look jungle. Snorting, basic, fast, experimental, wrong, active, drop, grid, find, virus, eyebrow.
posted by honkzilla at 8:40 PM on July 11, 2001


Why, you little..... I oughta....
posted by amanda at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2001


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