Friday, 17 August 2012
How feminist men fuck up:
One of the things I find as a feminist is that men often bewail how "mean" feminism is, and cite examples like: http://www.alternet.org/story/156194/what_about_the_men_why_our_gender_system_sucks_for_men%2C_too of how to "address sexism so men aren't alienated". So I'm going to explain just how much that particular essay is offensive, sexist and outright damaging, and why us feminists won't use such asinine arguments.
Don't get me wrong, the authors have some points, such as the pressure on men to take dangerous jobs, but they get swamped in what is perhaps the most sexist ways to couch them ever.
"Look at the other books, and you’d find they have one thing in common—they’re almost all about women. Women and work. Women and body image. Women and race. Women and sex. Women and feminism.
You’d think that only women have a gender."
The Authors have apparently forgotten that with men being taken as the "norm" the reason books are gendered towards women is that we're considered "other", men "don't have gender" as part of having privilege. Nobody is going to write a book on male gender because nobody thinks it needs to be explained since it is pervasively socially known already.
"Feminism has done an excellent job analyzing and challenging the ways that these assigned and enforced gender roles damage and deform the lives of women. The same tools of analysis can be applied to the damage and deformation that men suffer. And that damage, sad to say, is severe."
No, it's not severe, men benefit far more from male privileged as a whole than they are harmed by the misogynistic views that inadvertently hurt men. This article contains a lot of language that basically translates as "Men have it just as bad as women", except they don't, individually misogyny can sometimes suck for men but it is not the same as the systematic oppression women face everyday.
This is just bad thinking in operation, for starters no masculine stereotype is born out of a hatred of men, they're born out of a hatred of women. Men are defined by being not like women because being like a woman is "bad".
So even if misandric was a word we could take seriously which it is not, it wouldn't work in this context. What harm men face due to misogyny is not because of hatred of the male gender, it's fallout from policies aimed at harming women.
"Straight men are all too often expected to approach women, ask them out, and pay for the date—which causes disproportionate pain to men who are socially awkward, shy or just broke."
Disproportionate pain? You know I've never met a man who was "hurt" by this who wasn't a "Nice guy" in the worst possible way. Perhaps there are genuinely decent men who are hurt by this gender expectation, but I've never met one so clearly they're thin on the ground.
"The ideal of physical toughness kills people. Especially men. Except for sex work, the most male-dominated jobs are the most dangerous, from lumberjacks to firefighters to soldiers, men are more likely to be injured on the job and suffer an astonishing 92% of fatal occupational injuries."
Except this problem is caused by men keeping women out of these areas, and women who do go into these areas are more likely to be brutalised and assaulted by their male co-workers. Women didn't cause this problem, men did, men reinforce it and need to tackle it.
Then they go on to talk about rape, completely ignoring that male issues with rape are born out of the belief that to be raped is to be turned into a woman and being a woman is bad, and that the reason female rape victims are centered is because we are overwhelmingly the victims and that tackling our issues, would also tackle male rape victims issues. We don't need to beat people over the head with the knowledge that men get raped as well, we need to tackle the misogyny that supports rape.
"Liberating men from restrictive gender roles and gendered oppression is intrinsically bound up with liberating women from the same things."
Technically right, but what they go on to prove in the next paragraphs is that they don't realise that restrictive gender roles and gender based issues for men are born out of misogyny. They are the secondary result of hate against women, an inadvertent outcome.
"Many feminists respond to arguments along these lines by saying that men ought to start their own movement, that they don’t see what feminism has to do with any of it. Unfortunately, this is the latest manifestation of an issue that has long dogged feminism and held it back: the inclusion problem. Feminism started as a movement by and for straight white middle-class women, and there were struggles over the inclusion of people of color, poor people, sexual minorities, trans people and the disabled."
Technically true, but a privileged man is not the same as an oppressed minority. The problem with trying to "include" privileged men into the group is that:
1. Privileged men tend to assume that their privilege is their due and sulk when they're denied it in our spaces.
2. Privileged men tend to hijack the discussion to the point where women's issues get totally sidelined.
3. Privileged men tend to produce drivel like this article and then call themselves feminists.
Then they go into MRAs and rightly condemns their misogyny, but then pulls this:
"If men’s rights are to be addressed on any kind of serious level, it will have to be by feminism"
Except feminism does address much of men's issues on a serious level already. Given that most male issues are born out of misogyny aimed at women, tackling the primary cause misogyny aimed at women will tackle a lot of male gender issues.
Not talking about you all the time =/= not doing things that are beneficial to you.
The authors of this piece seem to think tackling sexism involves constantly positive reinforcement for their insulting position of how men are just as oppressed as women. It doesn't.
"The simplest reason why feminists should get involved in masculism is this: feminism is the single largest and most politically powerful gender-oriented movement."
So? I do not see how being a feminist means I'm required to bow to a sexist movement because it uses the right "phrases" with no understanding on what it's really saying.
"Masculism is a great recruiting tool for feminism."
No, it's not, it's a great way to fucking alienate a lot of feminists and to hijack feminism in favour of a lighter form of sexism though.
"Many men get a bad first impression of feminism from zealous young feminists who, regardless of their intentions, alienate the heck out of men."
Oh look it's a tone argument from people who wrote a pretty offensive sexist post, big fucking surprise there.
This of course ignores the fact that no matter how "nice" feminists are about addressing issues, men often get butthurt and whiny about it because they perceive any form of criticism of gender roles, misogyny or other issues as a personal attack on them. I've had men burst into tears because I wouldn't give them their privilege in a feminist space, they were so invested in the idea that their gender made them smarter, better and more worthy than me, that when they weren't treated like they were, they immediately lost it.
"have no tolerance for questions that sound like victim-blaming; sometimes, anti-feminist trolling or harassment has made a community so sensitive that they lash out at well-intentioned but naive newbies; sometimes, they are intended for feminists to talk to other feminists and new people detract from this purpose"
Sound like? Try most likely are victim blaming, it takes time for men to learn not to say stupid and offensive shit like these two male "feminists" have demonstrated with their article. As for well intentioned? Intention is not magic, also I've found that a lot of men don't really examine or acknowledge their intentions.
"Because masculism can be a safe landing space for men entering into gender egalitarianism, the same way that feminism is a safe landing space for women entering into gender egalitarianism. It will engage with their problems and issues that they can see affecting their own lives. It will provide a supportive environment for men unlearning their sexism. It will answer the questions men have about gender theory and the realities of how sexism works in our society. It will socialize them into the norms of social justice work, such as call-outs and checking one’s privilege. In fact, it will do all the things that feminism does for women in similar situations, and that is an unambiguously good thing."
Except if this article is anything to go by, all it will teach men is to put a thin veneer of social justice over sexism and then to get butthurt when it's pointed out that hey, they're being fucking ignorant.
"Ultimately, however, there’s another reason why feminism needs men—more than practical issues of making the movement more efficient, more than ethical issues of inclusion. In fact, it is impossible for feminism to accomplish its goals without men; liberating any gender requires liberating all genders"
Oh hey girls, clearly we're not efficient without men. Also what part of "misogyny is at the root of all male issues with gendered stereotypes" do these two not get? They're ignoring that removing misogyny would fix a good 99% of the issue.
"Misandry mirrors misogyny."
Again "men have it as bad as women!1!!!", seriously.
Firstly, there's no such thing as misandry, gender stereotypes that hurt men are the offspring of misogyny, they don't exist because somehow men hate men, they exist because men hate women.
Also privilege offsets a lot of the gender issues men do face, in short, these two are being incredibly offensive by trying to claim that men are just as bad off.
"This isn’t to say that in any given case, the misandry and misogyny are necessarily equivalent. Sometimes they are, other times one or the other definitely predominates."
Yes, they did just claim that "misandry" aka the impact of misogyny on men is worse than misogyny against women sometimes. *facepalm*
"Thus, you get women who (rightly) complain about the wage gap without seeing how men are made into “success objects.”"
Yes, because getting paid shit wages and facing a lifetime of poverty is just as bad as peer pressure to be successful. The latter sucks to be sure, but the first is still fucking worse.
"You get people unable to see past their own sense of grievance to look at how the system that’s hurting them is hurting other people."
One of the few things I agree with the authors on, they and the sort of men who reference this article are good example of the type of person who are unable to see past their own sense of grievance.
"Unfortunately, for a long time, feminism has been blind in one eye. It has seen half of how sexism damages people, but it hasn’t been able to engage with the other half. A lot of ugly stuff and a lot of pain has gone unnoticed by a movement dedicated to unpacking and examining the stuff that used to go unnoticed. Not only does that leave half of society still wounded, but it dooms the larger feminist project to failure. When the oppression of women and the oppression of men are so deeply linked, one cannot ever defeat one without addressing the other."
Again by using half they try to make it seem like the much smaller amount of harm misogyny inadvertently does to men is just as significant as the harm done to women who are the primary targets, this is not only wrong, it's offensive as hell.
As for their prognosis of feminism being doomed to failure, funny, we seem to have made a lot of things happen in the face of male privilege already.
"Ozy’s Law suggests that misandry and misogyny are inherently linked: if you eliminate one without the other, it will only mutate into a new sexist form. For instance, the "second shift” is when women who work outside the home come home and still do a disproportionate amount of the chores. It’s the classic consequence of liberating women so they can work outside the home without having their femininity questioned, but not liberating men so they can lift up a dishrag without having their masculinity questioned. By not liberating men, feminism traps women in a sexist situation that is little, if any, improvement."
Actually male refusal to do household chores has bugger all to do with their "masculinity being questioned" and more to do with the sexist belief that chores are "women's work", I think both authors dramatic overstate the case of cultural male gender pressure and ignore the misogyny inherent in much of it.
"Without masculism, feminism will never fully succeed."
Oh hey look "menz iz importants, you silly wimminz cannot succeed at anything without uz!11" ugh.
"Traditional assigned gender roles are unfair and awful for everyone. It might be possible to create a list of all the disadvantages men face and all the disadvantages women face and add them up to figure out which one is currently worst off, but that’s not really necessary, and really, who wants to win that fight?"
Except, oh yeah, both of you have been trying to do this throughout the article.
"As Samuel Beckett once said, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”"
Clearly they were following that quote, this article is a fail.
"That in mind, we two fallible, privileged, well-intentioned authors have some ideas about gender, about oppression, about the men."
Basically this article is poorly written, offensive, slanted, contains some very harmful and ignorant ideas about feminism and how gender discrimination actually works. Yet many men hold this up as an example of how "feminists should talk about gender equality", this article adds to gender inequality, it reinforces male privilege and generally is rife with issues, perhaps that is why so many men like it, because it reinforces their cosy privilege while allowing them to feel hard done by but also like triumphant battlers for social justice.
This is not how to talk about gender inquality, this is how to reinforce privilege, justify male self pity/privilege while portraying oneself as being better than that.
I suggest both authors scrap their book, because the world does not need anymore MRA handbooks.
Want to see men's issues done right?
Take a gander at: Men's issues done well
That is an excellent non-offensive article that addresses the harm gender stereotypes do to men without trying to hijack feminism. I agree with the whole thing, if I saw a discussion in feminist circles that was similar? I wouldn't have an issue with it.