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men who hate women : can men be feminists too?

I teach Year 11 and Year 12 English at a state school in Canberra and towards the end of last year a student of mine delivered a presentation about the book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I haven’t read the the Steig Larsson trilogy but my ears pricked up when my student informed us that the literal translation of the book’s Swedish title is: “men who hate women”. She went on to describe the plot which sounded like the sort of lurid dross redolent of a Law and Order: SVU episode. But I put my English-teacher-snobbishness to one side and noted the central theme of abuse towards women. Surprising and alarming statistics on domestic violence in Sweden followed and when the presentation was finished several students in the class were sufficiently moved to start an impromptu discussion that touched on rape, domestic violence, Slutwalk and female circumcision.

I sat back, watching the erstwhile reticent class finally fire-up for the first time in the semester. Where I had largely failed with my camp histrionics and pseudo-intellectual aphorisms to engage their passion for a well articulated essay or for allegorical readings of novels, I was now happy to see half a dozen of the 17 students in the class really fervently expressing themselves.

At a natural lull in the back and forth the students suddenly became slightly self-conscious and one girl pointed out that I was sitting there apparently afraid to join in because of my sex. Of course I hardly need to tell you that the students doing the talking were all female. Male students do not make feminist statements in class — or out of class. But surely I don’t need to point that out.

So then I got involved in the discussion and it moved on to territory well covered in the pages of Lip. There was the usual point about how the word “feminism” has become uncool, evoking thoughts of bra-burning, hairy-legged, man-hating cartoon feminists and other insidious clichés that bedevil the f-word.

But the revealing moment was when the consensus emerged, naturally and ineluctably, that men can also be oppressed, also be abused and also need some kind of movement to maintain their rights. The girls, finally on the verge of perhaps their first radical political statement had checked themselves and invoked — of all things — that ludicrous ‘90s trope of men’s liberation. Then they said that feminism would only regain its strength if it worked along with men to improve conditions for men and women alike.

And this is where I fired-up. I pressed the point that this was a pipe-dream. They responded indignantly and innocently by saying that men should stand up for feminism as well. And then I launched into some kind of diatribe about how men should stand up for feminism but won’t and how men will never voluntarily cede power — political or personal — to women. Incredulous, they said I was being way too cynical and so I asked them how they could be so naive when not a single word had been uttered by any of the embarrassed boys in the class. And then I asked them how many men they had ever met who called themselves feminists.

In the silence that followed I got so frustrated I was unable to properly explain the point I was trying to make. It’s actually quite simple when it comes down to it. There are many different side issues and angles I could take but the only thing I can think of that is worth saying in this article is: girls need to take up and maintain feminist causes across all areas of life and in all parts of the world, because boys never will.

I’ve read a lot of feminist theory and many books and articles about gender relations. Amid almost intractable debates over biology and essentialism, sexuality and raunch culture, porn and prostitution, the piece of writing that seems to press the salient point most strongly, yet indirectly, is Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. The incomprehensible cruelty that has been inflicted upon women around the world in the last 50 years is viscerally communicated in this superb study which mixes statistics with personal stories. What emerges is the painful fact that most men are in fact men who hate women: some more than others, some only some of the time. And when a culture is not vigilant against this hatred (even in Sweden apparently) it can manifest as physical violence and abuse. In fact I think misogyny is so ingrained in men that the best we can expect is to merely have men begrudgingly accept feminism’s demands, as they did in the West in the ‘70s; demands which, incidentally, Western men continue to insidiously resist to this day.

When I read articles here and elsewhere about feminism, the missing voice is obviously that of the male; but this is not because the male is excluded, it is because the male voice does not want to be heard defending women, beyond the basic social conventions that require men to agree that women shouldn’t be domestic slaves.

Yet even the girl who gave the presentation in my class about the still rampant domestic abuse in a progressive place like Sweden, even though she comes from a background where men have, let us for privacy reasons use an odious euphemism: “let her down” repeatedly — even she seemed to think that men were just waiting for some encouragement to get involved with feminism. But the majority of men in the world seem to be capable of inflicting upon the women they putatively love, acts of malevolence they would never conscience in any other sphere of life.

So because of everything detailed in Half the Sky and perhaps even The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, because of the push-button revulsion many Australian men have towards our PM merely because of her sex, because of the silence of the otherwise liberal boys in my class and because of the hiding-in-plain-sight record of the totality of human history, I suggest feminists stop even thinking about how men feel about all this because men don’t give a damn. There might be the odd guy here or there who actually gets it but in my experience (which includes years studying with the most liberal people around) even progressive men won’t call themselves feminists and won’t do much more than pay lip-service to equality for women. Women need to fight against what seems to be the more dismal fact of the human condition and work ceaselessly to assert their interests despite, not with, men.

By Jamie Freestone

Ed’s Note: I think Jamie has articulated his point really well, although I personally disagree – what do you think? Can men be feminists? Should we even care? Is this an argument to have outside of feminism?

-Zoya

29 thoughts on “men who hate women : can men be feminists too?

  1. This is my first time commenting. As a woman who has worked and studied with male youth workers, I can’t help but say that although I respect your point, you are making a gross generalisation.

    If men had absolutely zero to gain by being involved in making things better for women, and for men by association, they would never become any kind of feminists. But men have lots to gain by supporting women and supporting those ‘other’ kinds of men who aren’t defined by traditional roles, and I know many men who are doing work that is easily defined as ‘feminist’ in nature.

    Men who wish to be able to more easily express themselves without being called ahem ‘gay’ or ‘a sissy’ in a homophobic and derogatory way – whether or not they identify as gay or as a sissy. Men who want to be able to wear a dress or cook or be great role models by being sensitive, organised and compassionate, actors and singers in musical theatre, even men who want to be able to tell their friends they are gay without being told, I WOULD NEVER GUESS BECAUSE YOU’RE SO STRAIGHT ACTING (what? I though being gay was about sexuality, not behaviour. You’re not straight acting unless you’re having sex with the opposite sex exclusively, I’m pretty sure). Men who want their daughters and sons to grow up with the ability to express and act upon a full range of emotions. Men who are sick of the higher rate of suicide in young men attributed at least in part to our current culture’s inability to allow them the dignity of expressing their hurt and the grace to talk about their feelings without being branded with horrible names… all these men have a vested interest in breaking down gender roles, and therefore in allying themselves with feminists.

    Whoever has privilege has the least to gain from changing the current cultural climate, but people do notice that this binary, monochrome, sexist culture takes things from everyone and redistributes them unevenly.

  2. This is a really interesting piece. I’m not sure what I think, while I have associated with men who call themselves ‘feminists’, they are in the minority and by and large don’t really understand or attempt to understand their privilege.

    I’m going to offer a different perspective though. I am a proponent of queer rights and racial equality with concerns for issues regarding discrimination/equality/intersectionality. But I don’t write about these things by and large, I most write about feminism and to a lesser extent classism. This is only partly purposeful on my behalf, mostly because I am aware of the fact that as a white, educated, straight person, I don’t really know what it is like to be discriminated against on the basis of my sexuality or race. More importantly, I’m not often forced to reflect on these things in my daily experiences. It is easy for me to see sexism because as a woman I experience it and I am attuned to it. While I’ve seen instances of racism and homophobia and am appauled by those instances, it is not the same as living it and they are not considerations I’m constantly compelled to have.

    I think that there are probably lots of men who are at least sympathetic to feminism – if not feminists – who don’t write about it, firstly because they have no experience/authority on the subject, since they can only witness sexism; and because they don’t have to think about it. That’s their privilege and I can’t condemn men for that because it is just the way things are. Ultimately, the best that members of non-minorities can do is be allies,to not speak on their behalf, to support them in the goal of equality. I can’t judge what percentage of men genuinuely want equality between the sexes, but I wouldn’t say in my experience than most men want the opression of women just because they get certain benefits out of it.

    The other concern is that, to some extent, to obtain equal rights you do kind of need the consent of dominant groups, unless you decide to overthrow them altogether (matriarchy FTW?)

  3. Well done! This is a great read; such an interesting, opinionated piece. Feminism is about equal rights for everyone; for women, for men, for blacks, whites and children. It just so happens that, in the past, women have had a rough trot, hence the term ‘feminism.’ And by supporting it, does in no way render one ‘feminine’ or weak. Thanks for writing this piece!

  4. Pingback: Features | Why All Men Should be Feminists | Lip Magazine

  5. Pingback: Features | Feminism : Who’s In and Who’s Out? | Lip Magazine

  6. Intresting article but I must disagree with the reasoning as to why men don’t speak up. Sure a number of men don’t for the reasons you say I but I think most people (including men) are decent at heart. However I have learnt at my time at university that there are some things it is very hard for a straight, white, male to discuss without it going wrong at some point.

    To get involved is to know that at some point, often very soon, you will say something that can be missinterpreted and too many people are looking and sterotyping you. It is a damned if you do and damed if you don’t point of view that is linked to the fractured nature of feminism itself. No matter the view a man has, at least one woman will disagree.

    The problem then become what to do when there is disagreement. Arguments are hamstrung by the simple fact that feminism is largly about women not wanting to be told how think and act by men. In an area where men do not have that authority of opinion, in fact quite the opposite, a hasty retreat must be taken.

    This can only happen so many times before the vast majority of men learn to be quiet. The boys in school have learnt even to be afraid to tell those women they are wrong, or even something that can be interpreted as being wrong. It is the greatest flaw in feminism, that men are not allowed to fully participate and have that level of buy in. Without the participation there is resentment and anger. I think that feminism, as a movement, needs to accept male disagreement and disent. For it is through a merging of theisis and antitheis that we will find a way to create true balance. We need the conflict of ideas and equal voices in the shaping of our futre. Women have not been allowed to participate in changing of society for so long. Now (rightly or wrongly) in this area men feel they do not have a voice. That must change.

  7. i don’t believe it is the job of feminists to make feminism more comfortable for men- women are the ones whose voices are continously discounted and whose experiences and lives are questioned, not men. there are many male feminists who recognise the mistreatment of women without having to make it all about them and they can understand that feminism advocates restructuring rigid gender roles that hurt men too. a lot of feminist spaces are the only places women can feel validated in recounting their stories- we should not have to frame our message to make it more palatable so men can feel more comfortable. it is not our fault if men feel they do not have a voice in feminism; they have a voice in every other sphere, they have authority in every other field. perhaps they could try listening to women for a change.
    and to the comment above which tells us that it is feminists fault that men have anger and resentment towards us and we need to accept male disagreement- this exactly the reason i feel wary about men talking about feminism.

  8. Jade. I completly agree that people should be able to self select a group along whatever lines they want and share. I also have no problem with men being made to feel uncomfortable, if people are starting to feel uncomfortable it is normally a sign one side is making good points in a discussion.

    But the context was a school classroom. A place where there are institutionalised consiquences if one of the boys goes over a line. That is where the problem is. In the marketplace of ideas it is unpopular speech that needs to be protected.

    Humans get angry when they feel they are not allowed to express themselves. Because it is subjective it is not about assigning blame to one group or another. We should try to work out ways to include people. Allow the boys in the example to drop their guards, open up a real dialouge, create bonds of empathy and understanding as much as possible. I don’t feel that goal is served by makeing people afraid to open their mouths (a problem I never seems to have even when I probably should).

  9. i think that men and boys being unwilling to contribute or uncomfortable about discussions of feminism may be because men are seen as the default gender and women are ‘other’, therefore we don’t share the same concerns and men don’t need to be involved- this is a patriarchal assumption and one feminists don’t endorse. i don’t see in feminism where men are not allowed to express their opinions and i don’t want that- its just inevitability a majority of the time spent discussing gender and will focus on women as they are more disadvantaged by the gender expectations. in my experience in womens studies we spent time discussing masculinity, the unrealistic expectations men face and the damage they do. it seems to me some men oppose feminism because it doesn’t focus *solely* on mens experience or they feel it completely discludes mens experience because its not discussed *all* the time; which is coming from a place that expects men to be the focus of all discussions. i certainly don’t believe all men are to blame for cultural and societal practices and beliefs that disadvantage women; but they benefit from it(consciously or not) and it does affect women in harsher ways- accepting that does not assign blame, it’s just the first step towards changing attitudes so we can make it better for both men and women.

  10. but i do agree completely that boys should be encouraged to voice their opinions and to experience empathy and create a dialogue- i didn’t make that clear. i just think they need to check their privilege first and not dictate womens experiences and question their validity.

  11. Wow, so boys didn’t comment because they recognised their own guilt? Surely such insinuation implies the same kind of stereotyping tendency indicative of a misogynist? Polarised -whether your own doing or that of society- to such an extent so as to be misandrist perhaps?
    We’ve all accumulated unique experiences in life and by virtue of this we’re inclined to identify with different views – different books. I ask you to please just reflect that the attitudes you convey to those boys in your class and impart to the girls may be doing more damage than good.
    Believe it or not, there are some strait men who place women on a pedestal, who recognise inherently that their own liberation is dependent on that of women, who see that the holding of misogynist values is antagonistic to peace within themselves and that misogyny external to themselves makes them feel isolated as men. This may simply be a feeling in such men, yet remains subconscious because they’ve never articulated it to themselves and so they are simply silent, feeling but not understanding why they feel as they do with respect to society. If there are such boys in your class it’s entirely understandable why they don’t speak and in terms entirely other that those you’ve suggested. It’s a commonly known fact that generally, men are less articulate than women, particularly when it comes to emotions and even more so at that age. Men/boys get relatively no support for emotional issues to which the subject of healthy sexuality clearly centrally corresponds and is clearly related to the discussion at its core. Such men/boys are your allies yet you choose to hold beliefs yourself which serve only to alienate them and make broader social reconciliation more difficult to achieve.
    I believe that the success of feminism depends on how well men and women are understood and in its striving to surrender its very title to something which connotes a libertarianism for both sexes and I think it requires a loving spirit which truly desires reconciliation to do that well. It seems to me that those girls in your class have just that despite the experience of one -what a champ! Sure they may be naive in some ways but please don’t deride that quality as it is the key to your success, not the source of your failure.
    As for me, in many ways, Naomi Wolf rules!

  12. There seems to be a lot of comments along the lines of what men should do and that men should be feminists, etc. I didn’t write the piece well enough to properly emphasise that the whole point of the article, the reason I was dismayed at the girls in my class, was that there is a mixing-up of what should be and what is.

    Of course I think men should be feminists. My article takes it as a given that people realise that men simply aren’t feminists. It also takes it as a given that people realise a statement like the previous is a generalisation (necessary in any opinion piece), that it means the great majority of men aren’t feminists. Some po-faced commentators have pointed out that there are male feminists out there. Of course I realise that and mention it in the article. And I am a feminist, so I realise the fairly truistic point that not every single male on Earth is a misogynist. But where it would be great in some utopian world that men involved themselves in feminist causes, I point to the case of the world itself where there is very little male involvement in feminism, now, or in the heyday of women’s liberation.

    Even in the 60s when young, progressive men were fighting other people’s causes, the women’s movement was primarily fought by women themselves. If women wait for men to get involved to reinvigorate the feminist cause, then they might begin to resemble one of those doomsday cults awaiting the return fo the Messiah. The religious comparison is not entirely inapt, as I imagine it may be more palatable to the psyche to believe that men will eventually come round than to admit that women simply need to do it for themselves.

    Finally, I don’t wish to deride the girls in my class, I love my students, especially the ones who evince compassion for others. So I thought I made it clear that I was stoked that they started discussing feminism, a diversion that took us completely off schedule, but which I gladly encouraged because I thought it was more important than anything we were studying in class. If I am deriding anyone I thought it was pretty clear that I am deriding the goals of the larger feminist movement which is spearheaded by highly educated, adult, well-read, intelligent women. It is they who I think we should expect to be aware of the strategic mistake in trying to focus on male liberation and male involvement as much as female liberation. Because this is only an opinion piece it is necessarily light on data. So to bolster my case I direct people to the book mentioned in my article and more generally to consider the entirety of human history (including the extraordinary and unprecedented shift in the status of women in the late 1960s) and to search for evidence of widespread male involvement in the liberation of females. Perhaps it should be there, but I ask honestly and as a rhetorical device: is it there?

  13. I know it may sound trite but please don’t forget womens sufferage has been voted in by men in democracys. Sometimes referendums, sometimes by law. Which mean that womens sufferage had more than 50% of mens support (either directly or by repersentatives). So its not like men have done nothing. Its not the same as jumping infront of the kings horse but it at least shows the majority of men dont have a problem with equality, they may just not be champions for it.

    Speaking of jumping infront of horses. Most of the origional suffragets had supportive husbands. Men who put their reputations and livelyhood on the line. Once again not the equivlent of the death threats their wifes often got but more than nothing.

    Anyway. Jamie, you have got us talking. Never a bad thing.

  14. “Po-faced”? Come on Jamie your own delivery was hardly without a little passionate rectitude in parts…. So that’s your right alone?

    Look, I wouldn’t disagree with you in many respects. Indeed my feeling is that I don’t know as much on the subject as yourself and so can hardly consider myself as ardent a proponent of feminism per se. Clearly, while not generalisable necessarily, this fact supports your point about men as feminists. However, I just don’t see how the goals of feminism can be achieved independently of male liberation too. Stopping to ask whether we deserve it might be akin to taking your eye off the prize though if it truly is equality you seek?

    Brett makes a point about suffrage. But, let’s just say for arguments sake that we have no redeemable qualities historically. Would that make efforts today irrelevant? I don’t think you should wait though Jamie, just don’t deny your motherly instincts and hurt your male allies in the process. Lead on, Cheers.

  15. I definitely believe that men have a place in feminism, but I have also come to see how they will often dominate discussions when they are in feminist spaces. This can be seen to an extent even on this article, where you will see a notable drop off in female voices contributing as men have commented more.

    I don’t (necessarily) discourage this, but I don’t understand why it’s the responsibility of feminism and feminists to take on men’s causes. I for one get pretty annoyed when men are trying to speak on behalf of women, so I don’t know why male feminists/pro-feminist men would want women to to speak for their concerns either.

    Go and write your own books about men’s liberation and feminism, and we will read them. But just as I don’t think women should wait for male involvement to energise feminism (as per Jamie’s article), I don’t think men should rely on women to create space for and take on their battles.

  16. Thanks heaps for all the comments guys (especially Troy!). I’ll just note one thing about Dunja’s comment though. I agree that it’s not the responsibility of feminism to take on men’s causes (I’m still not entirely sure what men’s causes are, but that’s another debate). But I think the idea that mean can’t speak for women (or vice versa) is a very precarious position to take.

    Generalised to other examples, it implies that no one can speak for a group of which they are not themselves a part. I’m not having a go at you, Dunja, specifically as this is a pretty standard intellectual position nowadays, but I think it negates a lot of activist movements. It also renders those who have no voice without an ally to speak for them.

    I think Nicholas D Kristof can definitely speak (not exclusively him, of course) for women in the third world, just as Naomi Klein can speak for abused workers and George Clooney, apparently and with much charm, can speak for the people of Sudan. So I see no issue with men speaking on behalf of women, as long as it’s in women’s interests.

  17. Hey Jamie – thanks for the response, I probably should’ve been a bit clearer on my position. The idea that no one can relate to or understand others’ lives or concerns isn’t one that I support, otherwise I’d see writing as a moot profession. But I also see a very firm difference between trying to empathise with others’ experiences and speak from that point, versus making universal or blanket statements about others’ experiences without asking for feedback from that group. I guess it’s the difference between having an informed opinion and an uninformed one.

    What has frustrated me in the past has been men expressing their opinions (even when informed by speaking to a few women about an issue) as facts, rather than indeed opinions. For example, a few weeks ago, there was a male member of the South Australian Feminist Collective who spoke of accompanying a female friend to several doctors, and said something along the lines that we are kidding ourselves if we think doctors take women seriously. That hasn’t been my experience at all and the fact that he didn’t ask for feedback from female members of the collective as to whether they had experienced similar things, but rather made this sweeping generalisation about women and the medical profession, was quite presumptuous and annoying. Those are the sorts of instances I’m talking about when I say that men can’t speak for women, rather than saying they shouldn’t say anything at all.

    I’ve definitely voiced concerns about how men are treated too, but I would rather men find their own platform to speak from about ways in which they feel oppressed/unequal/whatever, rather than expecting female feminists to do it. At Lip, we have really encouraged articles from men and think there is a lot of room for discussions about men and masculinity on a feminist website too.

    To that end, if any men (or women!) want to write about such matters, be sure to get in touch with Zoya (editor@lipmag.com) or me (dunja@lipmag.com).

  18. Hi Dunja, I’m appreciative a woman has contributed to what might otherwise be regarded as a mens circle on your great little blog here. I’d hope other women would not be reluctant to join in. I think I speak for the other guys too when I say I wished to engage you and if any women feel alienated from the discussion for any reason, please accept my/our apologies, that was not intended.

    Just to be clear about my own points, I don’t expect female feminists to speak for mens issues but I think to acknowledge those issues when it serves as a safeguard against making generalisations about men as though from a perspective experienced in the male condition would be in the movements interests and this is clearly the sex converse of your own point. Do we agree on that?

    Clearly, not knowing what it’s like to have a womb etc, there are aspects of womanhood I could perhaps only ever expect to make an intellectual estimation and so long as that can be presumed true, clearly I can’t speak for you. I believe there’s an argument though supporting the facilitation of liberation for all if we join forces. The whole plight of feminism depends on changing values -held by men and about them. Does it not? therefore the notion that it can achieve its ends somehow independently of mens issues seems to me to deny the obvious complexity of achieving its own ambitions. Am I missing something here? Anyway, perhaps that clarifies my own points?

    Please, don’t refrain from teaching us Bozos a thing or two. Again, I don’t see how men can achieve their own liberation independently. We need to work together but sure, let’s call that something other than feminism if you like, that does seem to make sense although my feeling is that the inclination to compartmentalise would not really serve us to do in great detail. The issues are entwined and that’s the big picture… Sex gestaltism? And sure, let womens issues take the lead.
    Isn’t it all just about love really? Thanks again for this opportunity!

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  21. I would actually strongly disagree with Mr Freestone’s view and am surprised by how quickly he discarded the younger women in his class’ view point on things. I may have a different experience though as I am not from Australia so the gender issues there maybe a bit different. The idea that feminism can bypass all men is a pipe dream and the idea that simply letting the patriarchy completely control the male side of this equation like it has for the past fifty years has only resulted in men becoming more misogynistic over the recent years.

    Feminism is about gender equality and addressing the unfair treatment of genders, specifically women. In this mission it is imperative that the new feminists embrace mens issues because unlike the differences between black men and white men, or Japanese men and Chinese men, the issues of men and women are all, ultimately, women’s issues.

    I won’t attempt to hijack what I think feminism should be about but I can and do say it needs better marketing. The fact that the word “misandry” is so popularly used now is an issue whose fault lies with that issue. Men are hurt by gender binarism just as women and “mens issues” are, at their heart, women’s issues.

    Example: many mens rights activists have made the point of how unfair the courts in much of the Western world are in how they default to giving kids to the mother. Go to an anti-misandry website and you will no doubt find the story of the good father who lost his kid to the mother who was selfish and only thought of the kid as a pawn in her schemes. While it is likely these stories are overblown, I have dealt with female sociopaths in the past so I have no difficulty seeing many of the stories as true.

    The problem is, they blame Feminism for this. Like feminists are running around telling women to have kids and mooch off men. If the feminist voices were to commandeer the male issues and market their stuff better, they could easily bring the guys over to their side of the equation. I say this as a former MRA myself, so I have talked with these men and know that they are mostly on the right track – they are just blaming the wrong thing. Ironically, they blame feminism for what the patriarchy causes. Children go to the mom because the system still thinks that is what women are for – having kids for their men. Even “positive” or “white knight” sexism is still sexism and removes personhood from women reducing them to objects.

    For me it was a male feminist that showed me where all my mens rights issues stemmed. The ugly truth that I had been fighting allies for the better part of five years at the behest of the system that causes all of it. When I actually read feminist literature it became clear that feminism is addressing these issues, but it is something you have to go and find out. I think it would be a great benefit for feminism to reach out to men by addressing male issues (which are secretly female issues) as a means of luring those on the fence in.

    Sorry for the length of the shpeal but with all due respect to Mr Freestone I believe he has allowed the facts of the mistreatment of women, perhaps the misogyny in his own culture, and the silence of men over the years to affect him, personally. Further I feel it is his and my duty to do what no other female feminist can – to try and reach boys who maybe on that fence and put ourselves out there. I have been called everything from gay to even physically threatened but I have also gotten guys who would not have otherwise been curious about this. Most of these boys who stay silent may just be confused or operating under the mistaken belief that it is a woman’s fight so why should they bother. The patriarchal system is at the root of mens rights and mens rights are, ultimately, womens rights because they all trace back to gender inequality and outdated modes of thinking.

    I feel Jamie represents the old guard that said that women were going to have to go it alone. Unfortunately, men make up fifty percent of the population and laws do not equal equality. True equality requires the destruction of social systems that have stood for, literally, thousands of years in some cases. Women can’t handle it on their own. Not because they are weak and women but because so long as fifty percent of the human population is holding the system up it will always remain. If feminists don’t reach out to men to color the argument in a way that draws them in (ie not turning it into a guilt trip or a victim penis size measuring contest where every other line reiterates how much worse women have it) then the patriarchy will remain.

    And I think it has to be feminist men who reach out. If feminist men leave it up to feminist women to reach out then the outreach will take on a female centric bent (in much the same way that when men come into female safe spaces and talk you often get the feel that they don’t fully respect the female side of things and should be quiet). I am not saying women don’t have it worse because they most certainly do but over the past thirty years of my life I have watched the patriarchy attach masculinity to male personhood, so coming out and attacking privilege and masculinity should wait until after you hook them in because talk of how bad masculinity is will be viewed by the uninitiated man as an attack on him, personally.

    As I said, it is a marketing thing and I think men know men well enough to do that. I myself already have on a smaller scale, but we need books and media figures coming out about it too. I don’t think it is impossible, I just think it is something that is on the onus of male feminists – we wouldn’t dictate to women on issues they have a deeper understanding of so why do we sit back and place the burden of addressing men on them? I am optimistic about it and, in the first world at least, think that changing this will boil down to breaking the men versus women dynamic. Strengthening the dynamic is, in my opinion, the worst move feminism can make and will only schism away what may have been allies. Many men are hurt by the masculinity dynamic and many of them maybe shy, ashamed, and harmed in ways they don’t realize. I think it is the job of myself and guys like Freestone to shine a light on these things for them like only we can. We know the “softer” side of the patriarchy better than anyone because it’s tongue has been in our ear reinforcing male privilege our entire lives.

    Late and probably TLDR but the post really effected me so I felt I had to address it, even if it never gets read. Thank you for reading if you did. Have a nice day.

  22. You are actually surprised that that the young men in your class felt intimidated to offer opinions about feminism and gender relations? They had just sat through a presentation about a book that just accused them of being default rapists – a presentation which was supervised by a teacher whose pro-feminist (read anti-male/masculinity) allegiance must be well-known to them.

    Stop shaming your male students and infantilizing the female students. They obviously had the sense to understand that recognition of everyone’s rights and respectful exchange in male/female relations is the best way to move forward and bridge the anger and distrust that has infected so many relationships today.

    Take note. The problems and iniquities taking place in far flung corners of the globe are not the fault of the teenage boys in your class. It is certainly not their responsibility to sacrifice their lives to fix them. They are not disposable utility objects to be sacrificed at the behest of man-hating feminists.

    The young men in your class are human beings with inherent value. You should treat them as such. Feminism is a hate movement focussed on undermining the rights and welfare of men and boys. The boys in your class know it. They don’t owe feminism a thing.

    • andybob,

      I’ve become quite interested in MRAs and that whole movement. I had referred to it above as a “ludicrous 90s trope” but I think it’s certain that some men are discriminated against on the basis of their gender; after all, how could it not be true? there are billions of men, some of them must have been mistreated. Funnily enough, rather than the attack on men by feminism postulated by you and others, I see a more than generous defence of men’s rights by feminists and that’s precisely the phenomenon which I related in my article. So to me the real issues are 1) why MRAs think there is a sufficient multitude or magnitude of cases of discrimination against men on the basis of sex in a world which is, prima facie, stacked for men and 2) why feminism is perceived as the chief belligerent in this supposed battle.

      My best answer is that I think you display what the leading scholar in the field calls “the improvisational millennial style” (Barkun 2006). Sure enough I read some of your work on the A Voice for Men website and although I won’t do you the diservice of excerpting them out of context here, you make a lot of comments which, forgive me, suggest to me that you are a conspiracy theorist.

      I don’t make a habit of randomly accusing people of being conspiracy theorists, but the main trademark of such people is that they build a case using a selection of facts — often entirely valid in themselves — which appears thorough and consistent, as long as no counter-evidence is offered. Even when counter-evidence is offered, it is of course offered by people who disagree fundamentally with the conspiracist and is therefore rejected as being ideologically tainted. The problem was that there was an asymmetric burden of proof in the original fact-gathering, meaning that the traditional account (in this case the account of the world which claims women are still oppressed in various ways) is only considered in terms of something which must have evidence gathered to disconfirm it, never to confirm it.

      For example, it’s pointed out on that website that men die younger than women and this is proposed as evidence for maltreatment of men in society; it is verifiably true that men die, on average, at a younger age. The attendent fact, that many more female babies die in infancy (which works along side the lower life expectancy for men to maintain a natural equipoise in the male to female ratio) is, if known, never mentioned or perhaps is never known.

      Similarly, statistics on domestic violence are quoted which suggest women commit as many acts of violence — perhaps even more as in some studies — in the home than men. Again, a perfectly verifiable claim, but the related facts are not mentioned. Looking at male/female rates of violence in other spheres of life yields a different story. Looking at random attacks by one against the other, cases of rape, cases of workplace assault, cases involving alcohol in public places, etc. In all of these cases and many others men are — by orders of magnitude — more likely to commit acts of violence against women than vice versa. But such facts are so well known that they are part of common knowledge and are part of the standard narrative: the one the conspiracist seeks to undermine with a biased collection of facts and a double standard of proof. It’s in the very obviousness of the idea that men have primacy over women in our society, that men maltreat women more than the other way around, that if you see a group of men walking towards you on a dark night there is a small but statistically significant chance they may be violent while there is almost no chance at all that a group of women will be violent — the obviousness of this state of the world means that the negation is seductive in its unintuitive thrill: maybe it’s actually men who are oppressed now?

      Maybe — but only in the same sense that Al Qaeda maybe didn’t commit the 9/11 attacks.

      Another giveaway is the quasi-prophetic tone of many of your other statements on the website and the suggestion that a change is going to come, that men and boys everywhere have been bullied and emasculated by feminism for too long and that males everywhere, including the boys in my class apparently, know what’s really going on.

      Finally, the attempt to subvert the dominant narrative of how the world is now, is bolstered by the attempt to recast history in a different light. Apparently the boys in my class “don’t owe feminism a thing”. A statement full of esprit de corps for MRAs, but clearly blind to history. If they care even a jot for their mothers’ and grandmothers’ lives, or indeed the lives of any women since the middle of the 20th century who have benefitted from the unprecedented status accorded to women, then the boys — and we — owe a countless debt to feminism.

  23. “That hasn’t been my experience at all and the fact that he didn’t ask for feedback from female members of the collective as to whether they had experienced similar things, but rather made this sweeping generalisation about women and the medical profession, was quite presumptuous and annoying.” Ms Nedic

    Oh dear. How dare any man make a statement of any kind without clearing with his feminist handlers first. One certainly hopes ‘the collective’ had their fainting couches at the ready when they realised that a man spoke without their permission.

    This is kind of censorious finger-wagging has always been the hallmark feminism’s idea of ‘including’ men. Sit Boo Boo. I’m beginning to doubt that the young men’s silence was due to being tongue-tied. They probably had a lot to say – only it would have had them expelled.

    Men are waking up to the fact that feminism is not our friend. Unlike the easily intimidated schoolboys, we know exactly what to say. Men’s rights are human rights too. Respect cuts many. many ways.

  24. I used to be a hardcore feminist.

    I’m talking about going to rallies with hand painted signs, having a sticker depicting the female sign with the fist on my car, printing pro-feminist pamphlets, going to meetings and so on. Yes I was the real deal and yes I am a man.

    Can a man be a feminist? Tosh and nonsense, we are surrounded by them.

    All of this changed when I looked into this deeper and I mean for the first time and I mean really looking at it closer. No feelings” or what “should be” and what “was”, just closer like I knew nothing for the first time.

    Yes I was shell shocked and it took me a while but let me share with you my findings.

    By the way, my grav is an easy target and I expect a barrage of shaming words and aspersions. More tosh and nonsense as the grav depicting a man would have me labelled as a “fag hater” so either way I am just a hater, right? Wrong.

    I can (and do) deeply respect anyone who deserves it and go into any relationship of any depth expecting it to go to either a woman or man. The substance of respect depends on behaviour only, not the sex.

    Here we go, from me, a former feminist.

    Since 1975, approximately 100 studies looking into the issue of violence between the sexes in a relationship, or ‘in partner violence’ (IPV), mainly in Britain and North America have shown that physical domestic violence rates are much more symmetrical between the sexes than women’s advocates suggest. These studies have ranged from random nation-wide surveys of many thousands of participants to smaller regional surveys, and included national crime surveys.

    Case study interview data on men victims in Britain and in Canada, reveal remarkable similarities of physical domestic violence experiences between men in these two societies, and in those in my studing that I will discuss in a second.

    Two recent studies in Australia have confirmed the both-sex prevalence data I have just mentioned. Dr Sotirios Sarantakos has recently completed in-depth interviews of families with histories of violence. A major aim of the Sarantakos study was to investigate the validity of criticisms that studies showing symmetrical rates of intra-partner violence are relatively meaningless because they do not consider the contexts within which the violence occurred. The Sarantakos findings confirmed these studies showing symmetry between couples and also that self-defence as an argument for all women’s violence could not be sustained.

    A recent representative survey by Dr Bruce Headey and Dr Dorothy Scott from the University of Melbourne, and Dr David de Vaus from Latrobe University, on approximately 800 men and 800 women, has again confirmed the accuracy of claims from other both-sex surveys that rates of violence between heterosexual couples are approximately equal, but interestingly, that men appeared to suffer more physical injuries.

    From an anecdotal perspective I can confirm the countless studies around the world (over 200 worldwide now) that are reaching the same conclusions. The data coming out time and time again says men and women are suffering at the hands of the other in equal proportions. Some studies suggest women are more violent but I would not suggest this. I am suggesting that the symmetry of numbers can push one gender over the 50 percent line or the other gender.

    The thing is that our brains don’t quite know what to do with this information. It is ‘out of the ordinary’, unprepared-for, and so our brains start free-wheeling while we try and figure out what our emotional response should be. Our emotional response is not a measure of what really is in reality, it’s an effect of what we have been taught to believe. To augment this further:

    From Wik: “A 32-nation study revealed that more than 51% of men and 52% of women felt that there were times when it was appropriate for a wife to slap her husband. By comparison, only 26% of men and 21% of women felt that there were times when it was appropriate for a husband to slap his wife.”

    I didn’t believe it at first, sometimes I still struggle with the very notion of it, but I just cannot ignore what the studies tell us when we look closely.

    Erin Pizzey, the founder of the fist woman’s shelter in England in 1971, was astounded to discover that more women than men were the primary initiators of IPV. Read her book if you will, “Prone to Violence”. She says this:

    “Those of us working in the field of domestic violence are confronted daily by the difficult task of working with women in problematical families. In my work with family violence, I have come to recognize that there are women involved in emotionally and/or physically violent relationships who express and enact disturbance beyond the expected (and acceptable) scope of distress. Such individuals, spurred on by deep feelings of vengefulness, vindictiveness, and animosity, behave in a manner that is singularly destructive; destructive to themselves as well as to some or all of the other family members, making an already bad family situation worse. These women I have found it useful to describe as “family terrorists.”
    In my experience, men also are capable of behaving as family terrorists but male violence tends to be more physical and explosive. We have had thousands of international studies about male violence but there is very little about why or how. [1]

    Also Christian Hoff Summors, a feminist, has brought ire upon herself from the feminist community by stating that the feminist methodology for data collection is deeply flawed and the desire to maintain known and uncomfortable untruths is virulent, rampart and an ingrained toxin in their ranks. The organisation S.A.V.E have some more information about this remarkable woman. [2]

    Regarding false information we have been led to believe (myself very much in the past) [3] where it says in part: “…between 20 and 35 percent of women seeking medical care in emergency rooms in America are there because of domestic violence.” Studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, indicate that the figure is closer to 1 percent.”

    I can attest to the fact that working as an orderly and a wards-man in medical casualty departments the patients coming in reflected very accurately what I have said here. Partner assault of incident was a fifty fifty deal. I am saying this as someone who worked there for many years for many shifts. Fifty fifty – and I was astounded by this. Interestingly, I also noted that time and time again that the worst results of violence from the opposite sex was that initiated by women. Women were more ready to pick up a weapon where the man is more likely to use his hands. Don’t believe me, just ask anyone in a casualty department and see what they have to say.

    We are flooded with erroneous information and it has been for so long that it is never questioned and when it is questioned we sometimes find recluse in the ‘comfort’ of finding answers to information we do not know how to process. In other words, MRA’s are haters, misogynistic, mean, violent, right wing and so on. I am an MRA and I am none of these. I adore women, I do not like feminism. Feminism is an ideology and women are free thinking humans like the rest of us.

    You say this and I have to address it:
    “My point is, if you weren’t misogynistic, you wouldn’t have a hate campaign you would have an educational campaign. You focus a lot on women when you’re standing for a men’s issue. Why? My answer would be, because you are misogynistic and therefore sexist.”

    With respect, you are confusing the discomfort you are feeling from the posters with what is considered the poor actions of another. I argue that when someone wants to call to the attention of others that there is a real problem out there regarding the dismissive ways men are treated, (in this case the untruths peddled by the media regarding IPV) then that person is in the right no matter how unpopular their message or opinion.

    Please note also, you mention the imbalance of focus on ‘blame’ as it being directed at women and how this is unnecessary. You are quite frankly very wrong about that and here’s why.

    How is it possible to address a dreadful situation regarding popular untruths when that very issue’s untruths concern both genders ? Namely, if many of the untruths are “facts” about women and IPV then those very same “untruths” absolutely must focus on women. To not do so to mitigate against the charge of a hater and a sexist would be negligent, irresponsible and immature.

    I hope this reply has helped as it might have for me in my days before I delved into this issue much deeper.

    [1] http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1997/7-dec97/pizzey07.html
    [2] http://www.saveservices.org/2011/02/christina-hoff-sommers-on-dv-myths/
    [3] http://chronicle.com/article/Persistent-Myths-in-Feminis/46965/

    • Please note:

      The comments towards the end of my comment are for another.

      As this post was to go on another site, I omitted to remove those confusing portions regarding the quoting of another.

      The body of my write is for this site none the less.

      Thank you.

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