154 Comments

FAQ: What’s wrong with saying that things happen to men, too?

Short answer: Nothing in and of itself. The problem occurs when conversations about women can’t happen on unmoderated blogs without someone showing up and saying, “but [x] happens to men, too!” (also known as a “Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too” or PHMT argument, or a “What About The Mens?” or WATM argument). When this happens, it becomes disruptive of the discussion that’s trying to happen, and has the effect (intended or otherwise) of silencing women’s voices on important issues such as rape and reproductive rights.

When and why PHMT arguments become inappropriate

No one is saying that discussions on men and masculinities shouldn’t go on. It is absolutely important to have dialogue on men’s issues, including discussions on violence done towards men. The thing is, a feminist space — unless the topic is specifically men’s issues — is not the place to have that discussion and neither are spaces (feminist or otherwise) in which the topic is specifically focused on women’s issues.

What it boils down to is this: Men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues. There are a lot of feminist allies who do this, in fact, and there also a lot of non-feminist (or anti-feminist, if you really want to go there) spaces that are welcoming to this kind of discussion. Thus, the appropriate response to a thread about women is not to post a comment on it about men, but rather to find (or make) a discussion about men.

Why PHMT arguments are so frustrating

For those new to feminist discussion the angry reaction to PHMT arguments is most likely shocking and more than a little off-putting. Especially if, to all appearances, the question was innocuous. While it would probably best if all bloggers/commenters could stick to the 3-comment rule, having to deal with the same disruptive comments — even when they are made with the best of intentions — is enough to try the patience of even the most patient of educators (which most feminist bloggers and commenters are not).

Consider this comment:

Why is it we cannot have even one single public conversation about rape without someone taking the whole thread over with cries of oh the poor mens! what about the mens?

I can easily see why a newbie reading that, especially if said newbie is a man who got into feminism by examining masculinities, could see JacylnF as hostile towards men. I can definitely see how a man reading that might feel unwelcome and that feminism might not be the movement for him.

But let’s look at it from my perspective. I have been an active participant in the feminist blogsphere since 2005, but have been a reader since the early 2000s. I have seen multiple threads on women’s issues — especially ones that are trying to talk about the impact of rape and other sexual violence against women — devolve into nothing more than justifying to MRA’s, trolls, and other (generally male) posters why the conversation should be allowed to remain about women’s experiences. It was to the point that on my (heavily moderated) blog, I still had to write a disclaimer on the top of my post on women and equality that the post wasn’t about men because practically every other comment I was getting was saying how unfair it was that I didn’t talk about men. The phenomenon is so common that I co-authored a jurisimprudence law called The “What About the Mens?” Phallusy * because I felt like you couldn’t even mention the word “rape” without attracting people demanding that you talk about men getting raped.

So I completely understand why JacylnF and other feminists have no patience for even the well intentioned WATM comments because, frankly, I don’t have patience for them either. One thing I always try to impress upon the curious non-feminists who find my blog is that it isn’t about just one comment, but rather about a long and continuing history of WATM comments preventing meaningful discussion on women’s issues. It’s also worth mentioning that, because of how many concern trolls feminist sites get, it’s really hard to tell who’s trying to argue in good faith and who isn’t.

How to avoid getting zinged for a PHMT argument

So the question remains: what can be done to prevent arguments over PHMT issues?

The first, and easiest, step is to be mindful of the venue. In order to help facilitate this, it is useful to consider questions such as the following: What conversation is happening? Will discussing a male perspective/experience add something, or will it be seen as disruptive? Is there a more appropriate place to discuss my issues?

If you feel that the present discussion topic is broad enough so as to welcome discussions from a male-based perspective, then please consider the following advice [emphasis mine]:

1) Understand that if lots of women say something is important, it is. Your opinion, as a man, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to women’s experience. [...]

2) Always consider the distinction between a class and individual members of a class. If you don’t care about this, and when conversations about class-based oppression you come up with examples of weaker members of the dominant class and more powerful members of the subordinate class, you look an awful lot like someone who doesn’t care about justice. Michael Jordan is better off than me. This indicates precisely nothing about the importance of racism in our society. [...]

3) When you tell us about the male perspective on the issue (“Men don’t intend it this way!” “Men feel weak in relation to women!”) consider that we already understand. And then consider that the reason it looks to you like the male perspective is being excluded or misunderstood is that we’re actually talking about ourselves, and the effect your actions have on us. Further, you function as part of a larger system, and your introspection about your intent doesn’t tell you much about how.

4) Try to pay attention to what’s actually being said. Before you respond to something, think hard about what their actual point is and whether you understand it. If you don’t understand it, ask questions. [...]

5) Do not draw up a bunch of hierarchies about which form of oppression is worse than which other. When you do this, you’re not responding to a claim that what we experience is the worst thing ever; you just show up and start talking about why what the women say they experience is not as big of a deal as X, Y, or Z. [...] Being a woman, no matter what demographic you come from, is an overwhelmingly structuring and determining aspect of your life. In some ways it functions differently depending on your demographic, and in other ways there are striking commonalities, but in no sense is it dominated by other inequalities. Being a woman magnifies the effects of all those inequalities.

Lastly, I would highly recommend reading up on male privilege, with special attention paid to what the role is for a privilege person entering the space of a non-privileged group (I recommend starting with these two posts: A Deeper Look at “Minority Spaces” and “Check my what?” On privilege and what we can do about it). Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Related Reading section below.

Ultimately it is possible for men to both participate in feminist discussion and have meaningful conversations with feminists about men’s issues. It just takes some understanding of the issues in order to be able to find the right times and places for those conversations to happen.

Related Reading:

Introductory:

Clarifying Concepts:

  • WATM arguments as being dismissive of women’s issues:

    6) Don’t say, “Men have problems too! Women are always doing mean things to men! [stamps foot] And we don’t complain about it as much!”

    Feminists love to talk about the ways men are ill-served by the current arrangement. But if you’re one of the guys who Have Problems Too, you sound an awful lot like you’re talking about men’s problems to say, oh well, we all have something to be upset about, I guess there’s not much reason to think anything’s that unfair. We bring up men’s problems because we want things to change. You bring them up because you’re invested in the current system, and you want to tell us we don’t have that much to complain about.

    And when you constantly bring up that “men have problems too!” you often indicate that not only do you not understand women’s experience, you don’t really understand that you don’t understand. You minimize what women experience by describing them in terms that don’t begin to be accurate. I’m not sure whether the differences are of degree or of kind (I suspect the latter), but women’s experience is different from men’s. Unless you’re one of the men who already follow these ten simple rules for respecting feminist women, you probably don’t understand the extent to which women are conditioned to see ourselves through an abstracted male gaze or the real one that’s often present. You can’t understand how women react to male judgment solely by introspection about how you react to female judgment, or judgment of any kind. Unless you’ve reached a high plane of understanding, and if you need this post, you haven’t, your comparisons are likely to illuminate the way our culture treats women’s bodies only by contrast.

  • The problem with the “Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too” arguments:

    But what bothers me about the idea of PHMT — and the way in which it is being relentlessly promoted — is that it trivializes the fact that patriarchy hurts women. Women are the victims of patriarchy, and the suffering of men occurs as a secondary consequence of their role as oppressor. The fact that patriarchy hurts women should be sufficient justification for fighting it.

    An additional component of this frustration is the fact that men are more likely to be listened to than women. Feminist arguments often aren’t taken seriously when articulated by women. We are still in the midst of a backlash, and women who advocate their liberation are termed “feminazis,” “bra burners,” and a host of other degrading terms. But when pro-feminist men articulate the same critiques of patriarchy, their position is seen as legitimate.

  • More on the “Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too” arguments:

    There have been discussions in various feminist spaces of “patriarchy hurts men too,” but this is a difficult subject to deal with seriously because it is so often used by MRAs, rape apologists and other distasteful characters to justify the status quo, attack people trying to address real wrongs, or undermine female victims of violence, especially sexual assault and rape.

  • On men taking responsibility for facilitating discussions on men’s issues:

    Whether or not a similar play addressing men’s issues is a good idea isn’t the point here. The point is that the forum and the style in which this issue was brought up was inappropriate.

    Women get so few chances in which to share our stories with each other, to find out that we aren’t alone in our experiences, and to have venues in which to publicly tell our stories. The fact that women are beginning to organize and bring these things to their communities is nothing short of amazing.

    If women can do this in the face of all the pressure from institutionalized sexism, then what’s stopping men from doing the same? Why is it women’s responsibility to make sure that men feel included by a presentation that, by its very name, is supposed to be about women reaching out to women?

  • On why it isn’t necessary for posts on violence against women to mention violence against men:

    Perhaps by not mentioning women’s violence against men every time I talk about men’s violence against men and women, I’m somehow leaving out something fundamentally important.

    I don’t think so, and here’s why: I think that these problems are big and complex enough that there is plenty of room for work on all fronts–and I think that pointing out, like TS is doing, that women do violence against men too every time somebody talks about violence men commit against men and women does less to draw attention to the violence women do to men and more to distract from the fact that men do a lot of violence against women, and against other men. So, while I think the former is important and is worthy of discussion, and I think that it should be an important goal of feminist men to deal with the violence done by parents (male and female) against boys (and girls! and people of all genders!), that doesn’t mean that I think it should always be the topic of discussion, or always the most important facet of the subject of patriarchy and violence.


* Before you get on my case about the name, please consider the venue. JournalFen is home to FandomWank, which is a community that would explode if it took itself too seriously. Case in point, other entries in the jurisimprudence community include: The Martyred Messiah Maxim, Bitchasshoe’s Law of Wanksplosion, and Law of mother—ing profanity.
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154 comments on “FAQ: What’s wrong with saying that things happen to men, too?

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  3. “Men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues.”

    Absolutely true. But in that space, PHMT is valuable …

    … no, wait a minute. PHMT may even be valuable to women, in the spaces where men and women interact: but only if, in those spaces, women and feminism-friendly men seize the issue and make it: “PHMT, therefore it is to men’s benefit to support feminism, as the only movement seriously doing anything about ‘patriarchy*.’”

    —–
    * I have some quibbles with the term “patriarchy,” in that the system-that-is actually benefits single men far more than fathers — but it’s the accepted term, so I’ll use it, but with quotations as a more gentle form of sous rature.
    —–

    This can be a useful form of dialectical judo: first get the male discutant to admit (or even state) that the current system hurts men, then point out that opposition to feminism is, therefore, counter to their (male) interests.

    Obviously, a woman-centric discussion of a critical issue such as rape or rep-rights is not the place for this, and a male who comes into such a discussion at all is (to my mind) something of an arrogant fool. There are male issues around these things, and issues that men and women can and should discuss together; but if the discussion is about women’s experience, then the best a man can do is shut up and listen – or maybe ask a VERY CAREFUL question for clarification when he doesn’t understand something.

    THAT SAID: nothing in this comment should be taken as in any way arguing with or disagreeing with anything you’ve said above … which is (after all) about women’s experience of men invading women’s discussions with these arguments. Rock on.

  4. As usual, you take the complexities involved and make things much more clear. I’ll be referring lotsa people to this post, for sure.

  5. [...] Isn’t the Patriarc…tigtog on FAQ: Isn’t the Patriarc…Official Shrub.com B… on FAQ: What’s wrong with s…Official Shrub.com B… on FAQ: What roles should men pla…FAQ: What is “… on FAQ: [...]

  6. “Men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues.”

    This is a valid point. Men ought to take responsibility for their own issues. But why then therefore is it that when men do exactly this, largely becoming MRAs and anti-feminists they are invariably branded as being insane, or mentally deficient?

    This isn’t meant to excuse bad-behavior on the part of some MRA’s, but do feminists not realize that it is blatantly unfair to ridicule all men and women who are trying to right the myriad of feminist wrongs?

    I’m sorry, but I don’t accept the argument that being an MRA is essentially a rebellion by mid or low ranking members of “the patriarchy” who are afraid of loosing their “privilege.” I don’t believe that feminism has managed to establish sufficient evidence for this thesis.

    What say you?

  7. I have to say I agree with you TimberWolf.

    Another question: are male and female rights so separate and distinct that men need to create spaces for their own rights whereas women need to have their area for women’s rights?

    If men and women are essentially the same (and on a level of humanity, we are) why is it that men and women fight separately for their issues? Aren’t men and women’s rights connected somehow? Whatever happened to human rights? Why has is become so polarized? Should it polarized? If so, what are the benefits?

  8. are male and female rights so separate and distinct that men need to create spaces for their own rights whereas women need to have their area for women’s rights?

    That depends entirely on who you ask, doesn’t it?

    Why has is become so polarized?

    Um… Again, it depends on who you ask. I would say that feminist influence on society at large is primarily responsible for the polarization. The insistence on deconstrcution of societal structure and marginalization of men invariably results in polarizaiton.

    The feminist insistance that only men are capable of sexism has precisely this effect. How can there be any common ground when there is a “crime” (sexism) unique to only one type of person, and the other type controls the definition, enforcement, and punshiment of this “crime”?

  9. Emmah,
    are male and female rights so separate and distinct that men need to create spaces for their own rights whereas women need to have their area for women’s rights?

    I`m not sure what happened to my original comment. Perhaps it went to moderation-hell if Tigtog went on holidays. No offense intended anywhere – such is the reality of the Internet.

    Administrative issues aside, I agree with you Emmah; male and female rights are complimentary, not in opposition to each other. I believe that the saying is “What`s good for the goose, is good for the gander.“

    Unfortunately, I cannot help but place the blame for the polarization you describe squarely onto feminist shoulders. Feminism`s campaign to systematically destroy and marginalize men has made any attempt to improve the situation necessarily polarized. Feminists have made the pursuit of female rights exclusive and antithetical to male rights.

    This is also in part why I don`t buy the privilege argument. I wasn`t aware that equal protection under the law was really considered `privilege.

  10. Sorry about the comments left in moderation limbo, Timberwolf. I was indeed away on hols.

    This is a valid point. Men ought to take responsibility for their own issues. But why then therefore is it that when men do exactly this, largely becoming MRAs and anti-feminists they are invariably branded as being insane, or mentally deficient?

    Wow, I think you’ve skipped quite a few steps there.

    Lots of men are taking responsibility for their own issues without becoming hostile to women who are self-organising to address women’s issues. Good for them, and feminists generally would like to see more of this.

    MRA’s and anti-feminists who are hostile to feminist solidarity are a different kettle of fish entirely. What gets feminist hackles up is the extremists in these groups who want a return to a (mythical) status quo where everything was just fine and dandy so long as women accepted that there are some spheres of the human experience they should just never expect to enter.

    A men’s movement which aims to address male dissatisfaction by placing limits on women’s choices is unjust and will never be accepted as a valid direction by feminists. Men’s movements which aim to address male dissatisfaction by shattering limits on both male and female choices can be feminist allies.

    I also reject the idea that feminism has been a “campaign to systematically destroy and marginalise men”. Feminism aims to improve the lives of both men and women by unshackling us all from the constraints of gender roles that are rigid above and beyond the simple dictates of biological reproduction. Feminists have always asked men to join us on the journey. That the backlash keeps on telling men that they will lose something by dropping traditional masculinity instead of gaining something by exploring new models of masculinity is the problem.

  11. Lots of men are taking responsibility for their own issues without becoming hostile to women who are self-organising to address women’s issues. Good for them, and feminists generally would like to see more of this.

    MRA’s and anti-feminists who are hostile to feminist solidarity are a different kettle of fish entirely. What gets feminist hackles up is the extremists in these groups who want a return to a (mythical) status quo where everything was just fine and dandy so long as women accepted that there are some spheres of the human experience they should just never expect to enter.

    Excuse me? Which is it that bothers you again? In one statement you’ve denounced hatred against an entire gender (nothing wrong there), in the second you’ve denounced the opposition to a political movement, or political philosophy. The two are entirely separate.

    I also reject the idea that feminism has been a “campaign to systematically destroy and marginalise men”.

    Fair enough. Have you however, considered the evidence? As stated, I wasn’t aware that equal protection under the law can be considered ‘male-privilege.’ Feminists are quite happy to demand that women be granted equal rights under the law, and with this principle I agree. Feminist rhetoric however, does not in this case match with feminist action, or feminist jurisprudence. Feminists seem to have done everything within their power to destroy the idea of equal protection under the law, and there’s plenty of evidence for it, though this doesn’t seem the forum to catalog it, I will do so upon request.

    Feminism aims to improve the lives of both men and women by unshackling us all from the constraints of gender roles that are rigid above and beyond the simple dictates of biological reproduction.

    Forgive the brief sarcasm and flippancy in this next statement. Yes! By substituting the role of caring, but wage-slave father for the role of rapist and misogynist.

    Who do you think should be in charge of defining and constructing masculinity? Feminists? Or men? And why?

    That the backlash keeps on telling men that they will lose something by dropping traditional masculinity instead of gaining something by exploring new models of masculinity is the problem.

    Case in point. But besides that I’m not necessarily arguing for “traditional masculinity,” if only the basis that we as a people cannot continue trying to dwell on the past; we must move forward. But a move forward on terms dictated by feminists is no such move, it seems to me and other observers to be many steps in the wrong direction.

  12. Forgive the brief sarcasm and flippancy in this next statement. Yes! By substituting the role of caring, but wage-slave father for the role of rapist and misogynist.

    Sarcasm and flippancy is right. This statement is so far from what the writer meant it has no value, except perhaps to you to blow off steam, but it doesn’t reflect well on you as an analytical thinker.

  13. Thanks, Helen – my thoughts exactly.

    Who do you think should be in charge of defining and constructing masculinity? Feminists? Or men? And why?

    Nobody is “in charge”. Defining gender roles has always been a collaborative process between males and females via their interactions with each other directly and indirectly through various social hierarchies, an intricate PushMePullYou dance that never stands still, which is why the expectations of gender roles evolve as societies change.

    But when extremists offer up a construct of masculinity which is, yet again, a steaming load of essentialist claptrap, it should be obvious that feminists are not going to refrain from pointing out that the essentialist claptrap is exactly that.

  14. Addendum to my previous comment: although nobody is ultimately in charge of defining gender roles, there has been a very long tradition of men attempting to define what is and is not acceptable femininity. These definitions are largely dependent on how the socioeconomic elite’s fashions change i.e. how powerful men like to display their womenfolk in order to emphasise their own power. In the West this has for the last few centuries been an emphasis on dainty decorativeness and dutiful housekeeping and hostessing to best display a husband/father’s wealth.

    Feminists challenge traditional expectations of femininity as the essence of womanliness, especially all those “feminine” behaviours which are basically emphasising and exaggerating the disparity in physical strength between the sexes and which rate women firstly by their decorative capacity. These expectations are all about buying into the patriarchy by conforming to the traditions of hierarchical social display.

    Men and women cannot have true social equality while women continue to be expected to subsume themselves into decorative (and dependent) appendages for ambitious men, and while men who prefer more independent women are viewed as unreliable by the hierarchy (let alone women who prefer less dominant men).

    While a fully egalitarian marriage is a non-sexist ideal, obviously some people of both sexes who are naturally of a more dependent character will always gravitate to partners who are more take-charge. A non-sexist society would accept that partnerships where the woman is the decider and leader are just as valid as partnerships where men are the decider and leader, without “jokes” (aka slurs) about who wears the trousers etc.


  15. 3) When you tell us about the male perspective on the issue (“Men don’t intend it this way!” “Men feel weak in relation to women!”) consider that we already understand. And then consider that the reason it looks to you like the male perspective is being excluded or misunderstood is that we’re actually talking about ourselves, and the effect your actions have on us. Further, you function as part of a larger system, and your introspection about your intent doesn’t tell you much about how.

    I have no problem with women discussing women’s issues and talking about themelves. To me the problem starts when women start to claim that certain issues do not effect men at all. If I join a discussion about rape and make a comment that there are female rapists and male victims too then one of three replies usually happen,

    1. “That’s not what this discussion is about. Get back on topic.”

    2. “We know about that but that is not what the topic is.”

    3. “Cases like that happen so seldomly that they don’t matter. Blah blah you’re a rape apologist blah blah mysoginistic jerk blah blah men are the enemy blah blah women are never wrong blah blah all rape allegations are true blah blah.”

    I don’t see anything wrong with keeping the subject on topic (first two answers) but when that topic about how rape affects women suddenly turns into women taking cheap shots at men in general and claims that the male perspective is wrong (no evidence, just claims) I (and men in general) get offended.

  16. So, by your comments I take it that you accept at face-value the alternative role which feminists have ascribed to men?

  17. Danny:

    I don’t see anything wrong with keeping the subject on topic (first two answers) but when that topic about how rape affects women suddenly turns into women taking cheap shots at men in general and claims that the male perspective is wrong (no evidence, just claims) I (and men in general) get offended.

    If simple cheap shots against men in general is indeed what’s happening, then sure. Consider, however, that when a discussion is about the victim-blaming that occurs when women are raped, or the culture of fear surrounding rape and women, then intruding the perspective of male rape by women into that discussion often seems like that’s a cheap shot, because male victims don’t get the victim-blaming second-guessing (what the hell did he expect, out late and drunk and dressed like that? and hey, he’s probably lying anyway) and men don’t have a whole culture telling them that strange men could rape them any time and that so could men whom they trust, so if a man you trust does rape you then you must have led him on somehow and (again) what did you expect? The cultural messages about the rape of men, whether by women or by other men, are entirely different.

    That doesn’t mean that rape of men by women doesn’t happen, or that it isn’t traumatic when it does, but it doesn’t take place as part of that culture of fear and victim-blaming and second-guessing, and it’s that culture which is most often the focus of feminist discussions on rape. If your comments about the rape of men are trying to shift the focus from the rape culture that women are discussing, then you are being disruptive whether that is your intent or not, and others will respond with hostility.

    Timberwolf:

    So, by your comments I take it that you accept at face-value the alternative role which feminists have ascribed to men?

    You seem to be in a parallel universe which distorts the meaning of my words, but let’s try this:

    A masculinity which utterly rejects the possibility of valid alternative and expanding roles for men seems very limiting.

    (P.S. Alternative does not mean compulsory, you know. Just that non-traditional modes of masculinity can be considered just as valid as traditional modes by society at large.)

  18. From tigtog:

    If your comments about the rape of men are trying to shift the focus from the rape culture that women are discussing, then you are being disruptive whether that is your intent or not, and others will respond with hostility.

    Trying to keep the discussion on topic is a great thing but what I find very frustrating is when discussions of how women are affected by rape has several comments with gross general statements (and I’m about to point one out in a second) about men on the issue. I respect and understand that I have no place trying to tell women how they discuss the issue but at the same time some women seem to take these discussions as the opportunity to assume that they fully understand how all men react to the topic of rape and how it affects them (regardless of who is the rapist and who is the victim).

    I’m putting this down here for fear of it taking things off topic.


    because male victims don’t get the victim-blaming second-guessing (what the hell did he expect, out late and drunk and dressed like that

    Thats not entirely true. Most of the time when a guy talks about an unwanted sexual encounter the reaction (from men and women mind you) is usually something to the effect of, “He should be thankful that someone wanted to sleep with him,” or “How can you take advantage of a guy?” or “Guys can’t be raped.”

    The thing is women should know that their sexuality is important but is it really necessary to teach that lesson along side the notion that male sexuality is less important?

  19. Danny, it’s not that someone’s sexuality is more “important” than someone else’s–when there’s consent on both sides, there is no hierarchy.

    This is not about unfair evaluation. Not focusing on raped men doesn’t imply dismissing their suffering. But rape does happen more often to women, to the extent that the rape of men is quite rare (not a “marginal issue,” but since is not so common, why should it be unconditionally focused upon?). It’s not an issue of “importance,” then but of frequency of the crime, the difference (you do recognize that there is a difference between those kinds of rape), and the different ramifications of how it happens/ how the victims are treated.

    All this doesn’t mean that male victims of rape are unimportant, but it does mean that we don’t always have to address those cases in order to talk about rape. And because women are the vast majority of victims, when talking about rape, we don’t have to state explicitly that we’ll be talking about female victims. It’s nothing to be happy about, no reason to say we’re claiming “importance.”

  20. because male victims don’t get the victim-blaming second-guessing (what the hell did he expect, out late and drunk and dressed like that

    Thats not entirely true.

    Danny, your example of dismissive responses to the rape of men by women does not disprove my point. I didn’t claim that the rape of men is never trivialised or dismissed, what I said is that

    The cultural messages about the rape of men, whether by women or by other men, are entirely different.

    The trivialisation of the rape of men is not the same as the victim-blaming and the second-guessing that takes place in response to the rape of women. BOTH ARE BAD, (I have a special abhorrence of “jokes” about the rape of men in prison) but they are different.

  21. Danny, those reactions people have towards male victims of rape are symptoms of patriarchy.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but patriarchy hurts men too. The same system that blames women for rape also places unfair, unrealistic expectations on men’s sexuality.

  22. Januaries, I understand the difference between choosing not to focus on something and dismissing it and I’m speaking about instances where it is claimed that raped men either do not exist or there are so few they are not worthy of discussion at all. There is a big difference between, “That’s not what we’re talking about.” and “That does not happen.

    From tigtog:

    The trivialisation of the rape of men is not the same as the victim-blaming and the second-guessing that takes place in response to the rape of women. BOTH ARE BAD, (I have a special abhorrence of “jokes” about the rape of men in prison) but they are different.

    Now we’re getting somewhere. So let me ask this. You believe that:
    1. A man rapes a woman (by drugs, force, etc…) and people say she was asking for it.
    2. A women rapes a man (by drugs, force, etc…) and people say that its not true because man cannot be taken by a women against his will?
    are both equally bad but not the same thing?

    And let me add that I am thankful that you are not just using my questions as a chance to sling insults and cheap shots at me.

  23. I had to stop and think about this for a while.

    From tigtog:

    Danny, your example of dismissive responses to the rape of men by women does not disprove my point. I didn’t claim that the rape of men is never trivialised or dismissed, what I said is that…

    Earlier you said:

    because male victims don’t get the victim-blaming second-guessing (what the hell did he expect, out late and drunk and dressed like that? and hey, he’s probably lying anyway)

    What I’m trying to say is that male victims suffer from victim blaming and second guessing (he’s hiding the fact that he cheated on his SO, “How dare he claim to be a victim of rape when there are real women out there getting raped every day.”, “He’s not much of a man if he let a woman take advantage of him.”).

    I do realize now that there is a difference between trivializing it (claims that it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t happen that often, or claims that it doesn’t happen at all). Thanks for pointing it ou(assuming I do understand now).

  24. Well, Danny the remark you quote (“he’s not much of a man if…”) is very masculinist; exactly the opposite of the thinking behind this site and feminism, for that matter. Think about it.

    Is rape less “important” or terrifying when it happens to men? No. Whoever gave you the idea that feminists think so? Saying that the vast majorityof rape victims are female and the vast majority of perpetrators are men and focusing on that does not automatically mean dismissing male victims and what they go through. It just means that they are not in the center of attention for — it seems to me — quite valid reasons. Yet it doesn’t mean that a discussion with a male focus is rendered impossible. There is no “swift succession” to shaming men for not being “masculine enough,” nothing of the kind is involved; that is just not a bias you can ascribe to feminism. If such arguments crop up, it’s from our “wonderful cultural traditions” of militarism or from plain idiocy on the part of the person uttering them.

    The whole issue with the PHMT argument is that women — and men — should not be made to apologize for focusing on women’s issues. I think that you approach the problem from the wrong angle. Give it a thought for a while.

    Again, no one is diminishing men’s issues when not focusing on them or not supplementing a discussion concerning women’s issues with a section devoted to men.

  25. Danny, to supplement what I wrote earlier–

    you say: “it is claimed that raped men either do not exist or there are so few they are not worthy of discussion at all” (emphasis mine)

    I hope that you realize that this is not uttered from a feminist perspective. Rape as a topic for consideration was pushed into silence for ages by equally ludicrous arguments, so how could feminists possibly support this kind of thinking? They can’t and they don’t.

  26. From Januaries:

    No. Whoever gave you the idea that feminists think so?

    I’ve gotten this impression from “feminists” who will respond to man asking a question by calling him a rape apologist, misogyinst, and any other nasty thing under the sun from not just blindly agreeing with them.

    The reason I say “feminists” is because the ones that give such harsh responses (but will then cry foul when someone does it to them) may be considered extreme feminists or perhaps not even feminists at all (this part does confuse since there seems to be different definitions for feminist).


    Again, no one is diminishing men’s issues when not focusing on them or not supplementing a discussion concerning women’s issues with a section devoted to men.

    I’m with you on that. It’s fine if the discussion doesn’t go that way (or even if someone comments with, “That’s not the subject. Stay on topic.). I also agree that no apologizes necessary from either side (or sides if depending on the subject).


    I hope that you realize that this is not uttered from a feminist perspective.

    If that is not being uttered from a feminists prespective then I suppose this does go hand in hand with those that hide their man hating ways under the cover of feminism.

  27. Danny, most feminists are *very* frustrated that NON-feminist writers, speakers, etc. have cloaked their opinions in feminist language while advocating un-feminist policies or attitudes.
    It makes it difficult for people who aren’t familiar with feminism to know what it’s really all about.

    And TimberWolf, some of the SAHMs I know are the most feminist women around. There is no conflict. The problem is the COMPULSORY work that’s thrust upon women but not men.

    Feminism DOES free both men and women from restrictive, narrow gender roles. It says that women AND men can work outside the home; women AND men can be stay-at-home parents. Do you have a problem with the expansion of opportunities for all people?

  28. What bothers me however, is that the alternative which feminists have ascribed to men is hardly an acceptable alternative.

    You keep talking about some monolithic “alternative” as if we should know exactly what you mean. Some specifics might come in handy if we’re going to have a meaningful debate.

    Perhaps it is not the whole of feminists who believe this, and that’s all very nice, but it is not these feminists who are choosing how men are treated under the law, and therefore the point is moot.

    Which feminists are choosing how men are treated under the law? Which laws? Again, you are making general statements without going into specifics. I think I have a vague idea of where you’re heading, but it would be rude to pre-empt you.

    Sarah has already addressed the SAHM issue. It’s a perfectly valid choice, an admirable and enviable choice even, as long as it’s not the only choice offered.

    However, it would be remiss of feminists not to point out that dropping out of the workskills market entirely might not be the most rational long-term choice for a woman to make, given the divorce rates.

  29. You still have made no specific points about “the field of law”, so that debate languishes.

    As to blaming feminism rather than the Chicago School ideology of economic rationalism for the squeezing of the middle classes – preposterous.

    The single-income family has only ever been a white-collar employee phenomenon, except for a brief period in the post-war boom years of the fifties and early sixties, where a skilled blue-collar worker could also comfortably provide for a family on a single income. Prior to the war working class women worked as seamstresses, laundresses, cleaners, maids, shop attendants and occasionally clerical assistants to help make their family’s ends meet. This long predates any successes of feminism.

    The loss of the financial security of the middle classes from the post-war boom years is due to a variety of socioeconomic factors, all of which are the result of following Friedman’s monetarist ideology of cutting tax rates for the rich and cutting social services for the majority, and which have shifted income distribution of economic growth from the bottom 90% of society to the top 10% over the last few decades. It is that economic squeeze which makes providing a middle class lifestyle require two incomes now instead of one, not some voodoo vibes from feminism.

    Be happy that feminism means that your wife has received the education to earn a white-collar income rather than a pink-collar one. Your joint income would be much worse off otherwise.

  30. Perhaps it is not the whole of feminists who believe this, and that’s all very nice, but it is not these feminists who are choosing how men are treated under the law, and therefore the point is moot.

    Where do you live that there is a feminist majority in parliament, may I ask? (And are they taking non-productive immigrants?)

    What feminist considers a stay-at-home mother a full woman?

    If you’d like to read some writing of this kind, the blog Tigtog and I inhabit, and our blogroll, is one not-unreasonable place to start.

  31. TimberWolf and Danny–it seems to me that you learned about feminism via sources that twist its claims precisely in order to project a completely false image of what it is about.

    Please go to the theory itself instead of relying on hearsay. I find that those who vehemently oppose feminism have rarely read any feminist texts. They tend to quote people who misquote the original sources on purpose and believe that they’re dealing with the real thing.

    Feminism is about equality of the sexes, NOT about female rule.

    Those who CHOOSE to be homemakers should be respected for their CHOICE, only… can we really talk about CHOICE in today’s society, when it is still the woman who is expected to stay at home?
    Feminist opposition to the housewife is not opposition of choice or someone’s enjoyment of the role but an opposition to the
    lie that it’s a “natural role” for a woman. That’s a huge difference.

    There are narrowminded people in all movements, in all walks of life. A Ph.D. is not a guarantee of brilliance, tolerance, and kindness (e.g. ‘racialist,’ i.e. racist scholars). The same with feminism: reading feminist literature and enthusiasm for the movement doesn’t automatically make you smart. Yes, there is a good chance both of you have met narrowminded feminists on your paths. But please don’t consider them automatically as representative of the movement.

    The only way to straighten this out is to do your own research into feminism. Blogs are helpful, but there’s a lot more to it. I’m sorry there’s no easy way, but there is not.

    You should also keep in mind that feminism is very diversified, i.e. that there is no “women’s army” or “thought police” that feminism’s opponents keep imagining. There is, hence, also no bible or rigid set of rules, no secret project to introduce matriarchy, because one-sex rule is totally not the objective. You’re not facing a unified mob but individuals seeking women’s self-definition and thinking towards a more humane society.

    Keep that in mind when entering a discussion, because the tone most anti-feminist or feminist-skeptical commenters take presupposes an opponent they won’t find. Interaction at feminist websites calls for cooperation not throwing accusations. This is a general remark, not prompted by your specific comments.

  32. Moderator note: PTSD trigger warning – the discussion has moved on to discussing rape and the content may be triggering for some readers.

    A brief addendum to my previous comment.

    SarahMC you asked if I knew the percentage of rapes that were reported, versus unreported. The rhetoric and the research shows that the number is around 10% or so. Regardless of the actual number, it’s supposed to be a very small number. At any rate, that number was corroborated by the 1993 Violence Against Women Survey conducted by statistics Canada. That statistic has been repeatedly touted by feminists as some sort of rallying cry, presumably to encourage more victims to come forward.

    What hasn’t been discussed, and is very blatantly overlooked, is the reason that rapes go unreported. Statistics Canada also reported that a whopping 40% (might have been higher, but 40% sounds right) or so of victims regarded the incident of sexual violence as being too minor. This strongly implies that date-rape is more prevalent than stranger rape. It also suggests to me that the sexual dialog between men and women has become hopelessly confused ala the apparent need for aforementioned sexual relationship consent forms.

    For this unfortunate reality, I lay the blame squarely on feminists. The ever expanding definition of “sexual assault” combined with anti-male rhetoric and advertising have made modern relationships into a minefield of legal danger.

    So maybe feminists really need to wake up and smell the situation.

  33. Moderator note: PTSD trigger warning – the discussion has moved on to discussing rape and the content may be triggering for some readers.

    I am not rejecting everything you say, TimberWolf; I am rejecting your focus on fale reports of rape.

    Men are not the primary victims of rape in the non-prison population. If women were imprisoned alongside men, they would certainly be raped just as often (if not more often) than the male inmates.

    Unless they are sent to jail/prison, men simply do not have to worry about rape and sexual assault the same way women do. If you stay out of jail/prison, the chances that you’ll be raped are very, very slim.

    The men involved in the Duke Lacrosse scandal were not sent to prison. They *were* innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. The legal system worked.
    Citizens are not legally required to reserve judgement about criminal defendants until they are found guilty of crimes.


  34. The only way to straighten this out is to do your own research into feminism. Blogs are helpful, but there’s a lot more to it. I’m sorry there’s no easy way, but there is not.

    You should also keep in mind that feminism is very diversified, i.e. that there is no “women’s army” or “thought police” that feminism’s opponents keep imagining. There is, hence, also no bible or rigid set of rules, no secret project to introduce matriarchy, because one-sex rule is totally not the objective. You’re not facing a unified mob but individuals seeking women’s self-definition and thinking towards a more humane society.

    I did start at an MRA site but said site led me to various feminists blogs and I started to read for myself in an effort to understand where they’re coming from and I have to say that its been a mixed bag, just like MRAs. Some feminists just want to engage in debate to raise awareness and there are some that are just spitting venom and calling it a desire for equal rights. That’s why I try to look in several places.

    And I have to say that this is one of the more open-minded sites when it comes to interacting with people that don’t blindly agree with the local brand of feminism. Thanks for the tips.

  35. I realise this is a feminist site, however I’ve been unable to find any ‘space’ where issues are dealt with from a balanced perspective. Searching for equality or gender issue will end up at either a feminist site or an MRA site. Are there any sites that attempt to align the feminist and masculinist perspective? A link to such a site would perhaps be a little more productive than a simple ‘go away’.

  36. Try making your own. Blogs are free all over.

  37. Are you the same desipis from over at feministing?

  38. ginmar, yes. I do seem to have caused a bit of unintended trouble there. I just find it odd that with all this talk of ‘equality’, that all the sites out there seem to approach the issue from a very polarized point of view.

    I certainly understand the need for a space to discuss and focus entirely on issues that effect women. I think however, that a title of ‘womens group’ or something else would be more appropriate for such a site. My view on feminism (and I think its quite widely held) is that it’s not just a “womens support group” but rather a political movement. And I think that any responsible political movement that is advocating social change should consider the full impacts of any change.

  39. Desipis, even when looking at feminism as a political movement, consider how damaging it is to such a movement when men insist that all the attention should be on them, and that their concerns are the most important ones. Consider how it feels when every woman-focused conversation is hijacked with “What about the men!?” We can’t talk about the horror of rape without someone like you coming in to remind us that men are raped too. Like we don’t know. Like we don’t immerse ourselves in this shit and work to end ALL rape. Whether women or men are victimized, men are almost always the perps. If you are interested in being an ally, how about listening to what feminists have to say rather than attempting to make your voice the loudest.
    Many, many men *think* they’re offering something new to the discussion, but we have heard it a million times before. The misconceptions about feminism, especially.

  40. You posted that stupid ‘female privilege checklist’ didn’t you? I rather doubt your sincerity.

    You don’t get to define feminism for women, I’m afraid. It’s our movement, not yours. You’re a guest in our world. We make the rules, we talk about what we want to talk about, and if you don’t like it, you’re welcome to get a blog of your own and talk about mens’ issues. How hard is that to understand?

  41. Not that I’m agreeing with Desipis or anything here, but I made a post discussing feminism on my own blog, and I was then linked to this article, the first paragraph of which says it’s a problem when it disrupts the discussion. It was on my own blog, I wasn’t disrupting anything!

  42. desipis and ginmar ,

    Can we keep spats from other blogs away from this one? It’s not bad to know that there’s some history, but lets not relive other battles here, please.

    grammarking,

    A good rule of thumb when reading a lot of feminist writing is “if it’s not about you, then it’s not about you”. Don’t take every single argument about certain trends personally. If feminists are discussing misogynistic men, and you’re not a misogynist, then it’s not about you. If feminists are discussing disruptive men, and you’re not a disruptive man, then it’s not about you. Presumably whoever directed you here thought that you were looking for a general information resource, so that’s why they sent you here.

    Now, your point got me thinking, so I’ve added a paragraph to the PLEASE READ THIS FIRST page to make “disruptive” not the first descriptor that new readers see, and also added a footnote to both that page and the “Why was I sent to this blog?” page to clarify further.

  43. …consider how damaging it is to such a movement when men insist that all the attention should be on them,

    I’m not suggesting that. Rightly or wrongly feminism has been given the authority on many gender issue, which like those male dominated governments, means they have some responsibility to the other gender. It is quite damaging to men, especially when things continue to be perpetuated within the feminist community unchallenged, such as this:

    Whether women or men are victimized, men are almost always the perps.

    While the stats do show clear trends, women who perform sexual assault are a significant problem and usually get a much lighter treatment regardless of the gender of their victim. But that is not the real problem. It’s when this is applied to other issues where it is clearly wrong that it causes a problem, such as with domestic violence. Limiting discussions with such a gender bias is perpetuating a gender based stereotype, which is something I understood they were trying to fight against.

    You don’t get to define feminism for women, I’m afraid.

    With all due respect, I don’t think you get to define it either. It was a term defined a few decades ago, and has a common definition within the public. Co-opting the support for one definition while attempting to redefine the word is somewhat irresponsible. It makes as much sense as men claiming to be able to define what misogyny means.

    How hard is that to understand?

    It’s not hard at all, but group-think, hypocrisy and an exclusionary, adversarial approach isn’t exactly a positive way to go about change.

  44. Desipis: First off, stop fighting. Tigtog already warned you once and now I’m warning you again. This is a site for discussion, not flame wars.

    Now, to address something you said:

    I realise this is a feminist site, however I’ve been unable to find any ’space’ where issues are dealt with from a balanced perspective.

    Well, “balanced perspective” is a relative word. However, I would recommend starting with the sites linked here. If you’re on livejournal, there’s also malefeminists and Patriarchy Hurts Men Too, which are communities that specifically exist to discuss issues such as masculinity and other topics pertinent to men.

  45. Desipis, do you have cites for your claims regarding the “lighter treatment” of female sexual assaulters, and for female domestic violence perpetration? There’s a lot of querying the methodology of some widely cited “studies” of which you may be unaware.

  46. Rightly or wrongly feminism has been given the authority on many gender issue, which like those male dominated governments, means they have some responsibility to the other gender.

    Given the authority by whom? Do you have evidence for this? If feminists were “given authority” by anyone, on anything, I’d be a much happier gal.

  47. tekanji: My apologies. Thanks for the links, ignoring the title I think this is somewhat what I was after.

    tigtog: I’ve been reading some of the links from the Australian Institute of Criminology on the issue. Although it’s somewhat out of date I think this</a/ report (Understanding the Sentencing of Women) is probably the best I’ve seen so far. Combined with this one it seems there that things haven’t changed in the way gender impacts on sentencing (although it’s not really conclusive either way).

    SarahMC: I don’t have any readily available sources to support this, but I think it’s evident in the role women’s groups have in the legislative process.

    Take for example VAWA, a law designed to protect those vulnerable to violence; ignoring the actual mechanics within (separate can of worms) it originally contained significant gender bias. Aside from the rather one sided title, it took over a decade (1994 to 2005) for the law to include clear instruction that it was not intended to be only used for female victims. The domestic violence law was essentially given to feminists / women’s lobbyist to write, and hence reflected their view that women were the only (important) victims.

    Again I don’t have any stats, but I think it’s readily accepted that most western governments have some form of “office of women” but lack the corresponding “office of men”. While there may be a reasonable argument for funding difference, I think the complete lack of funding is evidence of a bias towards women on gender issues.

  48. Desipis, one critique of a simplistic gender analysis of the statistics in the links you provide is that they’re ignoring a rather important question: (eta- if the data supports different outcomes for men and women charged with intimate partner violence), then is there gender bias in the asymmetry of the sentencing, or is there gender bias in the asymmetry of the violence?

    There have been many studies which indicate that violence between genders is asymmetric: both partners may exhibit violent behaviour, but men respond with violence to women resisting their control or trying to leave, while women respond with violence when they believe that their lives or their children’s lives are in danger.

    Self-defence (and defence of others) is a long-standing mitigation in cases of violence. If the evidence supports women acting in self-defence but men not, then any sentencing asymmetry is a just result.

    Anyway, that’s your third post for the day, and I’m in the middle of a new FAQ on criticisms of the Conflict Tactics Scale, so we can continue discussing this issue when that post goes up tomorrow.

  49. Desipis, the status quo is “for men.” That is why Women’s Studies groups exist on college campuses. Because humanities courses are typically taught from the viewpoint of men – white men in particular. That’s why African American studies exists as well. Because women and African Americans are otherwise excluded. Men are considered the default. There is no NEED for specific “men’s studies” departments in academia or government, because *everything* is “men’s studies.” It may not be called that, but that is how it works out.

    It’s like when white people complain “Where’s White Entertainment Television?!”
    Try ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, CMT… etc, etc. Entertainment is de facto white. Just because it’s not labeled “White Entertainment” doesn’t mean it’s not primarily representative of and geared towards white people.

  50. is there gender bias in the asymmetry of the sentencing, or is there gender bias in the asymmetry of the violence?

    Most likely both. I’d like to point out a quote from that study:
    “Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that there remains a risk that some
    magistrates will resort to their ‘common sense’ (and a gendered ‘commonsense’
    at that)…”
    Essentially, as long as we rely on humans to make judgments on others, internalized sexism will come into play. While you can mitigate this through training it will never be eliminated and the end result is men being worse off.

    Do you have any links to the studies you referred to? Perhaps a section of the resources section could be set up for respected research papers on various issues.

    the status quo is “for men.”

    I’m not disagreeing with this, but feel “by men” would be a more accurate description. Which is distinctly different to “about men”. Generally I see that the central sections of government and study are becoming increasingly open to women and their input, shifting them towards neutrality and removing opportunity for male issue dominance. When you take the shift in the central system and the addition of a separate women’s focus group the overall system starts to lean towards women. In particular with issue where there is a perceived stark gender contrast and the opinions of the women’s group will hold great weight. If you want to truly remove the male issue dominance from the central sections, then you need a place for it to go.

  51. Do you have any links to the studies you referred to? Perhaps a section of the resources section could be set up for respected research papers on various issues.

    I’ll be providing links in the upcoming FAQ on intimate partner violence studies (probably not today after all – a bit too busy to finish it off). I prefer to leave such links in the FAQs.


  52. It’s like when white people complain “Where’s White Entertainment Television?!”
    Try ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, CMT… etc, etc. Entertainment is de facto white. Just because it’s not labeled “White Entertainment” doesn’t mean it’s not primarily representative of and geared towards white people.

    And by having something geared toward a majority* when the minority* does raise up and establish themselves a drawback sometimes rears its head.

    That drawback comes in the form of suddenly it is okay for the minority* to bash the majority*. That’s when you have all these “idiot dad” ads, ads where women feel “empowered” by insulting men, or black comedians that can’t do a 15min routine without using honkey, cracker, or some other insult towards whites. And we all know that if those were “idiot mom” ads, ads of men “empowering” themselves by insulting women, or white comedians insulting blacks they would be protested until the end of time.

    Minorities* raising awareness to their situation and wanting equality is a good and noble thing but is it really necessary to show said equality by insulting the majority? I think that some minorities* are not motivated by the desire for equality but are instead motivated by the desire to “show them how it feels”.

    As for those women’s Studies and African American Studies classes courses its good to be aware of your history and where you come from but I see women and African Americans come out of those courses suddenly “enlightened” to the “fact” that all men or whites that don’t blindly agree with them are the enemy.

    *Minority/majority and all its derivatives used here are in regard to gender, race, religion, ethnicity….etc.

  53. Danny, now you’re going off on a tangential Slippery Slope argument. The justness of a course of action does not rely on possible (and highly arguable) undesirable outcomes.

    Equal representation in all aspects of society is a just outcome. If one is going to argue that some people being jerks about it is enough to forgo equal representation, then how is that not equally an argument for dismantling the status quo because some people are jerks about it?

    Your analysis of popular culture tropes is also way too simplistic. There are no successful comedians who project an unflawed personality, because perfect people are not funny. Pratfalls are funny, foolish acts and expectations are funny, things breaking are funny, people turning the tables unexpectedly are funny – sensible people moving through life with perfect coordination whose plans never go awry are not funny. There is also in most people a deep satisfaction in watching others flout conventions successfully that they would never dare to flout themselves, thus the comedians who play the most appallingly selfish and offensive characters are often given the most affection by the public.

    To address just one of your examples: the sitcom “idiot dad” is invariably the STAR OF THE SHOW, a guy with an ordinary job who somehow lands the hottest and most forgiving babe in town despite being irresponsible, selfish and immature (i.e. a child in a man’s body – the man who never had to grow up). No matter how badly he fucks up he can shoot her a winning apologetic grin and she can’t race into the bedroom fast enough. The HOT BABE wife is a permanent nagging spoilsport who never gets to have fun because she’s cleaning up the messes made by the STAR OF THE SHOW, who also gets all the best physical comedy scenes and best jokes.

    Now, compare with all the “idiot Lucy” roles played by Lucille Ball, THE STAR OF THE SHOW, and the immature and shallow character of Fran Fine in The Nanny, who was also THE STAR OF THE SHOW. These “idiot star” shows all represent comic fantasies about irresponsible and selfish ordinary working class people becoming successful and attracting trophy partners, and it is the very fact that the audience knows that such people don’t actually land in such a featherbedded lifestyle with plenty of leisure time for goofing off that is THE BASIC JOKE.

  54. P.S. If more women were the stars of primetime sitcoms, there would be more “idiot mums” on primetime sitcoms. The big laughs are in the physical comedy and goofy face-pulling, and the sensible characters don’t get to do that.

  55. P.P.S. it’s off-topic for this post, so I’m not going to allow further comments that seek to explore this particular argument in terms of race, but not all insults are equal. To equate terms like “cracker” and “honky” with racial insults deriving from the era of slavery and Jim Crow is arrogantly privileged.

    “Uppity niggers” got flogged and lynched. “Crackers” and “honkies” get mocked. There really is no comparison between the force of the two types of insults.

    The same asymmetry exists between the insults of the oppressors and the oppressed no matter which social division you examine. The oppressors’ insults contain an implicit threat steeped in long traditions of intimidation and punishment, and the oppressed’s insults contain defiance without the power to harm.

  56. Danny, I know the kind of ‘idiot dad’ advertisements you’re referring to, and it’s worth remembering their sources. Created by advertising companies and approved by the commercial entities that commissioned them in the first place. As the upper echelons of many corporations (in other words, the decision-makers) are male-dominated, it’s very unlikely these ads are generated by some all-female coalition bent on denigrating men.

    I agree ads like this are insulting to both genders. As a women I’m not keen on the ‘eye-rolling scold’, the female counterpart to ‘idiot dad’. Perhaps, in some effort to redress complaints about sexist advertising, this is what those who create such ads imagine women want to see? However the idiot guy/ super-competent wife routine buys into (or sells) stereotypes that have pretty negative outcomes for women: for example, that women are ‘naturally’ cleaner thus better at housework (which we should be solely responsible for) or those women are ‘good’ (thus we must be super-responsible moral police). If, in these scenarios, ‘idiot dad’ is incompetent, then someone must take responsibility for him and clean up after him … such is the reward for female ‘competence’ in ad/ sitcom world. Really not so ‘empowering’–for any of us, male or female.

  57. Tigtag, there are trolls that like to troll feminist blogs. Desipis or whatever his name is already proved what he is by linking to a website run by pro-porn, anti-feminist rejects from various feminist websites. I believe trolls who’ve repeatedly demonstrated bad faith—as Des does here by bitching that he gets to have a hand in defining feminism, something he’s vehemently opposed to—–should be automatically banned. They don’t add anything to the discussion. They’re just a waste of time.

  58. ginmar said [empasis mine]:

    as Des does here by bitching that

    Hey, ginmar, make your point without using gendered slurs, please. I don’t know what tigtog’s general policy for the blog is but these comments get e-mailed to me and I don’t like having such anti-woman language, especially from other feminists, sent to my inbox.

    Thanks.

  59. ginmar, there’s a balance to be run with troll patrol: not all dissenters are trolls, and without dissent there is no substantive debate. I’m sure I don’t always get it right, but I don’t think just banning any dissenters is the way to go.

    Now, until you brought his name up today, Desipis hadn’t commented for three days, and the thread had moved on. So what benefit did you bring to the discussion by going back to Desipis’ comments?

    Addendum: further discussion on troll tolerance and patrol should go on this thread – The Keeping and Feeding of Trolls (or not)

  60. Tracey:

    I agree ads like this are insulting to both genders. As a women I’m not keen on the ‘eye-rolling scold’, the female counterpart to ‘idiot dad’. Perhaps, in some effort to redress complaints about sexist advertising, this is what those who create such ads imagine women want to see? However the idiot guy/ super-competent wife routine buys into (or sells) stereotypes that have pretty negative outcomes for women: for example, that women are ‘naturally’ cleaner thus better at housework (which we should be solely responsible for) or those women are ‘good’ (thus we must be super-responsible moral police). If, in these scenarios, ‘idiot dad’ is incompetent, then someone must take responsibility for him and clean up after him … such is the reward for female ‘competence’ in ad/ sitcom world. Really not so ‘empowering’–for any of us, male or female.

    Yet there are feminists out there that will call men whiners for not liking those ads. As if its okay for women to complain about offensive ads but men should just “man up”.


    As the upper echelons of many corporations (in other words, the decision-makers) are male-dominated, it’s very unlikely these ads are generated by some all-female coalition bent on denigrating men.

    The upper echelons of those marketing agencies are going to go with the “safe target”. Men are the safe target for two reasons. One: Men as a gender for the most part are the least likely of all demographics to fight back. Two: In the eyes of women things that are offensive to men are funny, okay, and even acceptable. Well men are starting to address the first problem but there are still many women that are abiding by the second.

    tigtog:

    ginmar, there’s a balance to be run with troll patrol: not all dissenters are trolls, and without dissent there is no substantive debate. I’m sure I don’t always get it right, but I don’t think just banning any dissenters is the way to go.

    For what its worth you just scored a lot of points in my book for that remark. There are lots of sites (feminist, MRA, or whatever subject) that refuse to acknowledge the difference.

  61. Danny, is it feminist women who like ads that put men down, or just plain women? Not all women are feminists, remember.
    All the feminists I know are sick and tired of ads and entertainment that portrays men as stupid.

    Though I do know plenty of men who LOL at that stuff. Does that negate the fact that it’s offensive to you, or sexist? No.

  62. If that is the case then I’ve been looking in the wrong places for feminists.


    Danny, is it feminist women who like ads that put men down, or just plain women? Not all women are feminists, remember.

    True point. I’ll have to answer you with, both.


    Though I do know plenty of men who LOL at that stuff. Does that negate the fact that it’s offensive to you, or sexist? No.

    And I’m very glad that you actually acknowledge that sexism targets both genders.

  63. ginmar,

    Desipis or whatever his name is already proved what he is by linking to a website run by pro-porn, anti-feminist rejects from various feminist websites

    There is a significant subsection of feminism that is pro-porn, therefore linking to ‘pro-porn’ is not anti-feminist. Secondly the reason I linked to the site is its method of allowing open discussion from both sides and it’s attempted (read the about page) openness towards pro-feminist arguments. I figured it would be a useful link because its a site that allows the kind of discussions you don’t want flooding this one, not because I was endorsing the views held there. Evidently you assume that because I am critical of some specific elements of this site’s definition of feminism, that I’m some kind of anti-feminist MRA loving loon. I’m not.

    I had stopped commenting on this thread, because one of my points was going to be relocated to a new thread, and the other (the life of VAWA) was ignored.

  64. Sorry that new thread hasn’t arrived as promised, Desipis. School holidays here got in the way of me polishing the final draft. It will be up soon, now that the kids are back at school.

    Moderator note: Desipis never responded to the thread on myths that women batter their partners just as much as men

  65. After some thought, this is the main issue that’s lead to my decision that feminism is something I can’t support. Despite the many fine words written here, and in the links provided, the fact is that separating men’s issues and women’s issues only reinforces sexist categories. And that means that feminism supports the very system it claims to oppose.

    I thought it might be of interest to see one man’s reasoning of why he should walk away from your movement. I go into greater detail on my blog, if my reasoning is of interest.

  66. Arkhilokhus, I think you’re falling into the trap of either/or thinking here. This is more of a both/and blog, reflecting that feminism and oppression studies generally are more both/and worldviews.

    Rigid gender roles and expectations constrain both men and women, but differently. It makes sense to work to subvert gender limits bilaterally, but it also makes sense for women to work against particular feminine stereotypes separately, and for men to work against particular masculine stereotypes separately. It all aims for the same goal in the end.

  67. Arkhilokhus’ comment brings up another good topic: why discuss women as a class? The argument I hear all the time goes something like “feminists lump all women together, when really this should be about individual rights.” I don’t have a thought-out essay to refute this, but I do have a few relevant points. For one, the patriarchy is the one defining women and lumping us together in the sex class- women would be just fine with being “people,” but as we’re stuck in the patriarchy right now, it makes no sense to try to run around fixing individuals’ injustices without a larger framework to make sense out of why our society keeps having so many “isolated incidents” of misogyny. It’s not feminists that created “women’s issues,” it’s the patriarchy that says things like abortion and equal pay are “women’s issues” and thus special interests, rather than human rights.

  68. “feminists lump all women together, when really this should be about individual rights.”

    Yeah, this may have some validity in a feminist utopia, but we don’t live in one. (This is about Arkhilokhus comment, btw, not to you, JadeWolf.)

    There is a reason why an ideology about vindicating the rights of the oppressed end in a system with power unbalance exists. Because there is power unbalance.

    I know I may sound aggressive, but I’m just tired most of these days. We don’t have time of dealing with the privileged-class complains about HOW we aren’t talking about them, how we are just focusing on the issues of a minority and less powerful group.

    People. There is a reason why feminist exist. And no, is not because there is gender equality.

    You know what ‘men’s issues’ are called? Mainstream.

    Since this isn’t my blog I won’t say ‘deal with it or go away,’ even if I so want to sometimes.

  69. I hadn’t intended on posting again, but Noir’s response, in particular, has been clarifying for me. I was under the mistaken impression that feminism, despite the name, was oriented towards gender equality in general. I see now that, true to the name, it’s a movement advocating for women. Much more makes sense now.

    I’m grateful for all the responses.

  70. Well, Arkhilokhus, gender equality in general has to be about women rights. That’s the sad reality.

    Balance the ground.

  71. Arkilokhus, you are appearing to not argue in good faith. You are also assuming that advocating FOR women is necessarily going to involve advocating AGAINST men, instead of even considering the argument that feminism will end up freeing both sexes from distorted gender expectations as the ideology of Patriarchy is dismantled.

    You’re not thinking that Patriarchy = Men, are you? Because that would indicate that you seriously need to do a lot more reading. Patriarchy tilts the socio-economic playing field against every social grouping that isn’t part of the wealthy oligarchic dynasties, it just tilts it so that the very bottom corner contains more women than any other group.

  72. Tigtog,

    I’m not trying to make the argument that Patriarchy=men, or that women’s interests and men’s interests are necessarily opposed. But, while I agree that advocating for women is necessary, I don’t think it’s sufficient. This is a conclusion from my experience as a man struggling with issues of privilege, and the way masculine identity seems to be grounded in that privilege. I think that simply dismantling Patriarchy will leave men as a class stripped of any meaningful identity.

    In my attempt to find a workable alternate model of masculinity, since I noted that the “mainstream” and the Men’s Movement alike are largely corrupt and poisonous, I turned to feminism under the mistaken belief that it was a movement based on general gender equality. Now that I see that, at least relating to the issues I’m dealing with, I need to go elsewhere. And that’s fine, I just misunderstood the focus.

  73. Well I hope you can still be an ally as you find your own particular focus, Arkhilokus.

    I’d like to share excerpts from two comments elsewhere that seem apposite (apologies, these will make this comment rather long):

    the brand of troll that was discussed in the post is one I have come across before. You explain to them that the things they are worried about are all parts of the patriarchy, yes, even the things that are bad for men, and they look at you like you’ve grown a second head and start talking about how its lies told by the feminists to bring down western civilization. I doubt anyone is arguing that the things that happen to men are not bad, or not gender based. We are questioning why it is that feminists are expected to “prove” how we are for equality by dropping anything that is woman specific to focus on men’s problems, when if these trolls really cared about what happened to men, they would become activists for it,instead of attacking women who choose to work on issues regarding women. [link]

    and the second:

    Back in the day, I was a staff member at Truman State’s Women’s Resource Center, and we’d always have smartass guys asking “Where’s the Men’s Resource Center?”

    I liked to give them directions to the library.

    We did, once, have a group of men put up posters for an informational session about a men’s resource center, and we attended. It was mostly whining about how the university was being sexist by providing a WRC but no MRC.

    We explained that we were started by students and run by students, gave them the history of how that worked, and offered to help them start a Men’s Resource Center if they were interested, but once they realized how much work it was, they seemed to lose interest.

    Which is too bad, because there are a lot of men’s issues that need addressing. A lot of violence prevention, for example, depends on education of men.

    And put me on Noah’s list as another man made into a better man by feminism. As far as I’m concerned, feminism is a crucial part of the transition from “guy” to man. [link]

  74. Also, I especially wanted to respond to this part of your last comment.

    But, while I agree that advocating for women is necessary, I don’t think it’s sufficient. This is a conclusion from my experience as a man struggling with issues of privilege, and the way masculine identity seems to be grounded in that privilege. I think that simply dismantling Patriarchy will leave men as a class stripped of any meaningful identity.

    As you say, a lot of masculinity is tied up in issues of privilege. Being a Man is largely about being NotWoman, and expecting Woman to defer to the privileges of Man.

    I can understand that it would be scary to look at a world without masculine privilege, where Women can and will do anything that Men have traditionally kept to themselves. Freedom is always scary. Men will have the chance to explore and create a new masculinity for themselves which doesn’t depend on status within a dominance hierarchy.

    In a post-patriarchal utopia, as a thought-experiment, both men and women will not confuse their roles in biological reproduction with lifetime gender roles, and will be content to just be people. The biological roles will still be necessary of course, but they won’t be pushed to colour every other aspect of life.

    Why can’t both men and women just have an identity as persons?

    • tigtog,

      Out of curiosity what do you see as the biological reproductive roles of men and women? Is there, in your view, more to the male ‘biological’ role than the act of intercourse? Would you, for instance, consider support of a partner in the last stages of pregnancy, a biological role?

  75. Amy of Feminist.com (“Ask Amy” fame) brought up the point that the Ms. Foundation did try to start a “Take Our Sons Home Day” to go with the “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” but it never got off the ground because many people – and male parents – told them that it would “punish” their sons

  76. And this right here is usually, on any feminist blog, where I completely lose respect for the owner of said blog.

    “1) Understand that if lots of women say something is important, it is. Your opinion, as a man, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to women’s experience. [...]”

    Now, if I were to say this:

    “1) Understand that if lots of men say something is important, it is. Your opinion, as a woman, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to men’s experience. [...]”

    I’d be labeled as a “misogynist”, “sexist”, “woman hater”, blah blah blah. Women/feminists are free to wax philosophical about all sorts of things that pertain to men’s experience, but the minute one of us speaks up about the inverse, we’re wrong, and naturally they know more than us.

    Sorry, not biting.

  77. D, the difference is, we all hear men’s points of view all day long (TV, newspaper, movies), and believe me, most men don’t feel any compunction about giving their opinions about women’s experience (or men’s experience) as fact. Women don’t have anywhere near the same outlets for sharing our experience. Even TV shows featuring women prominently generally have male producers, directors, or at least advertisers, to whom they must answer if they get out of line.

  78. That doesn’t change the point made, though.

    It basically says women do not want men attempting to put our spin on your experiences. That’s all well and good, but if I were to turn that exact statement (originally given above) around (as I did in example), I’d be lambasted.

    The same feminists that do not want men to trod upon their experiences, feel no qualms about having a good stomp on ours, and acting as though they are qualified to speak on the male experience, despite not being one.

    That’s the problem. I don’t like the dichotomy, or the not-so-veiled hypocrisy.

  79. Power, not so good man. POWER.

    Learn that word. Learn how society works.

  80. D

    ‘Now, if I were to say this:

    “1) Understand that if lots of men say something is important, it is. Your opinion, as a woman, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to men’s experience. [...]”

    I’d be labeled as a “misogynist”, “sexist”, “woman hater”, blah blah blah.’

    How can you be sure of that? It doesn’t read as misogynist to me. THIS is the kind of slant that I would label ‘misogynist’ or ‘woman-hating’:

    ‘Understand that if lots of men say something is important, it is. If lots of women say something is important, it’s not.’

    In fact, this statement is more than just misogynist. For women, it’s just life.

  81. “Feminists love to talk about the ways men are ill-served by the current arrangement. But if you’re one of the guys who Have Problems Too, you sound an awful lot like you’re talking about men’s problems to say, oh well, we all have something to be upset about, I guess there’s not much reason to think anything’s that unfair. We bring up men’s problems because we want things to change. You bring them up because you’re invested in the current system, and you want to tell us we don’t have that much to complain about.”

    I’ve been recently in a “discussion” in which this same sort of issue has been the undercurrent. It doesn’t seem to matter what I say, the feminists (I don’t know that you’d want to claim them) in the group have already decided what I will say and what I must mean before I have typed a word. Here’s what I said there:

    It imports some idea that because men benefit from a paternalistic system; they like and defend it. If I say something like “I know what it’s like to fear people” it is turned around to say “Suck it up. Everyone has problems.” That’s not what I’ve said at all! I’ve said “I can identify with at least part of your experience and it’s terrible and it needs to change.” How the hell does that happen? I’ve said things need to change, but the fact that I’m a male triggers something which says “he must be lying!” Bullshit. I want the system to change. That system isn’t going to change if every feminist dismisses every male comment as self-serving or false.

    Why does this happen? How can I make a statement clearly when all of the things that I actually say are replaced by garbage?

    (BTW, this is a good site!)

  82. I remember reading on some transhumanist blog that a friend linked me (I forget who — I’m not clicking on links from him any more) some post about how men and women are alien species from each other, how since a woman’s brain is made differently in whatever way from a man’s, she will never understand how a man thinks, and vice versa.

    And I thought “That’s retarded, because who says that a man can ever understand how any man other than himself thinks?”

    He can’t. You can’t truly get in ANYBODY’S head, male or female. Genders aren’t teams working toward a common goal out of one common playbook. If you assume that because you have one woman in your group that you have adequately represented the female perspective, you’re an idiot. If you think because you heard a man talking about one subject that you can safely disregard anything a man says about another subject, you’re an idiot.

    Mike, the people who have a problem with you are the people that haven’t got it through their heads that genders aren’t teams. I could try to give you ways to reach them, but they will regard anything you say as a malicious attempt on behalf of malekind to sneak into the women’s base and sap their sentries.

  83. “Men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues.”

    - Nah, men and women need to come together to create a shared space to discuss gender issues in general. The reason feminism has become such an ineffective movement is because it only focuses on one side of the issue.

    That said, I couldn’t agree more that more men need to get involved in gender issues.

  84. I think the point here is that sometimes groups need to sort out their own issues before inviting others in.

    I want to see men marching in the streets for what they believe in. Even if I don’t agree with you. US Black men had a million man march, because the urgency is there. What about the rest of the men?

    Sometimes I see glimpses of hope, but at closer inspection it seems like a lot of folks just long for preservation of traditional gender roles. (I think traditional roles are fine for those who truly choose them, but they shouldn’t be imposed on everybody).

    It’s funny when I hear people say that the feminist movement has become ineffective. I guess the civil rights movement has become ineffective too, lol. Sometimes it’s a few steps forward, one step back. Change is slow.

    Many people within any movement are compromisers—-it sounds unflattering, but these people act as a bridge. A lot of quiet changes happen through these individuals, but they don’t make too many waves, so their influence tends to go unnoticed and their actions unchallenged.

  85. [...] Feminism FAQ 101: What’s wrong with saying that things happen to men too? [...]

  86. [...] believe is that feminist goals benefit men as well as women (I don’t want this to become a “What about the menz” post, but the patriarchy does hurt men too). In many, if not most cases, the average woman would [...]

  87. [...] defensiveness as I can right off the bat, even though I hate feeling like I’m placating the WATM-style whining (this time with Thin!). After all, it’s not like the FA community needs a [...]

  88. Being gender exclusive on a blog about gender issues is self-defeating. If you want to fix a problem that men are a part of causing, then you need to understand the motivations involved. Sure men are over-represented, but their feelings aren’t. You want legal equality, you have it. You want opportunistic equality, we’re working on it. You want personal social equality, look in a mirror, because that problem swings both ways.

    If you just want to complain and that’s what this is for, ok sure, just make that clear. But if you want to solve the problem, you can’t deny men’s feelings from the solution any more than a group of Chemists can deny the understanding of Physicists to solve a tough problem. The problem is interrelated with the feelings of both groups.

  89. I have often, very often, heard the following:

    Rape is all about power, it stems from a patriarchal need to dominate women.

    DV is all about a mans need to dominate women.

    In this instance, “wot about the men” is extremely relevant:

    Men are also raped – so these rapes cannot be about dominating women.

    Dv also sees some women kill men, not in self defence. Dv is also prevalent in gay and lesbian relationships.

    The point with this sort of “what about the men” isnt “lets talk about men” it is that there is simply something wrong with the analysis. You are in effect claiming all square numbers are even – if there are known to exist square numbers which are are odd, then there is something wrong with your argument. By the same token – not all rape is about power or patriarchy because this doesnt account for male rapes – there must, at times, be other motivations. Same with DV.

    If you claim there is a sole reason behind a certain action then the existence of those same actions where there are indisputably different motivations going on, then you need a rethink. Im sure a certain amount of rape and DV is attributable to male needs to dominate women in a patriarchal manner, but since we know there are other motivations, it becomes no longer tenable to say “all rape is about power over women”, or “DV is about controlling women”. It has been proved to be too simplistic. It isnt correct, demonstrably so.

  90. Rape is about power. It doesn’t stem from a patriarchal need to dominate women, and whoever said that was a crazy person. It’s about dominating whoever it is that you’re raping, whether man or woman.

    WATM is extremely relevant, though, and the very idea that it could not be is silly. Talking about gender issues and refusing to look at how or if they affect one of the two genders we have is like doing a scientific experiment without a control group — you don’t really know WHAT caused the thing you’re looking at, or if it’s even significant, because you’ve made no effort to isolate the cause.

    If you said it was a feminist issue that women have to wait in line at the DMV, you’d be completely wrong, because men wait in the exact same line. But you can’t determine that without looking at how men are affected by it.

  91. I am so thankful for reading this, as a woman who has had quite enough of women being howled down as “male-bashing” every time they open their mouths about rape. We are allowed to have a space to talk about male violence to women, and our responses to it, surely.

    For those interested in reading, here are some of my pown thoughts on the “what about men” issue: http://partnerrapeisrealrape.blogspot.com/2009/04/women-are-harmed-by-men-more-often-than.html

    • I read your blog post. Great job, well said.

      I used to frequent a newsgroup where a lot of MRAs hang out. One of them proposed the idea of creating “rape camps” for women (among other atrocious suggestions). Unsurprisingly, he was never flamed by any of the other guys (who claimed to be disgusted by “violent male” stereotypes). Apparently, they didn’t understand the concept of silent approval. Saying nothing is the same as saying “I approve”.

      The whole lot of them were just massive hypocrites.

  92. Does the “parallel” argument that some rape victims are male call for a different response than the skew argument that women’s interest in not being raped need to be balanced against men’s interest in consensual sex? Or is the latter common or garden douchery disguised as PHMT?

    • I have a little trouble buying that there are MRAs who genuinely don’t understand the notion of silent approval.

      I think you’re giving them too much credit. LOL

  93. this site comes off very anti men, and not pro women. theres a difference between supporting the feminist movement and providing an outlet for women, and being openly anti-men.
    by anti men i mean the clear disclaimer for men visiting the site, how WATM is adressed to men, specifically.
    honestly, I’m gay, and I work every day to forward the gay rights movement, because its important for people to understand how we live and who we are, and i Know its a fine line between being being pro-gay rights, and being anti-hetero
    if you want people to actually take you seriously you’ll have to keep explaining to the new people WHY you think what you do, WHY its important, the fault in what they’ve been taught to think. if you just exclude them they probably won’t ever give you enough of thier thought to ever take you seriously, so in effect, it defeats your own purpose.
    is it annoying? yes
    does it get old? god yes
    is it the exact same conversation with a different person, every other day.
    sure is

    so why is it important?
    becuase if you can convince someone to switch from voting against womens to rights to voting for them thats actually worth 2 votes, 1 less person voting against you, and 1 more person voting for you.

    I’m not trying to flame, and I agree with what you’re trying to do here, but no ones going to listen if they feel like you don’t value thier opinion either, trust me, its a pain to hear people talk about god and marriage to me all the time, but at least we’re talking, thats the first step.

    • Rob, do you realize that this is a site about educating people (men and women) on some of the basic issues they’ll encounter as they learn about feminism? This is just one page, and it is not anti-men at all. This is actually a kindness to men who may be making women angry and not understanding why.

      Also, the threats that women won’t have equal rights unless they cater to the whims and moods of men is falling on deaf ears. We have been catering to their whims and moods and listening to them talk about the “really important things” (as opposed to the “nonsense” women talk about) for millenia. This has not garnered women more rights.

      All we are talking about here is allowing women to talk about issues that affect them and how those issues affect them without having the conversation derailed to how the issue affects men. That does not mean it isn’t important to talk about men’s issues. It doesn’t even mean we can’t talk about those issues together. It’s just strange to me that on a site explicitly dedicated to “explaining to the new people WHY you think what you do, WHY its important, the fault in what they’ve been taught to think”, you would try to silence the conversation.

  94. I’m not saying cater to men, I’m just saying involve them instead of barring them

  95. I don’t see men being “barred”. Rob’s comments have appeared twice and not been “barred” (yet!). However, speaking as a woman, in my opinion no more of Rob’s comments should be posted, since he is clearly doing the WATM that this FAQ is about. And thus substantiating the argument, that any post about a woman’s issue will be turned into a discussion about how this affects men, often by male posters. QED.

    • Kay, I have a problem with your logic. While I don’t completely agree with rob it does seem like a thread specifically devoted to the WATM argument is the right place for him to debate the issue.
      For me, whether to introduce men’s experiences into a discussion on feminism is a matter of content and context. Often seeing how a situation is different for men/also sexist for men, provides information that helps our understanding of the issue. It helps refine arguments and isolate the areas where feminism can apply its efforts to redress the situation. The earlier posts in this thread also make good comments about why men’s experiences can be valuable at times. Chiefly, as a scientific like control, and also to be examined as part of the full kyriarchal nature of sexism.
      Of course, such comments are only helpful if they have relevant insight to offer. A lot of the time such WATM statements are made from a defensive emotive position and are derailing. The key to deciding whether to make comments about men’s experiences is to think about whether you are constructively contributing to the conversation or whether you are off topic and just being defensive.

      Note for tigtog: please ignore the conversation in moderation it’s the same I just used the wrong email address.

  96. I refer you to the original article, above:
    “No one is saying that discussions on men and masculinities shouldn’t go on. It is absolutely important to have dialogue on men’s issues, including discussions on violence done towards men. The thing is, a feminist space — unless the topic is specifically men’s issues — is not the place to have that discussion and neither are spaces (feminist or otherwise) in which the topic is specifically focused on women’s issues.

    What it boils down to is this: Men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues. “

    • Yes, thank you, I did read the original post.

      The thing is that in the right context, adding information on men’s perspective can aid women. Consider a discussion on returning to work after having children: if women are saying that they are having trouble organising their family lives and work lives such that a return to work is easy, there might be many areas that could be worked on to make a more equitable situation. Perhaps better child care is required, perhaps more part time positions, perhaps the length of maternity leave isn’t long enough or its conditions flexible enough. Where is the energy of feminist activism best directed?

      Now, if we add men’s experiences to that discussion, we find that men are frustrated that they are working long hours when they have young families; they want to see more of their family during that time, they want to help at home and learn appropriate child care at the same rate as their wives.

      What that tells us is that more part time positions would benefit both sexes. That perhaps, as now happens in Britain, parental leave should be capable of being split among partners, to allow women to ease back into work while letting men engage with their children.

      The discussions about parenting and new born children can go on for both men and women in isolation but the discussion is less effective. That is one context where the feminist context of the discussion is well suited to having both female and male voices.

      Of course, if some random male poster jumps in saying ‘yeah, well women get to have babies we get none of that,’ that doesn’t help. That’s an example of the content being inappropriate, that derails and turns the discussion into a contest about who has the better deal. If instead, someone says ‘Women want a more gradual path back to work, and men want more interaction with their children, perhaps there is a way to achieve both,’ then that is helpful.

  97. God, I am so sick of being told I need to hear some dude’s perspective on my life yet again or whatever because without it my understanding of my life and my feelings will be tragically dimmed by lacking the specialness that is him and whatever other dewdz want to wander in and tell me to shut up so they can yammer on, just like they do every place in the whole wide world.

    And, you know, I sure as fuck don’t see MRAs welcoming feminists to their websites with open arms, eager to hear the feminist vie—-Oh, yeah, wait.

    Also? Just because some dewd is gay or whatever doesn’t mean he’s an ally. It might just be a nice little excuse for him. Being a sexist jerk can be a bonding experience with other guys.

    Kandela, you’re just basically ignoring the whole premise of the piece to argue that men should be able to stomp in and tell us what they think and feel, like we haven’t heard this over and over again all day long, all our lives already.

  98. ginmar, where did I say that you should listen to any man’s perspective on your life? The example I cited I thought was pretty clear in laying out how men talking about their experiences in a feminist context can be helpful.

    My original point, rather a long way up thread, is still relevant: if you are going to make the argument that WATM is a bad argument*, then a thread specifically about that issue is the correct place to make it. i.e. It’s not derailing if the topic is what you want to discuss.

    *As I’ve already said, my position is that sometimes it is bad to talk about men and sometimes it isn’t, basically it depends.

  99. Kandela, what on earth makes you think, AGAIN, that women don’t get this every damned minute of every damned day already? And why should we have to deal with this in our own spaces?

    This thread is about the derailing TACTIC, not about giving men a space to whine that they’re not getting enough attention. It’s not a space for men to whine about women for the umpteen zillionth time.

    Your comments presume that men are using this tactic honestly and in desperation, when in fact it’s little better than glorified trolling and the men who engage in it are not womens’ allies. It’s not about helping men; it’s about shutting women up and demanding that they go back to the kitchen where they belong, even if the kitchen is virtual. WATM is the electronic form of “Get me a sandwich, bitch,”

    • Ginmar

      Men don’t post WATM comments to derail discussion, nor do they do it in an attempt to elicit information to deepen their understanding of feminism or women’s experience. They do it for the reason JayReilly describes above.

      Men discuss things in accordance with a set of rules. One of them is -

      In order to disprove a universal law all you need is one exception.

      So, when they read a universal law they don’t like, they look for an exception.

      When the universal laws being suggested are of the form ‘all men…’ or ‘no women…’, then the obvious thing to say, from the perspective of a male involved in argument, is ‘actually, there’s a man who doesn’t…’ or ‘there’s a woman who does…’

      Obviously, we do this in a crashingly clumsy and inappropriate manner, and are frequently wrong anyway, but that’s why we do it.

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