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:


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?

  1. What makes me thing women don’t get this all the time? Well, because most men haven’t taken the time to try to educate themselves in feminism, and so they don’t tend to make these types of comments (the honest ones) in everyday conversation. Rather, those who do have an interest save this type of discussion for feminist boards where they can have an in depth dialogue and maybe do some good.

    I don’t deny that a lot of trolling goes on, and so does a lot of uninformed commenting, but there are also honest contributions by men to feminist dialogues; and those shouldn’t be thrown out with the bath water.

  2. You don’t think so? Well, let me simplify things for you: You’re wrong. Period. End of subject, that’s it, that’s all. Any dude who stomps into a feminist discussion, whining, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?!” does not have good intentions, never has, never will. I’ve been in feminism online for over ten years. This is a trolling technique, nothing more, nothing less. Why is that so hard to grasp?

    Guys who have genuine contributions to make to feminist discussions don’t try and change the subject to men.

  3. Well, it is hard to grasp because I’ve seen and been a part of a lot of useful discussions, especially on feministing, where men contributing their experiences to a feminist discussion has helped find common ground,or move the discussion forward. If you don’t frequent their often, I recommend it – its a very active and current discussion board. The majority of the active commenters there are women (as you would expect on a feminist forum), yet often you will see comments by male posters being rated highly by the readership. This tells me that men’s input is sometimes valuable and appreciated.

    There are also male feminist writers like Kimmel, who talk a lot about masculinity in a feminist context. I’ve sometimes seen feminist bloggers talk about these writers as being important to addressing the kyriarchal nature of sexism, and I’ve seen them referenced in discussions to positive effect.

    So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t find, “Well, let me simplify things for you: You’re wrong. Period. End of subject, that’s it, that’s all,” a very compelling argument, when my experience tells me otherwise.

  4. Feministing is the site that recently decided to turn the case of a serial rapist named Lovelle Mixon into a case of police brutality—-despite the fact that there wasn’t any police brutality involved. They erased completely the women he raped and the fact that he executed two cops without warning, and they refused to admit that their precious educated privileged view of feminism and ‘what about teh MENZ?!’ mindset might be the teensiest tad off. ANd that’s the site you think is all feminist? Yeah, they let men say whatever the fuck they want in comments, but I got a news flash for you: when sites let men dominate discussions in the name of hit counts or being cute feminists, they’ve stopped putting feminism first.

    So, yeah, once again: You’re wrong. You’re reading crap, and isn’t Kimmel a guy who spends a lot of his time on the so-called boy crisis? Yeah, enough said. Feministing wants to be all things to all people, and that means that in the case of Lovelle Mixon, they made woobie excuses for a guy who raped Christ only knows how many women—at gunpoint—-and killed at least four people. That’s not feminism. That’s called, Oh, shit, people really hate women, I’m afraid of confronting that, let’s switch to men! It’s not like there’s a shortage of black men in jail who’ve been victims of police brutality. Why they picked this guy, fuck only knows, but Alternet sure helped when they did a story about this guy that ommited his career as a rapist and thug and focused instead on how he couldn’t get a well-paying job. A couple bloggers jumped on it without doing any fact checking and couldn’t admit they were wrong. One of them was Feministing. Congratulations.

    You basically oh so desperately to have men make their happy fuzzy ‘contributions’ to feminism when us older feminists have had it up to here with that kind of shit.

    Feminism will not make you popular. If you are, you’re doing it wrong. Feminism means rebellion against everybody’s comfortable life style and assumptions and people—especially men—resent the hell out of it. You can accept all kinds of bad faith shit but don’t expect older women who’ve seen it before to be fooled. Been there. Done that. Tee shirt. Passport stamp.

  5. I take it you are referring to this post: http://www.feministing.com/archives/014439.html

    And you know what, I agree with you. The focus should have been on his crimes, not on generalised violence by police against the black community. The context was completely screwed up there. But we’re not the only ones who think so, a lot of the readership agrees with us – just look at the comments! The phenomenon you are talking about with regard to feministing is precisely why I read the “community feministing” blog more than the main page. The forum community often seems closer to the pulse of the feminist movement than the name contributors.

    We are probably getting off the topic now, and seeing as how I don’t think we are going to agree, I suggest closing the conversation and leaving the thread for others. Agree to disagree?

  6. Well, at least there’s that. The Lovelle Mixon case and Feministing’s handling of it is a stain. Nor was there just one post or a few commenters: Amanda at Pandagon sneered at people who’d do anything to make excuses for cops or some such shit as well.

    No, it’s not possible to agree to disagree on this topic. Men need to shut up and listen when women talk about their experiences, then go form their own boards, their own discussion groups, and do their own work. Women already do more than their fair share of the world’s work, unpaid, unacknowledged, and unappreciated. Why should we do more work for men in this regard, too? If they’re too scared to confront other men, then they should at least have the guts to acknowledge how much worse it is for women to attempt the same task.

  7. Ok, fine, I’ll keep discussing this. Maybe we can find some common ground.

    Right, because the best way to fight sexism is for men and women to discuss the problem on separate boards!? That’s like suggesting that couples seeking couples counselling should each go and see a different therapist. Sure, there’ll be fewer disagreements at counselling, but when you put the two of them back together again… well, you get the picture.

    Also, I acknowledge the work of women to build feminism. I’m glad that because of their work, things have progressed to the point where we are able to have this discussion on a feminist blog. I don’t agree that it is productive to exclude the considered opinions of men from feminism though. To me that seems a little like saying, ‘men built our legal system, if women want a legal system, then they need to create their own,’ which of course is plainly ridiculous. We have the legal system we have, we all need to work within it to achieve justice. Likewise, for combating issues of social injustice surrounding gender we have feminism, we all need to work within it to end sexism.

    I agree, certainly, that men need to take on board women’s experiences. Listening is very valuable, it is most valuable when new to feminism, because as has been pointed out, women’s experiences aren’t portrayed in the popular media (or at least not nearly often enough).

    Popular media does portray men’s experiences far more often. The thing is though, it portrays a subset of men’s experiences that largely conform to what a man in the patriarchy is supposed to be. Not often enough are the experiences of those who would be allies portrayed. So, the voices of men who would engage with feminism aren’t properly heard. Even if they were, far more can be accomplished with a dialogue than from just one group, with a knowledge of the other, discussing their issues (predominantly with the other group).

  8. Sorry, I messed up the italics. Only ‘all’ was supposed to be italics.

  9. I completely agree that it is not productive for men and women to perpetually and exclusively have separate spaces for discussion. It is not productive for democrats and republicans to never talk to one another, and the polarization that happens in the media only works to degrade our public discourse.

    Yes, we definitely need spaces for building common ground and having thoughtful discussions that include multiple perspectives–both men’s experiences and women’s experiences.

    But I think that what ginmar is trying to emphasize here is that some spaces should be for women only. Women have already internalized and hear the “what about teh menz” voices in their own heads–I certainly know that I do. We already GET the men’s perspective on everything. That’s the most vocal and visible and powerful and pervasive perspective already. Women ourselves, we already know that shit. So we don’t need more of it in spaces that are meant to raise our own awarenesses about how the patriarchy oppresses us. We need spaces that are safe, places that allow us to gather strength, figure out persuasive strategies that work, and understand why what we are going through matters. And most importantly, a space available to come together and figure out what we should do about it.

    I got to this site via a link from Guernica via Feministing, so I read it as well, but I agree with ginmar that Feministing often reflects a very white, very privileged version of feminism. Lately, it seems like they have taken this kind of criticism to heart and have been trying to do a better job of it, but I also wish that the women who post for them would speak with more force and more assertion about feminism–it does seem like many of them have not fully overcome their social conditioning from the patriarchy perspective. And the comments that many of the readers leave is often smart, but it is also often hostile toward the trolls and/or men who can’t keep up, and not in a good way, not in a way that actually promotes good dialogue.

    It seems to me that teh menz and those who are new to feminism are better off not seeing the effects of our righteous indignation/anger/exhaustion. And we do that by keeping our spaces safe so that we only engage with those who aren’t on board with us when our power is strong and we have the energy to foster real dialogue.

  10. Oh PS, I actually don’t know if what ginmar meant was that we need some spaces for women only–actually ginmar might have meant that we need some spaces that are for women and open-minded, empathetic allies only. I should refrain from saying what I think other people are saying, but in this case I was trying to clarify the communication scene.

  11. Heather, that’s pretty accurate. I mean, the whole world is set up by men for men—-women need to escape that. And that’s why some men are so damned determined to invade those safe spaces and try and re-assert their privilege.

  12. This is an excellent site. Can someone tell me where the correct place to post this might be?

    When I read someone posting a WATM comment, I usually interpret it the same way I would have meant it. That is, not as a plea for sympathy or attention, but to mean ‘you’re wrong, this isn’t a gender issue’.

    Rape doesn’t come into this, as the vast majority of rapists are men, and so it clearly is a gender issue, but when I see people complaining that one sex or the other does something which, in my experience, is done by both, my initial response is to think ‘well, you’re not likely to get far solving that problem when you don’t seem to understand it – it’s not a gender problem’.

    None of the stuff I’ve read on WATM or PHMT posts seems to consider this, but rather seems to assume that the male posters are asking for the same consideration as the female sufferers, when they might just be saying ‘this isn’t a feminist issue, it’s just a human issue’.

    They can still be wrong, of course.

    • I guess you didn’t read the post about how “I’m not a feminist I’m an equalist’ is just so much muddying the issues? Because saying that it’s a human issue is pretty much what it’s all about. It’s not a human issue; it’s an issue that affects women and why in fuck are people so determined to blur the truth?

      Oh, wait, that’s right. Sexism.Duh. If people look at what men do to women, it’s ugly. Better to vague it up and be able to pretend it’s not that bad, not that directed at women.

      • I think what Grham means is some issues are obviously gendered, others are not. Sometimes an issue that is not gendered gets mistaken for one that is.

        As an example, I might say women are being hit by buses all the time. We really need to do something to make sure buses don’t hit women on the street. If Graham then comes along and says but men get hit by buses too, and I jump on him and cry what about the menz!11!!! Then we have a problem.

        If on the other hand, I recognise that men and women get hit by buses at the same rate, thanks to Graham’s comment, then I might abandon my plan to help women by freely providing them with brightly coloured vests that they can choose to wear, and instead look at training bus driver’s better.

  13. It may be a human issue to the extent that heterosexual masculine hegemony, as a system based on violent domination/subordination is bad for everybody, utlimately even those whom the system privileges.

    It seems here that no-one is denying this. But since patriarchy is a gendered issue, each sex is inevitably affected by it in a different way – and women, at the bottom of hierarchy, are perpetually the invisible victims of patriarchy as opposed to the constant visibility and ubiquity of male experiences (victims or not), which own gendered definitions have for ever defined history, wars, politics, religion, art, literature, sexuality, science, medicine, citizenship, economy, family roles, etc. Women are by essence the oppressed class – EVERYTHING that defines their feminine identity is an expression of their male-defined subordination to the male class.

    This is why it is so important that women, above all, gather together and come out from their invisibility to make their experiences heard and share them with other women. After centuries of being treated as a sub-human species, of unrecognised slavery, exploitation and oppression, denouncing those rare blogs, these tiny dots in the ocean as discriminating to the male perspective is INSULTING: it’s saying that a request to refrain from commenting certain things in a blog equals in suffering all those centuries of oppression and denial of personhood.

  14. Thanks Kandela, that’s exactly what I meant. Sorry I didn’t explain it very clearly.

    I know there will be lots of instances of men claiming that problems aren’t gendered when they really are, but I think it’s important to recognise that, whether they’re right or wrong, this is often what they mean. If a man posts a WATM comment, meaning ‘your analysis is wrong, this isn’t a gender issue’ and is met with the response ‘this is our space, find your own support group’, well, it’s going to be difficult to get from there to a constructive conversation, if that’s what you want.


    I couldn’t find the ‘equalist’ post – could you give me a link?

  15. @ginmar

    oops, sorry, I think I’ve found it now –

    I’m not saying there are no feminist issues – that would be silly. Nor am i calling for some sort of more inclusive rebranding, I’m saying that, rightly or wrongly, a lot of WATM posters are claiming that the issue under discussion isn’t a feminist issue, rather than asking for attention. As in the bus example that Kandela gave, although that’s an example where the WATM poster would be correct, and I’m not saying that they all are, just that they might be wrong about something other than what you think they’re wrong about.

  16. If you administer a blog, then of course you’re free to decide which comments to allow and which to censor. You’re free to respond to irritating comments however you want, and to allow others to do the same. I don’t deny that it would be frustrating to have to wade through dozens/hundreds of repetitive posts, all bringing up points that have been discussed before. You have no obligation to try to be “fair”, or to devote equal amounts of blog-estate to all sides. It’s your thing, and you can do what you want with it.

    Even if an issue affects all people, you can choose to exclude one group of people from the discussion if you wish. That is your right.

    For example, you could exclude men who have been raped by other men from commenting in a discussion about the psychological effects of rape on women. Or you could rebuke them, or perhaps even explain politely to them that their experiences are irrelevant.

    You are, and should be, entitled to do these things. But if you do, you lose a little bit of respect from me, and (I suspect) from all those people who put equality first when it comes to issues that affect both men and women.

    Which may not bother you in the slightest. I just happen to think that is a group of people whose respect is worth cultivating, is all.

    P.S: Thank you Kandela and also Graham for making some excellent and very fair-minded points. In particular I liked Graham’s “This isn’t a feminist issue, it’s just a human issue”, and Kandela’s illustration with the equal-opportunity-minded bus. 🙂

    • Hey, Tim, I know! Why don’t you try and bring the discussion to MEN and make them discuss it? Why in hell do men think they can stomp into a site that has explicitly said not to interrupt, not to try and change the subject, and that such things ARE THE TOPIC OF THE POST.

      Graham’s ‘this is a human issue’ is bullshit obfuscation typical of people who want to deflect attention from SEXISM which affects WOMEN and since when are men like buses? Most of the abuse done to women is at mens’ hands and men have free will and decision making capabilities. So why oh why would someone ONCE AGAIN try and change the topic to something inanimate?

      The whole point of your remark, “Even if it affects all people” is that you’re trying to ignore that THE WHOLE FUCKING PURPOSE of this site is focus attention on womens’ issues, one of which—the subject of this post, actually!—is how people try and dismiss, downplay, and downgrade the attacks men make on women.

      Fact is, it doesn’t affect all people, not in number, not in severity. For you to try and imply that women don’t bear the brunt of this is practically denialism.

      • @ginmar

        I’m not saying any particular issue is or is not a feminist issue (other than saying that rape clearly is), what I’m saying is that you seem to be misunderstanding what men mean when they post WATM responses. I’m not saying the men posting them are always, or generally, right – they may be, they probably aren’t. What I’m saying is that your analysis of what they’re trying to say is wrong. They’re not asking for inclusion or sympathy, they’re saying ‘you’ve misunderstood the nature of this problem’. If I failed to make that clear then I would have thought Kandela’s explanation was pretty straightforward.

        You also seem to have missed that the purpose of this thread is to discuss what you seem rather outraged at us discussing. And the bus example wasn’t suggested by me, either.

        When you’ve failed to understand the purpose of the thread and the meaning of the other commenters, using lots of capitalised swearing doesn’t really enhance your point. In fact it rather makes it look as though you’re more interested in shouting abuse than in understanding anything.

      • You know, it occurred to me that basically the issue with all these guys trying to horn in and change the subject to ‘people’—-meaning men, and men only—-is that the subject is just boring to them unless it affects men. They just don’t give a shit if women get hurt. No Human Involved. Women aren’t people, and so the subject is trivial—-unless it affects men. Then it’s interesting, especially if they can stick it to women in the form of focusing not on male-on-male violence but on the more rare female-on-male violence.

        These guys never do anything toward their supposed ambitions of supposedly stopping rape—–except stomp onto womens’ websites and demand that this tiny little corner of the web be dedicated to men, too. They could, if they wished, form groups, fund studies, or just…well, they could read about rape, or they could read the bloody post they’re replying to but it’s all too obvious that they don’t do any of that. In fact, while they try to give rape against women some lip service it’s always an afterthought. What they really care about are those lesser creatures—-us—-who dare to criticize men in the slightest of ways.

        And speaking of which, there’s a huge, huge, invisible taboo against criticizing men as a group. We disappear men from their own actions, so that women apparently ‘get raped’ or ‘get pregnant’ or stuff like that. Timothy McVeigh’s actions, arrest, and conviction did not result in a crackdown white men. Even defining men by their actions arouses furor in a way that rape simply does not. The interlopers simply don’t care about rape. What they care about is that women are not just shutting up and fawning over them.

      • Ginmar, There are men like that out there. I do see posts like that sometimes. But not all men are the same, and not all men post on feminist websites or in feminist discussions for those types of reasons. When reading a post by a man in such a discussion it is important to apply comprehension skills to work out which category they fall into. Otherwise, it’s like I said before, you end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  17. Th bst wy t stp th ptrrchy s f wmn stp bng ttrctd t th ptrrchs , tk p yr shvls, jn th rmy, nstd f tkng th sy jbs. Wmn lk fr sy lf, th pwr wtht wrkng fr t.
    Mn r bgnnng t trn thr bcks n y ll nw, w hv hd ngh f fmnst htrd nd sprmcy, thr nd f ptrcrchy`

  18. Try not to patronize a woman on a feminist website, right? I can’t believe you just ASSUMED that I couldn’t tell the difference.

    And frankly, I don’t give a fuck if a guy whines he has good intentions or not. HE doesn’t. Period. End of subject. If women are talking about stuff that affects women, there’s no reason for man to interrupt.

    • I’m assuming that was meant as a reply to me, since I was the last to post, and it seems to relate to what I was saying.

      I didn’t assume that you couldn’t tell the difference. Rather it appears that you have no desire to try and tell the difference. As far as you’re concerned any comment by a male is automatically out of place. You argue that a man’s intention can never be good. Well, good intentions do not a constructive comment make, sure; good intention is only one ingredient of a good comment. A constructive comment also needs to be reasoned and considerate. Men are capable of making such comments. (Some historical examples are (crudely) described here: http://community-classic.feministing.com/2010/01/feminists-are-all-manhaters-re.html)

      And, honestly, who are you to say no man ever has good intentions when it comes to the Women’s movement? The way you have put your argument is dangerously close to flamebait, and I am very close to emailing tigtog to complain.

  19. So, Graham, gee, I’m misunderstanding what men intend to do and whatever. What your’e missing is this: I don’t give a fuck, and you can take your tone arguments and shove them. If men really gave a fuck, they’d do shit aside from dumping their WATM whines on women. They don’t. Suck on that. You might think it’s valuable and important for men to dump on women but guess what? Women don’t. That’s what counts.

    Kandela, you seem to think that if a guy says something, it’s true, and that’s all there is to it. Oh, yeah, and in your unicorn world, men always tell the truth and are perfect and wonderful. Yeah.

    • ginmar, can you make your points without being abusive, please? Abuse stifles discussion.

      Also, you seem to be treating the male commentors here as if they’re off-topic. Since this post is about exploring the WATM issue, for men to argue the point is on topic for this post.

      • They’re not listening. It’s pretty simple. Oh, and if you’re going to give me a yellow card I’d appreciate one for the tone argument.

        These guys act like this a fresh new exciting argument that they’ve never heard before, even with women saying it’s as old as dirt. It’s been asked and answered. Now they’re just jerking off.

      • Someone using the tone argument, while it’s rhetorically suspect, is not in breach of the comments policy. Abuse is in breach of the comments policy.

        By all means call out the tone argument.

        By all means point out that somebody’s question has already been asked and answered, but I don’t see why anything more than the 3 words “Asked and Answered.” is necessary to make that point.

    • “Kandela, you seem to think that if a guy says something, it’s true, and that’s all there is to it. Oh, yeah, and in your unicorn world, men always tell the truth and are perfect and wonderful. Yeah.”

      I’m not saying men always do anything, or that all men are a certain way. You are the only one doing that.

  20. Here’s a conversation I would like to have. Is it possible under “feminism” and in a feminist space?

    You talk about PHMT and WATM, **when the topic is womens experience**. Got it.

    Can the topic be, men’s experience? So that, how women are hurt by this, bringing up women’s experience is off topic? That topic is great, important, fine, it’s just not the current topic?

    I would like to talk about men’s violence. All about men’s upbringing with that. And, how do I say this? I’m profeminist and I totally agree with the mainstream of feminism when the topic is how this effects women, but there is a lot to say about men’s experiences. I want to talk about how we men get to the places feminist don’t like.

    For example, violence was such a part of my childhood and all the boys around me. It’s viewed as just “boys will be boys” and totally natural but I think it was really kind of a forced training, indoctrination even traumatic at times. It starts with getting pushed to the ground at age 5 and every day gets a little more. By age 10 it’s fists, bloody noses, arranged fights after school and at age 15 it’s about knives, throwing stars, sling shots and every weapon imaginable. I feel I was absolutely forced, shamed into this. You could not as a boy avoid playing this game, or you’d be a target. I could elaborate on punishment for being a wus, a fag, a sissy but you get the subject here.

    This is no small subject. I think it has everything to do with male violence on women which I abhor. But trust me, I could go on for 100 pages at least with psychological studies, sociology, etc as documentation. Not a personal diary or a rant. A serious discussion.

    I just have all kinds of trouble doing this with feminists. It’s kind of the opposite problem. PHWT, WATWs. And I don’t want MRA’s and antifeminists in there bashing feminism because that absolutely is off topic as well.

    How do I do this?

    • Allan, I honestly wish that I had a good answer for you. In my experience, when feminists try to bring up discussions of this indoctrination of boys into the mindset that violence is not just acceptable but expected, and how much harm that does to men (as well as the consequences for the women in their lives), all it does is get us called man-haters (again).

      • I think this highlights the importance of having men as part of the regular discourse. When those people call feminists ‘man-haters’ they have this image in their heads of what a feminist is; and that image doesn’t include men. When men are a normal part of feminist discourse, that ‘man-haters’ tag looks pretty silly – it loses its power to detract.

        The nature of masculinity is of more than peripheral interest to a number of feminist issues, violence against women being the most obvious, but without men in the discussion feminism’s progress is slowed when trying to deal with those issues.

        Yes, feministing has some problems, but it is one place where male feminists are welcome to engage in discourse. Even on the main page they’ve interviewed Kimmel as part of the ‘feministing five’ segment. Kimmel is a well known male feminist who is focussed on those issues you’ve just raised Allan. When I last read feministing there were a significant minority of male posters. Because of this, from time to time, you did see discussions of this type in the community section. Allan, I recommend you try there to have that discussion. Read for a week or two first – you should always do that at a new forum – but then make a post.

  21. Man-haters??? Huh. Don’t get that. My general theme is to view men as humans not so different from women until you say expose them to constant, high levels of interpersonal violence, constant reward/punish reinforcement at traumatizing levels of overwhelm. There are some interesting new developments in traumatology that seem to explain some things. It’s not at all a hateful view.

    Thank you. I’ll check out feministing

  22. I used to not understand why women got their feathers so ruffled when men derailed a discussion. But then one day there was a thread made specifically for the issues that men face. It was not about feminism in general and there was an equivalent thread for the issues women face. And whiten the first THREE comments, a woman says “Oh yeah, those things suck, but men have no idea what women go through.” and the in comes the flood of derails. I had a specific problem that I refused to talk about until certain feminists stopped telling me to “man up”. Thankfully the original poster came along and she was nice enough to boot the guys and gals who were being disruptive.

    So yeah, men, take it from me, it IS the most annoying thing I have ever faced on a damn blog. I don’t blame feminists with what happened, because I think we forget that we’re all people, and people are amazingly defensive about things they have no reason to be defensive about. I honestly think that’s what spawns a lot of these derails that feminism discussions suffer.

    Also, from experience, I have found that you can avoid SOME derails by distinguishing rather or not the topic is about feminism or if it is about women and their issues specifically.

  23. Gee, Graham, thanks for speaking with every man out there who was unfairly blamed by women, and for showing us stupid womens how to interpret how men act. After all, why not let men make up their own alibis?

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

    What that says to me is that you aren’t interested in actual equality, that you’re only interested in fighting double standards that harm women and you could care less about men.

    You say it’s important to have a dialogue on men’s issues, I guess that’s true as long as you aren’t doing it.

  25. Hello, I am a gay male who simply wants to do the responsible thing and support the rights of women whom I feel are still victims of unfair treatment in today’s society. This passion is purely out of empathy because I don’t like to see anyone suffer unfair treatment.

    Recently I made a misguided post in a LiveJournal community asking about men’s role in feminism and mentioned that it’s difficult sometimes because one usually faces mistrust and hostility. I was hoping it would’ve been seen as a men’s issue post, since it was stand alone and not meant at all to derail a women’s issue one. I know I didn’t handle it well and took the attacks too personally, but it exploded into a great drama-fest full of accusations of WATM and PHMT. Also it was seen as meant to be a pity party, even though it wasn’t but several personal attacks later I found myself needing to defend myself…

    So this makes me wonder, is WATM and PHMT so bad that men can’t talk about them at all? I’m asking because I have no idea… it’s so confusing discussing gender issues, especially online. This site does explain a lot of things though, I am grateful for that.

    • When somebody has a broken leg, it’s rather disturbing when someone with a sprain insists that their injury is far worse and deserves treatment before the first person’s fracture.

      As for Graham, it’s so nice that you know every man who ever commented on a feminist discussion and can therefore tell women what to think of them.

    • IDunKno: Men posting issues on feminist boards can be a very touch subject. I advise reading a lot before posting, and then contributing to ongoing discussion first before posting your own. If the community you are posting with knows you, and knows that you have good intentions, sees that you are trying to engage, then they are less likely to see your post as a WATM post. Basically, help other discourses first before asking for help on your issue.

      The other thing to remember is that feminists are a cross-section of the community. On any given board you will have all types of feminist posters with a variety of levels of feminist education. Feminist boards are also a place to vent safely against the patriarchy, and women will have different levels of anger in that regard. You need to realise that even when you make a post that abides all the ‘rules’ it may not be recognised as doing so by everyone. The rules are fuzzy anyway, but my point is don’t assume that just because someone is a woman on a feminist site that they speak with the authority of all feminism. Feminism isn’t rebuking your post, individuals are, and you must look at their content to understand if their argument is valid.

      Is WATM out of control and counter-productive? Well, in some situations possibly, but that needs to be weighed against the derailing that goes on. A slightly overdone WATM reflex is inevitable, and perhaps necessary, because of the sheer volume of derailing and reflex defensive comments men make. Too much time paying heed of these leaves no time for constructive discourse on feminism. From my comments above you’ll see I argue for a milder WATM reflex, but I recognise it’s use, and when I make a post/comment I make sure I’m prepared to logically and calmly discuss it at length, even if the response I get isn’t logical or calm.

      At least, you need to be prepared to ignore those not willing to enter a discourse with you, and instead concentrate on those who are.

      • Also, reference other feminist writers, particularly female ones (as well as 101 sites) often. Couching your queries within the framework of established feminist discussion is important. It shows both that you’ve already read up on feminism, and that you respect the opinions of feminist writers. It also places your query within the context of women’s concerns.

  26. Not to mention the fact that when they do that, it seems like they’re trying to discount the experiences of women all around the world in order to make the whole thing about themselves. Kind of like how whenever there is a black hair post, you have those annoying “Hermione hair” folks talking about how their “frizzy hair is discriminated against too”, while failing to acknowledge that it is in no way the same thing as what black people experience when it comes to European beauty standards.

  27. I disagree with this entirely, you /shouldn’t/ be able to discuss rape without bringing up male victims, you /can’t/ discuss the problems of rape in a proper way without bringing up male victims, you shouldn’t be able to discuss how patriarchy hurts women without discussing how it hurts men, just like you shouldn’t talk about sexism without bringing up the fact that yes, women are sexist, or your ignoring about half the problem at hand.

    And no, men shouldn’t just ‘deal with men’s issues themselves’ they are our fellows and we should make them our allies, how could you complain about sexism from men to women when you push away men that could easily help? This is a form of sex segregation

    And no, just because ‘lots of women’ say something’s important, doesn’t mean it is, the amount of people that agree with something doesn’t make that something correct.

    “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?” Such an ‘presentation’ shouldn’t exist, again, segregation.

  28. Do you include men in discussions of ectopic pregnancy and menstruation?

    • You should include men in discussions on menstruation. Why? Because research shows women who have partners with a greater level of education about menstruation have an easier time of it during their period. They have lower levels of stress, probably as a result of their partners being more understanding. If you keep to a policy of secret women’s business though it’s a bit tough for men to get the required level of education.

      I wouldn’t ordinarily expect men to contribute much to understanding on either of those topics. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include them. And indeed, occasionally a man with the right level of education on the topic will be able to contribute something useful; many men are doctors and medical professionals trained with knowledge on these topics.

      As an interesting aside, ectopic pregnancy (in the abdomen) is the method most talked about for achieving a male pregnancy (it’s the method used in the film Junior). Of course the reason this isn’t viable is the same reason ectopic pregnancy is undesirable in women – it’s life threateningly dangerous.

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