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Posts Tagged ‘masculism’

Holy shit America, how much defending do you need?

– You know, men can (and should) be something other than knights or beasts.

– If you’re going to insist that people earn at least slightly less than a living wage, why not give everyone a hundred bucks an hour? Huh? Satirez!!

– Sometimes skeptics just ought to knock it off when someone has faith. It can be a beautiful thing in their lives. Who are we to say it’s wrong, with our “facts” and “reason”? Follow what you know to be true in your heart, Ezra.

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– I support men’s rights. This is not what I mean by that.

– It’s not a Cracked list, but this summary of the 7 Worst International Aid Ideas is still pretty tragically funny in places. Where it isn’t just tragic.

– Turns out Facebook aren’t too thrilled about employers demanding your passwords either. You know it has to be pretty fucked up for Facebook to be unequivocally on the right side of a privacy issue.

– Man, some white people really love to get racially offended.

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The title of this post is one of those things we tell children (generally girls), but don’t tend to apply to adults. It’s like the idea that Santa’s the one person you’re not supposed to call the cops on for spying on you while you sleep, or that ridiculous prohibition against eating yellow snow.

There may be something to it, in some sense. I’ve heard it suggested that a cognitive dissonance often emerges in young boys’ brains, from finding themselves intrigued by girls but simultaneously knowing that their role as a boy requires them not to associate with those icky cooties-ridden creatures. This then leads them to harshly or aggressively shun and reject females who encroach and threaten their masculine identity.

I don’t remember where I’ve heard this being described, and I’m not going to research it because I’m not that interested and I’m sure I already sound like a pretentious dick from recounting it. But it seems like that some types of bullying in young boys does indeed translate to something like “I like you and I don’t know how to communicate that in a healthy way”.

So I was interested by this post, which asks just what we’re teaching our children of either gender by making excuses for it.

Because there comes a point where excuses are exactly what they are, and the behaviours that come naturally to children need a more deliberate response than to be shrugged at and indulged.

We can do this without ever demonising the children themselves, or assuming there’s any innate badness or wickedness to them because they behave in a way that seems unkind to us. But I don’t think there’s much difference between being old enough to hurt someone with your behaviour, and being old enough to learn better, if you have someone smart to teach you.

It’s not always going to be an easy thing for kids to learn. We start learning gender roles early, and many of us had friends growing up who made it very clear what was and wasn’t an acceptable way for our gender to behave. (Some of us still have friends who haven’t grown out of the habit and continue to reinforce the traditional stereotypes.) It can be hard to resist that kind of pressure, which is why this kid was so awesome, and if social acceptance is important to us then the easiest thing to do is sometimes going to be one that hurts other people.

But we’re supposed to be grown-ups. We don’t need to be complacent when we see children getting stuck with these identities. We owe them better than that. We owe them the chance to learn to avoid behaving in ways that hurt people and perpetuate damaging gender stereotypes, before they become adults who are already too familiar with the way things are to ever change.

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I blame Twitter for this.

There was a brief spate of laughter at the idea of men’s rights the other day. @Carachan1 quipped:

“For ‘men’s rights’, please turn to the page that describes our current & past governmental policies”

This was in a reply message to Tracy King, who later replied to somebody else’s point: “Men already have all the rights.”

I didn’t get involved with it at the time, but I did unhelpfully suggest to nobody in particular: “Twitter, if I have to start talking like a men’s rights activist, I’m blaming you.”

Well, shit.

I mean, come on. All the rights? Really? Do black men have all the rights that there are? Do gay men? Do men with disabilities?

I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s worth looking at exactly what people mean by “men’s rights” when they laugh at the concept. Very few people are sociopathically misandrist or misanthropic enough to insist that men don’t have rights, and Tracy King’s certainly not among them. Rather, what’s so funny is the idea that men’s rights might need to be defended.

After all, men have had all the power throughout history. We’ve made the decisions, we’ve overwhelmingly filled governments and boardrooms. We didn’t even let women vote until a couple of generations ago. Men are obviously ahead, and it’s women whose rights need to be supported and fought for.

Unfortunately, this non-starter of an idea is undermined by the simple fact that sexism/oppression/rights/privilege is not a one-dimensional sliding scale.

Pop quiz. Who’s more privileged: A rich black guy or a poor white guy? A black lesbian or a white man with no legs? Which mental condition is more in need of recognition and equality: Asperger’s or severe depression?

If you answered any of those questions with an actual answer, you fail. The Oppression Olympics are not helpful. In different situations, different people will find themselves at an advantage over others. It’s not necessary to collate all that data into a single ranking.

Here’s one example. Women appear to be consistently underrepresented in Hollywood, engineering, and business. Why is that? Are they generally less interested in being involved in these fields? Are they less capable? Are there social pressures based on our expectations of women which are unfairly keeping them out? I don’t know, although I suspect that last one is a significant factor. Either way, it seems like women might be facing unfair disadvantages based on their gender here, and if gender equality is something you give a shit about, these questions are worth asking.

Here’s another example. There are way more men in prison than women. Why is that? Are men generally less moral than women? Are they more innately or biologically prone to committing socially unacceptable acts? Are they just more stupid, so they get caught more often? Are there unhelpful expectations of male behaviour, which result in unjust social pressures on them to conform to a certain ideal of manly, macho masculinity? I don’t know the answer. These are difficult questions, but what I do know is that asking the questions at all is not laughable. They’re worth asking, if gender equality is something you still give a shit about.

Men are also more likely to commit suicide than women, which it’s thought may be to do with the pervasive notion that it’s not “manly” to talk about your feelings.

It’s much more socially acceptable to make jokes about men getting raped than women. Men are more likely to have trouble being taken seriously when they reported being sexually assaulted, either by other men or by women.

I’m not listing all these examples to imply that men have it “worse than” or “as bad as” women. I’m not denying or ignoring that women suffer unfairly because of sexual assault in all sorts of ways that I’m never likely to directly understand. I’m not in any way denying the virulence and abhorrence of misogyny, and the extent to which many aspects of sexism against women are casually woven into our language and society, to extremely damaging effect.

But the way some warriors against misogyny have to veer deep into misandry to make their point is profoundly inhumane and lacking in compassion. The types of social expectations and stereotypes which negatively affect men are exactly the kind of thing that feminists highlight as sexist when the victims are women. And they’re often correct to do so, but to claim that it’s entirely one-way, and men have all the rights, is ridiculous.

There definitely is a nasty segment of men’s rights activism, which has arisen as a hateful, frightened response to modern feminism, in the same way that “white pride” and “straight pride” are a reaction to minority groups demanding respect. But while many people rightly find these misogynistic extremists laughable, their disparagement too often stretches way beyond a just or tolerant remit.

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One of the ways that gender is unique, as an axis of oppression, is that it is one of the few forms that totally sucks for everyone.

 

 

This post is worth examining, as another reminder that both women’s rights and men’s rights need to be available for sensible and compassionate consideration, if we’re going to make any progress toward getting anything done for anybody.

Women tend to unfairly face a number of problems, threats, and difficulties which correlate to their gender. Insofar as feminism comprises an effort to remove such injustice, feminism is a worthwhile and important approach for anyone who cares about people.

Men tend to unfairly face a number of problems, threats, and difficulties which correlate to their gender. Insofar as masculism comprises an effort to remove such injustice, masculism is a worthwhile and important approach for anyone who cares about people.

Transgendered folk often get forgotten or neglected in this whole discussion, despite often facing a mélange of the above problems and a bunch of their own.

These things remain true, and should not be forgotten, while deciding on where your priorities lie and where to place your emphasis.

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Right, I’m finally not too lazy to write about this interesting new collaborative blog I’ve been enjoying.

The phrase “What about teh menz?” has an odd place in gender-related and feminist discussions. It refers to the way that, in the middle of a feminist conversation about something presumed to be a feminist matter, the plight of men will sometimes be injected into the discussion, often unwelcomely.

When women are talking about rape, for instance, it’s possibly for a man to unhelpfully steamroller in and complain that everyone’s ignoring how men can be raped too, you know. If someone new to the debate starts acting as if this omission is the gravest injustice of the whole topic, as I’ve seen happen, this can be frustrating for women trying to discuss a serious matter without being told that they’re the insensitive ones.

When Giles Coren tried to discuss the ways society can be unfair on men, the mocking cries of “What about teh menz?!” were flying thick and fast, as people of both genders characterised his views as a needy whine with no relevance to the important sexual discrimination going on in the world (i.e. that against women).

The thing is, though. There are male victims of rape and sexual assault out there. And there are gender-biased assumptions that do men no favours. There is some serious injustice against men which deserves to be addressed.

But it seems to have been historically extremely difficult to support one side of the debate without, inadvertently or deliberately, disparaging the other. There has been a tendency for men to bring up male victimhood in a way that shuts down or hijacks women’s conversations: sometimes “What about teh menz?” really can be an unwelcome whine.

At the same time, the stereotypical idea that men’s rights don’t need to be defended is one that a lot of feminists seem happy to propagate, and there’s a great deal of unfair antipathy to the very idea that there might be biases against men which should be fought.

But there’s no reason these two schools of thought should be antithetical. If we can avoid being outright dismissive of either, we might be able to actually make some worthwhile progress toward proper gender equality.

Which is why it’s good to see a blog asking: No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

Anyone who’s been paying attention will be familiar with my rambling cogitations about feminism, and whether it’s worth pursuing, or worth adapting, or just too nebulous and variable to really mean anything. I’d all but abandoned use of the word, as being too laden with baggage, but the FAQs on this blog offered an interesting clarification. Here’s a snippet:

Where feminism seeks to improve gender equality with a focus on issues affecting women, masculism seeks to improve gender equality with a focus on issues affecting men. Taken together, these two (complementary!) movements form “gender egalitarianism.”

There are ways in which women are unjustly worse off than men in our society; this deserves to be addressed by anyone who values fairness. There are ways in which men are unjustly worse off than women in our society; ditto. Highlighting the importance of one cause doesn’t need to downplay that of the other. And whether the specific thing you’re talking about seems more like a feminist or masculist issue, you should probably be thinking about it in the context of making things better for everyone.

If I’m going to be a feminist, I’m damn sure going to be a masculist too.

Actually, maybe being a humanist will cover both bases just fine.

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