But what about the men?

There are a lot of issues that are primarily focused on human males – or men, since we’re past the point in linguistic evolution where “man” is expressly synonymous with “human”.

For instance, there’s health issues like the case of raising awareness of prostate cancer. Fiddling around with our balls is usually a favoured pastime of many of us apes, but doing it methodically to check for signs of a common disease is something that needs to be raised and repeated.

Or there’s legal issues, such as the asymmetrical treatment of fathers/husbands in divorce cases, or the harsher sentencing or, in particular if you’re in the US, the use of the death penalty.

There are also social issues, like the fact that rape and sexual assault on men goes significantly under-reported due to a significantly increased stigma. In fact, the media and public largely treats it as a joke.

But we can’t discuss these issues. Why? Because women and feminism get in the way!

…at least, that’s what I would say if I was a fucking idiot.

The only people getting in the way of these issues being treated seriously are the men’s rights movement (MRM) or men’s rights “activist” (MRA) groups themselves. They hide behind these issues, pretending to use them as examples of what their cause is about, but it’s clear from any casual look that these things are always on the backburner. These real issues only come out when pushed, and used as defensive shields to shy away behind when challenged for their more insidious bullshit.

It’s a shame, really, because whenever someone wants to raise a point like “I don’t think babies should be circumcised because it’s not their choice” they run the risk of being responded to with the automatic assumption that they’re in the MRA crowd. It’s not a completely unwarranted assumption, though. Find any discussion of FGM and you’ll find de-railing cries of “what about male circumcision” as if that’s magically not entirely irrelevant.

It’s not hard to tell the difference between legitimate calls for concern in men’s legal/social/health issues and blatant covering up of misogyny and old-fashioned sexism. Look at the complaints, for instance. If the complaint focuses on men, or concerns what they should do, not do, take up, try, or change, then it’s probably legitimate. “Hey guys, check your balls for signs of stress!” Simple. There’s nothing wrong with that. Or “don’t circumcise your son’s penis, it’s a procedure that should be done with informed consent later in life” – look, this is easy! It’s not hard, right?

But, on the other hand… well, it’s already documented elsewhere quite thoroughly. Here we have people accusing women/feminists of wanting “special” rights (though, ask what specific special rights and you’ll get tumbleweeds in response) or defending outright sexist behaviour using bullshit evolutionary psychology, or people simply saying “I hope you drown in rape semen” – seriously, the guy who said that is continually praised as an MRA hero, that’s like asking Hitler what to do about antisemitism. They continually target their problems elsewhere, they project them onto others and try to claim that they’re victims in a vast conspiracy against Men, by Women. They claim to be for “true” (read “naive”) equality, but perpetuate differences in genders more than any other group on the planet (well, maybe slightly behind second-wave rad-fems on that) and create far more divides than they claim to be against. In short, MRA groups have little interest in equality, despite the amount of kicking and screaming like little brattish children to the contrary. They feel ignored and victimised, but mostly it’s a persecution complex of their own devising – they’ve just imagined it.

Yes, feminism (even intersectional, third-wave, sex-positive, modern feminism) is asymmetrical. It puts greater focus on women’s issues than men’s. But what else can it do? Society as we see it is already asymmetrical. Trying to instigate pure, naive equality doesn’t address inequality, it perpetuates the status quo. It’s basically Newton’s First Law; an object in motion won’t be changed by balanced forces, you have to overbalance the forces to get it to move. And so with any social justice issue, the force needs to be unbalanced to to create the motion. Segregation and slavery didn’t end because people gave equal time to “white” and “black” issues, it had to focus and overbalance to get somewhere.

If you attack a straw woman enough…

Women have a bum deal in society (note; the caveats to this statement are not an argument against it), and some of us aren’t blinded to the phenomena involved; they have to perform, to put out, to make themselves beautiful, to wear X, Y Z, be threatened with rape and violence. Yet because this isn’t a problem for the other 50% of the population, the men’s rights crowd see fit to dismiss it and pretend that it isn’t true. They’ve decided that they don’t like having their own misogyny shown to them so that they can correct it – that would be effort. They don’t want to apply that effort because the status quo leaves them in a nice, comfortable position, where they can slap a girl’s arse and expect to be called “cheeky” rather than “rude”, or that they expect to get sex in exchange for buying dinner, or refer to complex social issues with blatantly sexist terminology like “pussy pass“. I mean, seriously, who the hell thinks “pussy pass” is a term that should be present in a mature discussion? Hands up? Anyone? No? Good.

They like this arrangement, so no wonder they push back against despite their cries for “equality”.

This is what makes dealing with “men’s rights” so difficult. There’s a wealth of legitimate things we need to discuss, but ironically, the only people who seem to give a fuck about those things are feminists, not the men’s rights activists.

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6 thoughts on “But what about the men?

  1. Wow you are either a liar or a crank. Anyway congratulations your articles prove exactly why we need men’s rights groups to challenge bullshit female sexism against men, because you have made it very clear over the last thirty years that your not prepared to.

    Reply
  2. I’m happy I found this post (actually linked by a friend to your rant on creationism but kept reading) and you have raised some very valid points that I have yet to see. However, the last line sticks in my crawl as it does whenever I hear it mentioned anywhere else. “[…] the only people who seem to give a fuck about those things are feminists […]”

    As I’ve asked a hundred times before can you show me where? Where is the feminist making very public very loud statements about ANY of negative male gender role problems? Every supporter says they do, everyone says they care, no one can point to a single article in any reliable media outlet… even local news stations! And to their credit, neither can I.

    I appreciate the asymmetrical society in which we live and the need to over balance (this is one of the things I had not thought of before). However, there does need to be some counter-balance there. MRM/MRA’s only get more powerful as long as these issues aren’t given even a cursory mention when on a public platform. In the meantime, saying it is a feminist issue that father’s/husbands are treated with bias in family courts because it deals with the negative gender role of women staying at home comes off as stupid. It’s like saying women making less in the workforce is an MRM issue because it deals with the negative gender role that men should be the ones working.

    I, sir, point to your rant about Ken Ham and his lack of quoting/providing the Houston Atheist letter. You have been called out 🙂

    Reply
    • “Feminism” is a definition thing. It’s about as useful as the word “religious” to describe the fact that you’re Greek Orthodox rather than a Shi’ite Muslim. In many cases, people who believe in broadly feminist or progressive ideals don’t identify as such – I don’t identify, I just use it as a term to describe what I think in front of people who will understand it, but I won’t use it around others because they will leap to the wrong conclusions. When I’m saying “only feminists really give a fuck about those issues”, I’m being slightly facetious with the terminology – If I said “only egalitarians give a fuck”, no one would have noticed (which is hardly a satisfying answer, but it’s true). So it could be actually quite difficult to find “feminists” talking about “men’s issues”; I can’t practically quote everyone I know via Facebook on the subject, for instance.

      Though for a more direct answer, the most obvious is with circumcision (which is a bigger issue in the US than in Europe, and generates quite a bit of debate). For example, PZ Myers has spoken against it (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/10/19/ritualized-child-abuse-circumcision/) who is certainly as pro-feminist as you can get in the skeptical world and, unlike me, will use the f-word as an actual identity. But this is broadly similar to many men’s health issues in that it requires openness in talking about (shhh, *whisper*whisper*) sex and rude things (!). And a lot of sex-positive feminism, which advocates openness and bodily autonomy has been crusading for this.

      The real point is that 1) it’s certainly not feminism, as a thing, that’s restricting the discussion and 2) if anyone wants to step up to the plate and be vocal about it, they’ll probably have plenty of support amongst third-wave/sex-positive/intersectionalist feminists because it’s broadly in agreement. On child custody, I wasn’t actually aware that the current “overbalance” was so recent, yet with hindsight itseems patently obvious that this is the case: http://queerguesscode.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/the-truth-about-feminism-and-child-custody-discrimination/

      On a slight tangent, I recommend this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqFaiVNuy1k and this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8 on how many traditionally “feminist” issues are actually men’s issues in disguise and are certainly worth dealing with. That would certainly count as “feminists” talking about “men’s issues”. They’re just difficult to spot as such, I don’t think this sort of re-framing comes off as studpid.

      Reply
  3. On that Picard video you posted, I briefly waded in to tell some twit that yes, men do get abused by their partners sometimes. I very much hesitated to say so though, because I *really* don’t want to get lumped in with MRAs. It’s good to see a man calling them out for their BS. Thank you for such an eloquent post.

    Reply
    • Men as victims is a problem for two reasons. 1) It’s very much a minority, so just from a pure resources prospective it’s not a problem we can tackle in the same way as female victims – few people deny it happens and isn’t serious, though. 2) There is a bigger stigma about admiting to it our fighting back (women hitting men in public is likely to elicit positive response and assumptions that “he deserved it”), which means the problem is very qualitatively different.

      Reply

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