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January 26, 2005

Comments

joe

"And in my work with men of all ages, I call them to account for their actions, their words, and their very thoughts."

nice post, but would it have been so hard to simply insert "women and" prior to men.

John

Not me. You are quite right, and I agree with you absolutely. (Is that scary for you? Perhaps if you wish to pacify the tribe (your allies, that is) I should have kept my mouth shut!)

susan

I agree with you, and add my voice to Joe's above. What you are teaching young men about respect, need be (and is, I'm sure) taught to young women as well. Therein lies the equality of the sexes.

Hugo

Oh, joe and Susan, I do agree that both men and women need to learn these lessons.

But I'm also a great believer that the most effective mentoring is same-sex. Men should make their primary task to hold men accountable, women women. If we are always calling the other sex to account, it becomes too easy to start to play the blame game. When we focus our energies on transforming our own gender, we do our best work.

craichead

"I agree with you, and add my voice to Joe's above. What you are teaching young men about respect, need be (and is, I'm sure) taught to young women as well. Therein lies the equality of the sexes."

I think it used to be, but I'm not so sure it is anymore to be honest.

Take something like violence. Growing up I had a sister six years younger and a brother 1 year older. My brother and I were always taught that it's wrong to raise your hand to a girl, but she was never taught the same, nor was she taught to respect our restraint. She'd often try to goad us into retaliating. My sister and I were always close despite this and I still get a little weapy when she recounts how I was the one who taught her to tie her shoes.

And I think it's the same with many cultural messages. As a man, if I were to pick a fight with a guy twice my size, no one would be surprised if I got my butt kicked. But if a woman were to attack me, the expectation is for me to either flee or stand and take it. That's because I'm restrained by cultural conditioning -- and believe me, I've got restraint.

If you look at a lot of movies today you'll see women committing acts of violence against men who stand there and take it --or are rendered unable to fight back. And this is usually a portrayal of either comedy or a woman's power. But the fact of the matter is, she's figuratively striking someone who's got his arms held behind his back.

That's not teaching respect, it's teaching a disrespect for the restraint that most men have.

Anne

Hugo I feel so honored that my quote has made your post. However, you completely misunderstand me. I in NO WAY think that "sexually irresponsible male behavior is excusable in light of women's behavior".
Nothing could be further from the truth.

I actually agree with most of what you have said. (What decent human wouldn't.)

But... I do still hold women who participate in the prostitution and pornography business responsible for hampering the progress of women.

And men can "take what they can get from women without marrying them" only if women let them.

Hugo

I appreciate the clarification, Anne. I'm clear in my opposition to porn and prostitution. My suggestion is that as with most vices, we accomplish more when we reduce "demand" than when we attack "supply." (E.G., I favor arresting johns, but not prostitutes.)

van

Hugo,

I'm new to your blog. After reading the above, there are alot of things you and I agree on (except I am of a more libertarian bent fiscally but socially similar to you). It is hard to "cubby" hole people.

I think the whole "save the males" movement is a backlash to a perception of males being shown as idiot bumblers, who without a quick thinking female, would fall on his face everytime. Some men feel there is a trend to make men disposable. I'm not sure that I buy that, but it does seem ok to poke fun at men but not women. If someone uses stereotypes against women, there is a huge backlash. Yet, turn on any media outlet and one sees/hears how men are dumb as rocks.

I think everyone should strive towards the middle. Have women experienced great injustice? Yes. Have men experienced great injustice? Yes. There is enough anecdotal evidence to prove any point one wants. Unfortunately, the extremes get most of the playing time. Men and women are put here to compliment each other. Men and women need each other. I know many men and women will not agree.

zuzu

Van, you do realize that most sitcom writers -- the ones I'm assuming you're talking about, since the bumbling father and wise mother is quite a staple -- are male?

We could also ask why women on these shows rarely get to be funny.

craichead

Point taken Zuzu and I think it's also important to note that they aren't much more than glorified advertisers.

What I wonder is, how does making men look like fools help to sell stuff? There's something there and it's worth looking into.

Related to that, one of my pet peeves is parenting magazines. We get one for free called "Parents" -- I think we got it from the hospital when our daughter was born.

Thing is, if you look at that one and most others there's no content aimed towards fathers -- I mean maybe one page. Now this I can understand since women tend to consume magazines more than men. But one thing that's funny is that the photography doesn't even prtray men. I've taken to counting. In any given issue -- with regard to content -- there will be something like 30 photos depicting women with children and may two depicting men with children. I've even received some that had NO pictues of men!

So my question is, does this mean that the consumers of these magazines -- women -- somehow prefer to NOT see men portrayed as equals in raising children?

My experience leads me to believe that it does.

van

Zuzu,

I cede your point. I had forgotten about that. But, could these writers be a little left of middle of the road politically? Could these writers believe that traditional male roles are evil? Could these possibly liberal (socially) writers think the target audience (female) really believes what they see? Just because the writers may be mostly male does not make it right. In this country perception is reality. If someone says a lie often enough, it becomes truth.

van

Craichead,

I think that many women do think men are capable of loving much less raising children. The bond formed during pregnancy somehow makes them the end all be all as regard to the health and well-being of the child. I know these magazines you are talking about. I quit reading them when everything was geared towards women. All the pronouns used were in the feminine form. There was no reason for me to read it.

Besides, the children raised by parents from a book seem to be the children that have not "socialized" properly :).

I am being slightly middle of the road, because each side needs to see that neither side will win. No should it.

zuzu

Well, you've just identified a gap in the market, Craic. Does research support a public of fathers clamoring for parenting magazines? You never know.

As for the portrayal of men as boobs, I blame "The Honeymooners." That show created the paradigm, and comedy writers have been busily trying to imitate it for half a century. And now it's sunk into the consciousness, just like the weird neighbor and the single career woman who makes hash of her personal life because deep down, she's rilly rilly desperate for a baby.

I'm also not happy about these stereotypes, if for no other reason than it's just lazy writing. One of the best male characters on a sitcom was Dan Conner from "Roseanne." Fully realized, not a bumbling fool, upstanding, complicated, and quite clearly in a loving and respectful relationship that had its rough spots.

craichead

Maybe it does, but what I want to know, is seeing pictures of families without men in them somehow pleasing to the women who read these magazines.

I mean, sure the content of the articles will cater to women, but why the photos? If you're showing a picture of a happy, laughing family, why not just put a guy in there too?

van

As to sexually irresponsible behavior, that is all too evident on both men and women. Today's teenage girls are much more aggressive than they were 20 years ago. Not only do they call teenage boys, but many times expect them to be more physical than the boy may want. In this country there has been a growing trend to "sexualize" adolescents and younger. Men have not changed their sexual tendencies. Men have always been that had to control ther lust. Women, traditionally, were the dike holding back the flood. Because they had the most to lose by becoming pregnant, they would reserve sex until marriage. When the sexual revolution came along with birth control, there was no longer a need to be the tempering force. Women could now give into their urges.

So now with the weakening of marriage and the sexualization of adolescents, we are grappling with the problem of teen pregnancy, single mothers, men that don't want to marry, etc. Men looking at pinups need to take responsibility for their actions. But one cannot call that any more wrong (two consenting adults) than homosexuality, abortion, etc. If other social norms are antiquated, then why not men and women looking at eacher?

Well...it's the end of my day. I've enjoyed it. I'll peak in later.

Bye

zuzu

You could ask the same question about why all the white children in ads are blond, and in any mixed-race group, the white person is in the middle.

Since the magazine is aimed at women, I'm sure the editors are appealing to the perceived wish for the readers to see themselves reflected in the copy and pictures.

thisgirl

Not only do they call teenage boys

oh no, not the phone! please, no!

Anne

"with most vices, we accomplish more when we reduce "demand" than when we attack "supply.""

If I remember my economics correctly, by reducing the demand you would in fact be shifting to a new equilibrium that would encourage lower prices... thereby making it more accessible.

If you reduce the supply, then the new equilibrium would force an increase in prices... which would hopefully make these vices less accessible.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Amanda

That's how I spend my day. First I take the pill. Then I step out of line by calling boys on the phone. Then I have the nerve to look a man in the eye when I speak to him.

Homosexuality is my fault, obviously.

Hugo Schwyzer

Moral issues don't always lend themselves to traditional economic analyses, Anne. And once you ERADICATE demand, you won't be able to give it away -- and that's my goal. I am suggesting that the most effective way to approach most vices is via reducing demand. AA, for example, works a hell of a lot better than prohibition in coping with alcohol

Above all, my point is that men must direct their energies towards their own sex first. When we have succeeded in creating an enviroment of personal, radical male accountability, then and only then will we have any moral credibility to preach to our sisters.

Anne

The goal of eradicating the demand for vices is certainly a noble one. But in the thousands of years of human history that has yet to be done.

Also, if men should direct their energies to their own sex first, then by the same argument shouldn't women? The women participating in the "vice industries" should take care of their accountability and lend support to women's moral credibility.

Hugo Schwyzer

Well, as a Christian and as a historian, I've got too much faith and have witnessed too much transformation to take for granted that men cannot, as a group, be changed.

But I've got no problem with women reaching out to women in the sex industry, offering them the resources they need to get out.  Indeed, there are many feminist organizations already doing that.  One of my favorites is here in LA, the Mary Magdalene Project.

Michelle

"Rather, I see abortion, prostitution, promiscuity and pornography as the consequence of our collective inability to honor the extraordinary worth of the individual human person."

I see many other areas where this holds true as well. Public education comes to mind.

aj

Michelle, could you please explain further your comment regarding public education.

Are you directly involved in it?

Fred Vincy

The marginalization of men in parenting magazines is also one of my pet peeves. When I read them, I usually just transpose gender assumptions and pretend it doesn't bother me, but there's no doubt that it's alienating.

It seems to me this is another example of a situation that, in Hugo's words, is "misogynistic and misandrist at the same time". The message to men is that they are of limited use or, indeed, relevance to child-rearing. The message to women is that they are solely responsible for it -- and, not incidentally, also responsible for all of the other issues these magazines address, such as whether the family has a healthy diet, whether the couple has a fulfilling sex life, etc.

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