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February 08, 2005

Comments

Hugo Schwyzer

Folks, it's not unfriendly to ask that your blog comments not be hijacked by one or two folks who want to dominate a certain thread. My suggestion is that folks limit themselves to ten comments a day on my blog -- does that seem controlling, or reasonable?

NYMOM

It's interesting that you mention typhonblue, I was just lurking there the other day and thinking she's going to be the next Amber Pawlik soon or Wendy McElroy...

...women getting the 'boot' when they start getting too much attention...

NYMOM

"What next? Did feminists invent FGM?"

Well why not...Feminists are responsible for everything since Augustus through OJ Simpson, so why not them too.

NYMOM

Yami:

"lustful"

That was good...

NYMOM

"Joe suggests substituting the word "men" for the word "women" in one of Hugo's sentences so that it reads, "As long as we see men, individually or collectively, as the source of our unhappiness, we aren't yet in the process of being transformed." He then comments, "Wow."

But women have a RIGHT to be angry at men...there is such a thing as 'righteous anger'...why shouldn't we be angry at them...

It's like they are trying to deny ANY responsibility for their own bad actions either now or in our past...I wouldn't say they are responible for EVERY thing bad that has happened to women, nor would I say they are not responsible for ANY thing bad that has happened to us...

It there a middle ground here where they can accept SOME responsibility...

I mean I feel like a black person here arguing with a white one who keeps denying anything bad ever happened to me...and I'm getting angrier and angrier about it...

NYMOM

"At the risk of being immodest (yet again), history and Scripture make it abundantly clear that those who fall woefully short and repent may have as much if not more to offer than those who never fell at all."

Every single human being has 'fallen' especially those guys at "Stand Your Ground"...it's just that they've been too darn sneaky to get caught at it yet...

NYMOM

"I'm sorry, I'm not going to play a fragile princess to Hugo and Ampersand's desire to be corageous saviors, defeating the horible dragon of masculinity.

It's odd, since you haven't posted to SYG (Good lord, why discuss things with the obviously irrational? I've never seen so many adhoms in one place)--you're supposed to come running to her? And Amp did engage with her. I don't get what her beef is.

Her post mirrors the opinion of a troll on Amp's board who flung the same accusation at him--that he wanted to save women and thus patronize us. :::Rolls eyes:::"


She's used to being paid a lot of attention to since she's one of the few female posters on that board...they always pay a lot of attention to women just before they 'gut' them....errr I mean ban them from their board...

typhonblue

NYMOM sayz (in quotes):

"I mean I feel like a black person here arguing with a white one who keeps denying anything bad ever happened to me...and I'm getting angrier and angrier about it..."

Funny, I'm sure they feel the same about you.

IT

My there's a lot of anger around here. Obtester must have had a very BAAAAaaaad relationship at some point to hate women that much. Emmy seems self righteous, typhonblue seems combatively angry. Ii feel like Rodney King, can't we just manage to get along here and stop stereotyping "men" and "women" so negatively?

Our host seems to be working hard to make men and women accessible to each other. Others seem to be coming around to say how EEEEeeevil the other gender is. We need to remember that foolish behavior is not limited by gender, and the ill behavior of individuals is not representative of a whole sex. I'm sure we all see ourselves as very reasonable. Can we listen as well?

typhonblue

NYMOM says (in quotes):

"It's interesting that you mention typhonblue, I was just lurking there the other day and thinking she's going to be the next Amber Pawlik soon or Wendy McElroy..."

Goodness.

Anyway... I'm rather suspicious of people who legitimize their anger by saying the victims of their anger "deserve" it, as opposed to recognizing it as a personal failing.

But aside from that, can you take the typhon-challenge, NYMOM?

Can you name one way women are disenfrancised by western society that meets the following criteria:

1) It has to be systemic (affecting *more* then one person. Statistics good, anacdotes bad.)
2) It has to be legal. Or, when illegal, not socially acceptable.
3) It has to be socially acceptable.
4) It has to have *no* government funded agencies adressing it.
5) It can't be something that affects men *more.*
6) It can't involve one group of women's opinions about another group of women.

VJ

Hugo, You seem to be pretty popular for being such a nice guy with a pretty complicated view of life. If you could sign or dance you'd almost be marketable, right?

VJ

Umm, I'll accept the Typhonblue challenge. I won't accept her last point as I'm not certain I understand it. I still think this applies though.

For the US: No women are allowed in front line combat qualified positions in the Armed Forces. Ergo, they are held back from advancing in the military. This also affects affirmative action as they are always Less 'qualified' for ALL federal jobs as preference is given to Vets.

TB might whine and claim this is not true for ALL western societies, but very little is. Her suppositions are generally worthless and subject to her (or anyone's) ignorance of 'all society of all history' type of canards. It's not a real argument if you've tried to constrain any real debate to the type of nonsense and drivel all too typical of such sophomoric exchanges. TB must specialize in such specious 'arguments'.

typhonblue

Women can't serve in *some* combat roles, in *some* western countries.

Alright, fair enough. So, if that one thing was changed, woman would no longer be oppressed in the United States? Further since women serve in combat roles in Canada and Austrialia, those women aren't oppressed at all right?

the confessor

"My suggestion is that folks limit themselves to ten comments a day on my blog"

Well... fair enough Hugo... but I guess I might as well confess now...

I am a student of psychology who has been "testing" the crowd on your site as to how they react to conservative comments made by both men and women. You see... Ambrose, AJ, Darcy, Emmy, and one other who shall be nameless... are all ME.

It has been very interesting to see the different "reactions" my cast of fictious characters have received.

The men, AJ and Ambrose, met with very hostile reactions from your female readers. I could feel the hate coming at them just because what they said was perceived to have come from a man.

Darcy received a bit more sympathy, at least from the men... but the women didn't like her much either. It was like women thought that Darcy was betraying their sex in some way. Like "how dare" a woman stick up for a man. I found that very sad.

Emmy was just plain hated. Poor Emmy. She was even called "Self-Righteous".

I am proud to say that all of my characters received quite a bit of attention from you Hugo. You personally responded to each and every one of us. But I am pretty sure that had we agreed with you... you might have ignored us. See, nothing seems to get you more upset than someone who questions your positions.

My parting comment to all the readers would be this... try to actually listen to one another more often. Most of the very adament pro-feminists on this site don't really hear what the perceived opposition is saying. I think more often than not, the line that divides is a lot thinner than you think.

Thanks for all of your time. This has been a worthwhile experience for me.

We shall take our leave,
Ciao,
Ambrose, AJ, Darcy and Emmy

heydt

Confessor, I'm not sure your conclusions, specifically regarding Hugo's projected response to your characters if they had been agreeing with him rather than disagreeing with him, are valid. My conclusion comes from 2 points: 1) that he generally responds and continues dialogue with many of the regular posters who agree with him (ampersand, amanda, etc.) and 2) that in any kind of dialogue or debate, those that disagree with you are those that should generally be adressed... if everyone agrees with me, what kind of response are they likely to get other than "thanks, folks, you rock too!"? If, however, some people disagree with you, shouldn't the debate focus on those people? If someone challenges my statements, shouldn't I respond and back up my statements and try to sway this person to my point of view?

As for reader and commenter reactions to your characters, are those reactions unjustified? AJ and Ambrose could be very snarky and archetypically representive of the MRA movement. Their comments had a tendency to, to paraphrase you, not really respond to what the perceived opposition is saying. Perhaps Darcy was better received because she was more likely to actually respond to what the commenters were saying, and to admit mistakes when she made them. And frankly, Emmy could justifiably be described as self-righteous.

Good luck with your paper or study... I trust that this is for a paper or study, either for classwork, or perhaps a peer-reviewed journal, rather than just to annoy those with a different viewpoint than you or laud your superiority over those that you fooled so cleverly. Because we all know what psychology would say about your motivations then.

VJ

Thanks for trolling 'Confessor'. You've been wasting your time if you truly believe we either a.) believe your cover story or b.) care enough to respect you in the morning for what ever research you might claim accrues from such posts.

And TyphonBlue, like other slick but bankrupt debating tactics, changing the terms of the debate in mid stream is pretty silly and specious too. No where have I claimed that American women are 'oppressed'. That was not your question you posted here. But I did respond to your challenge, even given your half dozen(!) terms and conditions. I think you must be deluded to thinking of yourself as somehow related to W.V.O. Quine, right?

BTW: I also posted on your response to KH's post on this 'Nice guy' thread over at Brutal Woman.

typhonblue

I don't know who W.V.O Quine is.

And if you didn't claim American women are oppressed, then I don't see why you're arguing with me that they are oppressed.

You're not the first one to post the "American women aren't allowed in combat" thing. I debated weither being treated *as* disposable really was a privilage then, but now I just decided to go with it and take it to it's logical conclusion.

But, really, it's nice to know why *my* experience of being a woman is so different then the other posters on this blog. Obviously, being Canadian, I'm not oppressed, but you guys, being mostly American, *are*.

BTW, the half-dozen terms and conditions are all self-explanatory if you give it some thought.

VJ

TB, If you don't know who Quine is why not google him? And no, disenfranchised is not exactly the same as 'oppressed'. One has a quite proper legal definition, the other does not, it's a bit more broad and nebulous.

I don't know about you, but the Canadian Forces are NOT in Iraq now because they are precisely NOT 'disposable' and the Liberal government both prior to this and now NEVER thought of these lives in such a trivial fashion.

And yes, we all like to imagine our own experience as unique, but again logic seems to elude you. Easily I might add.

typhonblue

So the Canadian Government has unilaterally decided to exclude *all* of its soldiers from combat roles in Iraq because they're not "disposable"? I guess Canadian soldiers are more oppressed then American.

Aegis

This post will be rather long because this a complex issue.

Hugo, I think there may be good reasons that feminists or pro-feminist men are often accused of turning men into spineless "soft males." I prefer Bly's term "soft male" to "nice guy," because it is clear. Maybe nice guys don't always finish last, but soft males do (because they are too submissive and not confident with themselves). As someone who used to call himself a "nice guy" religiously, I mostly agree with the analysis at heartless-bitches.com, but it is still too simplistic.

The archetypes of the "nice guy" / "Sensitive New Age Guy" emerged as a response to pressure by feminism for men to be less dominant and more in touch with their feelings. Furthermore, feminism made society more aware of social power dynamics between men and women. The concept of the "male chauvinist pig" was born, which seems to have descended into the concept of the "jerk." Also, the concept of males being "patronizing" towards women was born and seen in a negative light.

Unfortunately, somehow the concept of the "nice guy" seemed to get combined with chivalrous or paternalistic attitudes, and also with some form of romantic idealism (like the belief that you should seek "the one" person to "fall in love" with). This leads to the belief that you should "respect women" because they are women. Unfortunately, you cannot truly respect someone else more than you respect yourself. Guys who try to respect women more than they respect themselves will come off as insecure or insincere. Unfortunately, feminism doesn't have a very good track record for helping guys learn self-respect and self-esteem.

The net effect of these message is that "nice guy" epitomizes everything a guy is supposed to be and everything women are supposed to want. A "nice guy" is supposed to be (a) in touch with his feelings, (b) respectful of women, (c) careful to not patronize women, (d) romantic, and (e) careful not to "hit on" women or see women as "sex objects" (and there are arguably a few more). These messages are well-intentioned in and of themselves, but as a guide to masculinity, they fail for at least three reasons:

1. These messages are very nebulous and ill-defined. What, exactly, constitutes being "nice" to someone, "patronizing" someone, or "hitting on" someone? Furthermore, even if these concepts weren't so subjective, these messages don't explain how far you should go in accomplishing them. A "nice guy" exposed to the messages I listed may think, "ok, so if women want nice guys, then if I am more nice, more emotionally expressive, more respectful of women, more careful not to patronize women or hit on them, and more romantic, then women will want me more, right?" Wrong! Let's look at these one by one:

It's possible to be too nice to someone, or nice in a way that they find smothering. More emotional expressiveness isn't always a good thing, depending on the emotions you are expressing and how you are expressing them, you may come off as confrontational on one hand, or clingy and insecure on the other hand. As for respect, truly being more respectful is always good, but if you don't respect yourself, the respect you show to others will fall flat and look like kissing up. Trying to avoid patronizing someone is always good, but obsessing over it will lead you to walk on eggshells, especially since "patronization" is so subjective (and Hugo, you do this sometimes when you obsess about not exploiting your "male privilege"). Trying not to "hit on" women is a difficult concept, since it is difficult to distinguish from flirtation, and different women like different degrees of flirtation. As for being romantic, looking for more than sex in a relationship is laudable, but a lot of the current romantic scripts have problems with them (and many women might find them cloying or smothering).

2. The second problem is that these messages, while correct, don't really tell you how to be a man. They identify a few pitfalls to avoid, but they are totally useless as a way to gain confidence, self-esteem, or self-agency. If guys were given similar instructions on how to drive, it would be something like this: "Don't speed, stop at red lights, don't hit pedestrians, and be very very careful." Unfortunately, that kind of advice (even though it is correct!) isn't actually going to teach someone how to drive, it is just going to make them paranoid (because they know what not to do, but they don't know what they should do instead).

3. These message do not teach guys how to attract women sexually. Notice: respecting women, being nice to them, etc... describes how to connect and empathize with women platonically, but it doesn't describe how to attract them sexually. Looks are not the only component of sexual attraction. Flirtation, confidence, sense of humor, charisma, and relaxation may be examples of what might attract some women sexually. Unfortunately, some guys might suppress those qualities when they go to extremes not to "hit on" women. Furthermore, those qualities require that you are comfortable with yourself (and guys who try to flirt or interact with women when they aren't comfortable with themselves may come off as weird). Perhaps this is why "nice guys" are often seen as "just friends."

If someone takes these messages as the essence of being a man, they will get themselves into trouble. Trying hard to embody these messages too far can lead them to backfire. Then those guys may assume that women don't appreciate respect, like to be patronized, and go around stomping on men who show feelings. I suspect you will find that view of women chillingly familiar, because some (but definitely not all) MRAs ascribe to it, although it is hardly limited to MRAs. Or the guy might think that if women just see him as a friend when he is romantic, he needs to "play the game" instead. In fact, I think that a lot of these attitudes emerge when the "nice guy messages" (if we can refer to such a thing) backfire. Of course, there are some women who are not looking looking for healthy relationships with men, especially younger women (and young men do this also). These women will not reward guys who, despite male socialization, manage to demonstrate emotional maturity , because they are not mature themselves. Some women might also be attracted to males that demonstrate assertive, or even dominant behavior.

For an example (but of course not a proof) of my points, check out this article from my university paper: http://stanforddaily.com/tempo?page=content&id=15629&repository=0001_article . If you want to chalk this up to the patriarchy training women to "sexualize" power differentials between men and women, then fine, but you can't change the fact that there is a subset of women like this (we just don't know how big that subset is). The author considers herself a feminist, but admits that she is attracted to dominant, powerful men even though she isn't "supposed" to be. What gives? Is she immature, insane, or brainwashed (or can we come up with a less patronizing explanation)? It's actually my pet theory that wanting a slightly dominant or submissive sexual partner isn't evidence of something wrong with you, it may simply be a component of your sexuality like sexual orientation (and it is NOT always true that men always want to be sexually dominant and women submissive, the reverse can happen also).

I agree that there are problems with the current construction of masculinity; nevertheless, these problems cannot be viewed independently of context. There are also problems with the current construction of femininity that reinforce the problems with masculinity. The problems with masculinity compound the problems with femininity which compound the problems with masculinity ad infinitum. It is a self-perpetuating death spiral that is compounded by the immaturity of youth. When people try to blame one gender alone for this situation, it's like little kids screeching "he started it!!", "no, she started it!!"

If you view masculinity as a dialectic, the Sensitive New Age Guy is the antithesis to the Male Chauvinist Pig, but synthesis hasn't happened yet for various reasons some of which I have already described. So what's happening? Now the antithesis to the Sensitive New Age Guy is developing in the Frat Boy and the Bad Boy. Both pro-feminist men and MRAs may think they have synthesized a balanced type of masculinity, but they are wrong. The pro-feminist view of masculinity is still only an antithesis, and it mostly defines masculinity in terms of what men shouldn't be. (btw, I'm reading Kimmel's "Manhood in America" right now... if it changes my mind, I will update my position) Some MRAs, insisting that men should avoid being nice, chivalrous, or accommodating towards women are doing exactly the same thing: they are defining masculinity as only the antithesis to something else.

I argue that all these antithesis definitions of masculinity will fail, because they just flip back and forth on various dichotomies such as nice / not nice, empathetic / stoic, dominant / submissive, sexually proactive / chaste, and emotionally expressive / reserved when these should really be treated as continuums. See what I'm getting at?

Are feminists or pro-feminist men responsible for the plight of the "nice guy"? Yes and no. Chivalry is probably a big player also. On the one hand, most feminist probably didn't intend (I hope) for so many men to become spineless, clingy, submissive or passive-aggressive due to its efforts to reconstruct masculinity. On the other hand, feminism was a major factor of in the existence of a cultural context that gives rise to these trends. Since feminists and pro-feminist men have had a stranglehold on discourse about gender, I think it's a bit dishonest for them to turn a blind eye to the real-world consequences of that discourse, because feminism created many of the concepts that give rise the current construction of "nice guy."

Feminism may not have intended the current conception of the "nice guy," but I hold feminism responsible at least indirectly because it has not done a good enough job of fighting that concept (heartless-bitches.com isn't enough). I don't here any major feminists going out and saying "Wait a sec, maybe all you nice guys shouldn't try so hard to put women on pedestals... sorry we gave you the impression that you should." And for some reason, I don't envision this happening any time soon.

VJ

Umm, TB in case you've not been paying attention, let's recap. The CF are IN Afghanistan, doing combat because the government thought it was a justifiable use of their forces. A fellow NATO member was attacked, and it had originated from planning done in Afghan countryside. They stayed on despite the fact that some of their sons were then subsequently killed in a very negligent 'friendly fire' incident early in the war while the CF's were on a night time training mission.

The US unilateral and unprovoked attack on Iraq was seen, as a matter of official policy to be a.) none of their business and b.) a silly, unnecessary Imperial foreign adventure that would come to no good. In this they've been proven right. They can *unilaterally* do this, cause like they run their own country still, K? They can direct their Armed Forces to where they desire to see the most benefit. Most of the time this is for peace keeping missions. Bummer, eh? That's what oppression looks like from Canadians the world over. Get used to it, it's a proud tradition.

I'm guessing you don't follow Canadian politics any either, right? Try RCINET.ca for a news feed, OK?

Jeff

This response is going to be long too. I've tried to trim it so I'm not bogged down responding to every point; if there's anywhere where a lack of response seems glaring, let me know and I'll try to get to it later.

Hugo, I think there may be good reasons that feminists or pro-feminist men are often accused of turning men into spineless "soft males." I prefer Bly's term "soft male" to "nice guy," because it is clear.

I'm not going to get into an argument over terminology, because I know what you mean, but that term leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Not sure if it's the connotations of masculinity being tied to body image (e.g., fat or non-muscular men are "soft"), or if it's that the gender role prescibes personality traits (being caring, accomodating, good, etc. are not masculine).

Unfortunately, somehow the concept of the "nice guy" seemed to get combined with chivalrous or paternalistic attitudes, and also with some form of romantic idealism (like the belief that you should seek "the one" person to "fall in love" with). This leads to the belief that you should "respect women" because they are women. Unfortunately, you cannot truly respect someone else more than you respect yourself. Guys who try to respect women more than they respect themselves will come off as insecure or insincere. Unfortunately, feminism doesn't have a very good track record for helping guys learn self-respect and self-esteem.

I tend to agree with this, but You say "feminism" like it's a monolithic ideal, which I think is fallacious. What happened is that society, over the last few decades, has come to decide (and rightly so, I believe) that certain forms of heterosexual behavior are unwanted - but we as a society haven't decided what should replace it.

The net effect of these message is that "nice guy" epitomizes everything a guy is supposed to be and everything women are supposed to want. A "nice guy" is supposed to be (a) in touch with his feelings, (b) respectful of women, (c) careful to not patronize women, (d) romantic, and (e) careful not to "hit on" women or see women as "sex objects" (and there are arguably a few more).

Again, I mostly agree with this; I think the problem for "nice guys" is that they focus on (c) through (e) to the exclusion of (a) and (b) - they're trying to use a new model of heterosexual relationships to achieve the "old" results and wondering why being "nice" isn't getting them laid.

The second problem is that these messages, while correct, don't really tell you how to be a man. They identify a few pitfalls to avoid, but they are totally useless as a way to gain confidence, self-esteem, or self-agency. If guys were given similar instructions on how to drive, it would be something like this: "Don't speed, stop at red lights, don't hit pedestrians, and be very very careful." Unfortunately, that kind of advice (even though it is correct!) isn't actually going to teach someone how to drive, it is just going to make them paranoid (because they know what not to do, but they don't know what they should do instead).

I wonder here what you consider "how to be a man." I have a big problem with behavior being classified as masculine or non-masculine; as a man, isn't anything I do "being a man" by definition? I'll assume this is just another terminology issue, and the real issue is there's little indication of what has replaced the outmoded forms of heterosexual interaction for males.

These message do not teach guys how to attract women sexually. Notice: respecting women, being nice to them, etc... describes how to connect and empathize with women platonically, but it doesn't describe how to attract them sexually.

Should this be the point? I mean, I suppose one can argue that any prescribed role that reduces heterosexual men's sexual attractiveness toward women will not be readily adopted, but I stand by the point that most people who complain that being "nice" isn't getting them laid aren't really "nice" people. (I see a difference between the typical "nice guys finish last, chicks dig jerks" rant and, say, someone lamenting that eroding someone's self-esteem can be an effective seduction method.)

If someone takes these messages as the essence of being a man, they will get themselves into trouble.

I would hold that this is true for *any* set of messages about masculinity.

Of course, there are some women who are not looking looking for healthy relationships with men, especially younger women (and young men do this also). These women will not reward guys who, despite male socialization, manage to demonstrate emotional maturity , because they are not mature themselves. Some women might also be attracted to males that demonstrate assertive, or even dominant behavior.

Again, I have a problem with the terminology, namely the idea that a heterosexual woman's actions with respect to relationships is phrased in terms of "rewarding" or "punishing" a man for his behavior. This speaks to what I feel is one of the biggest problems in heterosexual relationships today: a sense that any given man is entitled to attention from the woman of his choice. (If a woman appreciates a romantic gesture from someone she's not attracted to, is she obligated to "reward" the gesture? Is a man obligated to do the same?)

Both pro-feminist men and MRAs may think they have synthesized a balanced type of masculinity, but they are wrong. The pro-feminist view of masculinity is still only an antithesis, and it mostly defines masculinity in terms of what men shouldn't be.

I can't speak for other "pro-feminists" (I just use the term "feminist," but I understand why Hugo doesn't), but I don't think that's always the case. I think that pro-feminist male *groups* tend to focus on changing the role by dwelling on "shouldn'ts," but I think that the other side of it is just overlooked, because the idea is to break out of this whole "what men should be" box. I'll admit that the messages we get about heterosexual male sexuality are still pretty mixed, and in my mind there should be a bit more focus on the "positive" side that I believe had been taken for granted, but I don't think that's because it's absent in the view of masculinity so much as it's because

(btw, I'm reading Kimmel's "Manhood in America" right now... if it changes my mind, I will update my position) Some MRAs, insisting that men should avoid being nice, chivalrous, or accommodating towards women are doing exactly the same thing: they are defining masculinity as only the antithesis to something else.

Yep. (How many "men's rights" articles can you find that don't phrase their issues as a response to feminism?)

Are feminists or pro-feminist men responsible for the plight of the "nice guy"? Yes and no. Chivalry is probably a big player also. On the one hand, most feminist probably didn't intend (I hope) for so many men to become spineless, clingy, submissive or passive-aggressive due to its efforts to reconstruct masculinity. On the other hand, feminism was a major factor of in the existence of a cultural context that gives rise to these trends. Since feminists and pro-feminist men have had a stranglehold on discourse about gender, I think it's a bit dishonest for them to turn a blind eye to the real-world consequences of that discourse, because feminism created many of the concepts that give rise the current construction of "nice guy."

Here I disagree, for two main reasons. First, feminism is again being defined as a monolithic entity (I think doing this is just as bad as defining "patriarchy" as a monolithic entity); it's not. Second, I believe that blaming feminism for this and asking them to be the ones to change the system is an abdication of one's own ability to make these changes, and a return to the idea that men are entitled to attention from women. Just go out and be the man you want to be already; what's stopping you?

Lauren

I'm going to jump in briefly just to say that all binaries are problematic. To say that all men are nice guys or jerks, or that all women are bitches or doormats, likens us all to A and Z and forgets categories B-Y.

We could also do ourselves a favor by looking up the etymological history of the word "nice." There's a reason why it's used to describe certain people's behaviors.

Keri

Aegis: Why exactly should feminists feel responsible for helping men improve their love lives? The fault lies not with feminism, but with the men who interpreted feminist rhetoric about the problems with traditional masculinity as "wow, if I just act exactly the opposite of that, I'll get tons of chicks!" With all due respect, guys, that's not our fault, and it's kind of something you all need to work out on your own. (Personally, I think anyone who subscribes to the belief that there's one way of behaving that will make him irresistible to any and all women deserves to have his bubble burst-- women are individuals, and no two women are looking for exactly the same things in a partner or relationship. And if that disillusionment leads him down the path of misogyny, it's unfortunate, but that's his problem too; it's hardly our fault as feminists.)

I would agree that the current state of "masculinity" is unclear, and that the problematic old roles for men have not yet been replaced by clear and positive new roles. I think feminism, though it naturally skews toward a focus on women's issues, does deal with this problem by continuing to break down male gender roles as well as female ones, so that all people are more free to be themselves. However, wouldn't you think that men themselves ought to take an active role in this reconstruction of masculinity? Why are you sitting around waiting for feminists to tell men how they should and shouldn't act, instead of trying to change things yourself? I'm not really sure how much women can do in terms of this issue, aside from those of us who are heterosexual choosing to date men who are truly respectful, honest, caring, etc. and choosing not to date these so-called "nice guys," which we're already doing (and being denigrated for in many cases).

Basically, this is the type of "men's rights activism" that makes me wish that term hadn't been co-opted by the misogynists and social conservatives. I do think there's room for gender study and activism that focuses on masculinity and men's issues, and that it doesn't necessarily fit comfortably under the umbrella of feminism (though I'd hope the two groups would naturally work together rather than seeing each other as enemies), but it's hard for anyone to identify with that kind of group without associating with people who have a very different sort of agenda and do see feminists as the enemy. Still, I really do think that men should take more action in forming new positive definitions of masculinity-- I don't necessarily see eye to eye with Hugo on all issues, but I do think this is one area in which men could do well to take cues from his outlook and behavior.

(By the way, since when have feminists had a "stranglehold on discourse about gender"? When the president of Harvard can get up on stage and basically say that women are innately worse at science and math, and face very few repercussions for it, I really have to laugh at allegations that feminists somehow rule the world and silence anyone who disagrees with them.)

craichead

"(By the way, since when have feminists had a "stranglehold on discourse about gender"? When the president of Harvard can get up on stage and basically say that women are innately worse at science and math, and face very few repercussions for it, I really have to laugh at allegations that feminists somehow rule the world and silence anyone who disagrees with them.)"

Ironically, I'd say that this very statement is characteristic of why many people feel that feminism has a stranglehold on the discourse of gender (though I do hate overly dramatic terms like "stranglehold").

This is because he never said that women were innately worse at science and math. He suggested that in general when taken as populations, highly functioning talents at science and math tend to occur more often in men and results in different career choices.

Second, he faced MANY reprocussions for that statement. He nearly fell all over himself apologizing for it and came close to losing his job.

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