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November 03, 2005

Comments

mythago

Even now, in 2005, it's all too common for pundits to make the case that returning to traditional marriage and traditional sexual mores is the only thing that will lead men back to responsibility.

Funnily, none of these pundits themselves seem to be in "traditional marriages".

I am surprised more men don't see how insulting this "she has to NEED you" line is to them.

Ron O.

Good post. I'm not too suprised by the number of men who feel they have to be providers. My perception for a long time was that I couldn't provide the level of intimacy and communication the women I was involved with wanted from me, but I knew I could work hard & make money. It took unitl my mid-30s to feel confident enough that I could be a good mate by providing emotional support and companionship. Before then I rarely dated women who were more sucessful than I was. Now I'm married to a woman who is a little better educated and makes a few bucks more than I do. It's quite nice.

Gonzman

Except that what you say is a straw "person." Kathleen Parker never said any such thing. She said men don't want women who don't like men. Men don't want male-bashers.

When she talked about "lapsing into guy-ness" she never mentioned any "guy traits" specifically. You're the one who trotted out the tired negative stereotypes of "male behavior" and began taking a hatchet to them.

You're a feminist. And that's male bashing. That's where I think "Kendra" got the idea you didn't like men. And you may say you're not saying it, but it's the message I, and a whole lotta other guys hear.

Honestly, Hugo. It's a little late for feminists to claim the old fish/bicycle thing was just a misunderstanding. We've gotten the message.

It isn't us who decided to leave. Women - or, lets be more fair - at least the loud feminists - told us to get the hell out (A lot of the rest of the women just sat there and made those the only voice heard.) Nobody else piped up and asked us to stay. That's cool. Don't need a house to fall on us to know when we aren't wanted.

That's fine. We have lives. But don't blame us for taking ya'll at your word, and going off to where we are wanted.

jaketk

it offers men the chance to reconsider the idea that their value as men lies only in their ability to provide and protect.

Feminism offers men the chance to be complete, complex, interesting human beings rather than paychecks and stalwart rocks.

one, men are complete, complex, interesting human beings, and have been since humans came into existence, without feminism. no one ideology makes a person a more complete human being, nor does it mean that if a person does not ascribe to that ideology that he is less of a human being. i think you might want to rephrase this.

two, you statements are in conflict with several of the posts you have made over the past month. in many of them you speak about men's responsiblities to women. not just the women in their lives, but to women as a whole. the only value placed on men, in your own posts, are the actions and behaviors men can to to improve the lives of the women. and in the majority of those posts, you spoke specifically about sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and gender bias, in which men should take it upon themselves to change, diminish, or prevent them. the very description of the qualities you want in men relegates then to the roles of provider and protecter.

while i am sure you whole-heartedly believe what you are saying, i cannot help but be reminded of the current administration and the content and context of their messages. i see a lot of similarities in phrasing, specficially with the repetition of casuistic rhetoric.

Hugo

Jake, let me rephrase:

"Feminism offers men the chance to MANIFEST as complete, complex, interesting human beings rather than paychecks and stalwart rocks." You're right, we are all "born interesting" and multi-faceted. Traditional gender roles do not give us the opportunity to make that apparent.

There's also a difference between taking responsibility for one's actions -- and those of one's sex -- and asking as the paternalistic protector of the other sex.

And as far as sounding like the current administration... yikes.

Still, I'm perhaps overly fond of certain rhetorical flourishes. That's a failure of intellectual imagination, however, not a failure of either sincerity or commitment.

Mr. Bad

Hugo rephrased to say: ""Feminism offers men the chance to MANIFEST as complete, complex, interesting human beings rather than paychecks and stalwart rocks." You're right, we are all "born interesting" and multi-faceted. Traditional gender roles do not give us the opportunity to make that apparent."

True enough, however, men don't need feminism to "manifest as complete, complex, interesting human beings rather than paychecks and stalwart rocks." All we need is to have people (e.g., women, the courts, et al.) stop considering and treating us like paychecks and rocks (stalwart or otherwise). Feminism is completely unnecessary for men become the interesting, complete, complex, etc., human beings we are. In fact, for many - if not most - men and women, feminism just gets in the way.

The Happy Feminist

I don't enough MRAs to know whether this post is responsive to MRA rhetoric or MRA arguments, but it is certainly wonderfully and brilliantly responsive to very specific arguments regularly made by the Religious Right. I think this post hits the nail on the head precisely.

Uzzah

In Kathleen's universe, men never leave. Men never abandon the children they sire. Men never leave their wives for younger women, for porn addiction, for drugs, for workaholism. In Kathleen Parker's world, men only leave because women have forced them out the door. All modern men are Rip van Winkles, driven from their homes by the hen-pecking, the nagging, and the misandry of feminist ideology.

However in your world, women are never unhappy with men, never disatisfied with their lives, never unappreciative of men's sacrifices for their family and never blame others for problems that might be in fact their own fault. In fact,as you put it; "Fewer women today have to choose between feeding their kids and putting up with abuse, infidelity, or profound emotional incompetence." Feminism has shown them that not only do they not have to put up with it, they also don't have to work though it. You are right sir. Women today don't have to put up with anything they don't like about their men. They can just dump them and not fear any consequences. Which apparently 50% of married women are doing (ie. Divorce). Perhaps it will be true progress when say 75% of women divorce.

"It's not enough for a woman to rely on her husband/partner/boyfriend as an equal in life; if she wants him to stay around, she must allow him to feel useful by surrendering as much of her autonomy as possible to him."

Are you talking about the same "Men don't leave" thread here? Honestly, I didn't read any comments that implied this.. I got news.. It's not anymore desirable for most men to have a weak and dependent woman than it is for you.

Persephonie

I think that part of Hugo's point is that society constructs restrictive gender roles for women AND men. Feminism tends to focus on women because, well, it's feminism. But gender stereotypes do a real disservice to men, too. In other words, the false gender dichotomy discourages both sexes from living up to their potential as multidimensional human beings. Feminism, of course, helps to break down these gender stereotypes, and therefore does, arguably, help men AND women to manifest qualities that might be frowned upon according to traditional gender roles.

On a side note, regarding the courts' propensity to treat men as paychecks: This is the product of a sexist legal system that infantilizes adult women. Since men are, by and large, the legislators, judges, and lawyers complicit in this infantilization, they could halt it at any point. This, in my opinion, is one of the enduring symbols of sexism in our society: alimony laws (among others) presume that women are naturally dependent and cannot take care of themselves.

If men truly believed that women were equal and were prepared to treat women equally, there would be no need for these laws in the first place. In fact, I would argue that alimony laws (for example) represent the restrictive "culture of man-as-provider-and-protector" backfiring to the detriment of men and women.

stanton

Persephonie, You are correct about the family court imbalance being a result of outdated sexist ideas, but I have not seen many feminists willing to renounce the advantages that this confers upon them in this case. In fact, you find them fighting tooth and nail to retain this artifact of an earlier sexist age. Look at the hatred expressed in this very forum for a man dedicated to fighting it - Glenn Sacks. I'm afraid you have few allies among the feminists around here (or any other place, for that matter) in this regard.

Mr. Bad

Persephonie, you bring up the topic of "false gender dichotomy," but in fact, there is nothing "false" about the dichotomy between men and women; it is quite real. What feminism seeks to do is to deny that this natural, innate dichotomy exists when advantageous, but demand special consideration (i.e., privilege) for women when it works in their favor.

Also, you offer the all-to-common but false premise that just because the legislators, judges, and lawyers are men (however, I don't know if in the case of lawyers this is true any more) it means that they automatically answer to and serve men and not women. I maintain that for legislators and judges (who are either elected or appointed by elected representatives) this is false for the simple reason that the majority of voters who put these people in place are women. Thus, even though they may indeed be men, they aren't serving the interests of men, they're serving the interests of the female constituency who elects them. And so it makes no sense that these legislators and judges would be operating from a motivation to infantilize the people (i.e., women) who elect them; rather, it makes a lot more sense that they are doing the bidding of their constiuency, e.g., exploiting men as "wallets." So essentially, women are exploiting men by proxy.

Therefore, if women are indeed opposed to this kind of exploitation, it is their responsibility to demand that their representatives put an end to the sexism and discrimination against men vis-a-vis treating men as paychecks. The problem is, apparently women are mostly happy with the status quo, and in more than a few cases wish to put the screws to men even further re. this issue.

Persephonie

Stanton: I am not aware of many feminists fighting tooth and nail to retain sexist laws that happen to work in women's favor. Some feminists may wish to retain them until women achieve equality, but that is a separate issue. (It would not do, for example, to abandon these laws while many married women are still encouraged to stay at home and raise children, paying the high opportunity costs of being a stay-at-home mom.)

Mr. Bad: Could you please add some reputable citations and statistics for the assertions you make?

As for the patently false gender dichotomy, I recommend that you peruse Janet Shibley Hyde's recent article in the American Psychologist, as well as the work of Anne Fausto-Sterling. Unfortunately, I've found that this issue tends to tap into the kind of irrationality often associated with a belief creationism: if your mind is already made up, no amount of scientific evidence will change it.

evil_fizz

Mr. Bad, to answer your question: Men constitute approximately 70% of practicing attorneys. (Women have only been practicing law in appreciable numbers since the early 1970s.) However, the split among law students is 50/50.

Persephonie, however, is right about alimony laws. The case law on division of property from the 1950s reads like "poor little woman won't be able to get a job and support herself, therefore big strong man has to pick up the tab." It's actually pretty disturbing.

Stanton, I wonder if feminists not fighting to change alimony laws are a result of an embrace of privilege or a disinterest in a fight that doen't seem to present a direct benefit to women. Yes, more equitable laws would be better for everyone all around, but you know what I mean.

Mr. Bad

Persephone, which assertions are speaking of? If you're referring to voting polls, those are available from a variety of sources, depending on whether you're looking for results of Federal, State or local elections. Still, I believe that no matter what level you consider, it's true that more women vote than men do. For example this document shows that starting in 1982 or 1986 (depending on which table you refer to), women registered and voted in greater numbers than men. Still, the difference isn't very great, which is suprising to me because groups like The Feminist Majority, League of Women Voters, etc., have consistenty claimed that women outvoted men by a wide margin. I suppose I'm not surprised that feminist groups would make these kinds of exaggerations (it does work to their advantage), but still, with this knowledge I think that we men will need to do a much better job of educating our elected officials re. the need for them to answer to us and do a better job of representing our interests. Because as I said, of late they certainly seem to be favoring women's interests, whether those elected officials are men or women.

If this isn't what you're looking for then by all means please elaborate.

otterick

Persephonie: "Mr. Bad: Could you please add some reputable citations and statistics for the assertions you make?"

Wait a second! Mr. Bad has to provide citations regarding his response to your uncited assertion that women are infantalized? Well then, I cite your own comment:

"It would not do, for example, to abandon these laws while many married women are still encouraged to stay at home and raise children, paying the high opportunity costs of being a stay-at-home mom.)"

This is why the passive voice makes my skin crawl. If you really mean that it is the encouragement to stay at home as opposed to the staying at home itself, that leads to opportunity costs then you are, indeed, infantalizing women. But, interjecting the little passive voice comment disengages those women from responsibility, doesn't it? You do sound like a feminist.


Mr. Bad

evil fizz, thanks for the numbers. You said: "Stanton, I wonder if feminists not fighting to change alimony laws are a result of an embrace of privilege or a disinterest in a fight that doen't seem to present a direct benefit to women. Yes, more equitable laws would be better for everyone all around, but you know what I mean."

I agree that a lack of interest is probably why feminists don't fight to change alimony laws. After all, why would they be interested in changing something that gives them and their constituents (i.e., women) advantage?

jaketk

hugo: Feminism offers men the chance to MANIFEST as complete, complex, interesting human beings rather than paychecks and stalwart rocks.

a much clearer phrasing, but still i would have to disagree. the statement implies that men cannot be, or are not, complete, complex, interesting human beings without feminism. i know this is not what you said, but take a look at it from a religious point of view. if someone were to say to you that buddism offers people the chance to be complete, complex, interesting human beings, would you not take that to mean that by being christian you would be considered, by buddists, less than complete, less complex, and less interesting?

the statement becomes even more problematic because for the vast majority of human history, feminism has not existed. what does this mean for all the men who came before feminism? surely some of them found ways to manifest all the facets of their humanity without the aid or existence of feminism. and if it were possible for them, then it should still be possible for us, right?

this is what i meant when i said i do not think one needs to follow a particular ideology to manifest the fullness of one's humanity. each ideology offers something different, and whatever works for you is perhaps what is best. but i do not think that any one ideology is necessary for manifesting as complete, complex, interesting human beings. that goes for political ideologies like feminism all the way to religious ideologies like christianity and buddism.

stanton

Persephonie, have you links that we may follow to learn the truth about the false gender dichotomy? (And please note that you will find widespread agreement on the "creationism" comparison, but the argument is around which side is the prototypical creationist in this tableau. Evidence trumps cleverness here, and my experience in trying to draw hard evidence from feminists has been that it is generally futile.)

Thank you.

yami

Aren't alimony laws gender neutral by now? I'm willing to believe that sexist family court judges don't grant househusbands alimony at the same rates as housewives, but then the problem lies with the judges, not with the law they're interpreting.

I'm always happy to throw sexist judges out on their ears, but I want alimony laws in place forever-n-ever-amen. I think it's a good thing for one person in a partnership to be able to focus on the household stuff while the other makes the money. Alimony is a form of insurance for the stay-at-home spouse, which makes that decision an easier one for many people to make. Currently, there are more housewives than househusbands, so alimony laws are generally of greatest benefit to women - but I'd like for that to change. After all, I do kinda want a househusband all of my very own, someday.

stanton

Yami - I hope you get one!

evil_fizz

Yami, alimony laws have been changing, but because they're state laws, it's hard to qualify. If you want to know about a particular state, check out Findlaw's handy webpage with links to each state's laws.

The Happy Feminist

I'd be shocked if any non-gender neutral laws would withstand a challenge brought under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Cho

Mr.Bad said:
"All we need is to have people (e.g., women, the courts, et al.) stop considering and treating us like paychecks and rocks (stalwart or otherwise)."

Women and the courts may still treat men as paychecks because that was historically, the actual reality- men were paychecks for their families. As we are still living in a changing society, some women and men will still think of the traditional mindset- that men are paychecks and to balance this out, women must be submissive family servants. Whilst I agree that men have always been interesting complex humans, the society that they created didn't allow them to express themselves fully- it is misleading to suggest that men have always invested as much emotional, psychlogical (and domestic) support in their relationships as women have, just as it is wrong to think women have invested as much financially as men have.
Men are still generally seen as paychecks not because women and the courts are bloodsuckers- but because thats the way they have always been, and no movement for men has eradicated that mindset.
Rejecting the idea that men are merely wage-earners is exacly what Hugo is promoting, and he has recognised that feminism is going to eradicate that notion.

"In fact, for many - if not most - men and women, feminism just gets in the way."

Oh no it doesn't!

stanton

"Men are still generally seen as paychecks not because women and the courts are bloodsuckers- but because thats the way they have always been, and no movement for men has eradicated that mindset."

Well, Cho, we are trying to get a movement going to address this, but Lord, the feminists aren't one bit happy about it! And yes, they think that "getting in our way" is a noble goal. Have you read some of the disdainful things they say about us, just on Hugo's quite civil blog?

evil_fizz

Stanton, I think that most of the criticisms I would level at the MRA movement are the ones you've got about feminism, i.e. there are some fringe elements that make discussion hard, the rhetoric quickly gets personal and angry, there isn't a lot of good data that everyone accepts, in the effort to address problems generalizations and stereotypes get out of hand, and it's hard to see why men have it so bad. (Mr. Bad is fond of saying that Western women are pampered and spoiled, not oppressed. I think you'd find plenty of women willing to say something similarly condescending about men.)

Also, rightly or wrongly, MRAism (is there a better word for this? the -ism seems redundant.) strikes some people as being like whites arguing that they're being discriminated against. It's true, affirmative action has not been wholly kind to whites and there's plenty of absurdly PC stuff out there that's not helping either. However, it's hard to advocate for "whites' rights" without sounding like a racist. I would venture to say the same is true about the MRA movement. People think it makes you sexist. It's not necessarily an accurate statement (MRAs, after all, are not a monolithic group) but coupled with suspicions and some shouting by the fringe, an image emerges pretty quickly.

I think those of us who are committed to ending discrimination should be working it from all sides. The draft, the wage gap, the family court system, etc. should be addressed by people from both sides. Didn't we say we'd try this once? It'd be nice to figure out a way to actually do that.

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