Feminism Personalizes the Impersonal

February 1st, 2009 by Pelle Billing

Certain kinds of feminist rhetoric can be pretty tough to handle for men. If you’ve come into contact with any postmodern feminists, then you’ve probably heard the phrases:

  • “Men oppress women.”
  • “Patriarchy serves men, and the interests of men.”

As a man – especially as a young man or a boy – you’ll likely feel very bad about yourself when you come across these kinds of statements. You may even start to feel your self-esteem slipping away, not to mention the pride you take in being a man. You may start believing you owe women something and that you are intrinsically being oppressive simply because you have a male body, a male voice and a male identity. After all, the feminist statements above claim that men, in general, oppress women. So regardless of how good a person you are, the criterion for being an oppressor remains: if you are a man then you are an oppressor, an oppressor of women.

The impossibility of the situation is that you can’t escape being a man! You were born as a man and unless you are contemplating some pretty radical surgery – remain a man you will. Feminism thus instills a massive sense of shame in men who grow up with feminist parents or an education system that has been influenced by feminism. Even grown up men who learn about feminist ideas and aren’t presented with any plausible alternatives to the feminist worldview, will likely adopt the feminist claims as truth (either consciously or unconsciously). In my experience, even men who resist feminism on the surface unconsciously believe feminist theory to be largely correct, because they’ve never been presented with a coherent, alternative way of viewing gender relations.

One of the most crucial errors of feminism is that it personalizes the impersonal. Men don’t oppress women, they simply don’t. There has never been an empire that lasted more than a few hundred years, yet we are to believe that men have collectively managed to oppress women everywhere for thousands of years or even since the dawn of humanity? Clearly there is something that doesn’t add up here. For men to be able to oppress women everywhere at all times, men would have to be incredibly evil and cunning, while women would need to be incredibly meek and stupid – and neither of these descriptions are true of course.

A much more accurate way to phrase the feminist statements above would be:

  • “Men and women are both oppressed by their gender roles.”
  • “Patriarchy serves itself, and uses men and women as needed to have communities survive, thrive and evolve.”

So it’s not that feminism is entirely wrong, but it mistakenly assumes that men were responsible for a certain gender structure to arise, when in reality the gender roles for men and women have simply been a functional fit to historical circumstances. Men and women have been assigned the role they needed to have for humanity to survive, and for cultures to evolve and to become more complex and civilized. Therefore men have been responsible for all tasks that require physical strength, which for the most part has corresponded to being responsible for producing food and going to war. Women, on the other hand, have been the only ones who could give birth to and breast-feed children, which meant that women for the most part had to stay at home. None of this took place because men wanted to oppress women, it was simply the most sensible and beneficial choice available, and both sexes benefitted from having this arrangement.

This doesn’t mean that gender roles can’t become less constricted once industrialization and information technology have removed the need to be physically strong in order to work in the public sphere. Both sexes will benefit from having more freedom and choices in their lives, instead of being condemned to follow the only paths that were available in the past. However, there is no factual support for instilling a sense of guilt and shame in men for how things were organized in the past, like feminist theory does.

Men and women are equally responsible (or equally without responsibility) for how things were organized in the past. Certain structures and gender roles were needed to have our offspring survive, and to have culture move forward, and the sacrifice that men and women made to bring this about is something that we can all be proud of – instead of trying to make anyone feel ashamed or inadequate.

The basic premise of feminism, i.e. that women have been oppressed by men, is factually incorrect – and despite common belief there is no greater need for a feminist movement than a masculist movement. But why have either one? Instead of perpetuating the separation and misunderstanding between the sexes, why not join forces in a gender liberation movement? By caring about men and women alike, and releasing the constrictions of each gender role, who knows how far we can come?

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69 Responses to “Feminism Personalizes the Impersonal”

  1. Jane McGillivray Says:

    It is an interesting thought exercise to think about what a ‘masculist’ movement would look like. What would you fight for? What rights would you want acknowledged? What behaviours do you consider women to have, in general, imposed upon men and thus fostered male disempowerment? What have you been hitherto denied that would make you equal to women?

  2. Albert KLamt Says:

    Peller, first congratulating you for this blog. As it is indeed written jargon-free and uses everyday communication.

    The old mantras in gender discussions nearly all are dusted.

    I share your core beliefs.

    And, as I worked , learned, lived and communicated with women for decades in very diverse settings and life circumstances . Age, educational background secondary. I know lots of women are feeling already the same way. However not necessarily communicating it in public spheres.

    Joining forces and discovering playfully the liberating power and joy of a new dynamics between men and women.

    Like this blog very much!

    Albert

  3. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane,

    Great questions. While my focus is on replacing feminism with a gender liberation movement, I acknowledge that it may not happen directly. Men may need to clarify what the traditional male gender role really means, before being ready to move on to the next level, which would be a neutral gender lib movement. In fact, I aim to do both at the same time: clarify the male gender role and search for what will come next.

    Masculism, if it occurs as a separate movement, could choose to focus on:

    - Male expendability. This is the core issue with the male gender role, that men are expected to perform and even die in order to have society evolve and to protect women.
    - Giving men a fair hearing in custody battles, and not assuming that fathers are only needed for paying child support
    - Gender neutral prison sentencing (men get longer sentences at the moment, for identical crimes)
    - Putting the spotlight on how social capital (connections to your children, close friendships) that women have, is of equal value to the financial capital that men have
    - Establishing paternity through DNA testing. Why not allow men to know for sure that it is their child, the same way that women always know?
    - Making people realize that sexual consent is a two-way street. Why do only men need to establish consent, and why can only women claim that they were date raped since they were too drunk to give consent? If two people were drunk and stupid, how come the man is responsible and the woman a victim?
    - Questioning male circumcision
    - Investigating why girls do better in school, and why there are more women in universities.
    - Putting a stop to feminist ideas being taught as fact in schools and universities, instead replacing them with known fact about both gender roles
    - Challenging that women demand equal pay but are all to happy to have the man pay for expensive dates
    - Realizing that women dressing in certain ways to land a job or to get a promotion is a form of sexual harrassment
    - Demanding that prostate cancer gets the same funding as breast cancer
    - Making the draft gender neutral, or removing it completely
    - Telling the true story about domestic violence: men do not instigate this form of violence more often than women
    - Recognizing that men are powerless and have no legal rights in relation to their unborn child. The woman can choose to abort or give birth to the child regardless of what the man wants. The man is still responsible to pay child support or be a father. This means that he has no rights, but does have responsibilities, which is a sure sign that something is wrong. Rights and responsibilities should go hand in hand.

  4. Pelle Billing Says:

    Albert,

    Thank you for your positive feedback! I will work hard to keep this blog interesting and consistent.

    Pelle

  5. Kristian Says:

    I think this is excellent writing, Pelle!

    You mention a number of reasons to why men are absent in the gender debate, such as shame (not guilt, since that points to an act being made, but a shame that you have for being a man and can do nothing about) and the term “Feminism” that points to the problem being a problem only to and for women. I agree to that.

    And also, when a man speaks up in a debate his opinion is being disregarded because of him being a man, he cannot possibly understand what it means to be a woman and being oppressed.

    Kristian

  6. Pelle Billing Says:

    Kristian,

    Thanks!

    Good distinction between shame and guilt. I think men feel ashamed, simply for being men, after learning about feminism and not seeing an alternative to feminist interpretation of gender dynamics. But I also think men feel guilty, even though they have nothing to feel guilty about, since feminism promotes a collective sense of guilt for all men (“men should feel guilty because men have oppressed women and still oppress women”).

    I recognize the silencing of male voices in the gender debate. The time has come to put an end to that silence, and to articulate the male perspective in the gender debate.

  7. James Barrow Says:

    Hi Pelle

    I think your work is of great significance, timely and courageous. I resonate so much with your opening 2 paragraphs here.

    AND I have one major criticism, and an admittedly shocking example to try to make my point.

    When you say “Men don’t oppress women, they simply don’t.” it feels like you are denying that this kind of thing happens –
    “17 year old Kurdish girl stoned to death in Kurdistan”
    http://www.care2.com/news/member/733929969/363191
    (Note: This is the link just to the written news story. Unless you have a very strong stomach please do not follow the links to the actual video.)

    Now you can say “Patriarchy did it” and you can say “The men don’t really want to be doing it, they are suffering too” or even “Historically women have been known to take part in stonings too”. All of which may be partially true.

    But if so then it is equally true that the crowd were all men, that the policemen stood by and did nothing, that this kind of “honour killing” is still occurring day in day out across the globe and it is almost always females who are killed, and were it not for the fact that members of the mob were stupid enough to post it on youtube (they are now on the run from the police) it is likely that these men would be sipping tea the next day with their male friends while the family of the victim would be grieving.

    If a large mob of young to late middle aged men stoning and kicking a young woman to death for allegedly exhibiting sexual behaviour of which they did not approve is not an example of a woman being oppressed by a group of men then I don’t know of one.

    Now I know you know all of this, but when you make blanket statements like “Men don’t oppress women, they simply don’t.” it suggests that you don’t want to acknowledge these kinds of events.

    I fear you may be at risk of Impersonalising the Personal.

    AND I still think what you’re doing in this site is vital work 

    James Barrow

  8. Danny Says:

    Nice place you have there Pelle (I followed you from Feminist Critics).

    In regards to your statement, “Men don’t oppress women, they simply don’t.” and James’ response to it I think that a better way to phrase it would be, “Men as a class don’t oppress women.”

    The reason I say this is because the men that did the stoning that James mentions are not being done as a way to help out the men that live at the bottom of that society or all the men in society. Those things are being done by the men at the top for the men at the top. I think this:

    “Patriarchy serves itself, and uses men and women as needed to have communities survive, thrive and evolve.”

    explains that very well.

  9. Doug Wallack Says:

    Hello Pelle,
    Very pertinent conversation. The back & forth, and give & take are bound to bring light to a subject full of shadows.
    This will bring greater freedom and greater fullness to all of humanity.
    Cheers and keep up the good work,
    Doug

  10. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hi James,

    Thank you for your comment, I appreciate your encouragement as well as your constructive criticism. In fact, your comment has enabled me to see even more clearly what it is I’m saying, and the distinctions I’m making.

    My distinction has to do with what Danny touched upon above. When I analyze whether men as a group have oppressed women as a group, I’m taking a systemic approach, and not a personal approach. So I guess I could clarify my statements in this way:

    - Approaching gender on a systemic level, men as a group do not oppress women as a group. Instead, both genders are constricted or even oppressed by their gender role, and the gender roles have developed as a functional fit to circumstances at hand
    - On a personal level, we can be outraged and deeply disappointed at how gender roles lead to personal trauma and unacceptable personal acts (that each person must take personal accountability for)
    - Feminism tends to confuse the personal and impersonal, making the personal impersonal and the impersonal personal as needed, to “prove” that women as a class are oppressed by men as a class

    On a personal level I can only say that stonings are horrible and it breaks my heart to know that these kinds of things is going on today, in 2009. May that young woman rest in peace, and the stoners be brought to justice.

    Similarly, I’m saddened every time I hear that a couple of hundred men have died in unsafe mines in some poor country. They were also killed by stones, simply because they were men and had been assigned a gender role that demanded that they support their families at all costs.

    Pelle

  11. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hey Danny,

    Good to see you here as well! Your distinction “men as a class” was very useful to me.

    Pelle

  12. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hi Doug,

    I truly hope that this blog will contribute to bringing light to this subject full of shadows. Thanks :)

    Pelle

  13. Mark Davenport Says:

    Hi Pelle,

    I mention Warren Farrell only because I haven’t heard him mentioned here or on other websites you frequent. I presume you are aware of him but perhaps others who like what they hear here would be interested in his conversations (some audio, some video) with Ken Wilber from 2004 to 2008.

    http://in.integralinstitute.org/contributor.aspx?id=65

    Your blog is such a needed voice, but I hope it isn’t filled with only male voices.

    -Mark

  14. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hi Mark,

    Yes, Warren Farrell is a precious voice in the new gender discourse. I don’t agree with every word he says, but many of his ideas are very very valuable. Thanks for providing us with a link.

    I too hope that women will find their way to this blog, and to take part in the ongoing debate/dialogue.

    Cheers,
    Pelle

  15. Danny Says:

    BTW Pelle I’ve added you to my blogroll.

  16. thebigmanfred Says:

    Hi Pelle, like Danny, I also followed you from Feminist Critics. First, thanks for this blog, I’m finding it very useful. I’ve got to concur with other comments here, this is a great thing you’re doing. I think things would go so much better if feminists and men’s activists just combined forces, instead of all too often fighting each other. Now on to some points.

    In my experience, even men who resist feminism on the surface unconsciously believe feminist theory to be largely correct, because they’ve never been presented with a coherent, alternative way of viewing gender relations.

    I agree with this. One of feminism’s strongest attributes is that it’s so widely accepted. I’ll add to your comment though, that I think many man also suffer from another problem – the inability to articulate their own emotions/opinions on these matters. Many men just haven’t thought about things in a gendered way. To complicate the matter, feminists are not always open to a different point of view of gender matters.

    On Male Expendability:

    Daran, and probably some of the other bloggers at Feminist Critics, have some great posts on male expendability. If you haven’t read them already, you might find them interesting.

    On Patriarchy:

    I see many flaws in the concept some of which you described. One gripe I have with it is that patriarchy assumes “men act for the benefit of other men.” I don’t agree with that. Men have some many problems, it seems to men no one could conclusively say that men are acting for the benefit of men. I mean, why would so many men fighting and die in wars? Death is beneficial to man? There are other problems I have with the term, but I think I’ll leave it there for now.

    Side Notes:

    I’ve also added your blog to my blogroll at Gender Critics. Part of the reason I enjoy your approach/blog is that I’m working on a similar task at Gender Critics.

  17. Pelle Billing Says:

    BigFred,

    Thank you for your additional perspectives.

    I’m always looking to learn more, so I will check out the stuff you recommend.

    Thanks for adding my blog to your blogroll!

    Pelle

  18. Eivind F S Says:

    This blog is going places, Pelle. I love what you have written here so far. I’m looking forward to talking more with you about this topic.

    Best regards,
    Eivind

  19. James Barrow Says:

    Hi again Pelle

    Just to clarify something with you…

    In response to my comment here you pointed out that you were taking a systemic view when making statements such as “men do not oppress women”. I get that.

    Despite this clarification, having at the top of your page as a core statement “Men haven’t oppressed women” still sounds like you are saying “there has never been an example of a man or men oppressing women, ever”. Now I’m exaggerating slightly to make my point, but it could certainly seem that way at first reading to someone who is not familiar with your work.

    I’m just wondering if, for the sake of avoiding the “who got the worse deal” arguments, you tweak your wording just to make your exact meaning even clearer? Just a suggestion.

    Also, you say feminism is too flawed to ever achieve gender liberation, and you may well be right. However, with no additional qualifying statements regarding the positive aspects of feminism, then this statement of core belief also can sounds like a blanket dismissal of the whole of feminism. Now although I have not researched the field in any real depth, is it not the case that there are numerous schools of feminist thought, some more developed than others? Do you reject them all, or just some of them, or just parts of their theories?

    I guess what I am saying is that I think the addition of some qualifying statements would help avoid the usual circular arguments, and help focus on the future evolution and development of gender liberation.

    Still loving the discussions here!

    All The Best,

    James

  20. Pelle Billing Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments James, I love getting that kind of constructive feedback. I’ll think about the wording at the top of my page.

    Pelle

  21. Danny Says:

    Fred:
    I agree with this. One of feminism’s strongest attributes is that it’s so widely accepted. I’ll add to your comment though, that I think many man also suffer from another problem – the inability to articulate their own emotions/opinions on these matters. Many men just haven’t thought about things in a gendered way. To complicate the matter, feminists are not always open to a different point of view of gender matters.
    Agreed and that is why men, just as women have, need spaces to start thinking about such things in a gendered way. Despite what some feminists may say being male is not the golden ticket they make it out to be.

    James:
    Now although I have not researched the field in any real depth, is it not the case that there are numerous schools of feminist thought, some more developed than others? Do you reject them all, or just some of them, or just parts of their theories?
    Funny you should mention that. While you are not doing it in your comment this makes me think of how speaking about feminism clarification is only necessary when it comes to critiquing it. Ever notice that when someone’s praising feminism no one bothers to ask “Which feminism are you talking about?” but when offering a critique one of the first reactions is going to be something to the effect of, “That’s not MY feminism. Just a thought…

  22. hampus Says:

    ‘As a man – especially as a young man or a boy – you’ll likely feel very bad about yourself when you come across these kinds of statements. You may even start to feel your self-esteem slipping away, not to mention the pride you take in being a man. You may start believing you owe women something and that you are intrinsically being oppressive simply because you have a male body, a male voice and a male identity’

    I found this paragraph especially vital. What is your intake of the consequences of making a large group of people share a common sense of guilt, most often helplessly?

    Wouldn’t that qualify as oppression? I would think so, but await your clear mind to clarify the concepts here.

    I myself believe we face a democratic crisis, not only resulting from hypocrytically phrased political oppression, but also from alienating a large group of people from the general democratic debate.

    Whats your take on this?

    hampus

  23. hampus Says:

    I would also like to add my admiration for your compassion for males, any age, by verbalizing that paragraph.

    I’m in love with ya!

    :P

    hampus

  24. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hampus,

    Thank you for your support :)

    Yes, I think it’s possible to say that instilling a sense of shame in men is a form of oppression. However, we need to avoid the pitfall of labeling men as victims. Feminism has never been able to transcent its “woman-as-victim” belief, and that is a road that leads nowhere. While it’s important to name the factors that work against men, and the factors that work against women, we need not make anyone a victim. Men and women are perfectly capable of transcending the constrictions that we face simply because of our gender.

    We may need to grieve because we’ve been shamed as men, and we may need to get angry and process that anger. But then we need to focus on our potential to bring about positive change, and we cannot do that if we focus on being oppressed and being victims. Does that make sense?

    Could you speak more to the democratic crisis you’re referring to?

    Pelle

  25. Per Says:

    Me being gay see things in another light.

    The “traditional” man oppressed men that were good in expressing their feelings and were talkative. They were beeing suspected being “homo”, thus no “real” men and therefore worthy of no respect.

    Now gays are the ones that clearly are able to see these battle between sexes and I´ve come to the conclusion that men are totally unable to defend themselves hence they don´t have any ability to express their feelings and are not as talkative as women are. Gays have these skills and I never see myself as a target in the maltreatment of men. On the contrary, I´m an expert in bitching back :-)

    Actually, sometimes I feel that (straight) men get what they deserve. On the other hand I truly think that the only thing to do is to get the male perspective in the emancipation of gender. Feminist, in general, lack that perspective and it´s up to men themselves, to start struggling. We are like, 40 years behind the women.

    There was a swedish feminist that claimed some years ago, at the television, that men are animals. Sometimes I agree with her because I often think that men are “stupid cows” that accept all the shit that are being thrown upon us.

  26. Pelle Billing Says:

    Per,

    I agree that gay men can have an important role to play in a gender liberation movement by bringing in new perspectives that other may overlook. I also feel that gay men sometimes miss other perspectives, since they generally don’t have the ‘provider’ role in a family (there are exceptions of course).

    Gay men have indeed been forerunners in experimenting with the male gender role, and will likely continue to do so.

    I agree that we need to get the male perspective in the gender debate!

    You also allude to the silence of men, and men “taking shit” from feminists. I will address this in an upcoming post (probably around a week from now).

    Pelle

  27. Per Says:

    Though male homosexuals are beginning to become fathers through surrogacy. In the USA it´s a growing movement and in Sweden the debate is on it´s way. And some gays are already on their way to become parents. Gays will probably not accept going to the Mödravården because we want to go to the Föräldravården.

    To your list of rights you should put surrogacy. Women get all the help if they want to become parents, men get none.

  28. Pelle Billing Says:

    Yes, I’ve thought about that myself. How single women and lesbian couples in Sweden get help becoming parents, while single men or gay couples don’t. Biology is a factor here of course, but the intention should be to provide help for both sexes, not only women. Maybe this is a situation that will encourage gays and lesbians to participate in a Gender Liberation Beyond Feminism – as my tagline states :)

  29. Per Says:

    Single women don´t get help still, but almost all of the political parties are pro changing the rules. Men will thus be even more “superfluos” in the reproduction process except from providing the semen. For me it´s absurd that men are not starting to protest and demand a legalization of surrogacy. But as I mentioned above, men are really stupid in a way. There is a lot of work to do obviously..

  30. Pelle Billing Says:

    Yes, there is a lot of work to be done. Like I said above, I will address this “stupidity” of men in a coming post, and go into the reasons (as I see it) for feminism emerging before a men’s movement or a gender movement that cares about both sexes.

  31. Per Says:

    I look forward to read that post. Keep up the good works :-)

  32. Bj0rnborg Says:

    “ll add to your comment though, that I think many man also suffer from another problem – the inability to articulate their own emotions/opinions on these matters. Many men just haven’t thought about things in a gendered way. To complicate the matter, feminists are not always open to a different point of view of gender matters.”

    This is a sentience that is echoed in many of the replies and the original post. But I think you oversee the most important factor:

    Men do NOT lack emotional depth to relate to male issues and oppose a gynocentric perspective, men lack a language.
    The theories and concepts used in all equality-discourse is either originating from feminism, or have been “high-jacked” and thus connotatively manipulated. Its very hard to express complex and from feminstic philosophy divergent nuances using the terms accepted in the debate today. Some terms need to be reclaimed, others need to be reinvented, in order for men to articulate their view on the issue. Thus, for all too many men its like reinventing the wheel just to be able to speak their mind, and so they keep silent.

    Men also have another problem with taking part of the debate, the male genderroll is solution-oriented whilst the mainbody of feministic theory is relativistic and ad hoc. There are no solutions using feministic theories. Thus we become short circuited, we want to find a solution and act, but in reality, there is no way for men to redeem themselves in current feministic theory.

    For instance, if you hold the door for a woman, you are belitteling “I can open my own door, thank you very much”. If you dont open the door, you are misogyn. If the public art portrays a majority of naked females, its objectification, if it portrays a majority of male art, its proof that femal sexuality is not accepted and that male sexuality is the norm. Etc.

    My point; just as in the old Star Trek Movie, this is a game that can not be won by following the preset rules. The rules need to change. And the very fact that the rules are set up that way, proves that feministic theory is not attuned to reality.

  33. Bj0rnborg Says:

    and thus have in parts another agenda entirely than equality.

  34. Per Says:

    BjOrnborg: I guess your right. Luckily I´m gay so I don´t really have to bother. I can always play my victim-cards, thus shutting up all female lamentation. But I can´t help myself feeling at unease with the current situation.

  35. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Yes, and I find it very telling how far the gaymovement have come by positive change, by beeing proud of who they are, full focus on themselves; and how feminsm isnt getting anywhere with their shame and blame tactics, full focus on others, scapegoats.

  36. hampus Says:

    ‘Could you speak more to the democratic crisis you’re referring to?

    Pelle’

    I’d love to share and test my thoughts on this.

    The democratic power relies on a bed of public debate. This bed of public opion serves then to inform politicians about the wants, needs and whishes of their subjects, so that they can present politcal plans when elections are being held. The importance of public debate is even more acute in deliberative democracies, such as the swedish, which can be translatated to a democracy founded on the very debate and utterings of the common people.

    The public debate has been monopolized by media until recently with the appearance of the bloggosphere. In media, males have been treated awfully. There are a number of campaigns that media has driven against males in remarkably hateful manners and still today leading media are expressing dissatisfaction with males voicing their opinions, generally putting male views down as being originated from castration anxiety or else.

    The view of males in media and in the public debate has been silencing the voices of males, disregarding them in numberless cases, shamefully, by simply assuming the guilt of all males and therefore, seemingly legitimately, deriding any opposing view of males.

    So what’s a male to do? If he contacts the authorities by himself, directly, he is most often without any chance of justification as he will be seen as a troublemaker, going against the public, ‘well-known’ debate.

    And when election comes, the political parties are prepped with female-affirmative actions, but no male-affirmative ones, although in much need considering suicide, basic human rights, academic achievments etc.

    It is not surprising that male voices yet almost solely are expressexd whithin the bloggosphere, such as your own.

    On top of that, the public debate has skewed the jurisdictional system to sentence far more innocents than generally accepted as being fair, in sexual cases, spurred by the public debate. Even with laws, further discriminating males, in times when laws are enforced vividly in the aid of weaker groups. Or the open discrimination and utter humiliation of fathers in custody trials.

    Furhter, a democratic state such as Sweden, is enforcing dogma like Könsmaktsordningen, which declares male inherent superiority (without any reference as to the basis of that superiority) and therefore justifies political actions against males, describing them as human beings that ‘exploit’ females!

    Yes, I agree with you that victimization is awful, but firstly, I wonder if there isn’t a limit when a victim truly is one and therefore should be identified so. Secondly, if the public debate constantly is revolving around the concept of victimization, is there another way of facing such rethorics other than by assuming the language of your opponents? Thirdly, the victim’s card is a power card, played for domination and if reason cannot persuade, then why not powerplay?

    All this results in males having no choices at all at election if they’d wish to place their votes on male affirmation. No political party in Sweden today has any agenda whatsoever FOR males, only more guiltshoveling and anti-male rethorics. The only party not being feminist is SD and may that explain the male support of that party?

    So, this is a crisis, democratically and further for the society as a whole with the corruption of the juisdictional system.

    In my opinion, reason seems to be getting to both politicians, powerholders in the public debate and also in the general folks, but silence is still there.

    Why is there still silence? I believe because the transgressions have been to great against males to be safely handled in an open debate.

    Well, a bit fragmented, but those are my testing grounds today

    Still loving your analysis, though, and eagerly awaiting your thoughts on this

    Hampus

  37. hampus Says:

    And to the rest, would you please stop referring to males as stupid just because of your frustration? :D

    lovingly

    hampus

  38. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hampus,

    I get what you’re saying about the silencing of men. Men have been doubly silenced: by their traditional gender role and by the rise of feminism. This is a very important issue and I will address it in several future blog posts.

    Regarding victimization… This is not an easy issue. I agree that we have to acknowledge that things aren’t working, and that many men feel silenced and powerless. As men, we need to mourn this and start feeling angry about it. However, I believe we then have to harness those emotions into productive endeavours, and start working to achieve constructive change. And I don’t think that we should start using the language of feminists nor the excessive victim mentality of many feminists. Let’s focus on what we want to achieve, instead of everything that is wrong!

    What you’re bringing up is tremendously important. For a long while I was angry and felt victimized, but then I was able to move to the next step, and then I found my own authentic voice. It is that voice I’m using to articulate my ideas in this blog :)

    Does that make sense to you?

    Pelle

  39. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Hampus:

    The victimization leads nowhere.

    It have been good for feminism to gain political power by manipulating what I like to call the knight in shining armor (riddarkomplex) male genderroll, where we are supposed to sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of women. Men in power happily sacrifice other, powerless and underclass men, to gain favour with women.

    But it has not been good for women as a collective. Beeing socialized into victims, both by the femal genderroll, then inforced by feministic theory have been very harmful to women. (yes to men too). If you believe you are a victim, if you believe you are powerless, not in control of your own situation, it will become true in a sense, since you will not see and use your options. So this is not a route I think is good for men to take.

    There is another side to this though, its the “us too” argument. Its an important argument. Whenever the gynocentric parts of feminism are making male suffering invicible while highlighting the female counterpart, it IS important to speak up for ourselves. Its vere male “genderrolly” not to complain but to plug away stoically no matter what, but its important that we break free from this and start reclaiming our right to be victims. When its righteous. This is very diffrent, even though often deliberately misunderstood, from propagate a male victimization-theory.

  40. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Dang, mistakingly hit the submit comment button.

    Will continue here;

    I believe its very hard to balance those two parts of the issue, avoiding the victimization of men (a la feminism) but still fight for our rights to have feelings, such as hurt, sorrow, lonliness, in short, that men too can get the blunt end of the stick. And does, in fact, probably as often, though in diffrent ways, as women.

    As for language, yes using feministic terminology is almost unavoidable when discussing with feminists (well this is true with the minority of feminists that knows anything about feminismt theory, the majority, in my experience, knows little more than basic stuff and only babble catchphrases like feminism = equality etc. They are impossible to discuss with, because most of the time they dont really understand what they are saying, and refuse to, because they cant, discuss. Ok, bitter sidenote tuning out. :) ). If not they will make some ad hominem statement about you “level of education” and disregard everything you have to say.

    So its important to understand exactly what those terms mean, and be clear and consistand of how YOU define it in the discussion. And why it should be defined this way. This is a subject im really interested in and Ive developed a few terms that you need to discuss these issues from a male perspective. I will write about this in my coming (I hope) blogg.

  41. Bj0rnborg Says:

    In regards to this its important to have a theory of you own, a coherent story of everything. Otherwise its very easy to fall victim to the inherent male-bashiness of feminist rhetorics and theory. This is why I dont like anti-feminism. Its unconstructive.

    You need to have a message and worldview of your own; not only critizise others because you do not agree. Warren Farrel is a good start to open up your mind to alternative views on equality (we have all been socialized somewhat into the feminist agenda), and then go from there.

  42. Pelle Billing Says:

    “You need to have a message and worldview of your own; not only critizise others because you do not agree.”

    Spot on! This is exactly what I’m trying to do with my work.
    Looking forward to your take on this in your coming blog.

  43. Schala Says:

    Another perspective often absent or in minority in gender debates is trans perspective. Yes, I may be a woman, but I’ve known what it was about getting shit for not being the ideal masculine as well.

  44. Bj0rnborg Says:

    The transperspective is somewhat covered in queer-feminism. But I believe that trans-persons are not trule represented by this. I have a few trans-persons in my circle of aquaintances and they, in opposition to queer-feminism, strongly feel that their sexuality is “hardwired into the brain”, not a social construct.

  45. Schala Says:

    I don’t think queer-feminism adequately covers it. Trans-feminism is more apt, with people like Julia Serano. I’m quite fond of her concept of subconscious sex. A term that aptly captures the notion of the profound sense of self as male or female and removes the gender connotation (as masculine or feminine) that traditionally, feminism has thought transsexual people would transition for.

    It’s not about gender roles, and never has been. Gender-variance might be about gender roles, and I’m all for gender-variance as well, but we’re talking about people who fully transition from one legal box to the other here (some are gender-variant before/after, some are not – like everyone else).

  46. Schala Says:

    Ah and yes, feminism are not the only ones to think its about gender roles. So are many in the overall society, in the LGB community, in the transgender umbrella, some transsexual people themselves too, then doctors, psychiatrists, the DSM…

    It’s a hard notion to counter, though it might make ‘more sense’, to change physiology for the sake of gender roles makes little sense for most people (in that it would be horrible for most people, however gender-variant they may be – to change the body’s endocrinology and remove/transform the male organ).

  47. Pelle Billing Says:

    Yes, transexualism is really interesting, thanks for bringing it up Schala.

    As Bj0rnborg alludes to, there are strong indications that gender identity is hardwired into the brain. Many transsexuals hold this view themselves, and biological research has found support for this theory by studying the size of various nuclei in the hypothalamus (i.e. some cell clusters in the brain are larger if you self-identify as male, for example). Gender identity is even more primal, or more primary than sexuality – at least that is what many researchers believe.

    So while the GLBT movement often advocates the view that gender is a social construct, one of its subgroups (transsexual) often disagree based on their own experience! It will be interesting to see how this conflict is resolved.

    My own opinion is that the biological research of the past two decades offers overwhelming proof that there are brain differences between men and women, both in terms of structure and function. Most people who deny this are either not familiar with the research, and/or don’t have the necessary training to understand it.

  48. Schala Says:

    The brain differences in terms of function only means a different way of seeing or doing things. Much like left-handed or ambidextrous people have their brain organized differently from right-handed people.

    However, where the BSTc is interesting, is that it doesn’t affect function per se, it just affects an intense sense of identity that is physically not plastic after birth (we can’t know about before). People differentiate as adults, but the path has already been decided long before birth. It is independant of endocrinology as well.

  49. Pelle Billing Says:

    Yes, the mentioned nuclei in the hypothalamus only seem to affect an intense sense of gender identity, that isn’t plastic after birth.

    When I brought up the issue of male-female brain difference, I was speaking in a more general sense. On a group level there seem to be differences in how the male brain and female brain are structured and how they function. Exactly what this means remains to be seen, but research is already showing that the differences are real. It’s important to note though that you can only speak of these differences on a group level: women can have male type brains, and vice versa, so you can never know what kind of brain an individual has.

  50. Danny Says:

    Bj0rnborg in your comments at February 11th, 2009 at 5:01, 5:15, and 5:57 pm you mention arguments, theories, and most importantly language. As just about anyone will agree that whoever controls the language controls the discussion. Feminists have a 30+ year headstart over men’s rights activists and it shows in their discussions. Most of the time when MRAs (or men in general) start to talk about how they have been wronged by the system the feminist response is usually to tell them either because they are men they have no right to complain or that they can complain all they want…as long as recognize that women are the real victims of society’s wrongdoings. Feminism has established itself on the moral high ground which allows them to appear to be “right” when the two sides cross paths. Strategically speaking this is very smart but moral speaking this is very dishonest. I’ve been trying to think of how articulate this into a post for quite some time but for some reason its just not forming in my mind properly. Maybe someone else that has noticed this can.

    What you’re bringing up is tremendously important. For a long while I was angry and felt victimized, but then I was able to move to the next step, and then I found my own authentic voice. It is that voice I’m using to articulate my ideas in this blog
    I think I’m still at the angry part but I don’t feel victimized as much as ignored. But now I am moving on to the next step and trying to form my voice. In fact that is why my blog posts that focus on gender relations appear to have somewhat of a basic approach.

  51. thebigmanfred Says:

    Bj0rnborg:

    Men do NOT lack emotional depth to relate to male issues and oppose a gynocentric perspective, men lack a language.

    I think it’s a combination of both. I know many men that don’t even think certain male issues are a problem. Some of this is because men have never looked at things in a gender way, male expandability may be an example of this (I don’t know how many men are aware of just how expendable they are). Some of this is because men aren’t ready to admit certain problems. Male circumcision is an example of this, where some men don’t believe circumcision is a problem.

    I can’t exclude though the impact of language. Without effective communication about their issues, men will solve nothing. Feminism has a political entity is effective largely due to their communications skills. Men need to be able to communicate just as well. Men though are at a disadvantage because part of the male gender role is stoicism, the do it alone approach.

    Men also have another problem with taking part of the debate, the male genderroll is solution-oriented whilst the mainbody of feministic theory is relativistic and ad hoc.

    I’ll have to think about this some more, but I may use this for a blog post if you don’t mind.

    *As anside note, I’m also interested in your blog whenever you start it.

  52. Pelle Billing Says:

    This is a great discussion! Serendipitously my next blog post, which I wrote about a week ago, will touch upon these issues. I will address why feminism came before masculism and before a neutral gender liberation movement.

    I’m looking forward to what you will write about this too, BigFred.

  53. Pelle Billing Says:

    Danny:
    Feminism has established itself on the moral high ground which allows them to appear to be “right” when the two sides cross paths. Strategically speaking this is very smart but moral speaking this is very dishonest. I’ve been trying to think of how articulate this into a post for quite some time but for some reason its just not forming in my mind properly. Maybe someone else that has noticed this can.

    Yes, feminism has a huge advantage in the gender debate because the feminist rhetoric is accepted by so many people, consciously or unconsciously. So a feminist can simply fire off 3-4 statements that summarize the feminist rhetoric, and most men have no idea how to articulate a response or how to question what has just been said.

    When it comes to writing, I don’t think the feminist rhetoric can be rebutted in a single post, I think you need a coherent body of work to do it. And when it comes to discussing face2face, it’s taken me years to be able to hold my own in those discussions. Basically you need to have a quick and good response to every single feminist slogan that can be thrown at you…

    Pelle

  54. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Danny:

    Yes feminism is hegemonious within the equality discourse, any other participant will have to expalain themselves and their views in absurdum. And they will still be, sometimes deliberately, misunderstood.

    What Pelle says holds true for me aswell, it was not until I had a coherent and systematic view of my own that I could hold my own in debates VS feminists. The (hegemoneous) feministic viewpoint is ingrained into our culture and our minds. Once again, Warren Farrel is a great starting point to find your own inner reference.

    So this is a basic and simple truth; not until you understand feministic theory thoroughly , you can start to question the unquestionable and hold your own. You can start to explore the truths behind the connotative manipulations and the distorted facts, and you can finally start to voice that frustrated feeling of unjust guilt in a way that cant be ignored by feminsts who TRULY wants equality. (then there are feminist who use feminism for other ends enitrely, and they will reveal themselves to others as the sexists they are when confronted with truth).

    Thebigmanfred:
    Feel absolutely free to use any inspiration from anything I write. My blogg will be in Swedish though, since I feel limited by the english language. I might translate key posts though, this remains to be seen. One other thing I wish to accomplish with that blogg is to collect links to Bloggs like this and yours, where the “third solution” equality ideas are discussed, so any link-suggestions are very appreciated.

    I believe that the same holds true for women. (that certain aspects of their genderroll is not regarded as harmful, even though they are). This is only natural. Given time, men will become more aware of these issues, just as women have gradually opened their eyes to theirs. We need to avoid the victimization of men though, its a bad path to go down. This is one of the ways that modern feminsm have been harmful to women. (and men).

    I have more to say about the male solution-oriented genderrole, I thought id mention it here. From a genderroll-perspective, men are the providers of the family. We cannot indulge in the luxury of bitching and complaining about things, when problems arise we MUST solve them in order to live up to the responsibility we have. (taking care of family). These solutions might be good or bad, but we always strive to solve issues and move on.

    The female genderrole is the opposite. They can expect men to provide for them, their roll in regards to problems is to cry out for the closest man to help them out. They can demand help. They can bitch and moan and complain. This is part of their genderrol, and together with the male genderroll it creates a genderroll-dynamic wich I call “the princess and the knight in shining armor”. This dynamic have many consquences in modern society, one of wich is the unwillingness of women to take responsibility for their own situation, but to demand help from men, and/or put blame and shame on men until we solve their issues. Wich is one of the most distinct characteristics of feminism. And thus there are very few women who works to correct male-issues.

    It all ends up in one simple feministic dogma:
    Men are responsible for their genderroll.
    Women are victims to theirs.

    This inequal treatment of gender and genderrolls within feministic theory is one of my biggest gripes.

    Pelle:
    Well there have been male-liberation movements before, where we have shed old and harmful genderrols, but these movements have not been aknowledged as such. The beat-generation for instance, abandoned ideals of the male as the provider and was (at first) dispised by society for it. They lived creative “slacker” lives. Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, etc, and they are probably an important reason as to why we dont still live like we did in the 50′s.

  55. Danny Says:

    Bj0rnborg:
    The (hegemoneous) feministic viewpoint is ingrained into our culture and our minds.
    Much like feminists insist that “the patriarchy” is?

    It all ends up in one simple feministic dogma:
    Men are responsible for their genderroll.
    Women are victims to theirs.
    Very nice summation.

    Yes feminism is hegemonious within the equality discourse, any other participant will have to expalain themselves and their views in absurdum. And they will still be, sometimes deliberately, misunderstood.
    But that homogeneous link seems to come and go at a moment’s notice. Over at Feminist Critics a while back someone pointed out that when someone is praising feminism there is no effort taken to distinguish exactly which feminism is being praised. But on the other hand when feminism is being criticized the response is usually:

    1. That’s not MY feminism! We are not a monolithic group.
    2. I’m sure you are misunderstanding things.
    3. Demand proof and when the proof is provided it is dismissed because it does not represent all of feminism.

  56. thebigmanfred Says:

    Apparently blogger doesn’t do pingbacks, so I’m posting the link the my blog for those interested in the male solution gender role.

  57. hampus Says:

    Hi James,

    in your way, I would also like to draw extremes.

    ‘…when making statements such as “men do not oppress women”. I get that.’

    Aren’t there examples of femo-rethorics oppressing males? In males’ right to their own bodies, male’s rights to domestic life, males’ rights to not be loaden with guilt just because of their sex and not of their actions as individuals?

    And what about female responsibility? To question their own view upon male geneder role?

    Have such perspectives come forth in feminist debate?

    Your answer is eagerly awaited.

    Hampus

  58. hampus Says:

    bj0rnborg:

    ‘The beat-generation for instance, abandoned ideals of the male as the provider and was (at first) dispised by society for it. They lived creative “slacker” lives. Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, etc, and they are probably an important reason as to why we dont still live like we did in the 50’s.’

    This is news to me. I would be happy to hear you tell me more about your thougths here, maybe even with references to younger generations of males?

    hampus

  59. hampus Says:

    James:

    In other words:

    Have not females ever oppressed males?

  60. hampus Says:

    bj0rnborg:

    ‘So its important to understand exactly what those terms mean, and be clear and consistand of how YOU define it in the discussion. And why it should be defined this way.’

    YES!

    hampus

  61. Deva Ariza Says:

    “When I analyze whether men as a group have oppressed women as a group, I’m taking a systemic approach, and not a personal approach. So I guess I could clarify my statements in this way:

    - Approaching gender on a systemic level, men as a group do not oppress women as a group. Instead, both genders are constricted or even oppressed by their gender role, and the gender roles have developed as a functional fit to circumstances at hand.”

    When I read this statement, what comes to mind for me is this:

    I agree with you that individual men cannot be responsible for philosophies and institutions which were not created by them personally. In this sense it is inaccurate to say that all men oppress all women (which is essentially what one is saying when one says, men as a class oppress women as a class). So, we agree completely that individual men are not to blame for patriarchy as a system (though I still would like to see individual men admit when this system has benefited them and disadvantaged their sisters — and vice versa).

    It is also accurate to say that men have/do suffered/suffer as a result of the male gender role, as have women as a result of the female gender role. This is also true.

    There are some things being ignored here, however. For example, you make the point that traditional gender roles may have contributed to the development of complex societies, but this ignores the fact that one gender role was accorded more prestige, the male gender role, that that this prestige differential does not seem to be necessary to build a society. What possible benefit could come from valuing the male gender role more than the female gender role?

    Allow me to elucidate: (Note: The very fact that history does not record most of the work of women is, in itself, proof that the female gender role is not as valued as the male gender role.)

    In almost every major religion males have been deemed superior to females. In Judaism women are impure for twice as long after giving birth to a female than to a male. Part of God’s punishment for Eve’s sin was to be dominated by Adam. Islam speaks for itself. Hinduism is more complex but contemporary manifestations also place less value on females than on males. In most Buddhist sects enlightenment can only be attained (or is most easily attained) from a male body. Women are not allowed to serve as priests and religious leaders … etc. The underlying values created by religion shapes what, and whom, believers (and even non-believers) see as having worth.

    The male gender role of soldier is elevated to hero status, while the female gender role of mother (also life threatening and extremely arduous) is denigrated with terms like “breeder” and statements like “just a stay at home mom.” My even comparing the two will engender cries from male-gender-role-supremacists.

    I could go on… My point is simply that there is something more to the story here that I’d like you to ponder.

    There is an element in all this which values one gender role more than another. That differential in value serves a purpose and that purpose is to divide and conquer. What your analysis is missing is power, namely, the power elite.

    I spoke specifically about religion and the military because they are two institutions in which power is seated. Throughout written history human civilizations have been organized more or less hierarchically, like a pyramid, with a small elite exercising control over a much larger mass of people. There is stregnth in numbers, especially if those lowly masses realize that they have a common problem. Ever read The Prince by Machiavelli? It’s a prescription for how the Medici family, the much hated rulers of a large portion of Medieval Europe, could maintain power. It’s base formula was this: It does not matter how much the slaves hate the master — so long as they do not love each other.

    Think about that statement and how it might impact your analysis of gender. “It does not matter how much the slaves hate the master — so long as they do not love each other.”

  62. Pelle Billing Says:

    Teaching men that they are superior, has been needed in order to have men give their lives for society. Teaching women that they cannot work outside the home the way men do, has been needed to keep women in the homes.

    So the myths around the sexes were created to enable the needed gender roles.

  63. Deva Ariza Says:

    I’m not so sure about that Pelle. It seems to be simple in this rendering, but I don’t think it’s that simple.

    Look at women today in the US. Women know that they can work outside the home but many choose to be mothers anyway. Those who can afford to even stay home. This is one of Farren’s fundamental arguments against the wage gap. Even when women can work outside the home, women choose family.

    Men also don’t need to be told they are superior to women in order to go to war. Many men will fight to protect their mate and offspring, their families and communities, because they LOVE them. Not because they think they are superior.

    I think I am superior to cock roaches. I’m not going to risk my life to defend one.

    Keep thinking. Think about power. Foucault. Machiavelli. Even Marilyn French. You’re still developing your theories right? Still open to synthesizing new ideas?

  64. Schala Says:

    Men don’t need to be told they are superior to protect women. It’s part of their gender role. Protecting women (and their children) is their role, the price they pay can go up to their life. In order to have access to the great power of the elite, men have to be willing to sacrifice themselves for women (or they fail at masculinity by society’s standards and are thus deemed unworthy of that power).

    That’s how I see the current situation and especially that of the past. Men are judged on their willingless to efface themselves, to become selfless in regards to their health and very life (cannot talk about weakness, as that is seen as something bad, male victims are deemed unworthy of concern as they are ‘failed males’ by society’s standard). They have to ‘tough it out’ no matter how hard it is, and not complain. Then they are handed power.

    Some have a shortcut to this, like inheriting a company, but if they don’t live up to the ideal, they quickly are replaced by more “appropriate” leaders. That might be why Bush was so popular despite being so stupid policy-wise. He’s a “manly-man”, a cowboy. He doesn’t risk his own life (now anyway), but he gives that image.

    I’m not that much of a fan of that image. While I want a boyfriend who’s more dominant than me (or nothing would happen, as it is), I don’t see men’s role as sacrificing for my sake. I see nothing wrong with a man pursuing selfish interests, as many women also do.

  65. Danny Says:

    In order to have access to the great power of the elite, men have to be willing to sacrifice themselves for women (or they fail at masculinity by society’s standards and are thus deemed unworthy of that power).
    True this is why when the presidental races come around there is almost always a few conversations devoted to the military service of the candidates. But for some reason or another military records did not play much of a roll in this last run for the White House…maybe because by virtue of gender rolls one of the candidates is excused for not having a military record?

  66. Pelle Billing Says:

    Great comments Schala and Danny.

  67. Valerie Keefe Says:

    There’s so much intersectionality between queer rights, trans rights and male rights, that I think to get a good handle on the very inhumane and erasing ways in which quite a few radical feminists behave, you’d do well to read such blogs as http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com and other trans activists who have to consistently call radical feminists, (as opposed to liberal feminists, who really, like Dr. Farrell, are more anti-sexist than anything, with the lens on their own personal issues, like everyone else tends to be,) on their outright sexism and erasure.

    If articulate, anti-sexist, masculists want allies, then get loud and tolerant, don’t let the back-to-the-patriarchy types derail what should be one of the leading social movements of the 21st century, and get yourself allied with privacy rights, gay rights, trans rights. Be good allies, because feminists don’t speak for the majority of people, they don’t even speak for the majority of women.

  68. Pelle Billing Says:

    Valerie,
    I too am hoping that the masculist movement will be loud, tolerant, articulate and anti-sexist. Personally, I think that the whole GLBT movement would do better to support the progressive masculist movement as opposed to supporting mainstream feminism.

    It’s true that there are two factions within the masculist movement. One that is backwards-striving and often homophobic, with the end goal of returning to a traditional society. The other one is progressive, wants true equal rights and responsibilities, and welcomes and accepts GLBT persons. I belong to the latter faction, and over time, I’m sure that the progressive ideas will prevail – they always do.

  69. fabrizzo Says:

    with regard to the stoning incident,if it happens all over the world,then it really is a problem of female suppression.but that isnt true.anywhere else women enjoy rights,sometimes at the expense of men.do women who dress indecently in america or even anywhere in more modern countries get punished,let alone stoned?this is just a spectacle of worldly disparity,some women get all they want n more,some get all the abuse n no justice.i would say its a social rather than gender problem.


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