The Culture of Victimhood

February 22nd, 2009 by Pelle Billing

Once upon a time it was considered morally desirable to be a person who took responsibility for your own actions. This was before we reached a cultural awareness of how prejudices, roles and external structures affect the lives of different groups of people. Once we gained insight into the ubiquity of these external structures, and how we are all influenced by them in different ways, we seemed to forget the concept of personal accountability.

Contemporary culture has a real tendency to assume everyone to be a victim, in some way or other. We live in a veritable age of victimhood, where people portray themselves as hapless and powerless individuals who don’t have any impact on their own lives.

“I cannot be successful at work because I’m a woman”
“I’m too old to be hired”
“I get bad grades because my teachers don’t understand me”
“My upbringing prevents me from having a good relationship”
“My genes prevent me from losing weight”

As you can see, victimhood goes way beyond being the victim of cultural structures, you can also be the victim of parents, genes, teachers, etc.

What to Do?

I believe that it’s fully possible to reclaim our lost sense of individual responsibility, while still seeing how we’re affected by cultural constructions and external circumstances. In fact, I believe it’s vital that we do this, since being stuck in a victim mentality means that we become passive and increasingly bitter about the perceived injustices surrounding us.

Individual responsibility does not mean that we are to be blamed for the existing external structures and prejudices! Being responsible is simply a recognition that all human beings are moral agents, who influence the world according to their own standards and beliefs. The world may influence you, but you also influence the world.

Regardless of what societal patterns are holding you down or working against you, you have the potential to implement change, and to do the best you can in any situation.

I’m not specifically talking about people who truly are victims of irreversible conditions, such as being born with a physical handicap. Still, you can always do your best given the circumstances you’ve been given, and within those limits you are completely responsible for your own life.

Feminism and Personal Accountability

So how is all of this related to the gender debate? The most obvious connection is the claimed victimhood of women that feminist discourse has never been able to transcend. Perhaps more than any other group, feminist women talk about how victimhood is at the core of their experience.

Somehow feminists haven’t been able to reconcile the claim that women are victims, and the claim that women are strong and perfectly capable individuals. I believe that this internal contradiction of feminism is due to two factors:

1. Feminism fails to distinguish between the personal and the political, instead claiming that “the personal is political”. However, this stance makes it difficult to see that you are always accountable and have significant power on a personal level, even if societal structures limit you in certain ways.

2. Feminism holds men personally responsible for the structures that oppress women, instead of recognizing that these structures have crystallized into being due to survival instincts and biological differences between the sexes. This second failure to see the difference between the personal and structural, leads to women feeling like victims on a personal level. After all, if men are personally responsible for having oppressed women, are women then not personally responsible for having accepted this oppression?

The feminist conflation of the personal and the political, keeps a lot of women from seeing what I believe to be a core truth: there is no contradiction between fully exploring how your gender role has kept you from living the life you want, and accepting full responsibility for your own life!

Future Gender Warriors

It’s also very important for men not to fall into the “victim trap”, once we start seeing and exploring how societal structures and our gender role have constricted or even oppressed us, simply because we are men. Even as we are mapping out how the traditional male gender role is limiting, and how feminist theory has added new ways of keeping men down, we can still retain our sense of agency and trust in our ability to effect change.

Men and women alike who are aspiring to move beyond the rhetoric of feminism, need to avoid making the mistake that feminism made regarding personal accountability and victimhood.

As long as you’re accountable you can also change your circumstances, but as soon as you label yourself a victim you can only endure your circumstances. This is a key distinction! Needless to say, no constructive social change has ever been implemented by people who act or think like victims.

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35 Responses to “The Culture of Victimhood”

  1. Jane McGillivray Says:

    “Needless to say, no constructive social change has ever been implemented by people who act or think like victims.”
    Pelle, As we have been exploring in so many places, the shift of taking responsibility of one’s own life does not negate the ways that one has suffered at the hands of others. People who find the ‘will to power’ have often been victims of the most horrible circumstances, and in spite of these circumstances, and indeed, because of them too, they have found the strength to turn inward, to wake up to who they are, and own their own power of intension, and the will to act. I don’t get any idea that you are actually giving credit where credit is due to the many women and men who have risen above their cultural conditioning and circumstances (victimization, if you will). Many people because and through the oppression they have been up against have become wise and compassionate and more fully alive and awake than their oppressors ever could be…. It is a paradox in some ways that this is so, similar to the biblical saying “It is harder for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

    Sadly, also, you are spinning your own rhetoric when you use the words “feminist” as you do, bandied over such a wide range of women who have stood up and claimed their right to voice equal to men. I would love you to write a blog sometime acknowledging the great contributions that women have made in claiming their voice and right to status as human beings (as opposed to simply being chattel of men) to the evolution of consciousness.
    I am not saying that you don’t have legitimate concerns for all the men that have suffered stoically through out the ages, nor am I unwilling to listen to those concerns with compassion and love. I also can agree that the ‘patriarchy’ emerged from survivalist circumstances, and then remained as an outmoded vestige for centuries, keeping both women and men in their pre-prescribed places. But to continue to rag against ‘the feminists’ as you are makes me feel sad. Imagine if these sister through the last century had not stood up to be counted! Imagine where we would be then! I would love to hear your gratitude for the beginning of the ‘gender liberation movement’. I have deep gratitude for these women. I also have deep gratitude for the men that have stood behind these women and allowed the spaciousness for social and political reform to take place.
    Jane

  2. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane:
    Pelle, As we have been exploring in so many places, the shift of taking responsibility of one’s own life does not negate the ways that one has suffered at the hands of others. People who find the ‘will to power’ have often been victims of the most horrible circumstances, and in spite of these circumstances, and indeed, because of them too, they have found the strength to turn inward, to wake up to who they are, and own their own power of intension, and the will to act.

    Jane, I completely agree! I don’t know why you would think I don’t agree. The whole point of my blog post is that we need to separate the structural from the personal, and regardless of the structures we face we need to reclaim our personal power and realize how each and every one of us affects the structures that we live under.

    I also agree 100 percent that healthy feminism has done a range of good things for women, and sometimes it has carried over to men too. I already have a blog post written about that, and it will be published in the not-too-distant future. Another blog post, yet to be written, will be about what I consider to be healthy vs unhealthy feminism. Healthy feminism needs to be included into any future gender movement, alongside healthy masculism – too the extent that masculism exists.

    Pelle

  3. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Jane:

    I think one needs to understand the diffrence between victimization as a consquence of actually circumstances, and victimization as ideology.

    Both men and women have had their fair share fare of the first. This is the basis of my perspective, I dont find women to be subordinate to men, and I dont believe they ever have been. We have had diffrent genderrolls, that is true, and so we have had diffrent experiences of society. But it would be very hard, not to say impossible, to discern what sex have had the worse journey to here. Male suffering and female privilleges have been made invisible through feministic spinning, aswell as the inherent stoicism of the male genderroll and the victimhood of the female one.

    True equality can not come from less than listening to both sides of the story. Its as simple as that. Men need to speak up louder, and women needs to start listen. This blog, and many like this, is a start. The only way actually, aslong as comercial media continue to refuse male-issues. Had we had no internet, we would have no hope of true equality at all.

    Feminism, in addition to the prexistant problem, creates, maintains and exploits (both men and women) victimization as ideology. The very premises for the political power feministic lobbygroups holds today is exploiting what is originally a genderroll dynamics. By spinning situations to make out the woman as a victim no matter what triggers the “helpless princess/knight in shining armour” instinct/socialisation and makes men with power act in support of these alledged women. They will happily sacrifice workingclass men to gain favour with the women. The true victims today are workingclass men, who are beeing made invisible, not listen to, stigmatised as the Perpetrators, whilst at the same time beeing discriminated against through affirmative action, ie sanctioned gouvermental discrimination. They are the most hopelessly powerless today, and the consequences is everywhere to be seen.

  4. Bj0rnborg Says:

    “Pelle, As we have been exploring in so many places, the shift of taking responsibility of one’s own life does not negate the ways that one has suffered at the hands of others. People who find the ‘will to power’ have often been victims of the most horrible circumstances, and in spite of these circumstances, and indeed, because of them too, they have found the strength to turn inward, to wake up to who they are, and own their own power of intension, and the will to act.”

    I have to comment on this.

    While it is true that many victims of horrible circumstances have found great strength and success in their life, that is not what victimisation as ideology is about.

    In my perspective, its about false empowerment, similar to that of a group of schoolyard bullies boosting their confidence by ganging up and beating up other pupils. Its confidence unrightfully bought on someone elses expence, as is female empowerment by malebashing. (wich is one of the consequences of feministic victimhood).

    Its similar to examine a zebra, but only at carefully selected spots, and then reporting it is all black. And demand political action to make it atleast half white because anything else would racist.

    There is a swedish expression, “ändamålen helgar medlen” wich says that “the goal sanctions the means”. Wich means that sometimes it might be OK to compromise with ethics if the final goal is important enough. This is how many feminists I know reasons. But since the Goal is based on a gynocentric perspective, the male perspective beeing made invisible, the means are not sanctioned. Not until the goal is based on a correct analysis (incorporating both female and male perspective) the means can be sanctioned.

    Sorry about the spelling and if im unclear. Its getting to late.

  5. Jane McGillivray Says:

    So Bjorn, I can hear your frustration and unhappiness with the feminist movement. What I hear you say pretty much is that women have nothing to be concerned about, and never have had anything to be concerned about regarding the power structure of society. You don’t believe that “women are subordinate to men or ever have been.” Do you think the feminist movement has had any bearings in reality at all? Do you think that it has been important at all? I am asking these questions really sincerely(and to you too Pelle). My take in these blogs as that the focus so far has been on “feminist-bashing”. There is also a repetitive theme of making comparisons about how whatever it is that women have ‘complained’ about, men have endured the same or worse and simply not had the capacity to ‘complain’ equally. In a way, there seems to be a continued diminishment of the what the ‘feminists’ have been complaining about, while putting all sorts of issues forward that men have so far been unable to voice.
    I would be happy to hear about what men have not voiced. I would love to hear it stand alone, not as a comparison, but as a collection of wounds and constrictions, both personal and political, that need healing, and attention. I am aware of what men have suffered. I have had my heart stretched more than I can say by the work I have done with men in healing groups….watching them reconnect their hearts and heads and deepest sense of the masculine……these wounds are immense, the suffering has been great. In my way of thinking, there is no need to make comparisons, or imply that others(most notable women/ and ‘feminists’) who have suffered should have their suffering disregarded or diminished in order to make way for all the new information of what has happened to men. It is true that there will be people, some of them women, some of them men, who are frightened to open their hearts to the plight of men. Don’t worry about these people, stand tall and speak your truths, and believe there is the spaciousness for everyone’s grievances, and for the ocean of tears……
    Without simply taking the space that you need to tell your stories, my sense is that you are painting your own selves into the “victim box”, considering yourselves to have been the victims of the ‘feminists’ in this case. All it takes to stop this cycle is to stand up and tell your stories, not so much with the emphasis about ‘what got done to you’, though that too is important, but ‘how you woke up and took responsibility for your lives’, how you declared your selves strong and important and virile and vulnerable and open and willing to meet the women in your lives half way with your full heart!
    Jane

  6. Bj0rnborg Says:

    “You don’t believe that “women are subordinate to men or ever have been.” Do you think the feminist movement has had any bearings in reality at all? Do you think that it has been important at all?”

    Yes to both questions. Feminism have been successful in making the lives of women better. And sometimes this have spilled over to men aswell. This is what I usually call original feminism, and I believe Pelle calls it healthy feminism. The feminism that focused on equal rights and equal opportunities. This is feminism I agree with to a big degree, aswell as liberal and libertarian feminism today. Sadly these schools of feminism are rather mariginalized today, mainly because their maingoals have been achieved.

    (just to anticipate the obvious objection here; yes ofcourse women have had issues just because they are women. But this does not make them subordinate. Especially since men at the same time have had issues just because they are men. Its the Zebra again.)

    In the 70s progressive studentmovements gave birth to radical feminism. Using focault and other sociologist, they tried to unearth hidden sexism and mysogynist structures. Hermeneutics as a method is very dependent on the academic honesty of the researcher, without it you can really come up with any result at all. With the notion that nothing is objective anyway, these feministic researcher indulged in relativistic and ad hoc research, and this was the start of “the culture of victimhood” as Pelle calls it.

    Basically any group can claim victimhood aslong as they put the right glasses on and denies half reallity. And as already established, victimhood is a great source of political power (even though there is a dark side to this wich would be interesting to explore in more detail in further posts).

    Radical feminism lived a rather quiet and marginalised existance at first though, with rolemodels as dworkins and solanas it was regarded as an extreme, uncomprimising fundamentalism.

    But as the “healthy feminism” got weakened by achieving most of its goals, resulting in the “backlash” in the 80s, feminism as a movement found new power in radical feminism. There are no realistic goals that can be achieved. Only an ever growing documentation of wrongdoings towards the female sex, often very biased and gynocentric, out of proportion or outright lies repeated ad nauseam until regarded as true, connotative manipulations, strawmen rhetorics or just relativistic and ad hoc.

    Anywichway one looks at this, the greatest loosers of this movement are the (mainly workingclass)women, beeing unhappy about everything, feeling powerless, afraid and abused. And beeing easliy agitated and exploited by their “leaders”, middleclass women aiming to make a career as journalist, writer, politician etc.
    But also the workingclass men suffer for this, beeing scapegoats for all things making the women unhappy. The only winner are the middleclass, who have succeeded in disuniting the workingclass. In only 30 years.

    OK, long backdrop, here is the deal;

    The reason that you, and many other feminists, feel that “masculinism” or “mens-rightsmovement” (im neither though) are trying to make of with part of the victimhood-cookie is that you dont really see that we/they are REacting, not acting, on what is already going on.

    In short, men are joining in very late. Feminism have monopolized equality; theories, terms, analyzis and solutions. These are hegemoneous in the equality discourse today. Men cannot stand alone in this, or create a “secondary” equality discourse. There can be only one equality, and should ofcourse incorporate both men and women. So men have no choice but try to get in there and reform all of the above mentioned so that their part of the story is told in an honest and objective way. And if it was, that would be the end of “the culture of victimhood” for women just because they are women, it would be the end of many feministic theoris in fact. I guess that is why there is such great reluctance to “let men in”. If feminism can find no room for men, the male experience, the male perspective in their theories, then these theories are not really about equality, are they?

    In order to reform feministic theory into true equality, we need to make feminists see that their theories are gynocentric and therefore false. Naturally the way to do this is to say “hey, this isnt right, look at mens situation. Your theory cannot possibly be correct the way you present it. It needs do be adjusted”. The reaction to this have been very mixed in my experience, ranging from denial to ad hominem attacks, or a condescending “so men wants to be victims too?”, but very seldom do I see an honest attempt to try to incorporate men into equality.

    Its not a battle about who is the greater victim, its a battle to incorporate 3-dimensional views of both sexes into the theories that shape the equalitypolitcs today, instead of the misandric and the female-glorifying stereotypes that dominiates.

    The opposition to this leads me to believe that feminism have played out its roll as an advocate for equality, and turned into a “female empowerment through malebashing”. Or in other words, a misandric and sexist organisation who feeds on the discrimination of men. It has also become a way for middleclass women to exploit workingclass women, aswell as turning the whole workingclass on itself, women against men. (yes, I have not touched upon these matters in great length yet, but It might come up in the future, thought Id mention it from the beginning).

    On the other hand I still hold hope for feminism, im hoping that poststructural feminism will not be too corrupted by the more hateful radical feminism. The outcoume of that clash is not clear yet, but its obvious that there have been compromises.

    I do understand that many individual feminists are as restricted in expressing their views as men are, when the only public channel avaiable to them today is radical feminism. Im hoping that these “healthy” feminists will feel the need to start expressing their own thoughts instead of echoing radical feministic theories, and join efforts with “healthy masculinists” or men like me, pelle and others and work for a better society for everyone.

  7. Jane McGillivray Says:

    Bjorn, When you write: “The reason that you, and many other feminists, feel that “masculinism” or “mens-rightsmovement” (im neither though) are trying to make off with part of the victimhood-cookie is that you dont really see that we/they are REacting, not acting, on what is already going on.” I FEEL irritated. YOU don’t know what is going on in my head or my heart because you are not there, yet, in this above quote you are not only telling me what I am ‘feeling’ but why. I don’t want to be dogmatic about this, but it is a crucial problem, not just in learning how “you” can to talk to “me” and vice versa, but for the whole discussion to open up between the camps of so-called ‘feminists’ and all the others who have been named in this discussion.
    Every one of us MUST learn to speak from our centers and represent OUR OWN EXPERIENCE…. In doing this, the misconceptions and hidden assumptions will begin to fall away naturally. The best way to get rid of a dysfunctional model, is replace it with a better one….. I can appreciate your desire to “correct” what you consider to be the misconceptions of the gnarly “radical feminists”…… Unfortunately, this ‘desire’ may well keep you tied to a long out-moded view point long after the rest of humanity has moved on. “A slave is also a person who waits for someone else to set him free.”
    It also seems like a contradiction to me that you don’t see women as ever having been ‘subordinate’ yet you acknowledge the positives of ‘healthy feminism’ in helping women gain equal rights. What do you mean by ‘subordinate’? What is it we are disputing here?
    Jane

  8. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Sorry for making this so long, but I realized I missed to cover a very important aspect of your post.

    “In a way, there seems to be a continued diminishment of the what the ‘feminists’ have been complaining about, while putting all sorts of issues forward that men have so far been unable to voice.”

    Yes, I believe this is a correct observation, I cant speak for Pelle or anyone else, but this is the aim of my commitment to these questions. To recreate a balance. The scale is far off, its time to put equal weight on the male arm of it. Only then, we can start analyze and strive for solutions in a just way, and hope to create true equality.

    Its not about diminishing feministic issues though, its about problematisize them. This is something I find have been neglected. (probably mainly due to the absence of men, hence male perspective, in the development of feminstic theory. There have been little motivation to question theories that “empower” women, no matter if they are even true or not.)

    Because in all honesty, feministic theory are never independent of men. Men are incorporated as a stereotypical mirror to use to reflect upon female issues. And every time a female is (unrightfully) portrayed as a victim just because she is a woman, a man is, implicitly or not, (unrightfully) portrayed as a perpetrator just because he is a man. In other words, men are allready in there. I want to make these men 3-dimensional with all the aspects of beeing human, not the 2 dimensional carbon copies used today.

    I do not agree this is feminist-bashing however. Questioning is not bashing, striving for a dialouge is not bashing. Claiming absolutes, beeing uninterested in any discussion and defending an opinion through dishonest rhetorical tricks, that would be bashing.

    “I would be happy to hear about what men have not voiced. I would love to hear it stand alone, not as a comparison, but as a collection of wounds and constrictions, both personal and political, that need healing, and attention.”

    Me too would love for this to be voiced in its own right, as a complement to the important work Pelle and others does with these bloggs. It is possible to describe the male experience of the male genderroll without relating to feminism. This would be a very interesting and giving read.

  9. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Jane:

    Im sorry. It was not my intention to misinterpret you. I should have know better, I too get very irritaded when beeing told what Im believing. So once again, im sorry.

    “Every one of us MUST learn to speak from our centers and represent OUR OWN EXPERIENCE…. In doing this, the misconceptions and hidden assumptions will begin to fall away naturally. The best way to get rid of a dysfunctional model, is replace it with a better one…..”

    I agree with this, but hold no hope for it to come true. Radical feminism have been institutionalized through gender studies, when so many are beeing thaught what to believe, that inner voice and reference will go unheard.

    “Unfortunately, this ‘desire’ may well keep you tied to a long out-moded view point long after the rest of humanity has moved on. ”

    If the alternative is doing nothing and beeing traditional male stocial, Ill take that risk. I believe its very slim, im very much in contact with my inner self and emotions, im not a fundamentalist in anyway. This ‘desire’ is not about creating and maintaining and identity, its about real life issues. When they change, my position will aswell.

    “It also seems like a contradiction to me that you don’t see women as ever having been ’subordinate’ yet you acknowledge the positives of ‘healthy feminism’ in helping women gain equal rights. What do you mean by ’subordinate’? What is it we are disputing here?”

    I believe I answered that somewhat already.

    “(just to anticipate the obvious objection here; yes ofcourse women have had issues just because they are women. But this does not make them subordinate. Especially since men at the same time have had issues just because they are men. Its the Zebra again.)”

    To me equality is about empowerment, the power to control your own life as an individual. To live a meaningful life, to have the opportunity to form it as you will, free from genderroles, other socialisation and other factors. Sex should be irrellevant.

    Any meaningful definition of subordinate must to me mean that women have had less of a chance to have empowerment. This is what I do not agree with. I believe that women have had atleast the same opportunity as men, probably more throughout history, definately today. This is just stating my view. Motivating it would take a full post, or even a blogg of my own. Wich is in the makings. Unfortunately not in english though, since I feel to limited by lack of vocabulary and understanding of nuances.

  10. Jane McGillivray Says:

    First of all, thanks Bjorn, for the apology… I feel very passionately about clean languaging and I also know that it is a prerequisite for meaningful dialogue, especially in these difficult waters.

    I am considering this statement by you: “I believe that women have had atleast the same opportunity as men, probably more throughout history, definitely today.” This statement seems to be at the center of Pelle’s argument too. And so I am puzzled by how I can see this so differently. I wonder what it would take to look at this statement more clearly.
    ‘More opportunities’ is a pretty big blanket statement, and I guess it covers a lot of territory, and is pretty unhelpful unless we are clear about the “what” of the opportunities we are talking about. What have women had more opportunities to do than men? What have men had more opportunities to do than women? And how as our social system, literally ‘given’ those opportunities to one gender over and above the other, at different times?

    The issues, that ‘healthy feminism’ has fought for, are about equal opportunity to vote, to own property, to be self-determining in the work place and in society, to have reproductive control and so on. It is pretty hard to argue with the historical facts of when women were recognized as human being and given the right to vote and own property. So clearly, without these basic tenants in place, the ‘opportunities’ for women in the political and social spheres have been very restricted. Are you arguing about any of these constrictions and limitations when you say that women have had more opportunity than men?

    Moreover, what are the opportunities that you and other men have missed out on, and how has missing out of these opportunities hurt you? What is it you want now to change? What is your vision of how life should be as we move into the future?
    Jane

  11. Bj0rnborg Says:

    In sweden, men got the right to vote 1910. The first thing they voted on was to get women the right to vote in 1921. I think these 11 year diffrence of right to vote compared to the span of human history is rather irrellevant. The right to vote is a class issue more than a genderissue anyways. Same thing with the right to own property.

    Women have more reproductive rights than men.

    In what way have men had more self-determination at workplace than women? Or in social life? I have never heard this argument before. I do know, however, that not until women emerged enmasse at the workplaces, saftey and workenvironment became part of the agenda. This is another thing for men to be thankful to feminism for.
    Still though, more than 90% of everyone that dies at the workplace are men. (and this is about 10 times the number of women who die as a consequence of domestic violence. Yet I have never seen even one newspaper write about this issue.)

    As for the malepart;

    Men where required to die for their country. For instance; war.

    Men where required to die for women and children. For instance; titanic.

    Men where required to take hazardeous/livethreatening/maiming/souldestroying jobs to support women and children. For instance; the whole of industrial revolution.
    Feelings and emotions had to be supressed to even endure the male genderroll. If nothing else worked, drugs would do the trick. Many workplaces supplied alkohol to their work-force just to make them endure the pain and hardships.

    Men where beeing thaught that to show their love to there children they should work hard and be a good providers, spending almost all waking time away from home (14-16 hours a day, 6 days a week) to earn only enough for bare necessities, they where disconnected from the one thing they loved the most. The one thing that made it all worth it. Their family.

    We are sentenced more often, and harder for the same crime as women.

    90% of all custody-cases that goes to court are lost by men. This is in now way a fair representation of who is the best suited parent or what is best for the children.

    Today, in addition, men are beeing scapegoats not only for their own genderoll, but for the female one aswell. Parental insurances in sweden for instance.

    We are subject to gouvernmental sanctioned discrimination through affirmativ action.

    Men are stigmatized in our social lives (its OK to treat men in ways that would never be accepted for women, there are many inhibiting “rules” imposed on men that are not required of women, such as some that are mentioned in the rape-thread at this blogg), we are misrepresented in media, our issues are made invisible and when speaking up we are demeaned and not listened to.

    I know there are many more male-issues, I just dont want to make this into a feast of injustice. Im just trying to make a point;

    To sum up the relevant part:
    Men where deprived (through the male genderroll) the most essential things to be able to build happy life, empowrement; health, sparetime, connection to their emotions and nearness to their loved ones. In my mind this affects empowerment to a much larger degree than most other things I can imagine.

    This is very schematic and inconclusive, I understand if you have many questions and reservations about this. Its a very complex issue, and I can not be sure that women have NOT gotten the worst part of the deal, or vice versa, nor can anyone else. The only thing I can be sure of is that it is not nearly as black and white as made out in feministic theory.

    This NEEDs to be discussed. The male perspective MUST be taken seriously.

  12. Jane McGillivray Says:

    “I know there are many more male-issues, I just dont want to make this into a feast of injustice. I’m just trying to make a point.”

    Go ahead and make it into a feast of injustice if that is what you feel called to do…..

    From what I understand you are saying, the male gender role ‘deprived’ men of “the essential things to be able to build a happy life-empowerment, health, spare time, connection to their emotions and nearness to their loved ones”? It would be a stretch for me to imagine ‘feminism’ as having done this ‘to’ men, though the movement may have been insensitive to the degree of the damage embedded in the male-gender role. I tend to agree with much of what you are saying. AND this does not diminish or deny what has been going on for women! Also, I am one who absolutely will encourage y’all to get on the healing mats and do what it takes to reconnect with all that has been so blatantly missing. The men I know that are ‘Being the Change’ are wonderful friends and true allies as we climb out of these dark ages together.

    A wonderful book about this is the Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, and also Sacred Pleasure…….

  13. Bj0rnborg Says:

    No, it is not what feel called to do. What I feel called to do is to explain why women have not been subordinate to men. I was just uncertain to what degree I need to explain male issues to you, and ot what degree you are already aware. To overdo it would hurt my point. Wich is, once again; both women and men have been subordinate to their own genderroles. Not to eachother.

    And I agree, feminism havent created the male genderrole, and thus are not to blame for its harmfulness to men. (just the same as men have not created the female genderole and are not to blame for its harmfulness to women).

    But, feminism have created an ideology of victimhood wich points to men as perpetrators, only, and are in fact blaming all genderoles on men. This is the purpose and/or consequnce of the patriarchy theory for instance.

    It is my opinion that everyone should take responsibility for their own genderole, the first step towards equality and empowerment alike is to free yourself. And by doing so, freeing those around you from the socialising pressure. Men are hampered in this not only by a male genderrole where feelings of hurt, shame and sorrowa, even self-reflection, is a sign of weakness, but also a feminism who are monopolizing victimhood and dont want to aknowledge male-suffering since it might undermine the feministic powerbase.

    On a personal level I believe ive come far, I dont need healing, im more or less fully in contact with myself. (relevant or not, in addition to beeing engaged in equality issues im into spiritual believes and are exploring that wonderful world. Reconnecting with oneself is so much more than beeing in contact with your own feelings.)

    I am free from most male genderrole based boundaries, the thing that is hardest to overcome is the overbearing feelings of shame that radical feminism wants men to feel, collective guilt, and a violated sense of justice in relation to this. This can make me low sometimes, but I looked through that philosofy a long time ago, and it have helped me grow stronger.

    I am hower, NOT free from the consequences of feministic theory, be it that a women will take the place I rightfully deserve (meritwise) at university college through affirmative action, or that im beeing outrivaled when I start my own business by a women who gets twice the gouvermental support and in addition to that a female-only-support network, gouvermentaly funded ofcourse. Or that random women around me blame my success on me beeing man, not congratulate me for the feat it really is. This list could go on forever. Lets just say, that if we woke up tomorrow and all genderolls where gone, men would still be a discriminated group since our discrimination is legislated.

    Actually, come to think of it (jumping a bit to and fro here), I believe that that might be a consequence of radical feminism both for me and some of my male friends, the double bind of guilt towards men have forced men to reconsider. There is no way to win. You can either shred your genderrole completely (why should I do anything for women when all they do is accuse me for things I as an individual did not do) or become hypermasculine. (there is no way to please everyone, Ill be the most “man” I can be, and that will be it). And ofcourse there is the occasional camp-follower who turns to feminism (better to be on the “winning” team and attack the loosing, less emotional pressure, its the easy way out.).

    I do believe that most men have not been as lucky as me with this. As me and Pelle have discussed at another place, men lack a language to express their emotions and feelings regarding equality in a nuanced way. Most or all terms are either originating from feminism or have been connotatively highjacked. This is why we have to spend so much time, effort and letters to explain how our opinion differs in nuances from the established terms. This is why my posts are so long… and my inherant moutyness ofcourse.. :)

    Back to the terms, I would for instance never use the word patriarchy, because it implies male guilt and opression of females. Instead I would use genderrole society, wich much more accurately describes a multicolored reality of give and take, not only black and whites. Most men lack the insight/motivation/knowledge of feministic theory/skill to make these distinctions. Their inner feelings cannot be described in the frame of reference they have been socialised into. I would very much like to break this barrier of communication, and help provide a language to men in emotional pain from the current equality discourse, who does not yet know how to express it.

    I have not read, nor ever heard och Chalice and the Blade. But I googled it quickly,

    Publishers weekly says this:

    “In her scenario, as women once venerated were degraded to pawns controlled by men, social cooperation gave way to reliance on violence, hierarchy and authoritarianism.”

    This is the total opposite of my beliefs. I would even go as far as to call this historical revisionism. It is true that females and “female values” are highly venerated in every stabile prospering societies, just as male and “male values” are venerated in societies who are fighting for their survival. But women in the west have never been degraded to “pawns controlled by men”, i find that insulting since it also implies that this is our modern reality.

    Nonetheless, if you say that the above is not a correct representation of the book, I might be interested in reading it.

  14. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Summing up my points so far:

    Both the male genderoll and feminism have been hurtful to men and hampering their empowerment. Feminism have not been all bad for men though. Its more a question of the right hand gives, the left hand takes away.

    Feminism have been an important factor to correct many of the suffering and injustices women have had to endure. This should never be forgotten. And a small part of this have also spilled over and helped men with their suffering and injustices, mainly because the genderolls and genderolldynamics are interdependent of eachother.
    (this another important reason to why male issues have to become part of the agenda, if not male suffering is reason enough. If we do not free the men, the women will never be completely free either).

    Modernday feminism (from the 80s and forwards) have been dominated by radical feminism. Radical feminism have been hurtful not only to men, but to women aswell as equality itself.

    Men are lagging behind, we are 50 years late. But here we come. Feminism needs to make room for us, or disclaim the monopoly over equality. I personally believe that the best thing would be to create a new equality movement. To many people have too much invested in or against feminism. Im not sure this is realistic though, and for now im trying to
    1. Help other men out of their emotional cell
    2. Urge sensible feminists to reform feminism, to incorporate the male perspective.

  15. Pelle Billing Says:

    Excellent discussion Bj0rnborg and Jane. A host of vitally important points are being made, and your respective opinions are being clarified through the exchange you’re having.

  16. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane:

    “I am considering this statement by you: “I believe that women have had atleast the same opportunity as men, probably more throughout history, definitely today.” This statement seems to be at the center of Pelle’s argument to”

    No, that is not the center of my argument (nor do I believe it is at the center of Bj0rnborg’s argument, after his clarifications)

    The center of my argument is that men and women alike have been deeply bound by their gender role, roles that were created for evolutionary and survival reasons. Once we moved on to a modern and postmodern society, and started caring about personal fulfillment and individual happiness, these roles became like heavy chains weighing us down. I’m not saying that either men or women got the worse deal; I don’t know who got the worst deal and my best guess is that there isn’t a big difference between the sexes here.

    What is needed to solve this problem with constricted gender roles is a gender liberation movement that cares about both genders, and that works towards a better society for everyone. But what has happened is instead that we first got a feminist movement that was largely healthy, and liberated women from some of the key constrictions of the female gender role (still a work in progress of course, but a lot of progress has been made). What happened next is that the feminist movement became increasingly unhealthy, and started blaming men for every female issue that ever existed!

    So this is the situation we have to deal with now. Men have had no movement that wants to liberate men from their gender role, instead feminism has turned to male-bashing and at this point most educated people believe that men are to be blamed for the whole gender mess we are currently in.

    So we need a big focus on men in order to:
    1. Analyze and escape the male gender role
    2. Put a stop to the insanities of unhealthy feminism

    This does not negate the fact that there are still women’s issues that remain. This is why I advocate a gender liberation movement beyond feminism. Such a movement would be able to deal with the most pressing gender issues that exist, be they male or female issues or a mixture of both.

    Pelle

  17. Jane McGillivray Says:

    So, Pelle, I agree with ALL of this: “The center of my argument is that men and women alike have been deeply bound by their gender role, roles that were created for evolutionary and survival reasons. Once we moved on to a modern and postmodern society, and started caring about personal fulfillment and individual happiness, these roles became like heavy chains weighing us down. I’m not saying that either men or women got the worse deal; I don’t know who got the worst deal and my best guess is that there isn’t a big difference between the sexes here.

    “What is needed to solve this problem with constricted gender roles is a gender liberation movement that cares about both genders, and that works towards a better society for everyone. But what has happened is instead that we first got a feminist movement that was largely healthy, and liberated women from some of the key constrictions of the female gender role (still a work in progress of course, but a lot of progress has been made)…….”

    As for the role of ‘unhealthy feminism’ and its ‘male-bashing’ and “blaming men for every female issue that ever existed!?”, this is not a big feature in my awareness. What I think has been increasingly frustrating for me and many, many “healthy women” is that there has NOT been a similar awakening to the constricted gender roles in most men that I know. Most men are not aware of how they have been constricted by their gender role, and when any attempt to open the discussion up is met with a kind of hostility and anger. Very few men have opened themselves to be vulnerable to exploring the very wounds that they are ‘reacting from’. Subsequently, they refuse to explore the damage they are consistently doing while acting out of their conditioning. This is what Deepforestpat is talking about too. When I have said, (and I know you took offense) that ‘men are scared shitless’ to have a look underneath at what is really going on, there is “something” very true about this. Maybe it is, as you have explained, that men are so heavily conditioned not to complain, that they cannot even apprehend the extent of how they are both hurting themselves, and others by clinging to the old modes of being non-complaining. I look at my brother like this. He is so ready to deny his own pain, and ‘fix’ the problems(on the other side of the street) that are arising, that ‘discussing a better way of doing something’, ‘sharing the burden’ is out of the question, until he blows and then he has a temper tantrum. I love the guy, but at some point, I have to just leave him alone to do his thing, and protect my own sensibility.

    Not surprisingly, I have read somewhere that most of the men’s literature trying to look at ‘why men are the way they are’ are bought and read by women. Women seem to outnumber men at every self-help workshop, except maybe AA……. And I think this is true in most of Robert Master’s workshops too, unless it is a ‘men’s group’. But the point I am making is that men need to do their work and wake up to the conditioning they have been constricted by.(and so what if the ‘feminists’ don’t get it right away) And this waking up on the part of men, in my opinion, is sadly distracted by what seems to be all the ‘feminist-bashing/blaming’ that happens when these continuous comparisons are being made between women and men, who had it worse or not etc. (The miners in a tragic industrial accident versus a little girl being stoned by the men in her community!–This is not the kind of discussion that is going to get to the root of occupational health and safety, gender roles or even begin to speak to the atrocity of the life of so many women that are chattel of their families in these horrible circumstances. It just pisses sane and sympathetic people off)

    The deepest frustration for most women is NOT that men are responsible for ‘every female issue that ever existed!’ but that men as a group have not turned to what they are REALLY responsible for, both GOOD and BAD and begun to grow from it. Many healthy women are starving for healthy, aware men who are able to stay present and real and honest, who have some proficiency in verbal aikido, and are able and willing to stay at the intimate interface and explore. Very few men that I have encountered are capable of doing that, and they are incapable no doubt because of the very conditioning you have discussed. Most women that I know have become contortionists trying to engage their partners on a level that their partners REFUSE….and after all the contortions, likely staying far longer than was healthy for them, most women that I know have packed up and left.

    What I get from your blogs is the implied notion that ‘men are not able to do their work because of the rabid feminists howling incessantly at your door’. And implied in this is that ‘men’ are the victims of something outside themselves…. In your words: “Men have had no movement that wants to liberate men from their gender role, instead feminism has turned to male-bashing and at this point most educated people believe that men are to be blamed for the whole gender mess we are currently in.” Most of us women would agree there has been very little men’s movement.

    What I would love Pelle, is for you and Bjorn et. all to just do your work of turning inward, and feeling your feelings and your constrictions and your anger and your freedom and your love(never mind about the dreaded ‘feminists’). If this was done en masse by men, you might be amazed at what would transpire….. we all might be….and I am pretty sure the whole world is starving for what might happen!
    Jane

  18. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane,

    Thank you for your comment. You are obviously passionate about these issues, and I love that passion!

    First off, a short comment on this sentence:

    “What I would love Pelle, is for you and Bjorn et. all to just do your work of turning inward, and feeling your feelings and your constrictions and your anger and your freedom and your love(never mind about the dreaded ‘feminists’).”

    You seem to presume that I/we are not doing that kind of work, and in my opinion that is fairly presumptious on your part. You have every right to talk about trends that you have observed on a group level, but you simply do not know what kind of work I’m doing on a personal level, or what Bj0rnborg is doing on a personal level. Not a big deal, but I just wanted to point that out.

    Regarding the rest of your post, there’s a lot of interesting material, but I want to make a few clarifications regarding what my own stance is:

    1. Doing our personal work is great, and I applaud every man and woman who wants to evolve and become a better human being. However, this does not negate the need for a discussion about what is happening on a societal level, and that we need to acknowledge the plight of both genders at a societal level.

    2. It’s interesting that you write that men should just do their own work, and not care about what unhealthy feminists might say. Would you say the same thing to women? If that kind of solution works so well, then why did feminism even arise in the first place? Is it possible that personal transformation sometimes needs to be accompanied by structural changes on a societal level?

    3. I believe it’s crucial to talk about gender issues in a more inclusive way on a societal level. As long as women and feminism dominate the public discourse, then men will continue to refuse to even talk about these issues. This does not mean that I cast men as victims! It is up to us men to enter the debate and speak our truth. This is why I’m doing the work I’m doing, and hopefully people like me, Bj0rnborg and others can pave the way for men “en masse”.

    I actually believe that the reason that so many women feel unmet nowadays, is because men have such narrow choices. Either men stay in the old male gender role, which is exceedingly narrow, and basically tells you to support your family at any cost and to shut off your feelings 24/7. Or else you become a spineless wimp who succumbs completely to feminist ideas that inform you that men are horrible creatures who are to blame for every bad thing that ever happened (I’m over-exaggerating but you get my point).

    So in a very real way, feminism is hurting women, and a crucial part of men evolving on a personal level is challenging feminism on a societal level. You may not agree, but it’s one of my core beliefs.

    Pelle

  19. Jane McGillivray Says:

    I am not meaning to presume to know what work you and Bjorn are doing….And yet I am making an assumption that IF you were doing your work, truly, the way we all must do it, your truth would not look like it does in these blogs. It not look like a rant against ‘The Feminists’. It would not continue to claim that “men have such narrow” choices, that somehow have been foisted onto them ‘by the Feminists”. It would look like you and Bjorn taking responsibility for all the choices that there are, and standing your ground strongly and clearly. Right now it looks to me like you are hanging on to the evils of Feminism for all it is worth to base your arguments on and to use as a backdrop for what men are or not doing…. It is tiresome. Women, the dratted feminists, the rabid harpies, We are not responsible for figuring out how to get the male gender to stand up and be counted….. we are not ultimately responsible for carving out new healthy roles for you to move into. YOU ARE! You need to do this for yourselves. And where you see you are being hurt by ‘society’ or your ‘mom’s’ or your ‘dad’s', you might consider speaking to this hurt, and what the alternatives might be, instead of pointing out how you think your ‘sisters’ got away without having to do this. And this is what I am saying to you. This is your work, and so far on these blogs, I have read precious little about what you are actually doing in this regard, save complaining about women and about how unfair the system is for men. I am quite sure under all this, you have a vision for the male role, for the society as a whole. What is it?
    I would love for you to write a blog and not put the words woman or female or feminist in it at all. Tell me Pelle, what do you really want? My last post is an expression of my disappointment that you continually tell me what you are fighting against. But really, What are you fighting for?

    Jane

  20. Bj0rnborg Says:

    What I would love Pelle, is for you and Bjorn et. all to just do your work of turning inward, and feeling your feelings and your constrictions and your anger and your freedom and your love(never mind about the dreaded ‘feminists’).

    Now it is my turn to FEEL irritated. YOU don’t know what is going on in my life or my heart because you are not there and you dont know me. In this above quote you are not only telling me how I am but what im doing wrong and should really be doing. *paraphrasing off*

    There is something to be said about people who judge other people by standards they do not live up to themselves.

    Further; you play down/deny the male bashiness of feminism (while at the same time complaining about how this very humble and moderate blog is feminist-bashing) then you demean men as beeing scared too shitless to do the work necessary for equality. Basically you imply that inequality are the responsibility of men en masse. This is what I get out of your post.

    That is freaking annoying.

  21. Jane McGillivray Says:

    well, the title of that book, “women can’t hear what men don’t say” might explain the problem. Of course I don’t know you Bjorn, and you may well be doing the work….. really, though the men that I have seen really coming in touch with their own wounds, and the women too for that matter, don’t spend all their time focussing on what others have done to them, though this might be important step in helping them to dig out the underlying truth. They spend time sharing from a place of compassion and wholeness, which is not what I see happening here. The polarity stops when anyone person takes responsibility for their own situation. From what I can tell, you are both saying virtually the same thing about women and feminism. What I hear you saying is to women/feminism is: Take responsibility for the gender role handed to you and stop blaming men for everything that has been challenging in your life…..
    What I am saying is DITTO to you…..

    I am interested in your annoyance Bjorn. Tempers flare, and this is an indication of how difficult it is to trust the ‘other’ in these difficult waters. So far, I don’t trust you either. I don’t ‘feel’ heard. What I have heard is that you think ‘unhealthy feminism sucks’…but this is not about you, it is about feminism. I am more interested in what you have to say about yourself, and about men in general, than what you have to say regarding your views on ‘feminism’. That is just the way it is.

  22. Bj0rnborg Says:

    “I am making an assumption that IF you were doing your work, truly, the way we all must do it, your truth would not look like it does in these blogs.

    And if you did yours, you would see what we are truly saying and not making false assumptions based on gynocentric prejudice.

    Here is the truth as I see it.

    The male genderroll is harmful to men aswell as women. The female genderroll is harmful to females asweel as men. Precious little have changed. It is true that women have been able to overcome some of their genderroll that have been harmful to them, but that in the female genderroll have been harmful to men have been overlooked simply because it have not been found relevant. So in that regard women are in no way further along or morally superiour.

    When women started to try to shed their genderroll, they had traditions to fight against. It was a hard fight, it has taken long, but some success have been seen. Men have both traditions and feminism to fight against before we can shed ours. That is if we refuse the guilt that feminism ARE accusing us off. Its inherant in feministic theory, as already discussed.

    Part of the problem for men is the lack of a language. You can not deal with a problem until you can define it. You cannot define it until you have the proper tools. The toolkit presently avaiable is too gynocentric to be useful to men (once again, unless you accept the maleguilt put forward by feminism. But that will not be a healty part to play.).

    “we are not ultimately responsible for carving out new healthy roles for you to move into. ”

    This is true. It is likewise true that hegemoneus feminism IS responsible for carving out roles for men to move into, but as you say, they are not healthy.

  23. Bj0rnborg Says:

    You seem to believe that one cannot react to injustices done towards you with anything but love and respect if you “have done your work and come in to touch with your own wounds”. This is false. Im sure we all react to injustices in diffrent ways, this is no indication of beeing in contact with your emotions or not.

    Consequently, you see no men around you live up to your criteria of what it means to beeing in contact with your emotions wich leads you to believe there are none.

    We could be discussing (and I believe we have) wetter this percieved injustice by feminism towards men is true or not, where we seem to disagree, but it is sufficiant to say that this is a very real understanding for most men. And it affects their feelings. Wheter they are “in contact with them” or not. Your criteria is irrellevant.

    Hypothetically, you might mean that if men truly where “in contact” with their feelings and “done their homework” they wouldn not percieve feminism as unjust. My, hypothetical, reply to that would then be to ask you to step back from the Zebra and do YOUR homework in personal development and you might change your mind.

    I believe this is a dead end of reasoning. Ad hominem attacks usually are.

  24. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Furthermore, I do not “spend all my time focusing on what others have done to me”.

    I think you overerestimate the time I spend here.

    In this thread…

    About the culture of victimhood…

    Come to think of it, I actually dont find it strange at all to discuss the harmfullness of feministic theory and practice in this context.

    And I really dont see where I have written about me as a subject in the way you describe, or for you to make conlusions about how I as a subject “spend all my time focusing on what others have done to me”. I have discussed this issue on a theoretical level. The only post about me as a subject that I can find where of me beeing spiritual interested and working with personal development. But please point me the posts you allude to and I will try to clarify my intentions.

    In addition I find that first quotation a bit contradictory to this
    but this is not about you, it is about feminism. I am more interested in what you have to say about yourself, and about men in general, than what you have to say regarding your views on ‘feminism’.

    If you want to know more about me and my view on men and the male genderroll I will gladly discuss this with you. It a subject (in fact two) that im very interested in. Just aslong as you understand that it is my opinion that it is impossible to disregard feminism when speaking of freeing men of their genderroll, and/or speaking about empowring men.

  25. Bj0rnborg Says:

    “Take responsibility for the gender role handed to you and stop blaming men for everything that has been challenging in your life…..
    What I am saying is DITTO to you…..”

    I agree 100%. And if you dont believe I do, please point me to where I have explicitly, or implictily, stated that men, me beeing one of them, should not take responsibility for freeing ourselves from their/our genderroll. I will clarify.

    I know my english is inferiour, but I was not aware that I was this unclear about my intentions. Though, to be fair, this thread is about the culture of victimhood, alas maybe the lack of an indepth discussion of how men can free themselves of their genderroll.

  26. Jane McGillivray Says:

    Well, good luck with sorting it all out, the gender role and so on….and good luck with deconstructing ‘unhealthy feminism’ and the effects that you perceive it has had on men, women and gender relations.

    I am always interested in trying to push the boundaries of this discussion, to see whether it is possible to take it to a new working level. So far I have not had much success…. I am not as convinced as I once was that this is important…. I do know that I have a great deal of compassion for men especially those quagmired in their gender roles, and I have a great deal of gratitude for the men who have transcended them. I am also very protective of my sisters, and proud of the struggles we have overcome, and sad for the constrictions we still face in so many places on the planet.

    Old modes of being fall away as better modes replace them…..

    I am glad you are all doing your work so diligently and passionately…and I wish you godspeed. Maybe on the next go round we will come to listen to each other more clearly and understand with more depth and wisdom.

    I am going to sign off now, as it seems that I am fanning the flames of polarity and this is not my intention.
    All the best.
    Jane

  27. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane,

    There is a difference between feminism and women. In this blog I often refer to how feminism is incomplete, and sometimes unhealthy. This does not mean that I’m attacking women in any way. I’m simply pointing out how a set of beliefs are inadequate, and need to be “upgraded”. There are both women and men who are feminists, so even if we think about the people behind the ideas, we find both sexes.

    So far in this blog, I haven’t focused on the personal work we can need to do to transcend your gender roles, or at the very least evolve our gender roles. I will very likely address that later on, but since I find the societal and political dimension so interesting and pivotal at this point in time, I’ve chosen to start with that sort of discussion first. Furthermore, my own gift is one of analyzing complex interconnections in a system, so that is why I focus on that kind of work.

    However, in no way does my writing contradict the fact that I’m doing a lot of personal work too. But this is not a blog about me, it is more a blog about ideas.

    I believe that men are 100 percent responsible for transforming the male gender role, just like women are 100 percent responsible for theirs. However, since feminism – the only strong voice in the gender debate – paints a very unfair picture of men and the male gender role, feminism *needs* to be addressed. There’s no way around it, since gender issues = feminism, in most people’s minds.

    Regarding my own vision for the future, I’ve already begun to touch upon it in some blog posts, and I will keep on expounding on that subject. Briefly, my vision is about educating people about my key premises:
    1. Gender roles evolved as a functional fit to historical circumstances
    2. Both sexes need to be liberated from their gender roles
    3. Feminism needs to be replaced by a neutral Gender Liberation Movement

    Furthermore, as you point out, a shitload of personal work will be needed to make all of this happen. However, I’m only one person, and it’s up to each individual and the skilled therapists of the world to change humankind one person at a time…
    I offer my own ideas, and hopefully some or many people will find them useful, interesting or even valuable.

    Pelle

  28. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane,

    I value opposing perspectives greatly, so when you feel motivated again, you are very welcome back to the discussion :)

    Pelle

  29. Jane McGillivray Says:

    Well, the thing is Pelle, I am not the “opposition”, nor do I think we would have very different or opposing perspectives if the real truth be known. I am a person seeking the emergent truth about what is going on now, and how to move respectfully and consciously into a society with true gender liberation. I am having a difficult time holding this space in this blogging sequence.

  30. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jane,

    I agree that you are not the opposition, I see now that I was unclear when writing “opposing perspectives”. You are indeed seeking the emergent truth about what is going on in the field of gender – as am I – and within that emergent field we hold both similar and different perspectives. That is what makes this discussion interesting and much needed.

    Pelle

  31. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Thanks for the discussion. Its been a good traningground, maybe next time I can be more clear of my intent.

  32. Paddan Says:

    Wow, this was a very long and interesting blog to read. The comments are very nice! Thnx to all of you especially Jane and Björn.

    But I don’t fully understand the problem when trying to summarize all of this in my head. A lot of opinions here seem to be pretty compatible if we learn to use the same language I believe.

    On another note, the discussion about feminist theory and how it dominates academia (and therefore restricts/influences our way of thinking) is very important in my view. A lot of bad things going on here that most likely will hurt any true gender liberation movement. Most men who try on the feminist courses end up feeling like assholes, adopt the feminist ideology or do a 180 and become hypermasculine. This is a really really really big problem! I once tried to get a discussion going about this when I was in a class discussing gender issues, but it was an impossible struggle. The teacher and most of the women didn’t want to listen, they just had a reply ready to throw back at me. And most of the men didn’t know what to say, or maybe they didn’t care.

    I don’t quite understand how Jane can “overlook” (I don’t know what to call it) this issue. If it is because you don’t think there’s anything at all wrong or harmfull about feminism, then I’m afraid you’re missing the important issues that Pelle, and others, have discussed on this blog. Or perhaps it is because you do recognize some problems, but don’t think that these discussions will help resolve matters. I’m not quite sure I understand your position. :-/ Just stating that if we do some work on ourselves, everything will be fine, is a bit naive. It’s bloody important, the most important I think, but we need to adress these other issues. Otherwise our efforts will be much less effective.

    Don’t get me wrong here, we do need to start talking more about what a true gender liberation would mean. But I too believe that men are a bit behind (on these issues I mean ;-) and that this is an important step to take. I truly believe it’s healthy with some “feminist-bashing” (if it’s relevant, has good points and has some truth to it) just so we can make some sort of a fresh start! That’s MY experience and MY opinion from inside academia and I hope we all share our perspectives in an open and heartfelt way.

    Anyways, thanks for this discussion! Rock on!

  33. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Reading through this again, I see (one of) the big diffrences of perspective:

    Jane believes that men should be doing the work, focusing on male-issues, breaking free from the harmful genderroll, and unhealthy feminism will have to make way/adapt etc.

    While I agree with this, it is clear that Jane does not see how heavy feministic guilt hangs over the head of men. Its an unrightful guilt. It is as if feminism is trying to punish us into change. If you know men, you know this will never work. If the choice stands between accepting that guilt and transcend (into that unhealthy role of ever apologetic scapegoat cut out for us by feministic theory) or doing nothing, most men will choose to do nothing. And rightfully so.

    Pelle coined the phrase “the third choice” in another thread.

    The third choice is about breaking free from the male genderroll withouth accepting guilt. On our own terms. As it should be. To achieve this, I can see only two alternatives. Either we confront feminism and try to reform it to include men and the maleperspective in an objective way and with the same compassion as it has for women, thus disarming the unrightful guilt (replacing feminism with a genderliberation movement would be a good start), or we rid ourselves from its yoke and create our own sphere where we can define ourselves, not be defined by others with a questionable agenda. This includes a new language and new theories where we are allowed to be discussed in a 3-dimensional way, not just as a 2-dimensional stereotype mirror to women and the female genderroll.

    Im all about the third choice.

  34. Pelle Billing Says:

    Nicely summarized Bj0rnborg.

    As Jane says, men need to do their personal work. We can also add that women too need to do their personal work.

    But then there’s the political/societal/structural dimension too, which is separate from the personal. The personal and political are *not* the same, as I wrote about in an earlier blog post. Therefore, men need to make their voices heard in the public gender discussion, it’s not enough to “do one’s own work”.

    And what will happen when men do that? As you say, men will need to address the male gender role, just like feminism helped women address the female gender role. But men will have one more issue to face: dealing with unhealthy feminism and the guilt it has instilled in men and boys around the world.

    We cannot bypass the political perspective and the public debate about gender, we simply cannot. In fact, being stoic men who only work harder in private without complaining at all in public will help cement the old fashioned male gender role.

    Pelle

  35. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Agree fully.

    One of the most dangerous aspects of unhealthy feminism is its ability to create consensus around false facts through ad nauseum technigues. Its important that we dont let these statements go unchallenged, but to voice credible facts and explanations. That will break the spell. Most people, men and women alike, are sensible, if we give them the opportunity of a choice, they will choose the most credible one.

    Just an example of how important it is for men to engage not only in personal development, but in the development of the equality-discourse in the public sphere.


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