Archive for May, 2009

Misandry in the Media – part 3

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

This is the third part of my ongoing series about misandry in the media. If you haven’t already, check out part 1 and part 2.

Have a look at this ad by J C Penney:

So what do we learn from this ad?

  • Men are idiots who cannot even choose a good gift
  • Men are sexist bastards who give gifts such as a vacuum cleaner
  • Men need to be subservient and apologetic if their wife gets angry
  • The woman is always right (“every man in the doghouse thinks he’s innocent, ha ha ha)
  • Women are entitled to getting thoughtful gifts
  • Thoughtful gifts are not enough if they’re too nerdy, and not expensive enough (one man in the doghouse gave his wife RAM memory as a symbol for all the good memories)
  • Men aren’t allowed to care about the looks or weight of their wife
  • Men are lucky to be married to women (wife who’s given a thigh master says sarcastically: wow, I’m married to you)
  • All wives are lovely, all husbands are crude and selfish

What’s even more interesting is the hidden assumption that makes this ad work, namely: men’s life have no meaning unless they get their wives’ approval. The J C Penney ad wouldn’t have been thought of in the first place, nor would it have worked for the audience, if that hidden assumption wasn’t already part of American culture.

Another important dimension of the ad is that it stereotypes women as only wanting jewellery and not being able to accept other gifts, even if those gifts are thoughtful. So there is a misogynist components in there, which is hardly surprising since it’s hard to perpetuate stereotypes about one gender without adding a couple of stereotypes about the other gender.

What’s also interesting to note is that all the wives are thin and hot while the husbands look like average men. This could be construed as misogyny, but it could also have been done as a way uphold the wives’ superiority, in contrast to the men who have normal looks.

If the ad wasn’t enough, there’s also a special homepage where men can learn how to get out of the doghouse by buying their wife a diamond (while listening to the speaker voice doling out “good advice”).

Finally, can you imagine an ad being done where women are in the doghouse for not pleasing their men?

How Feminism Defines Women

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The more I think about feminist theory and rhetoric, the more I realize that it is in many ways an ideology that doesn’t serve women any more than it serves men.

Even though feminism does pay lipservice to the belief that women are strong and can do anything they like; the whole feminist political framework is built around the belief that women are weak and need external help to get anything right.

In fact, feminism defines women as being weak in a number of ways:

  • Women are said to need affirmative action in order to be able to compete with men in the labor market
  • Women are said to accept salaries that are too low, and therefore salaries need to be monitored and regulated
  • Women are incapable of leaving an abusive man (and incapable of being angry to the extent that they themselves become abusive)
  • Women cannot make good choices for themselves, since they insist on being teachers or homemakers instead of engineers or executives
  • The major way that feminism invalidates women and portrays them as weak is… by claiming that women have allowed men to subjugate them for thousands of years! (this line of reasoning presumes that women are weak or stupid or both).

If I were a woman, I’d be furious at feminism, and sue the whole feminist movement for character defamation.

Personally, I view women as perfectly capable individuals, who can make their own choices in life, and make new choices as culture and society change over time.

New Blog in Swedish

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Around ten days ago I started running a blog in Swedish about gender issues. So if you’re Swedish you may want to check out that blog as well, since it contains more specific insights about how gender issues are playing themselves out in Sweden at this point in time.

This blog will carry on as usual, with the continued goal of discussing gender issues beyond feminism, from as broad a perspective as possible – and in a way that is relevant to people all over the world.

Challenges for Men

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

What are the main challenges for men in modern and postmodern societies? In this post I’d like to outline what I believe to be important issues for men, at this point in time.

I believe that it’s crucial for us men to start defining our own issues and to find our own voice. Currently, the only political movement that discusses men’s issues is feminism, and that is very unsatisfactory in my opinion. Feminism is primarily a women’s liberation movement, and as such it does not authentically focus on men’s issues.

On a personal and political level alike, it is high time to put the spotlight on the challenges facing men, and it is our own responsibility as men to make that happen – we cannot expect anybody else to do it for us.

So let’s have a look at some important issues that need our attention:

  • The male gender role. As men, we are generally only valued when we perform. There’s nothing that society despises more than a man who doesn’t provide for his family, or a homeless man. The male gender role is also very constricted when it comes to everyday life. Men have a stricter dresscode than women, and men are also expected to adhere to a more narrow range of behaviors than women (for example: being more stiff, not touching other men, etc).
  • Fatherhood. The traditional father was a provider, and family courts still treat fathers in that way. How can we upgrade the role of the father to mean more than providing? I’m thinking that the father can be an important male role model, as well as give the children a sense of direction in life. And if we dare to think really big (sarcasm), then we may go as far as starting to care about the father’s emotional life. Just like we care about a mother’s right to be close to her children, we can start caring about a father’s right to be involved in his children’s lives, even after a divorce.
  • Male friendships. Men have smaller social networks and fewer friends than women. In my opinion an important reason for this is that men are culturally and biologically programmed to compete against each other in the workplace (and we are programmed to spend most of our time at work). If we can start valuing our lives outside of work, as well as let go of some of the competition at work, then it will probably be easier for men to start bonding.
  • Male political issues. As men we desperately need to find a language to describe our own experience. A major reason that feminism could emerge so early, is that women were able to find a language to articulate their own experience. Even though it may go against what’s expected of us, it’s important that we dare admit that the male gender role has real issues, and that we’re not happy with the status quo.
  • Emotional literacy. How can this be developed in men? Biologically speaking we may have a somewhat harder time to become emotionally literate, and culturally speaking we are certainly not encouraged to pursue emotional development. Nevertheless, we will never be masters of our own lives unless we become emotionally literate and able to hold our own in a relationship with a woman (or a man, if that’s our preference).
  • Romantic relationships. Many men still feel that they have to prove themselves to women, and that they should somehow feel lucky if a woman wants them. In my opinion, such a stance can only lead to bitterness and resentment in a man, since you are basically putting a low value on yourself and handing over all power to the woman. As men, we need to let go of the cultural programming that tells us that women are more pure and therefore better than us.

Any other issues that I’m forgetting about?

If Masculism Existed…

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

…then the following male rights would already be implemented:

  • DNA testing of all newborns
  • Independent review of jail sentencing, to make sure that sentences are gender neutral (as opposed to the present, where men get longer sentences for identical crimes)
  • Family courts would make sure that men were only expected to give up financial capital in exchange for social capital; i.e. the only way a father (or mother) could lose custody would be by being proven to be unfit as a parent
  • A pregnant woman would be bound by law to inform the putative father of the pregnancy
  • The media would regularly be outraged that women don’t choose dangerous jobs
  • Magazines for men would publish articles about women’s emotional violence called “Top Ten Signs That She’s on Track to Manipulate and Control You”
  • The only way to convict a man of rape would be by actually proving this beyond  reasonable doubt
  • Women would be required to do military service and be drafted in the same way as men
  • Women dressing sexily in the workplace would be considered a form of sexual harassment
  • Women would still have access to free abortion, but would be obligated to have one conversation with a social worker where the man was present, before being able to have the abortion (to give the man a chance to voice his opinion, even though he would still have no legal rights)
  • Schools would be experimenting with new ways of teaching boys effectively, in order to combat the trend of underperforming boys in school

What other points can you think of?