The Steps Towards Gender Liberation

July 29th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

How will the public debate around gender issues develop over time? What phases will we go through? Nobody knows of course, but here’s my stab at trying to predict the future, combined with the current phases:

  1. Feminism. Women become aware of the limitation of their gender role and start fighting for their rights. Early on this was a healthy struggle, but since the 60s it has increasingly become a polarizing and one-sided perspective where radical feminism dominates the discourse on gender issues.
  2. Men begin to wake up, and notice that feminism doesn’t care much about them, and may even be hostile toward them in its unhealthy forms. This leads to MRAs (men’s rights activists), masculism and anti-feminism. This process is still in its early stages, but it’s gaining traction all the time.
  3. A growing awareness that both gender roles are limited and have serious downsides emerges. This leads to increased understanding between the sexes, and a will to cooperate instead of trying to prove who gets the worse deal. The nature vs nurture debate is also put to rest, since people finally acknowledge that both variables matter.
  4. We start treating people as individuals first, and their gender as a secondary thing. We neither exaggerate nor deny innate gender differences.

Do you have a different take on where we’re at, and where we’re going? Let me know in the comments.

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22 Responses to “The Steps Towards Gender Liberation”

  1. Mark Davenport Says:

    Amen, Pelle. We can only do that which is the next thing history has in store for us. No jumping over the hard parts allowed.

  2. Danny Says:

    This leads to increased understanding between the sexes, and a will to cooperate instead of trying to prove who gets the worse deal.
    A big hurddle this is. In fact I’ll say its one of the major hurddles keeping us from step four you have listed here. Groups constantly bicker over who has it the worse because showing that their group has it worst proves that the government and members of those other groups should really be helping them if they want to do something positive (I see feminists use this one a lot) thus their issues take top priority and others should just wait their turn.

    No one should have to “wait their turn” but they don’t want to join on a united front either…

  3. desipis Says:

    To be fair, given the mention of radical feminism in point 1, I think the more radical elements of the MRA movement should be noted. In particular noting that there are some MRAs who are against gender liberation (and want strong adherence to traditional gender roles) and how these are typically on the fringe of the movement rather than at its core as feminist often claim they are.

  4. Pelle Billing Says:

    desipis:

    Agreed.

    We also need to remember that the MRA movement is not nearly as large or well-established as feminism, so we’ve yet to see how constructive/destructive it will be compared to feminism.

  5. Andrew Says:

    Pelle, I think you’re right on the money.

    I also think, as desipis is highlighting, that there are various fringe movements appearing all the time as both camps diversify with reactionary divisions on both sides that will only complicate matters as we attempt integration in your 3rd stage conception.

    The Pick Up Artists (PUAs) are one particular men’s group that are growing in reaction to feminism and, by and large, embody justifications to their criticisms, which is an interesting thorn in our side. I wonder if there will (are?) be any groups in the feminist diaspora that will follow a similar path in the name of gender liberation, ie. in shifting the roles in being independent sexual preditors… That would be interesting!

    I envision many destructive fringe movements emerging and diversifying on both sides before we have any integration. Perhaps it will be necessary and expedient to highlight our collective shadow in this way to aid the integration process…

  6. Danny Says:

    We also need to remember that the MRA movement is not nearly as large or well-established as feminism, so we’ve yet to see how constructive/destructive it will be compared to feminism.
    It would be interesting to see where MRAs are 30-40 years from now? By then they will have actually had some time to develop like feminists have and may be in a real position to help men out. I think they’ll be fine as long as they don’t make the same mistakes, assumptions, and presumptions as feminists have made over the years (which would be about 70-80 years old by that time).

    However I still say that the biggest barrier is that the different sides (and the different sub-sides of those sides) are so busy trying to make sure their own issues are made top priority that a united front will be next to impossible to form.

  7. Eivind F S Says:

    Yeah, Pelle, I concur with your list.

    In my own work I have made the argument that what we need now is not a counter-movement with hurt men rebelling against women (quite the oedipal thing going on thereI), but that we need to take a more balanced approach.

    Yet, you are probably right in that it will – and should – happen nevertheless. However, through working diligently to distribute true and directed information while thise goes on, I believe we can dramatically limit the timespan of the temporary conflict, regression and projection inherent in such a process.

    I believe those of us who are more sensitive to what is going on, and what will be going on, in our society are responsible for speeding the development along.

    Thankfully the amount of tuned in guys is growing rapidly and I have some hope in this regard.

    Glad to be back reading your blog, Pelle!

    Eivind

  8. Eivind F S Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    You speak of the PUA community as a “thorn in our side”. Is the “we” you are implying those guys who are more, say, “evolved” than the guys who only want some ass?

    Do you think the PUA scene is entirely destructive?

    Eivind,
    http://www.masculinity-Movies.com

  9. Jim Says:

    “I also think, as desipis is highlighting, that there are various fringe movements appearing all the time as both camps diversify with reactionary divisions on both sides that will only complicate matters as we attempt integration in your 3rd stage conception.”

    They will be a complication, one way or the other. The simnplest complication will be the effort ti takes to come out and say that these people do not speak for men, they are not real MRAs and then move on. This kind of thing has been one of feminism’s spectacular failures – you can get thrown ot of the movement and denounced as a heretic for lots of things, but rancid, man-hatred is not one of them.

    Misogyny – real actual misogyny, such as infantilinzing women by excusing their misconduct, or calling them all this or that, is one of the first things that should

  10. Matteus Åkesson Says:

    What you propose seems to be a dialectic process… I’m not sure that is the best model. Or rather – for the public debate – as you start out by saying, it may well be; but for how we treat people, think and behave – it probably isn’t. (Your no 4 point talks about how we treat each other, not about the debate… )

    I believe that a paradigm shift model is probably better.

    The reason is this: what matters is the silent majority. Your analysis takes into account the development in the debate, and the development for the more or less vocal or at least committed feminists and MRA’s.

    What makes the difference is when the silent majority shifts expectations, ideas and behaviours (without realising it – the silent majority is efficient, economical – that precludes rational thought, which is neither efficient nor economical).

    The paradigm shift will happen when, for some reason, it becomes more expensive in terms of personal effort, and more risky socially, to maintain a gender discriminating mindset, than to put the individual first.

    What could have this effect?
    Well… if it became true that

    “If any one of your friends became aware that you think that ‘men should do man things and feel man feelings and think man thoughts, and women should do woman things etc.’, then you will have enormous difficulty holding a job or keeping your friends.”

    - then I think we would probably have gender liberation.

    The hopeful alternative is that “You will obviously gain a lot socially by not thinking men should do man things and women woman things”.

    The question is how such a paradigm shift could happen. What would need to happen…?

  11. Pelle Billing Says:

    Great comments everyone.

    Matteus, I think that MRAs will be needed to make the paradigm shift. You need that unexpected factor – that goes against the consensus – to stir things up, and then you can have a paradigm shift.

    If fact, I view my own role as introducing enough elements of point 2 above, to get people thinking and challenging their own feminist indoctrination, while simultaneously nudging people to go to point 3.

    Part of me would like to go to point 3 directly, but as Mark says, it simply isn’t possible to skip steps.

    Point 4 is still a long way off IMO…

  12. Pelle Billing Says:

    Eivind:
    “However, through working diligently to distribute true and directed information while thise goes on, I believe we can dramatically limit the timespan of the temporary conflict, regression and projection inherent in such a process.”

    Well put, I agree. Hopefully that is what we are both doing in our work.

  13. Danny Says:

    Men begin to wake up, and notice that feminism doesn’t care much about them, and may even be hostile toward them in its unhealthy forms.

    Speaking of waking up I’ve been trying to get my thoughts straight on the concept of male disposability. Have you by chance done a post on this yet (from what I can tell its come up in comments but never a dedicated post of its own)?

  14. Pelle Billing Says:

    Danny, go to the archive and check out the second and third post I wrote for this blog (from Jan 2009).

    There’s a lot more to be said on the subject, but those two posts are pretty much dedicated to male disposability.

  15. Miriam Says:

    @ Matteus: Thanks for adding the comment that the majority eventually decides. All the fanatics on both sides, man-haters and woman-haters alike, are just a small, albeit apparently vocal group (I must say in my experience these extreme views are not so much on the forefront of the debate as Pelle and most of the other guys here seem to think… How could that be, I wonder ;-) ?)

    @ Pelle and your female readers: I notice that not many women seem to be commenting on your blog… Possibly its title is more appealing to men than to all these women that are frozen in their feminist beliefs, but if we are aiming for integration and mutual understanding, I think increasing the number of female readers & commenters might be a good place to start ;-) ! How could you make the ‘soil’ of your ideas more fertile in their eyes?

    @ Pelle: I must say I like the fierceness and unapologetic formulation of your posts in general. It really gets me going, even if I rarely have the words to express yet where I agree and disagree and why…

  16. Pelle Billing Says:

    Miriam,

    Men have more of a personal stake in finding a form of gender liberation that goes beyond feminism, therefore more men than women are attracted to my work. At this point in time, I think that would be hard to change.

    However, I love the comments I get from women reading my blog. You often challenge me to look at things from a new perspective.

    Point 2 above is still very much needed, so it’s part of my work, and obviously men are more interested in that part…

    I’m glad my posts fire you up, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

  17. Danny Says:

    (I must say in my experience these extreme views are not so much on the forefront of the debate as Pelle and most of the other guys here seem to think… How could that be, I wonder ;-) ?)
    If anything it might be just the places that go where I hear such man hating. At some of those sites such hatred seems to be the in the majority if for no other reason than it is tolerated by the people running those sites while they keep a tight reign on the vice versa. I try to avoid those places but pretending they don’t exist doesn’t help anyone.

  18. Andrew Says:

    Hi Eivind,

    I apologise for the late reply. To be honest, I don’t know all that much about the PUA movement, but what I’ve seen seems to indicate (to me at least) more of a regression in sexual relations towards a more ego-centric self-gratifying attitude which I suppose is not as ‘evolved’ as those in present company ;)

    Most of it seems to be very preditory in nature and I think it is a cause for some concern. This is the foundation of the scandel David Deida was involved in recently when he was engaging with these kinds of movements. However, as it turns out, he seems to be trying to raise their consciousness via the ‘back-door’, so to speak.

    But the movement in general does seem to generate a certain amount of ‘man-hating’ and it doesn’t do our cause any favours. Due to the largely ‘unevolved’ nature of our sexual relationships at present as a species, as MRAs are still a minority voice in the wilderness, the PUA movement seems to have a substantial following in comparison…

  19. Jim Says:

    “Most of it seems to be very preditory in nature and I think it is a cause for some concern.”

    Yes. I recently heard someone characterize it as the male equivalent of “womanly wiles”.

    “But the movement in general does seem to generate a certain amount of ‘man-hating’ and it doesn’t do our cause any favours. ”

    That is like blaming rap for racism. The loudest denunciations of the PUA seem to take the form of wet-hen fury that men would presume to learn how to manipulate women in ways that women have historically prided themselves on using on men. That is man-hatred, and I doubt that it needed the existence of the PUA to come into being.

  20. Andrew Says:

    Jim, I agree with you that ‘man-hatred’ doesn’t need the existence of the PUA to come into being, but I’m not sure that what I said is ‘like blaming rap for racism’. Maybe I didn’t make my position clearer… It seems to me that PUAs are reactionary, and they garner reactionary responses from Feminists, and this is not helping us evolve to a greater perspective on gender issues and how we achieve gender liberation.

    The point I was trying to make, to echo a point you made earlier, was that, unlike many schools of Feminism, (who now should throw out ‘man’haters’ if they truely aspire to an ideal of gender liberation) those of us who are affiliated with progressive MRAs that want a genuine and authentic gender liberation for the benefit of humanity as a whole, will have to stand against the encroachment of those who adopt preditory practices such as many (possibly read ‘most’) in the PUA diaspora who make assertions about gender liberation.

    They seem to make statements implying what you said – that men are learning better ways to manipulate women. Many PUAs would argue that is necessary to even the playing field as women have historically been better at it.

    “The loudest denunciations of the PUA seem to take the form of wet-hen fury that men would presume to learn how to manipulate women in ways that women have historically prided themselves on using on men.”

    I think that’s a shame and it is something that needs to change. This is just a binary escalation of a gender arms race. Tit for Tat, gaining an exploitative advantage ect. The loudest denunciations of the PUA need to come from men! Just as the loudest denunciations of man’hating Feminists need to come from women.

  21. Eivind F S Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    The reason why I asked whether you thought the PUA movement was all bad is that I don’t. You still seem a bit undecided.

    Now, let me explain why I think there are good things about it. First, it is an expression of a natural unfolding of men’s search for authenticity. It is a sidetrack, as all PUAs eventually seem to figure out that it was never about women in the first place.

    The PUA movement is an expresison of a principle I believe to hold true – that a man who doesn’t get his relations with women in order will never be successful in life. Women are the endless distraction that makes even the most successful businessman feel like a failure if he doesn’t have it handled. Not being able to create attraction with women, not being able to have strong relations with them, is bound to create lots of problems for the guy.

    Now, perhaps it’s true that the PUA movement is a regression. At least large parts of it seems to approve of lies and deceit as a way of getting what you want. You can say that women have always played that game, but it’s not an accurate assertion. Women operate differently to men, and what may seem as lying to a guy is just a reflection of the woman’s shifting moods and emotions. The man who is not true to his word, however, is not a man at all. So when the PUA artists lie to get women, they are cutting off their dick to sleep with mommy. It’s….eww….pretty disgusting when you think about it.

    But there’s also the need here to connect with our balls. And there’s a sort of unapologetic, primal quality that the PUA-movement tries to tap into, which is much needed for modern flow-boys. I know from my own experience that in the process of growing my masculinity and my natural authority, sometimes I have messed up and come off as a bit of a jerk. But it’s been good for me.

    Many modern men are rushed into the white knight role by a society that doesn’t approve of male aggression, the “red knight”. So they have no connection with their balls, no natural authority. For many, I think the PUA-movement can serve as a reconnecting, call it a temporary regression that facilitates real evolution. Evolution sometimes requires temporary devolution for the purpose of horizontal integration.

    The focus on brotherhood in the movement as well as the aspects I have just mentioned make me consider the PUA movement an important aspect in the cultural process we’re in.

    Eivind,
    http://www.masculinity-movies.com

  22. Andrew Says:

    Hi Eivind,

    I think you make many important and valid points, both about PUAs and my ambivalence towards them. However, I’m not sure about this claim –

    ‘It is a sidetrack, as all PUAs eventually seem to figure out that it was never about women in the first place.’

    I think the claim for ‘all’, even ‘most’ would be a bold claim, seen as we seem to both be in agreement that most of what classes as the PUA movement is a regression. Its difficult to quantify, but no doubt some PUAs do develop greater insight into themselves and sexual dynamics by engaging with such a paradigm. I wonder if men such as George Sodini could have benefitted from what you feel PUAs can offer –

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/05/george-sodini-alleged-la-_n_251972.html

    I think you’re right that –

    ‘For many, I think the PUA-movement can serve as a reconnecting, call it a temporary regression that facilitates real evolution. Evolution sometimes requires temporary devolution for the purpose of horizontal integration.’

    This certainly seems to be the case for a great deal of sexually frustrated men out there who lack a strong authentic masculine identity and healthy self-esteem. I think George Sodini did seem to have been a ‘modern flow-boy’ and he probably had some of those psycho-dynamic Freudian issues you highlighted.

    It is a difficult area. You’re probably right in that it does represent a necessary regression in some instances, but rather than returning to ‘lower’ aspects of our Being in the pursuit of healing and re-integration, some of the preditory practices they espouse could lead to perminant regression, or even prevent men at the more ego-centric waves of development from progressing further by becoming arrested at that stage.

    I’d be very interested to see what yourself and others think of cases such as George Sodini.


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