Archive for December, 2009

Do Men Benefit From Being the Norm?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The defining feature of contemporary feminism is that it regards any characteristic associated with the male gender role as beneficial. If men are the ones that go to war, then fighting in a war is a sign of power and male hegemony. Never mind that war means death, terror and destruction for the men who are assigned the task of fighting. Similarly, working outside the home is considered more attractive than working in the home, even when comparing a miner to a middle class housewife-since working outside the home has traditionally been a man’s job.

I could go on and list more gendered tasks that involve both pros and cons, but where feminism disregards half of the picture in order to uphold the illusion that only women are shortchanged by their gender role. However, I’d like to focus on one specific topic.

We often hear that men are the norm, and that this fact is at the epicenter of the oppression of women. Since men are the norm, women are perpetually regarded as the second sex, and so on. Now I’m not saying that this is completely wrong. There are always two sides to the coin, and feminists are generally good at latching onto one of the sides. As usual though, the other side is largely unexplored, and in much need of attention.

The key disadvantage of being the norm is that men are not encouraged to reflect on what it means to be a man, or what the male gender role means for men. In many ways women have an identity as women, and men have an identity as humans. This makes us men weak when trying to formulate why we don’t agree with society’s current analysis of gender roles. It also means that it’s taken several decades of intense feminism for men to start waking up and noticing that we are under attack. Men are simply not raised to articulate men’s issues or to form men’s organizations.

To understand this at an even deeper level we need to ask ourselves why men are the norm in the first place? Why not women, who give birth to the next generation, and whose lives have always been valued more highly than the lives of men? Men are the norm, since every successful society depends on the disposability of men. And one of the best ways to raise men to be disposable is to make the male norm so strong that it is simply “the human norm”.

The challenge that lies before men is thus one of becoming familiar with our own maleness and our own gender role. Are we automatically doing things for women, even if women have stopped doing certain things for us as a result of feminism? Are we OK with dying for our country, when our country silently condones misandry?

One of the best ways for men to break new ground and change the whole dynamic of the gender game is to simply refuse to be disposable, or at the very least: to demand significant compensation for being disposable, whether in your personal or your professional life.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2009

snowmen

Season’s Greetings to all my readers! You truly add extra value to this blog by commenting and discussing.

Finding solutions

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Gender discussions are usually about problems, and rarely about solutions. Therefore it was refreshing to read this article about how women can get promoted more often:

Actually, it is mostly women’s fault. They simply don’t ask for raises or promotions as often as men do.

My organization conducted interviews with hundreds of American, European and Chinese women, and most said they felt that if they worked hard and showed they were valuable to the company, they would get promoted. They also said they feared they could be fired if they appeared too pushy, especially in a downturn.

But the reality is that promotions rarely happen just because you’re there and you’re good. You need to tell people how good you are. This is especially true at more junior levels, where it can be harder to get noticed and there is more competition for plum positions.

business-women-men

Now I don’t agree with everything that is said in the article, but what’s good with the article is that it empowers women instead of suggesting that they are hopelessly trapped by a glass ceiling. Employers are interested in performance and profits, so why should they refrain from promoting a woman who can help boost both of those variables? In all likelihood, many men will also benefit from the same advice. Not all men are pushy individuals who naturally tell their boss about their strengths.

The most important point I want to make is not in the specifics of this proposal, but that we need to start focusing on solutions in the field of gender studies, as opposed to only focusing on problems and potential discrimination.

Men’s Network Launched in Sweden

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

For quite a while I’ve been thinking about starting a Men’s Rights organization in Sweden. The rationale for wanting to do this is quite straightforward: Sweden has at least 50 well established Women’s Rights organizations, but the only men’s organizations we have are a few small fathers’ rights groups. Since I believe that gender equality goes both ways, and that men’s and women’s issues are just as important, it’s been natural for me to want to correct the current imbalance.

What’s been stopping me, and a couple of other men’s rights activists in Sweden, is that we simply don’t have time to set up a new organization. Between writing, lecturing and having day jobs we already have our hands full. However, the other day I got an idea of how to break the deadlock. Why not start a men’s network on Facebook, as a simple way to have a central gathering place for people in Sweden who are interested in men’s rights.

Said and done, the Men’s Network (Mansnätverket) was launched yesterday, and we are already approaching 200 members. If you want to support the men’s rights movement in Sweden, then please consider joining the network. You don’t need to be Swedish to join, you simply need to believe that men’s rights deserve the same attention as women’s rights. To enable you to make an informed decision of whether to join, I’m translating our 15 point platform below:

  1. Gender equality – in other words equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for men and women – is at the core of all work on gender issues.
  2. Men’s issues are important and need to get full recognition from society.
  3. Gender neutral legislation is a basic principle of ours. Currently, men are the only group who are discriminated in Swedish law.
  4. Men are traditionally viewed as expendable by society. Dangerous jobs are performed by men, the ones fighting in wars are men and men are expected to sacrifice themselves for women when danger arises. How is this compatible with the theory of male power?
  5. Men’s voices should be considered equally important to women’s voices in discussions about gender equality and gender roles.
  6. Homeless people. 75 percent are men.
  7. Suicides. 70 percent are committed by men.
  8. Education. Soon we will have a situation where only one third of university and college degrees are obtained by men, and in schools boys are falling behind. Why?
  9. Equally shared child allowance needs to be implemented as soon as possible (a monthly allowance is given by the state to all children in Sweden, currently the mother receives all of it). It is nothing but male discrimination to automatically give this allowance to the mother.
  10. Legally established paternity should automatically result in shared custody, even for parents who are not married. It’s a sign of gender inequality that the mother needs to approve shared custody even when paternity has been established.
  11. Fair custody battles. Mothers and fathers should be treated as equals in custody battles, both in legislation and in practise.
  12. Women’s violence towards men needs to be made visible. Women are violent just as often as men in intimate relationships. The consequences are not as serious as when men use violence, but all violence is equally wrong.
  13. Circumcision of boys under the age of 18 must be made illegal. Men’s are also entitled to full bodily integrity.
  14. Rule of law needs to be upheld in rape trials.
  15. Surrogate motherhood should be legal, along the same lines as insemination.

Ball Tapping

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

It seems that parts of the US are having problems with “ball tapping”:

“Ball tapping” is the act of intentionally hitting or kicking a male in the genitals.

And it seems that both sexes are the perpetrators:

We have issues with both boys “tapping” other boys, and girls “tapping” boys because it gives an immediate reaction.

I see this as yet another sign of the perceived disposability of the male body. We get upset when boys harass girls sexually, but ball tapping can actually damage boys’ sexual organs for life. Where’s the outrage?

The comments to the article are interesting:

How strange, when I was in school (not ‘that’ long back) it was primarily girls doing this to boys. I recall one time being stood in a queue at the boys changing rooms, waiting for our tutor to arrive. About 3 girls flew down the line hitting nearly every boy. Yet this article claims only boys do this to other boys – yet, when I was in school, it was only the nastiest of nasty boys that would do that.

“Ball Tapping” is not a “game”! It is a sexual assault and it’s bullying. But because only boys can be targeted for this type of assault, officials fail to take it seriously. [....]


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