Archive for May, 2010

Why Men Compete

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

The men’s movement is growing. Slowly, perhaps, but nevertheless making strides forward each and every day. Recently one of my Swedish blog readers told me that his daughters had learnt about domestic violence against men in school. Would that even have happened last year, let alone a decade ago? I doubt it.

In the midst of this stream of small victories, you may find yourself blindsided by a well meaning friend or a less than friendly feminist who asks you “But why do men keep on assaulting other men? Male-on-male violence is one of the biggest problems in this world, and surely that has to be an issue where the blame falls squarely on men and where men have to do better?”

I fully agree that men can do much better, and that male-on-male violence is an issue that the men’s movement cannot afford to ignore. The good news is that men are already doing substantially better; during the Stone Age between 15 and 60 percent of men died an early death at the hands of another man, and that is hardly the case in our day and age.

However, the issue of blame is quite different, and it’s not as simple as pegging the blame on men or on masculinity. On one level every man is responsible for his own actions, and choosing to assault or even murder another man is completely unacceptable. But there’s a deeper dynamic at play here, and without understanding that dynamic we will fail to understand the actions of men, and create more blame than is necessary.

To get to the root of male-on-male violence, we need to take a closer look at human sexuality and human sexual selection. We all know that women are the ultimate selectors in the sexual game (and if you don’t know that, then go ask ten different married women who made the ultimate selection). The facts are pretty straightforward: Women ovulate once a month, and a pregnancy takes nine months during which you become increasingly immobilized. Men, on the other hand, produce millions of sperms each hour, and are not physically affected at all while they are waiting to become fathers. Who has more reason to choose their sexual partner carefully, men or women? Who is the buyer and who is the seller in the sexual market?

What this means is that men have always had to work hard in order to prove their worth to women. In fact, the competition between men has been so fierce that only half as many men as women have passed on their genes throughout history, according to a research report from 2004. This kind of competition to get access to sex and to have the ability to pass on your genes has never been a situation that women have needed to face, and for the most part women simply fail to understand this aspect of being a man.

Men will compete in whatever ways are available to reach the top of the food chain, and be able to provide for women. In a civilized society that will usually mean constructive behaviors such as working hard and becoming a well respected person. In an uncivilized society, which has been the case through most of history, men will instead resort to violence towards other men, to fend off the competition. Why are so many women attracted to bad boys and even prisoners? Well, during most of human history that kind of behavior from men was an effective way to be respected by other men and therefore rise to the top of the food chain.

Male violence is therefore the end result of a dance in which both women and men participate. Women select the most suitable men, men compete to be chosen (using violence if needed), women again select the most suitable men (regardless of whether they used violence or not to become suitable), men compete to be chosen… On and on it goes.

So while each individual man is fully responsible for his own actions, and never able to blame anyone but himself for any violence that he inflicts upon another man, it’s crucial that we see and understand the deeper dynamic of male-on-male violence. Failure to do so will lead to a collective blaming of men, instead of realizing that men and women alike are part of the twisted tango of violence.

Misandry in the Media – part 6

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I’ve written numerous blog posts about misandry in the media (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but I never seem to run out of examples.

To check out a fresh batch of particularly horrible examples of contempt for males, head over to my friend Eivind’s latest blog post.

How Misguided Feminism Prevents Relationships

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Do men avoid dating successful women? It certainly seems to be a common perception, and British writer Zoe Lewis is so sure of the phenomenon that she claims to understand why men won’t date successful women. According to Lewis, one of her former boyfriends explicitly broke up with her due to her intelligence and professional success:

He told me that he just didn’t want to go out with a woman who was clever and successful. He said it meant that I could never let any discussion go, or concede a flawed argument; I had to solve problems when they arose, and would argue political points with him.

Apparently Zoe Lewis cannot take a hint. The problem quite obviously was not her intelligence nor her success, but the fact that she would never let any discussion go or concede a flawed argument. That kind of behavior has nothing to do with being clever or successful, it is simply the behavior of an obnoxious person!

Let us have a look at another of Lewis’ examples of how men supposedly cannot handle a strong woman:

I invited my new boyfriend to see me perform my one-woman show on stage in London. Before he walked in to the play, we were tactile and it struck me that I had high hopes for the relationship.

An hour later, after watching me on stage and then networking with a group of high-powered theatre people at the aftershow party, he became distant.

Of course he became distant! You invited him to come with you and then you proceeded to ignore him. If you wanted to be able to network freely then it would have been better not to bring a date. Why are you blaming him for becoming distant when you are the one who ignored him first?

The problem here is not that she is a strong and intelligent person, the problem is that she tries too hard to be strong and independent. A relationship cannot be about independence only, if it is, then there is no actual relating going on. How can you form a relationship without vulnerability and connecting to your partner?

Surpringly, Lewis seems to have grasped some of these insights, in spite of her inability to correctly interpret why men pull away from her:

Modern women have learned to regard men as the competition, in order to get ahead professionally. And while men can accept this female aggression in the workplace, they evidently can’t in relationships.

Why would you want to be aggressive towards a man you’re dating? And why would you expect men to accept female aggression in a relationship? These expectations are absurd, and I’m happy that you’ve finally figured out what should have been self-evident.

These days I try to focus less on the flaws of feminism, and more on the potential in educating people about men’s issues. However, in this case I cannot help but blame feminism. Why else would a woman have these strange ideas about relationships? Common sense tells us that being cold, argumentative and aggressive is a lousy strategy for having a nurturing relationship, and yet this seems to be exactly what the writer has pursued in her dating life.

Towards the end of her article, the writer comes up with the most odd quote of them all:

Men love vulnerable women. We need to accept that, just because we’ve changed, we can’t expect them to. I don’t think they can.

So we cannot expect men to start liking cold, argumentative and aggressive women? Wow, that is a surprise. Do you as a woman like men who are cold, argumentative and aggressive? If not, then why do you expect men to like that kind of behavior in you?

Personally, I believe that men and women (on average) have some different preferences when looking for a relationship. Men place more importance on looks and softness, and women on status and confidence. But there are a lot of similarities too, especially when looking for a long term mate. Men and women alike appreciate a partner who is warm, relaxed and not overtly aggressive.

How can these common sense insights have been lost? The only answer I can come up with is that misguided feminism has taught a generation of women that men are opponents and not allies. This insight makes me tremendously sad.