Posts Tagged ‘masculism’

Looking Back at Feminism, 50 Years From Now

Monday, October 5th, 2009

What will people think of feminism 50 years from now, or however long it takes for a more balanced view of gender issues to permeate society?

The first question will likely be: how could we let it go so far? How could men be seen as the oppressors and sole winners in the gender role system when

  • The vast majority of homeless people and prison inmates are men
  • The vast majority of people who die in work related accidents are men
  • The only group of people forced to fight in wars are men

What kind of patriarchy protects its men in such a lousy way? Well, it’s certainly not a patriarchy designed to give men all the perks while leaving women empty-handed (women are the only oppressed class in history who had their oppressors go out and work in the fields for them, as Farrell says).

The second question would likely be how feminism could ever have been looked upon as revolutionary, when it simply perpetuates the view that men are responsible for society while women are seen as not affecting society at all through their lives and choices. That’s a weird way of looking at things once you start thinking about it, but it is one of the root assumptions of contemporary feminism.

Feminism’s belief that women do not have agency and are constant victims of “structures”, while men have nothing but agency and cannot be the victim of structures, is so simplistic that it wouldn’t have been believable if it didn’t play into our deepest instincts. These deep instincts tell us to protect women and children at all costs, and in turn make us listen without demanding proof when a group of women (i.e. feminists) say that they are victims and need more protection.

Anyone who’s interested in truly revolutionizing gender roles (I’m not, by the way), would have passed a law forbidding men to enter combat while forcing women into combat through an exclusively female draft or military service. However, such a proposal–though truly revolutionary in the very spirit that feminism claims to be representing–will never see the light of day since it violates the most basic principle of our gender roles: protect women, let men take the risks.

Feminists have demanded more freedom and better protection for women, but they have never demanded that women take more risks and that men be better protected. There is no outcry about men dying or being injured at dangerous jobs. There’s no lobbying to have women be better represented in the “death professions” that men dominate.

When looking back at feminism 50 years from now, people will likely say that feminism did get one thing right; it opened up our eyes to gender roles, and that there is a lot of room for improvement in both gender roles. We need movements that work with gender issues, and most of all we need men and women who truly care about these issues. However, feminism is not the movement that can make change happen in a constructive way, being far too polarizing and one-sided to be able to see the full spectrum of gender dynamics.

In fact, as long as feminism is seen as the one-stop shop for discussing gender issues, we run the risk of creating more tension and more of a gender war than was ever needed. But if we can let go of feminism sooner rather than later, we will be judged more favorably in the future, and I won’t have to change the title of this post to Looking Back at Feminism, 150 Years From Now.

Masculism vs Feminism

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Feminism is a well established movement that’s been around for more than 200 years; perhaps the starting point can be said to be when Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. Masculism (a k a men’s rights activism), on the other hand, has been around for a few decades at best, while only gaining some traction in the 2000s. Apart from the fact that feminism is a movement which is much older and stronger than masculism, is it possible to compare these two movements, and can men’s rights activists (MRAs), learn something from feminism’s strategies and theories?

First of all, what does feminism contain, what are its different components? The way I see it, the major components are:

  1. A desire to work with women’s issues
  2. A political conviction that women as a group are oppressed by men as a group, and therefore need to be liberated

Performing the same kind of overview of masculism, yields these results:

  1. A desire to work with men’s issues
  2. A political conviction that feminism does not fit with the facts, and needlessly vilifies men

The key difference here is that feminism paints men as a group as a problem in society, while MRAs paint feminism as a theory (and its vocal proponents) as a problem in society. As I see it, it is crucial for any and all masculists around the world to keep differentiating between feminism and women, since it is only as long as masculism takes a step into the future and learns from the past mistakes of feminism that it can reasonably be said to take the moral high ground in the discussion on gender issues.

Another important distinction that arises from the two lists above is that you needn’t be a feminist to work with women’s issues. You can work on all kinds of important women’s issues around the world, political or otherwise, without buying into the political ideology that is feminism or radical feminism. Personally I believe that there are still lots of important women’s issues around the world that need to be dealt with, and while I am not a supporter of feminism or feminists, I fully support people who work with women’s issues.

The core agenda of masculists is to work with men’s rights and men’s issues. However, since feminism dominates the political discourse on gender issues in most countries, the need to deconstruct feminism and point out its inconsistencies and factual errors, becomes just as important as the core agenda. Criticizing feminism is not an end unto itself, but a means to simply create the space needed to infuse men’s issues into the gender discourse. If feminism were to be replaced by interest groups that work with women’s issues without attacking men, and without trying to monopolize the gender discourse, then masculists would be able to focus completely on working with men’s issues, without needing to analyze and criticize feminism. However, that is not the world we live in.

Many feminists would of course claim that feminism isn’t anti-male, and that feminism is simply a political movement working for gender equality. This might seem reassuring at first, and some men actually exert a lot of energy instructing masculists that they should simply joint the feminist movement and work for gender equality under that banner.

But what feminists forget to mention is that a prerequisite to be part of the feminist movement is that you accept the ideology that men as a group systematically oppress women as a group, and that women’s issues always take precedence over men’s issues. That stance is hardly attractive to a man (or a woman) who has taken a deeper look at gender roles and seen that both gender roles can be problematic in a range of different ways, with many men’s issues (such as male disposability) being so acute that they simply cannot take the back seat to women’s issues. Furthermore, feminists’ primary claim that feminism isn’t anti-male, is contradicted by their secondary claim that men as a group (i.e. all men) oppress women as a group (i.e. all women).

My conclusion can only be that masculism is a movement that is much needed in the world today, both as a force to put important men’s issues on the political agenda as well as a movement that dares to confront the political ideology that is feminism–without attacking women and without attacking people who work with women’s issues.

Men’s News Daily

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

I’ve started writing for Men’s News Daily. At the moment there’s an article by me on the front page.

Male Sacrifice

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

I visited the American Military Cemetery in The Netherlands yesterday. More than 8000 American soldiers are buried there, most of them represented by white crosses.

All of these soldiers have one thing in common: they were men, and they died because they were men.

Never has my experience of male disposablility and male sacrifice been stronger than when walking around that cemetery. It angers me that many feminists will dismiss male war sacrifice by saying that “men are the ones who start wars anyhow”. Saying that is akin to dismissing women traditionally being stuck in the home by saying “that’s where women have chosen to be anyhow”.

We all need more compassion when discussing gender issues.

The men who lie buried in Margraten, The Netherlands, fought to keep Nazism as bay. As such, they are heroes. And as always, when humankind needed a dangerous task to be performed, men came to the rescue.

Margraten American Military Cemetery

Gay Men and Feminism

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Feminism often positions itself as the ideology that cares about the rights of GLBT people. If you take a class on Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, you’ll learn about the concept of intersectionality, which claims that all kinds of oppression – whether based on gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc – interact.

This means that if you as a gay man want to accept the recognition you get from feminism (i.e. recognition and understanding that discrimination against gays exist), then you also need to accept that men are an oppressive class, and as a gay man you are part of that oppressive class. In other words, feminisms extends one helping hand, and uses the other hand to accusatorily point out gay men as oppressors.

My view on gender roles is that it is far from easy to determine which gender role is “better”, since there are so many downsides to both of them. Therefore I don’t believe in comparing the gender roles; instead, it makes more sense to try to improve both gender roles in tandem. From the position I take on gender roles, I don’t see why gay men should have to put up with being called oppressors (however indirectly), when there is an alternative that accepts their sexuality fully, without slapping the oppressor label on them.

IMO, the natural place for gays to fight for their rights is in a men’s rights movement or a gender liberation movement beyond feminism. As men, gay men experience many of the downsides of the male gender role, except for the downsides that are directly connected to heterosexual marriage and relationships.

Straight men and gay men have more things in common when discussing gender issues than do gays and feminist women.