July 29, 2011
SKM, who is a man, writes:
I enjoyed your discussion last year on Paul Elam and his call to exonerate all rapists. It’s encouraging that there are a few websites critical of feminism that aren’t dominated by “MRAs” and “masculinists.” I especially enjoyed the comments of Jesse Powell. It’s also encouraging to know that I’m not the only who both detests, and understands, the “men’s movement.”
With some exceptions, MRAs are left-liberals, cultural determinists, and sexual egalitarians. These ideologues espouse the same dogmas and myths as orthodox feminism, with one major exception, and support 80-90 percent of the feminist agendum: gender-neutral laws, the ERA, androgynous pedagogy, the feminized military, women in combat and female conscription, and the sexual integration of all jobs and areas of the workforce, including police forces, jails, prisons, coal mines, factories, construction, etc.
They believe that men and women and boys and girls are exactly the same apart from rudimentary physical differences; that virtually all dispartities in sexual “roles” and behavior are culturally-derived and/or imposed. They’re motivated and defined by a compulsion to perfect interchangeable sexes. They envision a utopian society in which men and women and boys and girls are fully equal in virtually all areas and aspects of life and in which all manifestations of “sexism” and “gender stereotyping” are eliminated.***
In respect to victimology, however, “masculinists” turn feminism on its head even as they use the same terminology of victimization. The paramount difference between “masculinists” and orthodox feminists is that the former now believe that males are far more stultified and oppressed and persecuted than females by “traditional sex-roles,” the “artificial social constructs” and dichotomy of masculinity/femininity; “crippling stereotypes; “sexist” discrimination, prejudices, “conditioning,” etc. As feminism is the ideology of female victimization, “masculinism” is the ideology of male victimization. “Masculinism” is feminism, feminism for males. “Masculinism” is the mirror image of feminism.
But given their obsession with depicting males as victims and combating “misandry” and debunking the myth of women as “pure” and angelic and saintly and “morally superior,” MRAs are even more radical and extreme than orthodox feminists, liberal and radical, in their denials of a sexualized human nature. Mainstream feminists often emphasize the importance of purely anatomical differences between the sexes when discussing matters such as wife-beating, pregnancy, rape. “Masculinists” deny the significance of even purely anatomical differences between the sexes in arguing that “husband-battering” is as serious a problem as wife-beating even though men on average are much bigger and stronger and more aggressive than women, and in defining women as “rapists” for allowing biological men under age 18 to penetrate them in de facto consensual relationships, “sex equality dogma taken to lunatic extremes,” to quote John Derbyshire. This is almost as ludicrous as calling men who impregnate women “pregnant men.”
And, for MRAs, the distinctive female experience of maternity doesn’t justify or necessitate any distinct protections and privileges for women. Not only must women carry fetuses in their bodies for nine months and suffer the throes of childbirth; they must also fight and die in equal numbers to men in wars and perform half of the “dirty and dangerous” and burdensome jobs. As I replied to one MRA: “When science discovers how to make men pregnant and MRAs are forced to bear 5-6 children a piece to atone for millenia of anti-female discrimination, then I’ll support women in combat and female conscription, but only for feminists and other women who support such policies and only if they serve in the same units as MRAs.”
Jesse Powell argued that the men’s movement is even worse than the women’s movement in that the latter still believe women and girls need to be protected while the former insist that they merit no special protections that don’t apply equally to males. The reason they believe this, the reason the MRM is even worse than mainstream feminism, is because they deny and minimize the importance of purely physical differences between the sexes.
On the whole, “masculinists” are even more dishonest and delusional than conventional feminists, so mendacious and divorced from reality that orthodox feminists, in refuting their contentions, are honest and realistic by comparison, acknowledging and emphasizing the importance of purely anatomical differences.
*** On the one hand, MRAs complain that women benefit from affirmative action, preferences, quotas; that men are the victims of job discrimination; that women are “taking jobs away from men.” On the other hand, they depict men as victims, oppressed and exploited by women as wage slaves and “status objects” and so forth, because males still have most of the high-paying jobs and earn far more than women collectively. Consequently, they desire a society in which half of all housewives and full-time motherers are men and women perform half of all the “dirty and dangerous” and burdensome jobs – a goal that could only be attained not only by expading quotas and preferences for women but by the creation of a totalitarian regime that forces tens of millions of men and women to assume non-traditional roles.
— Comments —
Jesse Powell, who is also a man, writes:
Many in the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) will claim that they support patriarchy but at the same time vehemently oppose chivalry; the ethic that men should “provide for and protect” women. This contradiction, a support for patriarchy while at the same time rejecting chivalry, is what clued me in that something was not right with the MRA crowd.
“Men’s Rights” is feminism for men; MRAs are rebelling against “the oppressive social order” of feminism in exactly the same way that feminists rebelled against “the oppressive social order” of patriarchy in the past. The MRAs of today and the feminists of yesterday are both rebelling against the same thing; they are both rebelling against patriarchy, they are both rebelling against gender roles.
One might ask, how can this be? The way this works is that traditional patriarchy is strongly in favor of gender roles while mainstream feminism is moderately in favor of gender roles. The MRA attacks feminism because of its moderate support of gender roles and attacks patriarchy even more strongly because of its strong support of gender roles. The part of feminism that MRAs don’t like is the lingering support of gender roles that feminists still believe in.
MRAs pretend that supporters of patriarchy and themselves are natural allies but this is completely false; we may both attack feminism but we attack feminism for opposite reasons in order to achieve opposite long term goals. The supporter of patriarchy attacks feminism because of its partial rejection of patriarchy while the MRA attacks feminism because of its partial acceptance of patriarchy.
When an MRA claims to support patriarchy and traditional gender roles but at the same time rejects and condemns chivalry he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth; he is nothing more than a manipulator and liar. Patriarchy and chivalry go together, they cannot be separated.
MRAswill talk much about a gender contract implying that chivalry is conditional upon a woman’s good behavior but this is completely not true; chivalry is not the male sideof a gender contract, it is the man’s duty under patriarchy. Furthermore, since patriarchy is the appropriate social model under all circumstances chivalry is a man’s duty under all circumstances. The moral rules of patriarchy exist and are legitimate at all times under all circumstances because patriarchy is the correct order of things at all times under all circumstances. The moral rules of patriarchy are not conditional upon any particular set of laws or cultural customs and chivalry is a fundamental part of the moral rules of patriarchy. This is why chivalry is not merely the male side of a gender contract; it is as immutable and absolute as the moral legitimacy of patriarchy itself.
Mr. Powell writes:
Men’s Rights” is feminism for men; MRAs are rebelling against “the oppressive social order” of feminism in exactly the same way that feminists rebelled against “the oppressive social order” of patriarchy.
I disagree with this statement. These are not parallel phenomena. Feminism truly is tyrannical. In order to create a society that does not recognize innate sex differences, feminism must by its very nature restrict civil liberties and individual freedom, and discriminate against men. In contrast, the patriarchy that prevailed in, say, nineteenth century America was not oppressive, however much individual women suffered. It could afford a high amount of freedom because it recognized the realities of sex differences and protected the vulnerable through its discrimination in favor of traditional sex roles.
The men’s rights movement is a response to an oppressive, coercive social movement. But it is the wrong response, for all the reasons SMK mentions.
Mr. Powell writes:
Furthermore, since patriarchy is the appropriate social model under all circumstances chivalry is a man’s duty under all circumstances.
Chivalry can only thrive where male authority exists. Absent male authority and the coercive pressures of feminism, men who might otherwise be “chivalrous” are put in the very difficult position of having to exhibit some aggression towards women. Chivalry is still an appropriate social model because it stems from innate male urges but that does not mean that in all individual circumstances, a man defers to a woman’s wishes. It does not mean a man cedes to the injustices of feminism. If he is falsely accused of rape, if he is denied the custody of his children for no good reason, if he is discriminated against in hiring, he has the obligation to not defer to feminist prerogatives.
But then that is the way chivalry always worked, in the context of male authority.
Mr. Powell responds:
When I drew the parallel between feminists rebelling against patriarchy in the 1970s and MRAs rebelling against feminism in more recent times I was focusing on the idea that traditional patriarchy imposed responsibilities on women that women rebelled against through feminism and that in a similar way the current society imposes responsibilities on men that men rebel against through the MRM. [Laura writes: Okay, I understand. That makes sense.]
You are correct that the parallel is only partially legitimate but I still thought it worth making because the typical MRA is focused on rejecting male responsibility, not on reasserting legitimate masculine authority. For both MRAs and feminists the primary objective seems to be to escape from their duties and responsibilities towards others.
Laura, you say “The men’s rights movement is a response to an oppressive, coercive social movement.” I don’t think so. This is mostly a subjective impression on my part but I would say that the men’s rights movement is a response against the lingering patriarchal values that still exist and that the oppressive coercive elements of feminism are used as an excuse to justify the man’s rejection of responsibility. On the one hand there are real harms against men perpetuated by feminism and on the other there are real responsibilities that men owe towards women and children. The real harm done by feminism is used as an excuse to reject the real responsibilities of men towards women. The appropriate response to feminist injustices is men asserting their rightful authority; the MRA does the exact opposite in response, he instead rejects his responsibilities.
In regards to chivalry, chivalry does not mean deferring to a woman’s wishes; indeed, chivalry is never defined as deferring to a woman’s wishes. Chivalry implies a man acting on a woman’s behalf but not according to the woman’s direction; the man is the one who makes the decision about how best to “provide for and protect” the woman, not the woman herself.
To me, the concept of chivalry is separate from the need to fight against injustice. Men need to fight against the injustices perpetuated against them in the context of promoting a greater good but at the same time they should keep their duties towards women and children in mind. Chivalry is an important value system to uphold and justice is also an important value to uphold; chivalry and justice should both be promoted at the same time, the two values are not in conflict with each other.
Much is made in the MRM about the need to punish women for their sinful ways or else they will never reform and improve themselves. I am all in favor of punishing women when they do wrong but at the same time I uphold chivalry; the need to punish women for their wrongful acts and chivalry are not in conflict with each other. Chivalry is about the man’s duty towards women and punishing women for wrongful acts is about punishing women for wrongful acts; these are two separate things.
The last thing I will add, withdrawing chivalry from women as a means to punish the woman is never legitimate and is something I would characterize as being abusive towards women; other means of punishing the woman must be found.
Excellent. Thank you for the clarification.
This is an especially important point:
Men need to fight against the injustices perpetuated against them in the context of promoting a greater good but at the same time they should keep their duties towards women and children in mind.