Breaking the Shackles

December 1, 2009 § 42 Comments

Sometimes I like to read things that I know are going to piss me off. Like picking at a scab. It hurts a little and you know you shouldn’t do it but you can’t resist anyway. That’s what men’s rights activists (MRAs) can be to feminists- an itchy, ugly scab. And the kicker is, sometimes, I don’t get why.

Take an article published on Men’s News Daily a couple days ago called The Myth of Women’s Oppression. The basic information isn’t new and it’s what you’d expect of a men’s rights activist intent on blaming feminism for male woes. To sum up: women were never really oppressed because they were pampered, protected and treated like royalty while men were charged with providing, protecting, and even laying down their lives for them. So it’s the essential argument for the supposed female privilege (again) which I won’t get into debunking because loads of people have already done that. (Finally Feminism 101 has a great definition and more resources including a link to male feminist’s thoughts about female privilege).

What I think is great (really, I mean that) is how perfectly this article illustrates how men and women have been stuck in a centuries-old patriarchal system that harms both sexes. From the tone of the article, I’m sure it’s unintentional, but it is there. This system tells us that “real men” are expected to act a certain way: tough, macho, strong. These macho men can fight in combat, can slave away at the office and bring home food. Is this fair? Of course not! And any actual feminist knows this. Labeling men like this hurts women too.

While men are forced into this specific gender role that has endowed them with power- economic power and authority- women have been stripped of it. They’re tender princesses so what kind of power would they want? Their traditional role is to have babies, to take care of the children and the husband. Not all women want this role either. (When the patriarchal system says that women are the tender caregivers and not men, is it really any wonder why the courts are biased in favor of giving women child custody?)

Both men and women should be allowed to choose for themselves what they want, not have it dictated to them by an oppressive system. This comment on the Men’s News Daily article from Masculinist (who I gather from reading his comments blames feminism too) illustrates the bizarre disconnect between men’s rights activists and feminists. The point of the men’s rights movement, which, oddly enough, sounds an awful lot like feminism is “…to break the shackles of a society that tries to shame us men into ‘taking it like men,’ giving, and ‘enduring pain’ so that women can have ‘crying privileges’, ‘pampering’, pleasure, and be able to take the fruits of men’s labors.”

The blame game played out in this article, with MRAs and elsewhere that point to feminism as the reason why life is prejudice, sexist and unfair is unproductive and false. The machinations of a system don’t have agency- it’s like blaming god for burning down a wooden house after a storm. God doesn’t exist either- the lighting caused the fire, and the wooden structure kept it burning.

Yeah, it’s a hell of a lot easier blaming someone, some specific group. It at least gives you a target, a place to vent your frustrations and rage. But instead of playing the who is really oppressed or who is really privileged games, it makes tons more sense to be working together to dismantle a system that has institutionalized the notion that women should be the delicate protected and the men the macho protectors. It’s not feminism, it’s not women, it’s not men that are at fault- it’s the system that we’re all entrenched in.

EDITORS NOTE (December 5, 2009)

Given the volume and the nature of the comments we’ve received about this post so far, we’ve written the following Comments Policy:

Comments containing personal attacks or any other kind of hostility directed at us will be promptly deleted at our discretion. If you disagree with us fine, let us know what you think. But anything accusatory, anything that threatens to devolve a civil discussion into a yelling match will also be deleted and the users will be blocked. This is our space and if you don’t like what we’re saying and want to bad mouth us, save it for your own space.

FINAL NOTES

In response to the comments on this post, I (Christina) wrote a separate response to collectively address the 20 or so comments we received up through today in a new post called Comment on Comments.

If you’d like to comment or read further about the definition of feminism or the relationship between feminism and men, please go to Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog.

Tagged: , , , ,

§ 42 Responses to Breaking the Shackles

  • Paul Elam says:

    You said: “What I think is great (really, I mean that) is how perfectly this article illustrates how men and women have been stuck in a centuries-old patriarchal system that harms both sexes. From the tone of the article, I’m sure it’s unintentional, but it is there.”

    It is intentional. You make some cogent points, all of which, though I’m not sure it is intentional, point back to what MRA’s have to struggle with in terms of gender roles and feminisms complete failure to even pretend those things exist.

    What you don’t get is that most modern MRA’s understand that patriarchs are much more their enemies than feminists. At least at this point in time. But pointing to a something as muddled as “the system” is like pointing into a brick wall. And it is a lot easier, I think, for feminists to talk about how we should be cooperating while failing to acknowledge the last 40 years of bashing and disinformation that has produced a significant rift and done a lot of damage.

    MRA’s are not likely to see a potential ally there, and I think most reasonable people would understand why.

    Still, I’d love to see that cooperation. If you care to write an article, a serious one, about how feminists and MRA’s could cooperate to “dismantle the system” in a way that benefits both genders, and in a way that seriously addresses the lack of attention to men’s issues pervasive in mainstream feminist culture, I will be happy to run it front and center on Men’s News Daily.

    Paul Elam
    Editor-in-Chief
    Men’s News Daily

    • Christina says:

      Your piece painted women as privileged royalty, fools for criticizing the institution of marriage and chivalry and as they’ve gained more authority for themselves that only men had before, this “unhealthy enabling” has caused men to lose jobs and fall behind women in education. So no, I didn’t get that MRAs believe patriarchs are more the enemy since, from a woman’s point of view, you defended patriarchal attitudes towards them while mocking them for rejecting those attitudes.

      Feminism has not failed to acknowledge that gender roles exist and I don’t see how you can arrive at that conclusion. Minutes spent reading any feminist blog, website or book should clearly show that feminists know and have been well aware of for decades how gender roles affect everyone. Examples: feminists are reporting on and talking with men who are actively rejecting and re-imagining traditional, masculine gender roles, feminists are incredibly supportive of gay rights, feminists are writing about how work/life balance is a critical issue for both men and women.

      You mention 40 years of bashing and disinformation? How do you think women, who’ve endured it for hundreds of years, feel? Personally, I’m not condoning any kind of bashing or deliberate deception of information because that ultimately doesn’t help anyone, but can you imagine why some women would have been pissed off and wanted to do a little bashing back?

      Now, I think that the bashing and blaming that happens on both sides of the aisle should just stop. But if MRAs don’t understand any of the above, then yes, now I’m seeing why there’s such an impasse between feminists and MRAs and I was naïve to think that there could be cooperation between them.

    • Chris says:

      You state flat-out, Paul, “Women were never oppressed to begin with. Not even close.” And you wonder why feminists don’t want to work with you? And then you accuse feminists of pretending gender roles don’t exist, while before feminism’s second wave there wasn’t a social movement willing to critically assess either masculine or feminine gender roles at all. Are you serious?

      The point of this article was that gender roles harm both men and women. I wasn’t getting why you had such a problem with that until I read your article, which asserts that gender roles have only ever harmed men. Again, you wonder why feminists don’t want to work with you?

      Thanks for your contribution, Paul. I’m glad you’re willing to publish us if we cater to your demands. Alas, since we acknowledge the history of gender oppression women have had (and continue to have) to face, I don’t think you’d like what we had to write.

      • Paul Elam says:

        Hi Chris,

        You have managed to demonstrate most of the typical feminist hypocrisies in just three paragraphs.

        First, I don’t wonder at all why feminists don’t want to work with me or any other MRA’s. There are many MRA’s, Glenn Sacks being a primary example, who accept the paradigm of historical female oppression, who border, IMO, on being obsequious when dealing with feminists, and they get the same net result from feminists that I do. Which is squat.

        You say that I accuse feminists of pretending gender roles don’t exist. Simply not true and I have to assume that you know that but made the claim anyway. Feminist pretend that gender roles are defined by inherent disadvantages for women and advantages for men. It is the raison d’étre for feminism, is it not? Or would you deny that as well?

        And it is the mainstay of feminist activism to pay lip service to the shared negatives of gender roles while only engaging in how changes can and should benefit women. I see nothing to contradict that here, but rather more to prove it.

        It is a given with most MRA’s that gender roles had disadvantages to both sexes, even while acknowledging that those roles generally served to the benefit of both. And most MRA’s that I know also accept that the disadvantages of those roles in modern times required adjustments and amelioration.

        But what MRA’s do that feminists don’t like is point to the bigotry and sexism that feminists employ to seek those changes in such lop sided fashion. Which is to say that men are routinely disadvantaged and feminists don’t want to hear it, much less talk about it.

        Lastly, Chris, it is completely laughable that you would frame my invitation as contingent on catering to my demands. My requirement was simply that any submitted articles remain consistent with what Christan claims to be her beliefs.

        I would have been pleasantly surprised if that had happened because it needs to. But I was also aware that the likelihood was very slim.

        Feminists don’t publish anything unless the bottom line is to perpetuate the woman as victim-man as perpetrator model.

        The only problem now is that there is a very quickly growing number of men and women that have had enough of this and are speaking out, especially for the sake of our boys who have been being abused with this vitriol and sexism for far too long.

  • [...] the chief benefactors of the movement. However, as Christina and I (among others) have pointed out, men also benefit from feminism, though in a less immediate and tangible way. Nevertheless, it is misguided and counter-productive [...]

  • Paul Elam says:

    Women were and are privileged, just as they were discriminated against. The same was true for men. I don’t know what women have felt for hundreds of years and neither do you. The last 40 years are a part of my personal experience, and unless you are a freak of nature you missed those hundreds of years you are bemoaning.

    My forefathers were poor Europeans, “oppressed” by any standard you want to use. Sorry, but I don’t indulge myself in identifying personally with their plight, and certainly don’t claim any special considerations for it. I will leave that sort of victim opportunism to modern feminists. All I know is that the incessant bashing, the disinformation and the vilification has happened to me personally in my lifetime and I regularly witness it continue to be inflicted on totally innocent boys. And I still don’t feel oppressed. Just disgusted. And tired of remaining silent about it. I am obviously not alone.

    I don’t think you are naive. Just dishonest. I wanted to call your hand on it, and get the answer I knew was coming.

    Mission accomplished.

    • Christina says:

      Of course I don’t literally know how a woman who lived in a couple hundred years ago felt. I do (and I think many other women) however, know what it feels like when expectations rooted in traditional ideas of what a woman should be, ideas that have been around for hundreds of years, are imposed on me.

      It seems all you wanted was to come to my blog not to continue a dialogue but to attack and name call so you could somehow prove your point that… what? Feminists are dishonest?

      If that’s what you want to do, save it for your own website.

      • Paul Elam says:

        Not name calling, but calling it as I see it. I am sure you can remove me from your forum. That would be what I have come to expect as feminists generally need to quash dissent in order to keep the message afloat.

        MRA’s do it differently. Feminists post long and detailed dissent at MND all the time. We embrace the differences and don’t fear them.

    • Chris says:

      Well here I was thinking you came to our blog to continue a dialogue about gender relations in our society, but it was all a clever ruse! You actually just wanted to pick a fight and talk down to us about how women need to shut up because they never were oppressed–not like men, who have it so much worse. Christina tried to point out that men and women both have a hard time and you met it with hostile aggression. Looks like the response of a patriarch to me.

      Did it ever occur to you in the 40-odd years of your personal experience that feminists respond to you as though you’re acting like a jackass because . . . you’re acting like a jackass? As you said, “Mission accomplished.” Way to work to bring the groups together.

      The next time you feel like picking a fight, why don’t you keep it on your site and spare us the tedium, hmm? Thanks.

      • Paul Elam says:

        Of course, Chris, there is no debate here, just a mean old MRA picking a fight. I am sure you would have preferred that your partners rant at my article only get you pats on the back. But gee, speaking of that, where are your readers rushing to your defense, hmmm?

        Is it any wonder why MRA’s are totally on the rise and feminism has begun to die by attrition?

  • Gogo says:

    “a centuries-old patriarchal system that harms both sexes”

    I would like to point out the inherent contradiction in the terminology employed in this sentence, and many other sentences like it, which employ the “patriarchy hurts men too” argument. This is a fundamental flaw with feminist thinking. Yes, there are countless ways that “patriarchy” – a system of male power – systematically renders men powerless. But if a system of “male power” systematically renders men powerless (especially since we are talking about the vast majority of men being powerless before an incredibly small percentage of men), then it’s not patriarchy (a system of male power) to begin with…

    …is it?

    Feminists will never consider the other side of the paradigm. They simply have no desire, let alone incentive, to do so. The continued use of “patriarchy” to describe past systems where the vast majority of men were powerless is indicative of this. “Patriarchy hurts men too” is a self-contradiction; a fundamentally flawed false consciousness based upon the Radical Feminist paradigm that men and women are separate political classes. Note: both men and women were the lower class (most people), the middle class (some people), and the upper class (1% of people). To say that men “as a class” had power (“patriarchy”) because of the 1% is a hasty generalization logical fallacy that relies upon extrapolating from an unrepresentative sample to generalize about the whole.

    No, feminists blame the “patriarchy” which “hurts men too” (a logical fallacy in and of itself) on men, both past and present. Logic be damned. Innocence be damned. Women’s and Feminism’s past and present expectations to be entitled to male provision and protection be damned.

    And then Feminists, after 40 years of this, blame MRA’s for merely pointing out that feminists were incorrect in presenting a biased one-sided paradigm, and say “wait, let’s work together.” Very angelic posturing.

    Take your knife out of my back and then we can start working together.

    • Chris says:

      The problem with your argument is that feminists do not define patriarchy as “a system of male power.” Most feminists (because, of course, there are exceptions) define the patriarchy as “one form of social stratification via a power/dominance hierarchy – an ancient and ongoing social system based on traditions of elitism (a ranking of inferiorities) and its privileges.” I took that definition from here:

      http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/faq-isnt-the-patriarchy-just-some-conspiracy-theory-that-blames-all-men-even-decent-men-for-womens-woes/

      You might like to read the whole post as I think it addresses many of the misconceptions you have about the feminist movement and its relationship to men.

      So, you see, given this definition, it is not a logical contradiction to say that patriarchy systematically renders (most) men powerless, because the patriarchy is one of many systems of domination, working within our society along with systems of sectarianism, imperialism and colonialism. Many feminists are now adopting the term “kyriarchy” to capture all these social aspects. However, “kyriarchy” is a very new term and “patriarchy” has been in the cultural consciousness for quite some time, so naturally many feminists use the more familiar term.

      On the other hand, lumping all feminists together is either a fallacy of accident or a converse fallacy of accident (depending on how you view most feminists), as is the claim that all women and feminists expect “to be entitled to male provision and protection.”

      May I also say how wonderful it is that you are blaming me for “40 years” of man-hating. As I just turned 27, it seems I started life thirteen years in the hole. Is that, what, the MRAs’ version of original sin?

      “Take your knife out of my back and then we can start working together.” Congrats, that’s an ad hominem and an appeal to pity.

      • Gogonostop says:

        The problem with your interpretation of the definition of patriarchy is that Radical Feminists very much blame men – as a class (i.e. all men) – for patriarchy. The phrase “Not all men are Patriarchs” (which the linked website declares) does not fall in line with Susan Brownmiller’s “rape is nothing more than a conscious process by which all [read: all] men keep all women in a state of fear,” and many similar sentiments espoused by the leaders and theorists of the Feminist movement.

        “lumping all feminists together is either a fallacy of accident”

        Of course. No, not all Feminists are like that – nor did all German National Socialists dislike Jews. However, there came a time when the pendulum had swung from German National Socialism being more of a good thing…to being more of a bad thing. Those who claimed to support it were then suspect, as they should have been.

        If Feminists did not feel entitled to male provision, they would stop demanding a special leg up in almost every sphere of life at the expense of male tax dollars or male jobs. Such a plan does not help decontaminate society of the ancient stereotypes of women being leeches; rather, it reinforces it. One doesn’t have to be a Feminist to fight against misogyny. On the contrary; by reinforcing old stereotypes, Feminism is the greatest encourager of misogyny in the western hemisphere. And it a great threat to women in many other ways besides.

        “May I also say how wonderful it is that you are blaming me for “40 years” of man-hating. As I just turned 27, it seems I started life thirteen years in the hole. Is that, what, the MRAs’ version of original sin?”

        Original sin is based upon a state of being – being born into the human condition. No one is born a Feminist; one voluntarily offers their name in support of the movement that has spread hatred of men. I cannot hold you accountable for their man-hating, their propaganda, their discriminatory and unconstitutional laws…but your support of it is questionable, at best.

  • @Christina

    “You mention 40 years of bashing and disinformation? How do you think women, who’ve endured it for hundreds of years, feel? Personally, I’m not condoning any kind of bashing or deliberate deception of information because that ultimately doesn’t help anyone, but can you imagine why some women would have been pissed off and wanted to do a little bashing back?
    Now, I think that the bashing and blaming that happens on both sides of the aisle should just stop. But if MRAs don’t understand any of the above, then yes, now I’m seeing why there’s such an impasse between feminists and MRAs and I was naïve to think that there could be cooperation between them.”

    Mind if I jump in? If you don’t condone such slander and misinformation, then why bring up the sentences to that prior. You claim that women have been bashed and lied about for centuries; but, where is the proof of this? Furthermore, when you say that “Now I think the bashing and blaming that happens on both sides of the aisle should just stop”, was there a time where you accepted the bashing and blaming of one gender upon another? I’m rather skeptical that you have not always been amiable in your dealings with men, as it were, to be frank.

    You seem like someone with empathy, Cristina. In the years that feminists have been around we have heard such telling statements from them, as to what they think of men. Compound that with their actions, and does not a sane person, truly interested in equality and opposing bigotry, take issue with feminism. So, can you blame us? Can you blame us for being indignant when they claim we males are some “biological accident” and are “utterly inferior”. Does this sound like the talk of people one might wish to defend?

    That is not to say that all feminists are the same, which is often pointed out. Wendy McElroy, Camille Paglia, and Christina Sommers are some of the precious few examples against the rule. They however don’t represent most feminists as we know. Not even close, really, …

    When it comes to bashing and blaming, we pail in comparison. And furthermore, our targets are feminists- not women or women’s rights. The inverse can not always be said for feminists, however. Quite the contrary, they actively persecute all those who dissent, and demand legislation against males. To understand our position, you must understand that we want only equality. We want EITHER for there to be a Violence Against Men Act, preferably, or for there to be no VAWA; is one of putting it.

    Paul’s article was only meant to tackle the issue of whether or not women did have it as bad, as feminists have said. An examination of the laws and societal beliefs in the past, does indeed tell quite a different story. That was all that was meant by his work.

    You asked, if we could understand why some women would want “to do a little bashing back”.

    1) What bashing have men done to women? You have not yet stated what bashing men have done. As pointed out above and in Paul’s Article, a quick examination of the past seems only to reveal that women lead extraordinarily privileged lives.
    2) Even if men had, in some way, bashed women, a point not historically proven yet mind you, how do two wrongs make a right, and how would that be mature of women?

    Anyway, these are just my criticisms. I think you were not naive to think there is some room to cooperate. Scholars like Wendy McElroy and Dr. Warren Farrell should exemplify what I’m what I’m talking about here. The crux of the matter is for feminism to finally stop persecuting those who disagree, so there can be a calm discussion. Take for instance the trumped up charges of “rape” that were leveled against the leader of the Masculinist Coalition at Pincer College, for one example. When feminists can handle criticism talk will go much more smoothly; because, whether you want to admit it not, there is a lot to talk about, and a lot for feminists to answer.

    With blunt sincerity,
    -MAAN

  • Factory says:

    “What I think is great (really, I mean that) is how perfectly this article illustrates how men and women have been stuck in a centuries-old patriarchal system that harms both sexes. From the tone of the article, I’m sure it’s unintentional, but it is there.”

    What most MRAs object to here is not that there are centuries-old sex-roles, but that they are “patriarchal”. This mainly sprouts from a general tendency to regard Patriarchy Theory as rather thinly veiled man-hate “justified” by a made-up history, twisted via the exclusion of the male viewpoint almost entirely. An opinion I happen to share.

    “This system tells us that “real men” are expected to act a certain way: tough, macho, strong.”

    The people I hear using the phrase “real man” are nearly universally both women, and feminists. More on this in a bit…

    “When the patriarchal system says that women are the tender caregivers and not men, is it really any wonder why the courts are biased in favor of giving women child custody?”

    Actually, back a few years ago, when women were “owned” (you know, The Patriarchy), child custody was nearly universally granted to men, not women (this was because the children were legally considered his property, I know). That alone makes your contention that it’s head-patting condescension leading to this imbalance tenuous at the very best. You also conveniently ignore such Feminist inspired (and implemented) gems as “no fault Divorce”, the Duluth Model (only men abuse, only women are victims) – and the sorry state of the DV industry as a result – which consistently bombards the public with messages that men are dangerous, paedophiles, and incompetent parents at best. We also talk about “father figures” in children’s lives as if they’re somehow equal with “father”…when do we say “mother figure”?

    ALL of that, and more, factors quite heavily into the Family Court decisions, of that you can be quite sure…

    “Both men and women should be allowed to choose for themselves what they want, not have it dictated to them by an oppressive system.”

    On this, we both most definitely agree. Enthusiastically on my part, and on many others.

    We all know there’s no putting toothpaste back in the tube, and many of us would NEVER choose that path if given the option. What seems to rub you guys the wrong way is our motivations differ strongly on which changes should take place.

    You seem to want men to be either exactly where they are now, or even more feminised. This betrays strong sexism, as a stance, by assuming “female” quite literally equals “superior”…what else can the goal of an ideal be? Feminists may talk of Patriarchy…we talk of Feminism. We don’t want to roll back the clock at all. We don’t want “helpless” housewives (by and large…we ARE international in scope after all), we want to get rid of the expectations men have placed on them…

    If you want to get a better idea of what the MRM is, look at Feminism in the very early 60s. I mean that. To us, you look exactly like a slave owner asking another what the slaves are complaining for, they’re fed and sheltered after all…. And no, that is not an exaggeration in most cases.

    Which means OUR idea of an “oppressive system” and YOUR idea of an “oppressive system” will differ signifigantly, both in the definition of “oppressive” and the changes in the system desired.

    That’s the long of it.

    The short of it, is we demand literal equal protection under the law, equal rights (including the right to parental self determination you hold so dear), and an end to systemic discrimination against men. That might sound familiar to you since it’s nearly identical to early feminist goals, and most of the discrimination in place was put there by feminist ideologues to correct “past injustice” and “promote empowerment”.

    The results are in…you’re ahead. Now it’s time to give up the special considerations.

    “The machinations of a system don’t have agency- it’s like blaming god for burning down a wooden house after a storm.”

    That’s the “only following orders” approach in reverse. Systems are made up of people. Systems are defined in part by commonality. For example, what makes you a feminist? (It’s a rhetorical question, I know you’re all completely different from each other). There HAS to be commonalities, or the definition is rendered meaningless.

    We have identified many of those commonalities to not only reside in feminist rhetoric, but also in legal text, etc. In my own Province, the “task force” looking into the poor performance of boys in Education BEGAN their working paper with the declaration that the whole proceedings were to be carried out in light of their “commitment to Feminist Principles” (and no, I’m not making that up). Needless to say, the report found that boys were the problem, and more socialization (read: feminisation) was needed to help them change to fit the current system….

    But hey, Feminist ideology doesn’t oppress men…People do.

    “But instead of playing the who is really oppressed or who is really privileged games, it makes tons more sense to be working together to dismantle a system that has institutionalized the notion that women should be the delicate protected and the men the macho protectors.”

    I find this bit hilarious. I’ve been around for a long time, on BBS’s, then blogs and forums. I’ve interacted with feminists online for nearly 15 years… Know what?

    Until about a year ago, none of you had any time for us. …Told us that if we had problems as men, then men should go about fixing it…why should women be involved…?

    So, we went off and started doing stuff, and getting more effective, and now we get vilified for speaking up for ourselves (as if I didn’t know it’s because what we’re saying doesn’t agree with what you THINK we should be fighting against – a perfect example of how Feminism can NEVER be of benefit to men). Strangely, over the years I’ve not seen a whole lot of Feminists who’ve done much for men. In fact, given the goals MRAs have, I think we were quite right in being a tad perplexed at why Feminists told us off in the beginning. Now that we understand you better, it’s not surprising at all that Feminist posts at our sites consist largely of ad hominem attacks, and an unyielding desire to maintain the status quo.

    Hell, we even have a dictionary to classify the various tactics used.

    It’s the last 4 pages in the first issue of the ‘zine I do, called the Catalog of Anti-Male Shaming Tactics. Getting back to that bit about telling men to be “real men”, or calling them “gay”, you know, forcing those “rigid gender roles” on men…. Wanna guess what over 90% of the feminists posting are saying?

    As MRAs, we believe Feminism has a LOT to answer for. That’s something that is central to the MRM, in fact, and many of us define ourselves as “counter-feminists” instead…which implies exactly what it means…once the damage wrought by Feminism on men -and society- is fixed, we’re gone. This is a reactionary movement, one that cannot exist with nothing to react too. What you would call a “backlash”.

    But, if any of you ever actually cared to listen, you might be a little shocked at what men are deciding for themselves.

  • Gogonostop says:

    Very well, remove my posts if you cannot form a coherent counterargument. But remember this: all you are doing is proving to MRA’s that Feminists cannot be reasoned or argued with, and hence cannot be negotiated with.

    I pointed out – quite clearly – how Feminist ideology was flawed to the core by its mischaracterization of the genders being entirely separate political classes.

    No doubt you will attribute the deletion of my post to the expletive-free sound byte of annoyance at the end of the message, rather than 90% of the message, which was argumentation.

    I will not be wasting my time reasoning and arguing with Feminists in the future, and instead will devote my time to organizing, developing media such as that linked below, and the like. And every single MRA whose posts are deleted will be encouraged to do the same.

    – Gogonostop

    • Chris says:

      Aww, I’m sorry. We have to approve comments from new users before they will post, and, since we live in China right now and are therefore asleep more often than not when people in the western hemisphere are on the internet, there’s a bit of a delay before we can get to the computer.

      Does Gogo need a cookie?

      Maybe you wouldn’t be so angry if you put down that cross you’ve been carrying around.

      • Karl says:

        Having read this thread, I find myself not remotely shocked to see Chris repeatedly resorting to insults & mockery rather than addressing any questions or points raised. And this is what feminism offers – mockery & insults to anyone questioning the feminist agenda, to anyone with a legitimate greivance, to anyone questions the apparent necessity for feminists to consistently blame men, a man or ‘the patriarchy’.

        Wonderful – just wonderful.

        The comments, from Chris at least, only serve to reinforce the need to counter feminist hate campaigns against men.

        • Chris says:

          I admit that I responded too hastily to a few of these comments; the others, I returned the courtesy they granted me. I also admit that I was responding more to other writings of Paul’s than to anything he wrote here. But the man has a blog entitled “The Happy Misogynist,” which is frankly sick and inflammatory, and I let my anger get the best of me. It didn’t help that he openly called us liars.

          You will note, however, that I did address many of the others’ points and, in response, was ridiculed myself. Gogonostop, for instance, grants me the point that not all feminists are the same and then proceeds to compare me to a Nazi. Fidelbogen at least told me outright that it didn’t matter what I said in the slightest because he and the others could see through all my poisonous feminist propaganda. How would you respond to that?

          However, a few days ago, I discovered PZ Meyers’s 3-comment rule, which makes very good sense. And that is why I will not presume that you are willfully engaging in deception (as a certain Mr. Elam did to me) and point out that in addition to addressing some of the points made in the comments here, I also took the time to address every single one of Factory’s points (many of which were repeated by others) in another post on this site, which you can read here. Don’t miss the comments! Factory has some wonderful things to say in response, some involving Nazis.

  • Chris says:

    Paul Elam :

    I am sure you would have preferred that your partners rant at my article only get you pats on the back. But gee, speaking of that, where are your readers rushing to your defense, hmmm?

    Is it any wonder why MRA’s are totally on the rise and feminism has begun to die by attrition?

    Ha ha ha, that’s right, Paul. Your website, which has an international editorial board and (I’m guessing) receives submissions from around the world and has a large and vocal readership is exactly the same as our blog, which is run by us (two people) in our spare time. And, yes, Rational Riposte is the best that the entire feminist movement can muster. You must be so glad that your war of attrition is going so well.

  • Chris says:

    Paul Elam :

    Feminists post long and detailed dissent at MND all the time. We embrace the differences and don’t fear them.

    Again, I’ll point to the difference in purpose and readership of our respective websites. I’m glad you have the time and money to address every dissenting opinion you must get, but we do not. Responding personally to every opinion we might get (and certainly every MRA opinion we are getting) would take way too much of what little time we can devote to our blog. So you’ll have to forgive us if we choose to ignore you.

  • Fidelbogen says:

    I can’t resist jumping into this, however briefly. Quoting Chris from upthread:

    “The problem with your argument is that feminists do not define patriarchy as “a system of male power.”

    That is NOT the problem with his argument. No Chris, the difficulty in this case is that feminists and MRAs are talking past each other because they do not share the same worldview. Hence, the problem is far more fundamental and deeply rooted.

    From the MRA (and more specifically counter-feminist) perspective, “patriarchy” is no more than a feminist codeword which means exactly the same thing as “male power”. In fact, “patriarchy” and “male power” are virtually interchangeable terms.

    You are committing a fallacy which some of us call feminist subjectivism. This may be summed up briefly as “the illusion that feminism still has the power to define itself.” And when you tell us what feminists “define patriarchy as”, you illustrate this mistaken way of thinking.

    The point being, that feminism is no longer exclusively what the feminists say it is. Feminism’s monopoly privilege on self-definition has been revoked by an increasingly critical and unmerciful non-feminist sector. Accordingly, feminism is also (at least in part) what the non-feminist sector SAYS it is.

    Yes. The outsiders are now mapping reality for the insiders. The rest of the world is now telling feminism what feminism is.

    And THAT. . . is a revolutionary paradigm shift.

    I will leave you to process the implications.

    • Chris says:

      Ohhhhh, I see. Though I should point out that when MRAs use the phrase “feminist subjectivism,” feminists read “triple-salchow,” and I’m a little confused as to how figure skating entered into any of this. Similarly, when you use the phrase “revolutionary paradigm shift,” I read “semantic asshattery.”

      Thanks for the chuckle.

  • Gogonostop says:

    Chris :
    Aww, I’m sorry. We have to approve comments from new users before they will post, and, since we live in China right now and are therefore asleep more often than not when people in the western hemisphere are on the internet, there’s a bit of a delay before we can get to the computer.
    Does Gogo need a cookie?
    Maybe you wouldn’t be so angry if you put down that cross you’ve been carrying around.

    Apologies for the misunderstanding.

  • Gogonostop says:

    Chris :
    Ohhhhh, I see. Though I should point out that when MRAs use the phrase “feminist subjectivism,” feminists read “triple-salchow,” and I’m a little confused as to how figure skating entered into any of this. Similarly, when you use the phrase “revolutionary paradigm shift,” I read “semantic asshattery.”
    Thanks for the chuckle.

    Might be a good point to listen to him though. Feminists redefine patriarchy a lot. The definition you give is not the only one, but virtually all the definitions swirl around the locus of “male power.” You can add something to orbit that locus, but it still doesn’t change what it fundamentally is. And since Feminists have constantly redefined patriarchy to suit their whim, they truly no longer have the power to define it themselves. Therefore, we are defining it by the common denominator: “male power.”

  • [...] Posted by Chris on December 5, 2009 So I guess Christina and I are real feminists now.  We’ve had a run-in with the Men’s Rights Movement.  This would be on Rational Riposte, in an article by Christina entitled, “Breaking the Shackles.” [...]

  • Factory says:

    …and once again, the MRAs try to engage in serious conversation, while the Feminists dissemble, insult, display contempt, and totally avoid saying anything of substance….

  • Fidelbogen says:

    Chris, that is fine. “Read” me (and my lot) as you wish, and we’ll do the mirror equivalent for you (and your lot) from our side of the sector line. ;)

    And then we shall reciprocally Go our Own Ways. Hopefully, the world is big enough that our paths don’t cross…

  • Christina says:

    To Gogonostop (and many other commenters): It seems many of you have complete misunderstandings of what feminism actually is. This has derailed the conversation from my original post about sexism and gender roles into squabble match of feminists vs. men’s rights activists. This has done little to further a constructive dialogue.

    So, if you want to comment about what feminists are and the definition of feminism please go to: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/10/faq-what-is-feminism/. They address some questions that have been brought up here, such as the relationship between men and feminism (especially in their comments thread). There, you can also engage in a debate about the definition of feminism.

    Finally Feminism 101 also has discussions and definitions on a variety of other feminist-related topics. I recommend exploring that site. You should start here: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

  • [...] Well, let me open by thanking you for adopting a civil tone and actually addressing Christina’s original assertions, instead of hijacking the debate and taking it onto some other topic or a laundry list of [...]

  • [...] disagreed with the contents of the article, it gave me and idea for a blog post so I wrote called Breaking the Shackles (on Rational Riposte) about sexism and gender roles. When I went to bed Wednesday night, I was all [...]

  • cacophonies says:

    It’s not feminism, it’s not women, it’s not men that are at fault- it’s the system that we’re all entrenched in.

    Right on.

    I came here via your comment on my post– looks like we wrote the same blog post. Ha. Something in the water make us both think, “Gosh, why can’t MRAs and Feminists get along?”

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, maybe there was something in the water last week! I had the same feeling when reading your post.

  • Feckless says:

    Feminism: The advocacy of women`s rights on the grounds of sexual equality (OED)

    I am not sure how advocating women’s rights helps men, especialy when we are talking about men’s issues. The long history of feminism showed us that there was not much room for male specific problems. So maybe that is why we recently see more and more MRAs emerging…besides that, what is worng with having a men’s movement?

    • Christina says:

      Chris and I have both been talking about this a lot lately. And we don’t think there is anything wrong with the Men’s Rights Movement as a whole. They’re addressing certain issues that need to be addressed and that’s a good thing. What does bother us is when feminism (and us, by extension) is blamed for deliberately sabotaging and belittling men. What does bother us is when people (men or women) attack us with sexist language and start calling us “feminazis,” “femifascists” or “man-haters.” (That’s not to say that some feminists haven’t “boned” the situation or done something to bridge hostilities between MRM’s and feminism, but that shouldn’t define all feminists.)

      And onto our second point, the “definition” of feminism.

      First off, we think using a dictionary to define a centuries-long movement focusing on many issues for a variety of social, economic, and political perspectives is overly simplistic. Feminism is too big, too dynamic, and reducing it to one sentence can mislead. Feminism is fluid; it’s constantly evolving and changing with new people, new voices, all of whom have different concerns and different opinions on how to address certain issues. (Also, Chris pointed out that the definition you used is from the second edition of the OED, published in 1989. It’s a little outdated and presents a limited picture of feminism).

      I think of feminism as primarily the struggle to end sexism. Equality for women is an important aspect of that, but redefining feminism as a movement to end sexism indicates that the movement isn’t women-exclusive. (I mean, women really can’t ignore half the population). Also, more and more people are realizing that gender roles don’t just harm women. Though feminists would be more focused on women-specific issues, we aren’t ignorant of how these roles adversely affect men too. (I tried to address this in the post). But, feminists can’t do everything, nor should they claim to. Following from that, Chris and I would welcome a different movement, whose goals are the same but focused on men (or even children, for that matter) instead. Just as long as they aren’t actively (and gleefully) opposing everything that feminism is trying to do as well.

      • Feckless says:

        1.) Understandable. One also has to understand though that a) feminists often do not have nice words for MRAs and b) that without a doubt critique of feminism for certain points is approriate (I am aware that there are people out there who blame everything on feminsm and quite frankly that view is as faulty as believing feminist influences have never been bad for men. As an example I am looking at the domestic violence industry which has strongly been influenced by feminism which leaves not much room for male victims)

        2.) Looking at the rate the links for the finallyfeminism101 blog show up here, I am a bit surprised that you did not notice that this “outdated” dictionary one-liner is featured on every page of that blog. I must admit I agree with that definition, but let us take a look at your definition “the struggle to end sexism”. Following links provided by Chris we learn (still on the finallyfeminism101 blog) that via the feminist definition of sexism there is only sexism against women. So I am not sure how the struggle to end discrimination of women based on their gender is fundamentally different to advocate women’s right. Both look women-exclusive to me. To cite that site even further:

        “No one is saying that discussions on men and masculinities shouldn’t go on. It is absolutely important to have dialogue on men’s issues, including discussions on violence done towards men. The thing is, a feminist space — unless the topic is specifically men’s issues — is not the place to have that discussion and neither are spaces (feminist or otherwise) in which the topic is specifically focused on women’s issues.”

        To be honest, I do not think there is anything wrong with having a movement focused on women. What I really do not like is pretending that giving more power to women is helping much with men’s issues. It is not.

        “Just as long as they aren’t actively (and gleefully) opposing everything that feminism is trying to do as well.”

        Are you really surprised by the MRAs response when feminism (as defined by the finallyfeminism101 blog) argues that there is no sexism against men, that there is no female privilege and that men as a class are privileged over women?

        There is a clash of views here. MRAs believe that there is sexism against men, that there is female privilege and that there are many instances where women are privileged over men. And as feminists are the leading voice when it comes to the discussion on gender based equality isn´t it logical to oppose that view?

        • Christina says:

          Chris and I honestly were surprised to receive the kinds of comments we did because we were writing on our blog about our views. Feminists yes, but we thought we made our views on sexism pretty damn clear. We have repeated them often enough. But, in retrospect, we realize it’s because we do go beyond the established feminist definition of what feminism is– and no one was listening to us.

          Here’s the view that Chris and I fall in line with, and it’s far more encompassing than the OED (it also shows the even feminists can disagree on the definition of their movement). From page one of Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, by bell hooks:

          “… feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression… this definition… did not imply that men were the enemy… Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult.”

          Further, in the same book (published in 2000), bell hooks notes that it has been a failing of feminism thus far in that it has not addressed men’s issues, that it has not fully addressed how a changing society with an “increased class power of women has made it difficult for men who are not rich and powerful to know where they stand” (71).

          We agree that this has been a failing of feminism. However, I can imagine why many (but not all) feminists who started that second “wave” in the ’60s and ’70s were distrustful, if not out right angry with men, and did want to exclude them and their concerns from the movement. I can equally imagine how, meeting up against this, many men would respond in kind, and be distrustful of feminists.

          But this is a failing of both movements to disregard the historical context that each is responding to and operating in. It’s led to this talking past each other, or just plain ol’ screaming at each other. Neither Chris nor I are disregarding all MRAs concerns as illegitimate or anything like that because I’m starting to understand where these concerns are coming from. Do the MRAs understand where feminists’ concerns come from? Do they understand why some feminists might have been really pissed off and lashed out at men in anger to begin with?

          Linking to Finally Feminism 101 was meant to address this, was as an attempt to say “please understand our perspective.” If anyone disagreed with the definition of sexism or female privilege they could say as much on the Finally Feminism 101 blog and to us. Chris and I don’t wholly agree with their definition of sexism (and it seems like bell hooks doesn’t either and she’s a more established feminist than us) and that’s something we could have talked about. But instead the comments we received in response to my post weren’t interested in doing that.

          At this point, I’m not sure what else to say. I could repeat, for the umpteenth time that we’re not opposed to MRAs. (And, if anyone looks, you’ll find we’re not the only feminists who think this either). And no, we were not surprised by the disagreements, we were shocked at the vitriol and hatred that seethed from some of the comments. A disagreement should lead to a dialogue and discussion, a trying to find common ground and trying to understand the other side’s perspective. We don’t see why a disagreement needs to go so far, or why we must oppose each other.

  • Feckless says:

    Chris and I honestly were surprised to receive the kinds of comments we did because we were writing on our blog about our views. Feminists yes, but we thought we made our views on sexism pretty damn clear. We have repeated them often enough. But, in retrospect, we realize it’s because we do go beyond the established feminist definition of what feminism is– and no one was listening to us.

    I must admit, the only part of your blog I read was indeed this thread here wich includes a posting in which Chris directly links to articles arguing that sexism against men as well as female privilege does not exist. And if you believe that the finallyfeminism101 blog represents the established feminist definition, the MRAs critique of feminists must make much more sense to you now, right? To give a different perspective here, I don´t believe that every feminist is this or that, I know quite a few where the term equalist was more appropriate, but one has to take a look at the mainstream and the feminist organisations with political power. Just take a look at NOW, which is pretty much women exclusive, or the Feminist Family Law Movement who is fighting against joint custody as well as the National Association of Women and the Law. Or take feministing the most read feminist blog where there are articles arguing that Aids is a women’s disease or read gems such as “Domestic violence isn’t funny – even when it’s directed at a man” (compare that to, “violence isn’t funny – even when it’s directed at a person of color”, why the othering of victims?) .

    Here’s the view that Chris and I fall in line with, and it’s far more encompassing than the OED (it also shows the even feminists can disagree on the definition of their movement).

    I am well aware that feminists disagree all the time. Once one brings up ciritque about feminism it is mostly, “oh that is not us, those are the othere feminists”. But why does one even need the label if everyone disagrees with that? Do the MRAs dislike every feminist? No, as an example Christina Hoff Summers pretty much agrees with the MRA stance, it is about the mainstream, the feminism you called established feminism. And quite honestly if you do not agree with that I suggest you either drop that label and stop linking to sites that define feminism in a way you do not agree with or do not act surprised if someone does not realise that you are not an established but some kind of different feminist.

    Further, in the same book (published in 2000), bell hooks notes that it has been a failing of feminism thus far in that it has not addressed men’s issues

    Yeah, we all agree on that one.

    We agree that this has been a failing of feminism. However, I can imagine why many (but not all) feminists who started that second “wave” in the ’60s and ’70s were distrustful, if not out right angry with men, and did want to exclude them and their concerns from the movement. I can equally imagine how, meeting up against this, many men would respond in kind, and be distrustful of feminists.

    Just look at the examples I gave before these days, there isn´t much of a difference. It is a feminist interest to increase fathers rights. To cite Glenn Sacks:

    “In my view, the feminists did a lot of good things during the sixties and seventies, and since then, they’ve done some good things, and I think they still occasionally do good things, but I think that they’ve also jumped the rails, and a lot of the stuff they do, particularly in family law and domestic violence, a lot of the stuff they do is very destructive and unfair,”

    “I think that in a lot of ways it’s a betrayal, because in the seventies, the feminist thing was: women are going to have their careers, and men are going to spend more time at home, and men are going to have more time with the children, and men will have the time to be more involved fathers because they’ll no longer have the burden of supporting the family themselves.

    “And now, whenever there’s any kind of legislative attempt to try to make it so that fathers can have more time with their children after divorce, or fathers can have joint custody after divorce of fathers could have shared parenting after divorce –the feminists, all the time, right down the line, they fight it like crazy! And, to me, that’s just a total betrayal.”

    I doubt that all feminist fight it like crazy, but there is indeed a feminist opposition and a lot of silence or desinterest.

    But this is a failing of both movements to disregard the historical context that each is responding to and operating in. It’s led to this talking past each other, or just plain ol’ screaming at each other.

    This might surprise you, but quite a few MRAs are former feminists. There has been a time when there has been a discussion for feminism to become more “equal” in regards of men’s rights. Sadly there was not much common ground with established feminists as German MRA Arne Hoffmann writes in one of his books. I believe there are quite a few that feel betrayed by feminism.

    Neither Chris nor I are disregarding all MRAs concerns as illegitimate or anything like that because I’m starting to understand where these concerns are coming from. Do the MRAs understand where feminists’ concerns come from? Do they understand why some feminists might have been really pissed off and lashed out at men in anger to begin with?

    I am not going to generalize here, but I do believe I understand as I read quite a few feminist and MRA publications. Matter of fact in both movements you will see quite a few victims plus quite a few radicals. There may be a time when we all can have an equality movement that addresses everyone equally, where male issues are as important as female ones. But right at the moment this is not possible. imho we are in a need of a strong men’s movement.

    Linking to Finally Feminism 101 was meant to address this, was as an attempt to say “please understand our perspective.” If anyone disagreed with the definition of sexism or female privilege they could say as much on the Finally Feminism 101 blog and to us. Chris and I don’t wholly agree with their definition of sexism (and it seems like bell hooks doesn’t either and she’s a more established feminist than us) and that’s something we could have talked about.

    I am sorry but this makes me pull my hair out. Dammit if you do not agree with their definition of sexism, do not link to their definition of sexism. It is as simple as that.

    At this point, I’m not sure what else to say. I could repeat, for the umpteenth time that we’re not opposed to MRAs. (And, if anyone looks, you’ll find we’re not the only feminists who think this either). And no, we were not surprised by the disagreements, we were shocked at the vitriol and hatred that seethed from some of the comments. A disagreement should lead to a dialogue and discussion, a trying to find common ground and trying to understand the other side’s perspective. We don’t see why a disagreement needs to go so far, or why we must oppose each other.

    My only purpose of taking part in this discussion was to offer another perspective. I am not going to talk for the other commentors, I can not do this, but I am willing to offer you my own perspective. There was a time when I was new to this movement and pretty much wanted to engage into a discussion with feminists. A dialogue, trying to fit common ground, all of this. So I did have lengthy discussions with quite a few feminists not long ago and pretty much got a lot of this vitriol and hatred, and learned that we are not compatible as the worldview between feminists and MRAs is fundamentally different. As another example, right now some men’s groups on different universities are founded and the feminist reaction on this thus far is not much more than “oh the poor menz, they do not need an extra men’s group because everything else is already a men’s group. Women still [this] and women still [that]”. But maybe that is a good think, it is time that men (and pro-MRA women) enter the gender discussion on their terms not under the feminist umbrella. It is time for a mens movement which puts male interests first (in the same way that feminism puts female interest first). Change is not done in a short time, let us see where we are in a decade or three….

    • Christina says:

      You said it, change is not done in a short time. Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your views. We appreciate it!

  • [...] Critics.”  The user who linked to us was Feckless, who commented extensively on our post “Breaking the Shackles.” I assumed the worst, and yet my interest was piqued.  I had to know what he said about us, so I [...]

What’s this?

You are currently reading Breaking the Shackles at Slow Learner.

meta

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.