Last week, I wrote an op-ed piece on the recent sexual assaults in Park Slope, Brooklyn and the ensuing contretemps surrounding a police officer’s controversial remarks to a woman about her attire. The remarks, seen as sexist, had feminists crying foul. In the article, I asked Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart (HUS), and Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon.net for their thoughts. Walsh and Marcotte are ideological opposites — Marcotte is one of the leaders of today’s feminist movement; Walsh believes that Marcotte and her ilk’s contemporary feminist doctrine is dangerous and counter-productive. After linking to my article on HUS, a war raged in the comments section, in which anti-feminist rants from men abounded. Naturally, Marcotte supporters were in the minority. One battle in particular pitted some poor gal named “Stephanie” against everyone else, and although I disagree with her position, I give her credit for taking the time to understand contrasting viewpoints. As of press time, there were 370 comments and that number will likely grow until Walsh’s next blog entry.
Like many of Walsh’s posts that deal with feminism and modern-day sexual mores, my piece clearly hit a nerve among men. As Rebecca Traister once wrote in a Salon.com review of Maureen Dowd’s contentious book Are Men Necessary?: “You only touch a nerve by telling a truth.”
The truth in this case, I believe, is a very real burgeoning discontent among men today with the feminist movement. While it’s difficult to know if the comments within Walsh’s post are representational of the larger male population, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge a growing resentment, restlessness, and frustration that, contrary to what some may argue, does not seem to be operating at the fringes. In fact, it’s a sentiment that seems to be growing daily and in large numbers. Men are angry. And I suppose they should be.
In a recent article entitled Why Men Are in Trouble, which I also mentioned in a recent piece I wrote about the supposed sexist remark of Senator Scott Brown, author William Bennett offers insight into why this may be the case.
“The data does not bode well for men. In 1970, men earned 60 percent of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50 percent, by 2006 it was 43 percent. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44 percent in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6 percent growth for men. In 1950, 5 percent of men at the prime working age were unemployed. As of last year, 20 percent were not working, the highest ever recorded. Men still maintain a majority of the highest paid and most powerful occupations, but women are catching them and will soon be passing them if this trend continues.”
Additionally, in 2008, men represented 93 percent of all workplace deaths, even though women were responsible for 43 percent of all hours worked, and about 95 percent of workplace suicides in that same year were committed by men. Single men constitute about 60 percent of the homeless population.
Men are the ones now crying foul about countless topics: the divorce court system; Title IX; gender quotas; loosened employment physical standards (e.g. firefighters, police officers, military personnel, etc.) for women but not men; confusing dating mores (is it no wonder they’re running in droves to the Seduction Community?); male gender bias in school systems; disingenuous domestic violence numbers; misleading wage gap statistics; derailment of stimulus money for “testosterone-laden, shovel-ready” jobs. (On the topic of domestic violence: I’m beginning to see more and more examples of female on male violence. Just look at reality television, for instance. Shows like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore show frequent examples of this sort of abuse. In the case of Teen Mom, one of the female leads was arrested for her actions, but when Jenni “JWOWW” Farley attacked Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino – see video here – nobody seemed to bat an eyelash. Compare that collective indifference with the headlines sweeping the nation when Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was hit by a man – see video here. How many examples of female on male violence are actually reported, anyway? And finally, God help me for knowing those fist-pumping delinquents’ names by heart.)
A blogger named “Byron,” a frequent commenter on Walsh’s site and an eloquent one at that, sums up the growing disillusionment in a different way. In his personal blog, he writes: “We cannot apply identical expectations to both men and women, as men and women are, by definition, different. If you have a law or a morality that is very easy for 50 percent of the people to live under and very hard for the other 50 percent, it isn’t a fair law, and it isn’t a healthy morality.”
If the pendulum of gender equality once swung all the way to one side it’s now perhaps well on its way to the other. I’m truly thankful to the Suffragettes of yesteryear, who, frustrated with their social and economic lot in life, helped women make tremendous gains. I’m truly thankful to the feminists who helped pave the way for equal pay and equal rights and equal opportunity. Just the other day, I was having a conversation with a woman who has been a college professor for 35 years. She told me that when she first started teaching, a couple of the male faculty members at the college where she worked asked if she wanted to join the faculty wives club. “I sent my husband,” she said with a Cheshire Cat grin. While not the most abhorrent of statements and probably not intended maliciously, I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to those days (although watching this guy live would have been fun).
I can’t help but wonder, though: When it comes to the present day, as men’s bitterness grows and women’s progress continues at the expense of men’s, has the fairer sex gone too far? Are we now committing the sins that we spent years admonishing men for?
Men sure think so. They argue misandry is on the rise.
The anti-misandry movement, however, is also on the rise, bubbling just below the surface of mainstream reporting. Type in the word “misandry” into a Google search, though, and all sorts of articles and book titles appear. On YouTube, there are hundreds of videos dealing with the subject. Websites and blogs dedicated to exposing feminist indoctrination flourish. (This video in particular I found poignant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZAuqkqxk9A.)
Men are starting to feel like they’re the enemy. That sentiment makes sense when you come across blogs like Eve’s Daughter, in which she dedicates an entire post to listing all the ways men are rape-supporters. The first bullet point says a man is a rape-supporter if “he’s ever sexually engaged with a woman while she was drunk or high.” There go the celebrated days of Woodstock…
When I inserted myself into the hullabaloo over at Walsh’s site, I asked the male commenters the following question: “There seems to be a growing animosity and resentment from men towards the feminist movement, and it’s certainly reflected in these threads. I am curious to know: From a male POV, what could the feminist movement do to bring men on board?”
I don’t align myself with the modern-day feminist movement (although I am grateful for gains previous waves achieved), but I am curious to know from the male perspective if there’s a way to bridge what I see as an ever-growing divide – one that more and more seems to be pitting the sexes against each other rather than uniting them. Men want to be heard when it comes to these topics; they want to talk freely and openly as men but, ironically, feel that their honesty only brings tsking, shame and derision (the way women once felt or still feel, perhaps). But how can we get anywhere unless we have honest discussion? Or, in the words of blogger Byron: “How do you talk between the sexes about the differing experiences of sex?”I, for one, wanted to listen to what they had to say. Here is a small sampling of some of their responses:
Wayfinder: For me, the good in the post-first-wave feminist movement was co-opted on the academic side around the time of deconstructionism. The academy has moved past that, but feminism is still mired in the 20th century ideologies that produced it. In attempting to root out underlying ideologies behind prejudices, they became the thought crime enforcers they were trying to fight.
So, I’m not sure that the feminist movement needs men or women at this point. I think its ideology is due for being replaced with something a bit more gender-realist, something that acknowledges that there are differences between the sexes and that the women actually like it that way aren’t brainwashed.
To put it another way, feminists have defined masculinity as the enemy while simultaneously trying to ape the male-success standards. Cultures have existed that celebrated women’s achievements, but feminists discount them because they aren’t defined as male achievements.
To address the point I think you’re looking for, feminism can’t bring men on board until they stop defining male masculinity and female femininity as the enemy.
Jesus Mahoney: Way back in 2002, Shelby Steele wrote a great essay for Harpers entitled :The Age of White Guilt: and the disappearance of the black individual” about the Civil Rights Movement in America, and I think that much of what he says there can be applied to the Feminist Movement equally well.
I’m sure you can find a link to it somewhere, but the gist of the article is that a political movement that demands recompense for grievances (i.e. a movement of people playing the victim card) robs the individuals that comprise that group of their personal power, and therefore cannot achieve anything of lasting value.
In short, insofar as battle against racism has been won at all, it’s been done by black individuals who have shown their worth in society, not by black groups shouting for freedom and equality.
In short, people should stop jockeying for political power and start reclaiming their individual power.
If women want power, they need to start living lives of power instead of complaining about being victims. In other words, they have to display their value to society instead of just screaming about it.
In short, Feminists must have been snoozing through high school English while their teachers were exhorting them to “show, don’t tell.”