UPDATE: This entry has now been linked by an MRA tumblr (I will not link to them because I don’t want to give them any hits, but their abbreviation is PoN). If you came from there, hi faggots! I’ve written some stuff about you assholes!
Yes, I know this title is bound to raise some hackles (“but what about teh menz???”). And yet I mean it quite literally. To me it is pretty obvious that a man cannot at the same time be a feminist.
I think the following two premises are uncontroversial in feminist circles:
1. All men are beneficiaries of the patriarchy.
2. Feminism seeks the end of patriarchy.
If one accepts these two premises, then the conclusion is inevitable: men cannot be feminists. And I think that in most other areas of life, a similar conclusion would be equally uncontroversial. We would call foul on a CEO who would call himself a communist or who would ask to join an Occupy movement, or a white man trying to join the Black Panthers, or of a Young Earth Creationist joining the National Academy of Sciences. And yet, men can pass (pun not intended) as feminists without even a second look. This is bizarre, to say the least.
An objection may be raised that a man can regret the privileges given to him. Of course a man can regret his privileges. Any man can believe that women should be given equal rights, that women don’t deserve to be raped, or that women should not be targeted by malicious legislation. This is not called “feminism,” it’s called “being a reasonable person.” Men don’t deserve a medal for seeing women as human beings. To say otherwise is to demean men’s intellectual faculties as well as women’s.
I know the “feminist men” (beautiful unicorns that they are) have adopted as their unofficial motto “the Patriarchy hurts men too!” and justify their affiliation on that basis. But this is based on a misunderstanding of how privilege works. I’ve already pointed out that subordinate social roles (such as being a woman) are given entitlements in order to elicit consent. Patrick Colm Hogan calls these “secondary gains” (Culture of Conformity, p50-51). But there are also secondary losses associated with those gains. Both the gains and losses serve to confirm the status of men as superiors and women as inferiors.
This is just a result of how privilege works. Men are “oppressed” because they have to perform the masculine gender and as such are limited in how they can express themselves. But by performing in this way they gain the privileges afforded to them by their masculinity. It is suffering (as mild as it is) in the service of a higher good, and to be a man and object to that process is about as trivial as complaining about having to go to the dentist.
In short, the Patriarchy doesn’t hurt men, it only confirms their status as superiors.
Feminism 101 has a further take on the issue:
[M]ost of the men I’ve personally known who have made a huge hairy point of identifying as feminists have been either date rapists, mom fetishists, porn addicts, or bear daddies inflicting their frustrated pseudopaternal tendencies on women. They are some of the most passive-aggressive, patronizing, out-dishing without it-taking twerps on the planet, and they are poisoning the women’s movement from the inside by sapping the hell out of everyone’s goddamn energy.
A man calling himself a “feminist” is a perfect cover story for rapists and abusers. I mean, think about it: what better way is there for a man to elicit trust in women than to sympathize with their struggle? Then when you beat or rape a woman, you’ve got a bevvy of other women ready to defend you, too; for just one example, see the recent Hugo Schwyzer incident. There are still women, even self-professed feminists, defending him despite his many, many grave crimes against women. Now that’s a major benefit to insinuating yourself in feminist circles.
From an Internet perspective, I can’t really comment on people’s sexual proclivities, but I have observed similar dynamics. In radfem blogs that allow men to comment, you see a great deal of the male entitlement to be heard (and I admit I have it too!), and the men using it also use their “feminist” badge to talk over women’s lived experiences. So what you get is a chorus of men whining “but what about teh menz??” and women trying to tell those men that it’s not about them. It’s fairly useless.
Radfem blogs which censor men, on the other hand, have by far the most interesting and informational comments sections I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if this is inherent to men barging into any topic or if it’s more specific to feminism, but there is a dynamic there that can develop without men feeling butthurt and feeling that they are entitled to reparations. Because butthurt of any kind is not informational and adds nothing to any conversation.
I am not saying that all men act butthurt. Some men can contribute to the dynamics of the dialogue, but I find that it’s rarely actually useful, from what I’ve seen. And as much as I’d like these women to listen to me and respect what I have to say because of my penile organ, I find that I actually have very little useful to add to the topic. Sometimes censorship is just for the best.
I want to end in something that might be controversial, since it comes from an MRA, but I think there’s some good points in there:
1. The Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG)
Examples, Hugo Schwyzer, John Scalzi, Will Wheaton, Josh Weldon, Anthony Weiner.
This guy is often angling to use sensitive new age guy (SNAG) game to get himself a soft harem, and secure/maintain/enrich his employment. These guys will often plug the fembot party line because it is instrumental to the persona/career they have created. A sizeable portion of their readership/fanbase comes from a leftist audience and so, it is quite necessary for them to toe the party line. If you write SWPL oriented sci-fi for a living, it really makes no sense to rock the grrl-power boat. Doing so is about as dumb a move, career-wise, as a country-western artist penning a song that disparages NASCAR, Jesus or both.
Nevertheless, deep down these guys have a raging libido just like the rest of us. It’s just that they have figured out that this libido can be fed (in part) by occasionally stabbing other men in the back.
3. The Gay Leftist
Examples: Andrew Sullivan, Dan Savage. (although the idea that these two are feminist is becoming less and less true as of late, thankfully)
The men in this category (which also includes the closeted) support feminism inasmuch as this support is something of an ideological tithe to another component (feminists) of the leftist coalition/army fighting the greater culture wars. Much like the Taliban and the Northern Alliance played nice with each other when fighting the Soviets, the fembots and the men in the gay community are relatively allied. However, at times when the culture war tips largely in their favor, that lovey-dovey relationship can and will break down. Why? For all their embrace of leftist causes, gay men are still men, all chock full of testosterone and um, male privilege (whatever). What’s more, they’re not exactly driven to be sympathy-filled white knights. Meet the new and improved “Evil Patriarchy” (TM).
Geeze… even when they say something that’s actually correct (a mind-bogglingly rare occurrence), MRAs still manage to make themselves look like assholes. Thanks to wannabe-feminist David Futrelle for linking to this list.