There is a paradox lying at the center of Men’s Rights Advocacy, and masculinity in general: while claiming that men are the superior gender, they hate men in a principled and systematic way. Not only is masculinity defined in a way that displays a complete lack of leadership quality, but they constantly endeavor to repeat to us that men cannot help their violent impulses, men cannot control their libido, men cannot stop themselves from raping women, men cannot stop beating women who cheat on them, and so on.
They treat men with such contempt that they become equated with little more than dumb brutish beasts. Not even the most man-hating radical feminist hates men with such passion.
Women, on the other hand, are portrayed in a diametrically opposite manner. We are told again and again by these fellows that women are responsible for every single thing that happens to them, because they can change their behavior (unlike men, who are unthinking, unfeeling beasts). We are told that “proper” women are a “civilizing” influence on the violent men (who are inherently uncivilized).
The paradox exists because gender rhetoric serves the purpose of rationalizing and naturalizing men’s domination over women, which is violent and insane, therefore they have no choice but to rationalize and naturalize violence and insanity by framing it as a natural attribute of men, a necessary attribute of men, and a desirable attribute of men; at the end of the magic act, violence becomes “competition” and insanity becomes “rationality.”
The obsession about competition is a peculiarly American one, because no other society in the world is focused on competing to the point of it being virtually a national religion. But the fact that Americans are particularly competitive, and that other societies do not exhibit this behavior, points to the fact that competition is not universal and therefore cannot be an innate trait. Because most MRAs are American, they obviously do not see any problem with labeling competitive urges as innate. In fact, most of us, regardless of gender, do not like to compete unless it’s been beaten into us by our parents and by society.
House Mouse Queen posted a comment she received on her blog which provides a clear statement of what masculinity is all about. I wanted to use this as the centerpiece because it is one of the clearest statements of the MRA/masculinist hatred of men I’m talking about. Its writer may be an extremist but the ideas expressed therein are the same as those of most masculinists, just expressed with more honesty than most would find necessary.
You have to realize that boys will never not be competitive… Men do not want peace, equality, or social harmony. Men do not even crave deep friendship. Men replace their social minds with a penchant for throwing spears really well. Men don’t sit around and build society. They build the buildings society (women) inhabits and then go leave to kill something. Then they kill other men so their preferred women can have more houses to live in. They are violent, and they will always fight among themselves. They are born like that, and they LIKE it.
First we get a reframing of violence as competition, but there’s really no need for that since our writer is all too honest about the violence part.
Then we get the puzzling statement that men don’t have a social mind. This can hardly be interpreted as anything but an anti-evolution statement: humans, like all primates, evolved as a social species, and anyone who denies this must also deny that we are connected to other primates. If men are not social animals, then they are not human but something else entirely (and in the thoughts of anti-evolutionists, something inferior, since they believe humans are at the apex).
Now, I know the writer states later on, in what is by far my favourite line, that “men are basically dogs.” But even that does not work, since wolves are notoriously social animals as well.
Our writer asserts that not only are men violent killers, but they like it. That’s not the way you describe someone you like, or even someone you have no opinion about; this is a description of a sociopath, pure and simple. We would say things like this about the worse scum that has ever existed. And yet, according to him, this is what all men are like.
It sounds great at first – men without dominance struggles! So much suffering eliminated! Mens lives will be better! But it’s unattainable unless you pump male fetuses full of so much estrogen that they will develop into women, but with the wrong set of gonads.
This leads us to the delicious irony of what the paradox implies. If men really are innately sociopathic because they are males, then the only logical solution is to eradicate all males. Note that neither I nor any radical feminist I’ve ever read (even on blog comments) agree with this conclusion, but it is the only possible conclusion to the masculinist premises.
Of course masculinists themselves do not agree with this conclusion, but what else do they have to offer exactly? Basically nothing.
Men must be allowed to fight and be “toxic”, or else they will truly become toxic. They must have safe outlets for competition, hatred, and superiority, and those outlets must be fair so nobody ends up as a suicidal elliot rogers seeking revenge for being born “inferior” while trying to believe themselves superior.
Here the concept of “toxic masculinity” rears its ugly head. It makes little sense if taken as a self-contained concept, but it’s not hard to understand why the concept exists: if there is such a thing as “toxic masculinity” then there must also be such a thing as “healthy masculinity,” which leads more easily into a reformist (atomistic, liberal, anti-radical) position.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as “toxic masculinity” because I don’t believe there is such a thing as “healthy masculinity.” Individual men can be violent or caring, but masculinity is always unhealthy precisely because it is defined as violent, as a contrast to women who are portrayed as caring, with violence being seen as dominant and caring being seen as subordinate. I believe that the author of this screed has a toxic mentality, the mentality of masculinism, which he shares with all genderists out there no matter their allegiance.
The very idea that men are born violent sociopathic dogs directly contradicts this view that their energies can be channeled into “safe outlets.” If men really were born innately violent, society would be powerless to change this fact in any way, and any “safe outlet” would be a miserable failure. If men can be changed, and masculinity is not universal, then this leads us to the conclusion that it is a social construct.
Men are basically dogs. When you adopt a husky, it will destroy your house if you do not give it an outlet for constant play. A man is a dog. The dog needs to be walked.
Is this the kind of thing you say about someone you don’t utterly despise?
Skipping over the bizarre and illogical assertions about lower testosterone leading to even more violence (which makes no sense even from an MRA point of view), we end on an even more bizarre note where the writer seems to agree with the SCUM Manifesto (??). These are definitely not typical masculinist views, and therefore are beyond the scope of this entry.
The first question that comes to mind is, why did this writer leave such a comment on a feminist blog? Obviously, as House Mouse Queen posted, it is a mansplanation. But why post it on an old entry on a feminist blog of all places? I think this may be the writer trying to reinforce his own belief in the face of cognitive dissonance. But without knowing who the author is, there’s no point in psychoanalyzing.
Perhaps a more interesting question is, why do men trot out these tired rationalizations in the first place? Daily we are confronted with the end result of men’s violence against women. 98.8% of people arrested for rape are men. 97% of domestic abusers are heterosexual men. 88.2% of people arrested for homicide are men. Ridiculous claims about false rape accusations aside, it’s hard to argue with such figures.
In the light of the violence inflicted on women by men around the globe, these rationalizations are particularly heinous. We don’t find them particularly convincing when individuals bring them up, either: “I couldn’t help myself” doesn’t exculpate anyone from responsibility, it just demonstrates that they lack self-control and therefore are even more dangerous than previously thought.
Likewise, when the person who oppresses you tells you that he must be allowed to keep beating you up because he’ll kill you if you try to run away, that’s not exactly a statement of fact, more of an intimidation tactic. Its role is to keep women in their place and accept the present state of affairs. The message they’re sending is, accept the sociopathic behavior that comes along with masculinity or it’s gonna get a lot worse.
But suppose we take seriously the proposition that masculinity is innate. If that’s true, then why try to change anything about it? One of the points most often raised against MRAs is that, for all their rhetoric about human rights, they seem singularly uninterested in activism. But, seen in this light, it’s not surprising at all. They claim to be against the draft, but why be against the draft if men are naturally meant for war? They claim to be against prison rape, but why be against prison rape if men are naturally meant to rape?
I’ve raised the same criticism against evolutionary psychology: if one seriously believes that gender and race hierarchies are innate, then there is no point in fighting against them because no remotely reasonable solution exists. Within such a worldview there is no solution, there is no exit, all that’s left is to wallow in our own prejudice and personal misgivings, which is what they do.
Another way of seeing this rationalization is that this is perhaps a depraved extreme of the incompetence argument, which portrays men as incapable of doing something (such as housework) and making women responsible for it. Women are always expected to pick up the slack (no pun intended).
Masculinity is a socially transmitted disease. Its effects are widespread and it provides great breeding grounds for sociopathy and slavish obedience. Fortunately, we also know it is a curable disease. To think otherwise is a not only a failure of the imagination, it’s also a failure of reasoning.
[Feminists] are the only group that really believes in your [men’s] humanity. The feminists are the only group that believes that you are not born rapists, you are not born johns, you are not born pimps or batterers. In fact we believe you are born with the full human capacity that women are born with. And we believe, unlike the pornographers, that you are not life support systems for erect penises.