Subverting Patriarchy: Not just for chicks anymore.

    So on we worked, and waited for the light,
    And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
    And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
    Went home and put a bullet through his head.

    – Edward Arlington, Richard Cory

In the last few days, I’ve heard a lot of people attributing men’s suffering to the rise of feminism. Less readily discussed is the role of patriarchal enforcement of masculinity in that suffering. Newsweek’s big story right now is all about men and depression.

The Gary Cooper model of manhood—what Tony Soprano called “the strong, silent type” to his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi—is so deeply embedded in our social psyche that some men would rather kill themselves than confront the fact that they feel despondent, inadequate or helpless . . .
For decades, psychologists believed that men experienced depression at only a fraction of the rate of women. But this overly rosy view, doctors now recognize, was due to the fact that men were better at hiding their feelings. Depressed women often weep and talk about feeling bad; depressed men are more likely to get into bar fights, scream at their wives, have affairs or become enraged by small inconveniences like lousy service at a restaurant.

Commenters at Pandagon immediately picked up on the absurdity of labeling fighting in bars, screaming at wives, having affairs and becoming enraged as “hiding their feelings.” Men haven’t been hiding their feelings at all; they’ve been expressing their feelings in the only way socially acceptable for them – anger. Anger is a manly emotion, one they’re often far more comfortable with than fear or sadness.

Even medical professionals make assumptions based on their gender prejudices. While women suffer the ready presumption of doctors that their physical illnesses are psychosomatic, or “all in their head,” men suffer the opposite. Because men are trained not to reveal emotional weakness or vulnerability, their doctors may not pick up on the physical signs and symptoms of their depression. The article cites the case of one man who committed suicide-by-train at the age of 24:

Totten learned afterward that her brother had indeed visited his primary-care physician but complained only of stomachaches, headaches and just generally “not feeling so great,” she says. The doctor didn’t make the connection.

The article also gives some insight into the lengths doctors must go to in order to convince men to accept counseling and treatment when they are having emotional difficulties. Practitioners re-frame the treatment as “taking control of the situation;” taking control is not in conflict with masculinity, whereas “needing help” would be.

This mandate for men to stay strong at all costs stems from the same system that mandates dependence and subordination for women: Patriarchy. When MRAs rail against the system that sets up fathers as “providers” and mothers as “nurturers,” then prefers to keep children with nurturers when the parents split, they’re railing against Patriarchy. But because the terms “Patriarchy” and “Men” are so often – wrongly – used interchangeably, the true enemy is obscured, and men lash out against the very people who support their right to be vulnerable – feminists.

37 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Frank said,

    Isn’t that ultimately the way in which patriarchal enforcement continues to remain effective: shift the blame to those who are struggling for equality rather than those who are struggling to oppress?

    It reminds me of when I was a teaching assistant at a university. I mentioned ONE TIME my partner and got so many comments on my evaluation that I was trying to shove my sexuality down their throats. If you’re heterosexual having your spouse’s picture on your desk is “endearing” but when you’re homosexual and have your partner’s picture on your desk, you’re being political and flaunting your sexuality.

  2. 2

    mom said,

    Very well said, U. And Frank, good example.

  3. 3

    John Dias said,

    Very poorly said, actually. Feminists are nominally in favor of men expressing their feelings, but in practice they still engage in shaming the very men who attempt to do this. I’m going to tell you a story of one particular feminist in a position of power, a trained professional in a counseling profession, who did just this. It simply had the effect of suppressing the male point of view, male pain, male feelings. Men were to blame, and that’s that!

    Here’s the story:

    Years ago, my wife falsely accused me of violent and threatening behavior. This was absolutely untrue, but it resulted in a restraining order against me, criminal charges, and temporary alienation from the life of my son. To avoid jail, I naively accepted a plea bargain which included a requirement that I attend several months of anger management classes. Completion of these classes was required as a condition of satisfying the plea bargain, and so I had to comply with the requirements of the director of the class in order to avoid jail.

    Every time I attended one of these classes, I returned home and wrote in a journal what I had seen and heard that night. I wrote copious journal entries, pouring out my thoughts and emotions from each class session down on paper. It has now been years since I successfully completed these classes. My journals from these mandated sessions were filed away and forgotten all this time, but recently I ran across them again and began thumbing through what I had written. I want to share some of my thoughts from that time, conveyed from one of my journal entries.

    There was one particular session when a man was asked to “tell his story” about why he was in this anger management class. His name was George. George worked two jobs, one of which was as a waiter in a restaurant. He was married, with a daughter (a toddler), and his wife stayed home and cared for their daughter while George worked. George said that one day, when he was away from home, his wife left him and took their daughter with her. In order to do this, she deceived him about her plans and whereabouts that day (apparently to give herself time to pack up and leave). He arrived home after being unable to contact her, bewildered about what the hell had just happened. The house was empty, save for a few items George’s wife had left behind. Only after some time did George finally hear from his wife via telephone, and she told him she needed some time away, and that she would be coming back. But she never came back. Not long after their final conversation, she filed a civil restraining order against him alleging that he made her feel afraid, and insinuating that he was a child molester.

    As George was telling his story, the feminist woman who was supervising the class asked him why his wife would do such a thing. George said he thought it was in retaliation for him not relieving his wife of parental duties when he returned home. He said that usually, after being around so many people all day, he yearned for solitude and quiet. So he went into another room after arriving home, and only came out occasionally.

    By the time I heard George tell this story, he had not seen his daughter in almost two years. He said he had never raised his voice in a threatening manner, never abused or hit his wife, and never harmed their daughter. The feminist director noted that it had been two years since he had been allowed to see his daughter, and implied that since the family courts are fair — and he still hasn’t seen his daughter — there must be a valid reason why he was being kept away. George had never been charged with a crime, and the only “evidence” against him was his wife’s expression of her fear against him as noted on the restraining order, along with her speculations that he was a molester (she had seen in his Web browsing history a pornographic Web site address with the word “teen” in it). The veracity of this allegation was the evidence that was preventing George from seeing his daughter.

    George was again asked why his wife would leave him in such a secretive way. The feminist director kept answering her own question, expounding on her theory, treating it as though it were fact. She hammered away at George, telling him that he must have made her afraid, and asking him, “Do you get that?” George said he thought his wife left because she was tired of him not relieving her, and that she left in a deceptive way because she didn’t want to have to explain herself or feel guilty about running off with their daughter. The feminist director heard this and said, “No, George. It was because of your rage. She had to do this because she was afraid of you.” She then turned to the rest of the class, and asked, “How many of you have ever put the fear of God into your own kids?” Many hands went up. George was now isolated. The director had made him out to look unreasonable by being peaceful to his family. A reasonable person, she insinuated, would have conceded some guilt a long time ago and would have seen his children much sooner as a result. George was going on 2 years and still hadn’t been permitted to see his daughter, and the director said this too was evidence calling George’s word into question.

    When George said it was not just, fair, or morally right that his wife accuse him of abusive behavior and child molestation, that he was innocent of these things and that his wife didn’t “have” to do any of it, the director verbally pounced on him and loudly insisted, “THIS IS NOT ABOUT HER BEHAVIOR. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT SHE DID. WE’RE IN HERE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID.”

    Reading this in my journal brought my mind back to that very night, and I remember walking away from that session feeling like there was an incredible injustice done that night. I was always feeling like I had better “toe the line” in order to graduate from this class, because the shame and collective suspicion imposed by the feminist director would be hurled at me in no time had I protested my innocence. Because of this, I felt it was like a kangaroo court in there, a foregone conclusion. George had never been charged with a crime, unlike me (albeit falsely), and yet George’s presence in that class was taken by the director as a sign of his guilt.

    I remember always walking away from these classes both with a feeling of injustice, as well as a bit of confusion because so many subtle insinuations were made against the men in the class — without any evidence but their presence and their description of their own story — too many insinuations to rebut. I was not an MRA then, and didn’t know what shaming tactics are. I couldn’t deconstruct the feminist’s arguments fast enough; they would come at you like a stampede. The accusations were leveled without the expectation that proof be provided, and no one was allowed to continuously object anyway. It was like a prosecution without the rules of order or due process that one might expect at a trial. This class was nominally called an anger management program, but it was really a shaming program.

    To this day I am legally bound from revealing specific names (even George’s is an alias), times, places, etc. because admission to the program required me to maintain confidentiality. But part of me wishes that all the lessons I’ve acquired as an MRA, all the evidence I’ve amassed, all the logical refutations of feminism — I wish I could go back for even one session and make that anti-male feminist bigot look like a fool. I suppose that would be fruitless, except possibly to let the men in the class know that they are not alone — nor are they unjustified — in perceiving an injustice being committed against them.

    A father who works two jobs to support his wife, then retreats — exhausted — to another room at the end of the day might have avoided alienation from his daughter if he had perhaps been more thoughtful. If he had just taken turns with his wife on parental duties every other night. And now, the penalty for his method of taking that relief is alienation from his children, relentless badgering from a powerful anti-male bigot, and the presumption of guilt all around.

    Making a woman mad sure has its downside.

  4. 4

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    Hey – what’s wrong with suppressing your emotions so far down you can feel it in your toes?! What, you think that kicking passing cars (hey, he cut me off when I was crossing in a crosswalk!) is not normal?!?! Women aren’t supposed to punch holes in the drywall? And what of riding motorcycles? Jumping from airplanes? If those weren’t sublimated suicidal tendencies, I don’t know what is.

    Because I tell you what – with three brothers and a career military man as a father, I would much rather be treated for a fractured cranium than “body dysmorphic disorder”.

  5. 5

    uccellina said,

    John Dias – I’m curious – did your anger management instructor declare herself feminist in front of the class? Or is this a label you put on her because you didn’t like her behavior? I’m going to declare that libertarians are the root of all of society’s ills, and then call everyone who behaves badly a libertarian.

    Also, it’s been said before but obviously needs repeating: the plural of anecdote is not data.

    Monkeygurrl – You make my point exactly. Expression of anger is not “ladylike,” but it sure is manly.

  6. 6

    Sarah said,

    John Dias, it jumped right into your head that the director of the group was anti-male, but did it ever occur to you that George was lying? If he never raised his voice, never threatened, etc., then why was he in anger management? Did he decide to go on his own?

    Did you ever stop to think that the director may have known more about his situation than you do? After all, George was the one in anger management classes, so obviously it would be his behavior she wanted to discuss. I don’t understand why her keeping the conversation on track meant that she was unwilling to listen to men.

  7. 7

    John Dias said,

    To answer some questions…

    The director did very clearly identify herself as a feminist at some point during my attendance there. She told the class as much very clearly.

    Yes, anectode does not mean data. What data do you have to demonstrate that feminists are truly interested in seeking out male expression of feelings, as opposed to employing shaming tactics? You make a general claim that MRAs attack feminists even as feminists have the best interests of males at heart. That claim is unsupported by data, and it’s okay! Somehow I hear that “but where’s the DATA?” question and it comes off as dismissive. The data in my case is that it was true for me. There’s also the concept in data collection of facial validity, and you can get an inkling of that from an anecdote that you tend to believe in.

    As far as George’s truthfulness, I don’t think it’s fair to claim that he was lying. But that’s exactly what the director was implying, very clearly. Although it’s possible that some people who were sentenced by a court to take that class might have been falsely accused, it is somewhat fair to say they are guilty regardless because there’s been a court finding of guilt (through either a jury verdict or a plea). But in George’s case, he was trying to modify a civil restraining order, where no charges have been filed, no verdict pronounced, and (in his case) no evidence produced. He bore the burden of proof, merely because of the veracity of the allegations. He was trying to modify the restraining order’s provisions on child visitations, and apparently the family court indicated that a precondition was that he take an anger management course “just in case” he might need it. But this turned out to be leverage against him.

    Does all this conclusively mean that George is truthful? Not necessarily, but considering the circumstances as I’ve outlined in this comment, George shouldn’t have been assumed to be lying either. He should have been given the benefit of the doubt. But the obvious brow-beating of the feminist director assumed his guilt, straight out of the gate. She had made up her mind.

    One final note: Anyone who is in one of these programs should be encouraged to express his feelings, including how he was victimized in whatever way. There is so much emphasis on “not blaming the [female] victim” that no one was able to truly express their pain or hurt. Some of the guys in there were no-doubt batterers. And perhaps if they had learned to express their feelings, if they had been given an outlet, they would not have chosen to batter. It is a decision, yes, but one made in exasperation, oftentimes as an outburst of hurt. Should they be punished if they break the law? Certainly. But if these types of programs are to be effective at helping such men control their anger, it can hardly be the case if they are only expected to “accept responsibility” while being denied the right to expect serious treatment of their own emotional pain from injuries they’ve incurred at the hand of their intimate partners (whether physical or emotional injuries).

    Both men and women can easily victimize each other. So a program that denies the victimization of the men, while expecting them to take responsibility for victimizing the men, simply suppresses the pain these men have endured. It’s there, bottled up, and will emerge someday.

  8. 8

    John Dias said,

    Correction on the final paragraph of my last comment:

    Both men and women can easily victimize each other. So a program that denies the victimization of men, while expecting them to take responsibility for victimizing women, simply suppresses the pain these men have endured. It’s there, bottled up, and will emerge someday.

  9. 9

    uccellina said,

    John, what I mean by “the plural of anecdote is not data” is that while your personal story – or George’s – may contain injustice, it is not reasonable to extrapolate from that that feminists generally do not support men’s right to be vulnerable. I do think, however, that the instructor’s perception might have been colored by the context in which she was operating; she presumed that her students were there for a valid reason. She may have been blunt or hurtful, but it sounds like her intention was to keep the class focused on anger-management rather than allowing it to turn into a group therapy session. If George felt victimized, I hope he sought counseling for that.

    Aside from that, the intent of this post was to illustrate how patriarchy enforces masculinity at the expense of individual men. Do you disagree with this point?

  10. 10

    John Dias said,

    uccellina wrote:

    “Aside from that, the intent of this post was to illustrate how patriarchy enforces masculinity at the expense of individual men. Do you disagree with this point?”

    First, I disagree with the premise that it is not masculine for a man to express his feelings. Men don’t necessarily need a group-hug cry fest, just someone to talk to who doesn’t have a vested interest or dependence upon the man’s actions (like a man’s wife might). When a man can express his thoughts and feelings without hindrance to someone who understands his sacrifices, pain, and burdens (just just someone who is neutral), he then has a healthy emotional outlet. Usually, men confide in their female intimate partners for this emotional support. But think about the power, the sheer power, that this gives to those wives and girlfriends. If the man works all day (in an environment not conducive to sharing his innermost feelings and vulnerabilities), he has no emotional outlet there. Then he comes home at the end of the day to his wife (who, lets assume for argument’s sake, doesn’t work full time). He confides in her for emotional support, and she comforts him. Now imagine that the source of a man’s emotional pain is her! In her emotional pain, she is encouraged by friends and family to open up. Girlfriends, family members, whatever — they are her support system. He also needs an emotional support system, but most men will squirm at another man going into much detail about his feelings. He is told by society that his greatest strength — invulnerability, potency, the provider role, the protector role — is undermined if he reveals his weaknesses. The woman he relied on for emotional support can — as a retaliatory measure — revoke his sole means of emotional support AT ANY TIME. Now that’s vulnerability, and it hurts men. You call this patriarchy. I call it chivalry. But perhaps we refer to the same insidious influence, regardless of the source.

    Secondly, I reject the notion that the counselor is “doing her job” by preventing men from expressing their pain AS AN INTEGRAL PART of an anger management course. Can you see the relationship between bottled up emotions, and the inability to manage anger? These courses impose the shame of responsibility for (alleged or real) abuse by the man, but consider the other side of the coin — the man’s humanity — to be a topic for therapy! Do you understand that most of the men in these classes are some of the poorest, hanging-on-a-thread classes of society? Where are they going to go, how are they going to pay, when are they going to have the time — for a therapy session? If public policy is to send these men to these programs, then it is entirely germane to the program for such men to be allowed to talk about how they were victimized, if they were victimized. You may think that this presents a delicate balancing act, between emphasizing a man’s responsibility to avoid engaging in destructive behavior, vs. emphasizing his humanity and pain, which are intricately linked to the reason why he was allegedly abusive in the first place. This is extremely important! Pay attention to this part, please — it is the crux of my entire argument. The humanity of men is being cast aside as an issue for therapy, in (of all places) an anger management program. Can you see the damaging effects of the current implementation?

  11. 11

    uccellina said,

    “I disagree with the premise that it is not masculine for a man to express his feelings.”

    No, I don’t think you do.

    “He also needs an emotional support system, but most men will squirm at another man going into much detail about his feelings. He is told by society that his greatest strength — invulnerability, potency, the provider role, the protector role — is undermined if he reveals his weaknesses.”

    See? Exactly my point.

    “Can you see the relationship between bottled up emotions, and the inability to manage anger?”

    Um, yes. In fact, I believe that’s what I was discussing in the post above, when I said “Men haven’t been hiding their feelings at all; they’ve been expressing their feelings in the only way socially acceptable for them – anger.” I will even go so far as to say that men would likely require fewer courses in anger management if they weren’t taught that anger was the only acceptable way to express emotion.

  12. 12

    Mom said,

    John Dias,
    It is important to distinguish between what is – that men are taught not to reveal vulnerability – and what should be – that men should be as free as women to express hurt, sorrow and fear. As Uccellina says, we’d need fewer anger management courses. I’m quite willing to believe that your acquaintance encountered a therapist who communicated poorly or who did not allow him to explore his feelings that he had been betrayed. That does not negate the larger issue, which is that our culture’s insistence upon a particular vision of masculinity results in a lot of men – and by no means all – who take out their frustrations upon women. The concomittant vision of femininity – which is that it is women’s job to nurture men and that if they don’t, they are somehow responsible for all the difficulties a man may have (in the workplace, at home) is just as problematic. The two together can be a powder keg.

  13. 13

    John Dias said,

    Masculinity is not the issue when we’re talking about men becoming squeamish when other men express feelings. Both parties have feelings, and likely both parties are masculine. You girls just don’t understand the dynamic with men. We can express our feelings to each other without getting all sappy. Sappy is non-masculine, and feelings can be expressed in non-masculine ways. It’s not the method of expression that’s the issue, but the expression at all. Men would be more open to listening to other men express feelings if they were simply primed for it, if they understood that the purpose of their interaction is to share. Imagine having a buddy that you played pool with at a bar. Most of your banter centers around women, cars, technology, sports — superficial guy stuff. Then one day, a guy opens up and talks about his wife humiliating him in front of his kids, or lets on that he just has no one to talk to. His buddies are going to be caught off guard by that! Now, contrast that situation to men who are good friends, who share a lot of their common experiences, who don’t limit the banter to superficial and “safe” guy-topics. The expectation to share feelings is more explicit, it’s more welcome, and the environment is non-threatening. See? The issue is not about men viewing superficiality as a masculine trait; men will share their feelings if given an emotionally safe forum to do it.

    That’s men.

    Now about culture. The culture is totally different than the dynamic between men. The culture teaches men to be chivalrous, that to care for their families, men must be away from the families they love — earning money all day in a job that separates them from their loved ones. The culture teaches men that they have let down their families unless they are workhorses who keep away. The shame imposed originates in chivalry, in the idea that men must lay down their lives for their wives and their loved ones. Chivalry teaches that it is MEN who must do this, not “parents” and not “men and women.” Only men. Men are taught that they are noble only if they are willing to engage in self sacrifice. That is chivalry.

    Now, about anger management courses. These courses need to allow men to express their pain and victimization without such talk being attributed to denial and victim-blaming. And yes, that is an expectation that will make the job of anger management programs much more challenging, because it will recognize all the subtle and complicated nuances of male-female relationships, instead of the current “easy” method of simply blaming the man for the bad things he did, and ignoring the very RELEVANT and RELATED bad things that were done to him. The current approach fosters even greater self-blame and self-loathing among men, while communicating an entitlement attitude to any woman who has abused a man physically or emotionally. Eventually, men will make the rational choice to leave such abusive female partners — deciding that the emotional toll is just to great to continue, because nobody is challenging the female to change! Then, the women who are left in this way (especially if dependent upon the economic support of a man) will feel like they have been victimized because of his absence. This is chivalry at work again, teaching women to be economically dependent yet entitled, and teaching men to be economically obligated, yet emotionally dependent.

    Anger management courses enjoy the bestowed legitimacy of the family and criminal courts. As such they are a public service, dependent on a taxpayer-funded infrastructure that refers criminals and suspected criminals to them. Public policy is very relevant here. It is not simply a matter of the herculean “changing of an entire culture.” Public policy should be changed to mandate that anger management courses encourage men to not only accept responsibility for their bad acts, but also express their pain and victimhood without shame or suppression. Any man who abused — and was also abused — should be free to express his feelings and pain and receive support for it without such expression being deemed to be denial or a transference of blame to the “true” victim. Lastly, men who go through these programs should be asked in confidential evaluations whether it has helped them, and these evaluations should be continually given throughout the course as well as for some time afterward, as a gauge of effectiveness.

    Also note that feminists bear responsibility for the current incarnation of most anger management programs, since such programs follow previously-developed models — models that were developed by feminists! If reforms in the implementation of anger management programs were to be proposed, it is feminists who will be given the greatest weight in lobbying efforts, legislative committee testimony, think tank reports and analyses, etc. Yes, feminists have the greatest sway over these programs, over laws that mandate criminal offenders to such programs, over the analysis of the effectiveness of these programs.

    Men do need to make themselves available to other men in the context of emotional support. Men know that they themselves need this, and therefore don’t question the masculinity of it; they simply need to know that the purpose of a given interaction is for providing and receiving emotional support. The environment is the issue, not the masculinity of sharing feelings.

    But women need to be held accountable for their emotional (and physical) abuses. Neither society recognizes this (because of chivalry, which paints them as harmless and helpless), nor do anger management programs (which shame men into accepting responsibility, while repressing or minimizing any abuse imposed against men by women).

    The point of your article, uccellina (as I see it), is that women have been fighting what they perceive as patriarchy all along, and that men’s rights activists are conflicted. MRAs are not conflicted. We want men to be free of the shame imposed by chivalry, and we also see feminism as holding on to the female entitlement that is promoted by chivalry. MRAs consider feminism to have evolved beyond calls for equality; it is not gender feminism and competitive feminism, encouraging women to always gain more options while shaming men into further self-sacrifice (not liberation). You need to take a second look at feminism; it is not a monolith engaged in the promotion of gender equality. It promotes the elevation of women.

  14. 14

    John Dias said,

    CORRECTION:

    In the final paragraph of my last coment:

    WROTE: “it is not gender feminism and competitive feminism, encouraging women to always gain more options…”

    INTENDED: “it is now gender feminism and competitive feminism, encouraging women to always gain more options…”

  15. 15

    John Dias said,

    uccellina, would you mind editing my correction into my original post?

  16. 16

    K. said,

    My god, I knew you were a femminist, but really, one of that stupid caliber?

    “Men haven’t been hiding their feelings at all; they’ve been expressing their feelings in the only way socially acceptable for them – anger.”

    And who made this socially acceptable?
    Back in the 50′s a man was never supposed to raise his hand to his wife. Old laws dating back to the 1800′s in Maryland had the punishment of 40+ lashings if he touched his wife. The church exiled wife beaters.

    So wait, if anger is socially acceptable, then it’s only recently that it’s so been “acceptable”. Oh, right from around the 50′s+ isn’t it?

    Right when Feminism popped up.

  17. 17

    uccellina said,

    John – “You girls just don’t understand the dynamic with men”

    Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? Did you really just say that?

    At this point I really feel that I’m repeating myself. I don’t think you and I disagree as much as you think we do. I do think you are misplacing the blame for the problems you see.

    K. – “My god, I knew you were a femminist, but really, one of that stupid caliber?”

    First, I’m sorry that you feel you need to stoop to insults, K. Second, you need to learn some logic, and also maybe to read what I’ve actually written rather than what you want to think I’ve written. The fact that there have long been laws against wife-beating means that there has long been a need for laws against wife-beating, which goes to support my point rather than yours. And anger is a more socially accepted expression of men’s emotions, rather than, say, crying or crawling into bed for three days.

    I don’t really know why I’m arguing with someone who gets upset when asked to support her positions and then doesn’t recognize a joke when she sees one.

    Now say something intelligent or go away. I’m really getting tired of trolls. Especially trolls who can’t spell “feminist.”

  18. 18

    John Dias said,

    uccellina wrote:

    John – “You girls just don’t understand the dynamic with men”

    Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? Did you really just say that?

    Okay, a little sexism on my part. I hope you realize that my point was to say that you women (those who have comment on this board, on this posting) don’t understand the dynamic with men, if you think that men view expression of feelings as a non-masculine trait. Sorry about the “girls” characterization. I meant women, okay?

    If you think you agree with me, then you are disagreeing with the point of your article (that MRAs are conflicted by blaming the very feminists that want them to “open up”). Feminists are suppressing the expression of male feelings, both in the culture (by promoting female entitlement, especially in divorce and custody laws) and in the implementation of court-mandated anger management programs (by expecting men to “own up” to their bad acts — and their alleged bad acts, but refusing to address the related and relevant questions of what their wives did to hurt those very men).

    MRAs are not conflicted. It is feminists who are conflicted. Feminists advocate for equality and independence for women, then turn around and expect men to support women in alimony, child custody, the alienation of fathers, and a blind eye to female battering. Chivalry is okay to feminists; patriarchy is not. Chivalry benefits women at the expense of men (which is why feminists like it). Patriarchy takes chivalry one step further, placing the responsibility for a woman’s actions on the shoulders of her husband — making her identity worthless, making her life options nil, unless the husband approves. If feminists really want to defeat patriarchy, then dismantle chivalry first.

  19. 19

    uccellina said,

    ::bangs head against wall::

  20. 20

    It’s not our fault you can’t break out of your indoctrination, and see reality for what it is. Radical feminists have conditioned you to see patriarchy and oppression everywhere, in spite of all common sense and logic. We try to help, but you don’t want to listen.

    Yesterday, on another blog a woman complained that women don’t get the same opportunities in sports as men. Did it never occur to her that the apparent patriarchy was doing absolutely NOTHING to prevent her from going out and either taking those opportunities for herself, or changing things? Doesn’t seem that way to me. I think she wanted men to change things to suit her and her ideas. If only the real world worked that way…

    But no, feminists would prefer that the world just fall into their laps without any shred of effort.

    And incidentally, I just can’t wait to see the soldiers of tomorrow on the battlefield, sitting in their foxholes and crying their eyes out because they’re “expressing their feelings” about being shot at and dying, instead of channeling those feelings into rage and killing the enemy.

    “Sorry radical Muslims who would like nothing better than to rape and pillage throughout the USA, but we can’t be bothered to defend our country right now! We need to get in touch with our feelings, and express ourselves in a non-violent emotionally appropriate way before we can be bothered to do anything about you raping and killing all the American women. We can’t be defenders right now, we’re too busy getting in touch with our inner-feminine!”

  21. 21

    uccellina said,

    CLAF – Way to totally miss the point! Good job!

    Also, this might not be the best moment to blather ignorantly about radical Muslims raping and killing American women.

  22. 23

    uccellina said,

    A Matrix reference! Oh, smackdown.

  23. 24

    I don’t understand how you can all keep missing the central point that Uccellina makes in her post. But given how many times she’s tried to explain it, I’m sure I wouldn’t get any further than she has.

    “Chivalry” has nothing to do with feminism. It’s not even in the same category. The idea that feminists want to preserve the very few areas in which women could be argued to have a better deal than men is ridiculous. To pick even the most superficial example, as a feminist, I don’t want a man to hold doors open for me because I’m a woman – I want other people to hold doors open for me because it’s the polite thing to do (no matter the sex, age, race etc. of the two people involved), just as I hold open doors for them, whether they are little old ladies or six-foot truckers.

    As a feminist, I don’t think that a man should pay child support because he is a man – I think that the non-resident parent should contribute to supporting their child because the child needs to be supported, whether the non-resident parent is the father OR the mother.

    As a feminist, I think that any person, male OR female, who batters their partner is guilty of domestic violence.

    I came to these views as a feminist and as a person with a sense of empathy. I’m not hearing a huge amount of that here lately. You all seem determined to argue with what you think feminism is about, rather than listen to what Uccellina is saying.

    I’ve always thought that many MRA arguments are in the same kind of territory as feminist arguments. Many aspects of MRA thought and feminist thought are to do with the straitjacketing, limiting effect of traditional gender roles, and it is deeply frustrating when MRAs are so blinded by their anger at what they believe is “feminism” (which isn’t what most feminists believe) that they are unable to get past it and open up a dialogue. We actually could help each other. But, you know, if you’d rather keep going with the pity party, I guess I’ll leave you to it.

  24. 25

    On the contrary, I think we’ve understood what she is saying quite well.

    “This mandate for men to stay strong at all costs stems from the same system that mandates dependence and subordination for women: Patriarchy.”

    No. Men staying strong in the face of all adversity is a survival strategy. There’s no such thing as the patriarchy.

    “But because the terms “Patriarchy” and “Men” are so often – wrongly – used interchangeably, the true enemy is obscured, and men lash out against the very people who support their right to be vulnerable – feminists.”

    Right to be vulnerable? Right to be VULNERABLE? This is a very suspect phrase, and key to my entire rejection of anything that this feminist is trying to tell me.

    Let’s go back for a second.

    “Anger is a manly emotion, one they’re often far more comfortable with than fear or sadness.”

    Yes, anger IS a manly emotion. Did it never occur to psychologists that there might be a very good REASON for that? Anger is a survival mechanism. Being angry can save your life-if you know how to channel it.

    “Practitioners re-frame the treatment as “taking control of the situation;” taking control is not in conflict with masculinity, whereas “needing help” would be.”

    Correct – But I’d like to propose a radical idea in light of this. There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with men. This is a survival strategy, one that dies hard. But instead of accepting reality the way it is, feminists have decided that men are somehow deficient. Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t make it deficient, and this is exactly the conclusion that she is implying.

    A more interesting argument would be, whether or not it still necessary given what we now have.

    However, this is NOT what she is proposing at all. She is proposing that men have a “right to be vulnerable.” Again, this implies that something is wrong with the way that men do things. It has nothing to do with societal conditioning, anger in response to adversity is an evolved trait-society cannot hope to fight two million years of evolution.

    Yet this is exactly what is being proposed-feminists shall set men free! Did it never occur to the author that men have no desire to be “set free” and what we really want is for feminists to stop thinking that we’re “broken?”

    But why all of this anyway? Why does this feminist think that men are “deficient”? I suspect that it’s because men are not women. Feminists have decided that woman is the perfect being, and anything less is “broken.” The solution must therefore be, to turn men, at least emotionally, into women.

    Well, I’m sorry madame, but my emotions are just fine the way they are, thank-you-very-much. I will not change them for you, and I will not become emotionally identical to a woman. I am a man, and I am proud of that fact. I find happiness and contentment fulfilling the role that evolution has provided for me. My wife shares the same view. Our roles are a framework, not a prison as feminists would have us believe. We’re happy here. So PISS OFF!

  25. 26

    Addendum,
    As stated, my gender role is not a straight-jacket.

    “and it is deeply frustrating when MRAs are so blinded by their anger at what they believe is “feminism” (which isn’t what most feminists believe) that they are unable to get past it and open up a dialogue.”

    You know, I would really like to do this, but feminists don’t listen any more than you accuse us of not listening. I’m going to repeat myself: My gender-role is not a straight-jacket. I don’t believe that. I don’t accept that. There’s nothing that feminists can say that will convince me that it is limiting, in any way.

    Now if you want to open up a dialog, I am listening. But as was stated in another thread, feminists aren’t interested.

  26. 27

    uccellina said,

    CLAF – “We’re happy here. So PISS OFF!”

    “There’s nothing that feminists can say that will convince me that it is limiting, in any way.

    Now if you want to open up a dialog, I am listening.”

    I will point out yet again that you came to this blog to comment. Despite your last line there, you’re clearly not interested in dialogue, as evidenced by the line above. So, as you say so eloquently, perhaps it is time for you to “piss off”?

  27. 28

    John Dias: Chivalry is one of the patriarchy’s chief tools. It poses a deadly danger to both men and women.

    CLAFTRAF: Okay, you’re not wearing any straitjacket. Or even a “straightjacket” (sic). You’re choosing freely to keep your arms clasped to your chest, because you happen to feel more comfortable that way. Okay, I’ll try to refrain from fiddling with the pretty decorative buckles on your sleeves, since it seems to bother you so much.

    Uccellina: Coming here from Pandagon, I can see what you meant about being harassed by point-missing MRAs. Good luck with either getting them to notice what they’re actually saying themselves, or else getting them to just go away.

  28. 29

    Mom said,

    Trying to debate with the MRAs is like trying to debate with creationists. I know; I’ve done both. Creationists begin with a faith-based premise that brooks no response from scientific evidence. Ultimately, their answer always boils down to: “because the Bible says so.” It seems to me that the MRA position boils down to “because this is what feminism is/says/does.” Neither allows for alternate interpretations of either text or observation. When creationists attack the fossil record for evolution, they muster all kinds of spurious “exceptions,” or “anomalies” to disprove the general, underlying thesis of change by natural selection. When the MRAs attack the concept of patriarchy, they point to examples of women behaving badly, men expressing their emotions, etc. to counter the idea that there’s a general problem in our culture with gender roles whose rigidity imprisons both men and women.

    And to reiterate Uccellina’s point: one does not need laws where the behavior does not exist in the first place.

    And why would it be “sappy” to cry in the face of getting shot? Do you think that the soldiers of WWI who huddled in the trenches never cried? Sometimes, crying is the only thing one can do. And rage is not always a good guide to rational action.

    And finally, how dare you impugn the bravery of those women who do go into battle?

  29. 30

    You know, I would really like to do this, but feminists don’t listen any more than you accuse us of not listening. I’m going to repeat myself: My gender-role is not a straight-jacket. I don’t believe that. I don’t accept that. There’s nothing that feminists can say that will convince me that it is limiting, in any way.

    CLAF – in the words of Frasier Crane, I’m listening.

    You say: “She is proposing that men have a “right to be vulnerable.” Again, this implies that something is wrong with the way that men do things. It has nothing to do with societal conditioning, anger in response to adversity is an evolved trait-society cannot hope to fight two million years of evolution.”

    Leaving aside the evolutionary psychology (evo-psych is all too often the last refuge of the scoundrel, when they need to fall back on the “we evolved to be like this!” argument because they’ve run out of convincing arguments), I don’t think Uccellina is implying that there is something wrong with the way men do things. I think she is saying that there are societal pressures for men and women to behave in a certain way, and those who deviate from what society has decided is the “norm” are treated as somehow “unmanly” or “unwomanly”. What feminists like me are saying is that behaving in a way that deviates from traits that are culturally identified as “masculine” or “feminine” doesn’t make someone less of a man or a woman. You may not find traditional gender roles to be a prison (great, glad it’s working for you – life is certainly easier if you don’t have to stand outside cultural norms), but there are many who do not conform to them who do feel confined by them – should those people be made to feel that they are somehow not enough of a man or woman because they don’t fit a cookie-cutter mould of what a man or woman should be?

  30. 31

    hawkeye said,

    spoken like a true text book expert

  31. 32

    Mom said,

    good comment on evolutionary psych. There’s nothing like reifying all our prejudices about human nature by reducing behavior to genetics.

  32. 33

    Girlfrommarz – That a name from Heinlein by any chance? (If this gets through)

    “Leaving aside the evolutionary psychology (evo-psych is all too often the last refuge of the scoundrel, when they need to fall back on the “we evolved to be like this!” argument because they’ve run out of convincing arguments), I don’t think Uccellina is implying that there is something wrong with the way men do things.”

    Mmm… I disagree, but this isn’t the point. I’ll take issue with the point.

    “I think she is saying that there are societal pressures for men and women to behave in a certain way, and those who deviate from what society has decided is the “norm” are treated as somehow “unmanly” or “unwomanly”.”

    I think that I would need something concrete to accept this. I’m skeptical, but willing to accept the possibility.

    “What feminists like me are saying is that behaving in a way that deviates from traits that are culturally identified as “masculine” or “feminine” doesn’t make someone less of a man or a woman.”

    My understanding is that as far as feminism is concerned, gender is a social construction. In other words, gender is not innate, but imprinted on children by their parents. This doesn’t seem to be your view. Rather, you seem to accept that gender is biological. Therefore, if gender is something biological, and not social, then why should society have any say at all? If it has a penis, it is a man, and nothing changes that. If it has a vagina, it is a woman, and nothing changes that.

    Yet, this seems to be exactly what women seem to want. Why then do women say one thing and do another? Women seem to claim that they want men to be more like women, yet when this is accomplished, they are unhappy, and long for a “traditional” man-a man which reflects society’s ideas about masculinity?

    “You may not find traditional gender roles to be a prison (great, glad it’s working for you – life is certainly easier if you don’t have to stand outside cultural norms), but there are many who do not conform to them who do feel confined by them – should those people be made to feel that they are somehow not enough of a man or woman because they don’t fit a cookie-cutter mould of what a man or woman should be?”

    In answer to your question, I think that this is a profoundly pessimistic (and therefore mistaken) view of gender-roles. A gender-role shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter, a gender role should be a frame-work. Not everything has to fit 100%. The pattern can be substantially distorted, yet still acceptable to society. For instance, I don’t feel like any less of a man because I don’t watch football. But as my wife attests, I’m still very much a man. I actually feel more comfortable in some, but not all, of the traditional male virtues.

    Therefore, I think that gender roles are supposed to more flexible than feminists would have you believe, and I think that society reflects this. I think that it is feminists who are turning gender-roles into straitjackets by overwhelmingly telling men that men are sex-crazed abusers who have been oppressing women for thousands of years through rape and violence, while simultaneously telling women that they aren’t women if they don’t go into the working world, and earn exactly as much money as any given man.

    In firm answer to your question, no, I don’t think that a person should feel any less of a man or woman for not conforming to every portion of “manliness” or “womanliness,” but I think that feminists are primarily responsible for reinforcing this. In order to form an identity, I think that a person needs the freedom to be allowed to explore who they are, and how they fit, and I strongly feel that it is feminists who are trying to prevent men and women from being allowed to do so.

    The MRA movement in particular seems to be in favor of what it calls, MGTOW, or Men Going Their Own Way. To me, this is primarily about allowing men to explore where they fit, rather than be pigeonholed into one role or another, while still retaining a sense of manliness.

  33. 34

    Doug said,

    I agree that rigid gender roles create difficulties for men as well as for women. I will even agree that feminists, in theory, encourage men to be “softer.” In practice, though, does that matter? Gender roles should only disappear when they are fully decoupled from sexual success.

    Some preferences are hardwired in humans. Children like sugar and [straight] men are attracted to women who are healthy and youthful; I think it is at least possible that women are instinctively attracted to men who are relatively stoic compared to women. If that is true – and it might be – then there would be a powerful disincentive for men to soften.

    Probably, there are both environmental and genetic causes for both male and female behavior. So, the fact that feminists are against fixed gender roles doesn’t necessarily mean that women will substantially change their selection criteria. And men, generally being such sexually-driven creatures, simply won’t change their behavior if they believe it will harm their prospects.

  34. 35

    Pat R. said,

    Patriarchy is as undue a burden upon men as it is upon women, though not as noticeable.

    While men typically enjoy the characterization of themselves as strong, and reliable, it also leaves them no way out when the pattern of patriarchy isn’t working for them through injustices of the patriarchal system which takes prisoners regardless of gender.

    The heavy burden of maintaining the patriarchal front leaves little room for men to exhale, and be themselves. If women are entitled to exhale, aren’t men?

    Men are often deprived of the joys of fatherhood as are their children in having to maintain the illusion that fatherhood is more about economics than personality.

    That husbands, fathers, or sons are never wrong, and must always be right presupposes a perfectionism most men cannot live up to, and betrayal of the patriarchy is always considered the worst betrayal to other men, the one unforgivable sin that cannot be tolerated.

    Automated patriarchy, as an abolute, is both unrealistic and unhealthy. The inability to rely upon women is a disease that inordinately affects childhood socialization, and healthy socieities by installing the prerequisite of violence and subordination as the only standard worthy of ignoring as unhealthy relations.

    Men on a treadmill of patriarchal proportions gain disrespect among women and children, not respect. Their keener sense of individual enlightenment and external control is minimized and trivialized rather than enhanced. Walking the straight line of those narrow confines deprives them of vitality and pleasure of being alive, as individuals, and society takes on the perpetual protocol of helplessness, caught among the system of interaction failure, rather than interaction effectiveness.

    Rote, big brother oriented society – either by male automation or by military imposition – helps to create lives of no or little significance by which individuals are unable to relate to one another except as proscribed by protocol. Personal prerogative is lost amidst the world of law and order that ignores humans and humanity. Automation for men or women is a disease that leaves little room for innovation or creativity of being human.

  35. 36

    Cody said,

    With regards to this whole thing, particularly as it is compared to creationists’ arguments:

    What you all fail to realize somehow is this;

    Creationists say “because the bible says so.”
    Evolutionists, and people that buy that global warming BS say “because the scientists say so. because the evidence says so.”

    Let’s see… who comes up with the evidence?? That’s right, the people who are convinced of global warming before the evidence has pointed either way. The fact is that global warming is way too convenient for the special interest groups, and the people selling books, movies and T-shirts on the issue, not to mention all these new eco-friendly companies, and their profit margins. I invite everyone to this site about just why global warming is a sham, and the evidence they present. However, I digress to my point that evidence can be construed however it is that the people making the conclusions want to construe it.

    Scientific theories are just theories, and they change REGULARLY. So why are people so content to believe them before they just go out of date again? They paint the evidence to fit the theory.

    It takes just as much evidence to believe in science as it does creationism.

    What does this have to do with feminism?? You guys are all looking at the same pile of facts, dissecting the ones you want to, and using it for or against feminism. What you all need to do is find a better forum for this (other than a feminist blog), and look at the big picture. Namely that:

    Men and Women are DIFFERENT!
    They thusly cannot be the same and equal in every way.
    To say that they are is contradictory to the obvious fact that they’re different.

    They are thus specialized and more apt for certain activities in roles.
    This does not imply one is better than the other or that they should be treated unequally. Just DIFFERENTLY!

    Thus feminism is fundamentally flawed, because it states that they should be treated exactly the same, removing sex roles. Does this not remove manhood from men, and womanhood from women?

    This whole argument is stupid, because it is obvious that ‘society’s expectations’ didn’t create vaginas and penises. I’m sorry sirs and madames, but there were men and women before society decided to ‘make them’ conform to certain roles. And most of us on here are smart enough to realize this. So what we need to do is just settle down, go find a better place, and realize that because we’re different, we cannot understand each other, or even ourselves perfectly.

    As I understand it, the MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) are simply men who don’t like what feminism has done to our women here in the states. Namely, it’s been working to rob them of their femininity, and now it wants to rob us of our masculinity. No policy can do that, per say, but that is the end idea.

    Feminists are trying to change something that’s been in place for millenium, namely the family. Forget male domination. That’s already a casualty of the movement legally, and if we continue on our path, in other areas as well. I agree that women should be equal under social laws, the courts, and the legal system. But to make them the same in our society is a mistake. Once again, they are not the same. Men are NATURALLY more dominant.

    And then we get to the place where feminists decide that they don’t even want to change everything to be equal. They’d rather keep in place the things that make the men responsible for their problems (because formerly the men were responsible for their whole family as it related to society, and the women within, so this made sense), and remove men’s other responsibilities. Don’t you feminists see the fallacy and attempting to alter something that’s worked for so long? And don’t even try to argue that women have always been unhappy and repressed and put in an unjust position. Just look at foreign women, who don’t deny who they are. They’re okay with their role, and understand that this doesn’t make them submissive. They WANT to be in this role. And all women, deep down, do too.

    Just be happy with who you all are everyone. Not everything should be ‘reformed.’ In doing this the balance is destroyed and we swing the other way.

  36. 37

    Cody said,

    http://www.predictweather.com is the site I referenced.


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