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Can I talk about men ?

(141 Posts)
Blistory Sun 02-Nov-14 12:54:21

In light of the recent threads and the perception that some feminists hate men, can anyone confirm that what they really feel about men as a class ? And whether they believe that feminism harms men ?

I see more disrespect for men on the general boards, the 'men just don't see dust', 'I'm as well doing it myself as he makes a mess of it' 'bless them, they just don't get it' 'women are naturally the better parent' types of threads. To be fair, those posts usually attract rightful condemnation but I can't understand why just because feminism demands more of men and expects more of men, feminism is seen as disrespectful or dismissive of men. Surely it's the opposite ?

In the interests of honesty, there are individual men I like, admire, love or respect. There are individual men whom I trust but it has to be said, not unreservedly.

Men, as a class, on the other hand, I fear. I fear the stranger in the dark alley, I fear the man driving the taxi, I fear the men attending conferences with me who decide to retire to their rooms at the same time. Not because I think they are definitely going to harm me but because I equally fear that if someone does harm me, I will be judged for not recognising the danger and protecting myself. This, I blame, not on men but on a patriarchial society that tells me men are predatory and women are victims. I blame it not on men but on a rape culture which reinforces the attitude that women are there for the taking. The only individual men I blame are the ones who rape, kill and assault but I start with the premise that those individual men are not identifiable to me therefore I should be cautious of all. Man hating ? I don't know.

In terms of feminism, I've always been quite comfortable with the idea that whilst not an aim, the accepted by product of feminism will be that men's lives are also enhanced. The prevailing notions that men have to be strong, assertive, to be the bread winner, emotionally detached, not to cry, to be able to physically protect themselves are all damaging to men, particularly those who don't conform to the stereotype. I firmly believe that while feminism seeks to break down barriers, the result of it will be that men also benefit significantly. And I welcome that. If feminism was simply about achieving a position for women that significantly put men in jeopardy, I wouldn't be supportive of it and I don't know many feminists who would.

Given that men who suffer under patriarchy will benefit from feminism, I see no need to actively campaign for men's rights so I'm entirely comfortable with focusing on women. For men who won't benefit, I'm sorry but I just can't shed any tears for someone who has had all the advantages and is now being asked simply to share them.

I've asked, not to be controversial, but because I didn't want to derail any existing threads that are, quite rightly, about putting women first. And I've been genuinely perturbed by the current threads that insist there is a genuine and strong sense of men being hated by some feminists on here. Is it just misunderstanding of language, a lack of understanding of feminism or am I so blinkered by my beliefs that I can't see it ?

Whiskwarrior Sun 02-Nov-14 12:57:56

I don't think anything of men as a class. Why would I? They're not one big lump, they're individuals, like women.

I have a Dad, two brothers, two sons - love them all but they have their faults, as do I. I don't know anyone who hates men, I'm not sure anyone really takes that stance, tbh.

BeakyMinder Sun 02-Nov-14 13:04:11

Sexism harms men too. It forces them to comply with notions of masculinity that are directly harmful to their mental and physical health, and prevents them from forming healthy and supportive relationships. Boys and men are actively prevented from pursuing interests and careers that don't fit the male script. I'm amazed this isn't more widely recognised.

Blistory Sun 02-Nov-14 13:07:21

They are individuals, like women, but as a class, they have advantages that women as a class don't have. As a class, they harm women as a class, intentionally or otherwise.

And yes, I agree Beaky.

PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 13:07:33

It is my experience of the good good men in my life that leads me to understand that violence is not inherent in men. They are by no means free from the effects of socialisation and male privilege but that doesn't stop them listening when they are challenged on this. Nor do they deny that they benefit from the violence of other men in the way they are treated

If I believed that men were inherently violent I wouldn't be a feminist. I want women to be liberated from the violence that is socialised into men as a class which causes women as a class to be oppressed. I believe that many men would also benefit from this liberation, but that is not my primary objective - it is a positive and important side effect that will only serve to make a better society

FayKorgasm Sun 02-Nov-14 15:21:18

This move by MRAs to blame Feminism for every slight injustice to men is what has perpetuated this myth of man hating. Feminism and the liberation of women can make mens lives better. Men would no longer feel they have to live up to breadwinning,tough,stoic stereotypes as there would be no reason for them to do this because it is accepted that women are just as capable of being a breadwinner,tough and stoic. MRAs just want to keep the status quo or worse the 1950s housewife ideal because it serves them and only them. Feminism by the liberation of women stands to serve everyone. We don't hate men,thats what they are trying to make you think.

FloraFox Sun 02-Nov-14 15:39:24

Blistory I agree with your OP however I think it is undeniable that men would lose a lot in terms of privilege if there was an end to patriarchy. The MRAs would like to keep those privileges and also make women work to remove the downsides of toxic masculinity. I think many non-MRA men would prefer to keep the privileges they have rather than exchange them for the benefits they would achieve from feminism.

I believe the hating men thing comes partly from an intentional response to attack feminism and partly from a lack of understanding that you can critically analyse power and class behaviour / effect without hating the individuals. It's like the young people who genuinely seem to think radfems hate trans people. You can criticise religion without hating e.g. Christians but people seem to struggle with this concept when it comes to feminism.

Damsili Sun 02-Nov-14 15:52:54

This move by MRAs to blame Feminism for every slight injustice to men is what has perpetuated this myth of man hating.

I think that this is a common attitude. However, MRAs are actually a very small contingent within society, albeit a rather noisy one. My personal view is that many feminists have over-played the relevance of MRAs' opinion and used it as an element in their thinking. As an extension of this same process, the feminist response to society can often be based on specific and extreme examples from society, rather than society as a whole. If feminism views men as being represented by the toxic masculinity* it cites as evidence, then it's obvious that society at large may note that, not think of itself in such a specific and abhorrent way and draw certain conclusions. In short, it's not actually MRAs that have spread a myth of man-hating feminists, but rather feminists themselves that concentrate their thinking on hateful aspects of men.

* I've totally nicked the phrase now Puffins grin

Damsili Sun 02-Nov-14 15:53:24

^^ Not all feminists are like that grin

Damsili Sun 02-Nov-14 15:57:27

Oh - and you''ll always see the argument made that feminism can't possibly generate any valid criticism by its own actions, as if it is the most perfect ideology that there ever was. All criticism of feminism is inherently born of privilege, defence, anger, bitterness, misogyny in the person doing the criticizing. hmm

PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 16:17:53

Interestingly there is a thread about "manhating" on the relationships board right now

Really it seems to be a criticism of any locations where women are objecting to men's behaviour

PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 16:19:09

Men's poor behaviour I should say

FayKorgasm Sun 02-Nov-14 16:25:04

It is exactly the hateful elements of men as a class that has led to feminism. It does not mean that it is man hating. Men should and most are horrified at the millions of women raped every year or girls subjected to FGM. Equally women should and most are horrified at children being neglected by their mothers or male domestic abuse. I don't hate either men or women but hate what individuals are capable of.

PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 16:34:35

Well yes I'm not sure why feminists wouldn't focus on the hateful elements of men as a class. It would seem a waste of time not to tbh

Damsili Sun 02-Nov-14 17:35:02

I'm not sure you're really understanding my point in the context of the question that was asked.

Just as a passing suggestion that you may wish to completely ignore... see how many times FWR posters refer to MRAs as a reference point for what they're saying about men as a class or society as a whole. It's like using the EDL or Britain First to reference the English attitude towards immigration or jihadis to reference Islam; it's not wrong, but it should always come with caveats and an awareness that we're talking about a minority. 'NAMALT' is not actually either of these things. Feminism is looking to have a positive effect upon the whole of society. However, when feminists refer to society, they are often meaning only extreme sections of it: rapists, murderers and misogynist gobshites. It is also interesting that they often exclude themselves (and women generally) from the society they are commenting on.

Of course, as I joked before, NAFALT wink

BeakyMinder Sun 02-Nov-14 18:00:13

Can we have some definitions please...


PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 18:05:51

men's rights activists

not all men are like that

Blistory Sun 02-Nov-14 18:06:42

I didn't talk about MRAs in my OP because it wasn't directly relevant to what I was asking.

I think feminists were seen as men hating long before MRAs were active.

MRA men's rights activists
NAMALT no all men are like that

FayKorgasm Sun 02-Nov-14 18:11:09

MRA mens rights activist
NAMALT not all men are like that

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Take the Everyday Sexism site for example. All those women suffering under a patriarchal society on a low level scale to high level outrageous behaviour . Some men may not identify as MRA but their actions,words and behaviour say otherwise. Using phrases like man hating is trying to silence womens voices.

FayKorgasm Sun 02-Nov-14 18:12:34

MRAs have existed for centuries. They may have called themselves by other names but their ethos was the same.

PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 18:15:18

damsili (have you namechanged btw?) on the contrary, feminists i communicate with are concerned about how embedded many of these things are within our society. it is a huge mistake to imagine rapists, perpetrators of dv and misogynists as "others" who live separate lives - women, self-defined feminists or not, work, live and socialise with them all the time. we can't not unless we choose to live a separatist lifestyle which isn't feasible or desirable for many women. that's why it is often so vertigo-inducing when women first start to explore feminist issues. feminists also examine their own lives frequently and try to minimise the harm they perpetrate and perpetuate towards other women - how could they not? i see it frequently on here, though from your post i'm wondering whether i am seeing entirely different threads

and while only a few men are self-defined MRAs of course, in the context of attempting to congregate as a group of women/feminists, whether online or in RL, they can be enormously disruptive and threatening, and it's no joke being on the receiving end of that. it really does take very little for those spotlights to turn towards a woman sticking her head above the parapet

Blistory Sun 02-Nov-14 18:20:22

I agree that MRAs have been around forever but they just used to be referred to as men. There's no doubt that female hating has been around for longer - my first experience of realising that men hated women was at primary school and discovering that John Knox had written about how women were unnaturally suited to hold the Crown. I wonder just how much anger was held by him when both Scotland and England were ruled consecutively by women during his time.

Damsili Sun 02-Nov-14 18:23:55

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

Sorry, but this is dreadfully trite. You can't confer responsibility for things on people in such a glib way.

PetulaGordino Sun 02-Nov-14 18:25:47

yes, they have only felt the need to define themselves as men's rights activists when women started to gain the same rights

Damsili Sun 02-Nov-14 18:42:40

As I said before, talking about MRAs in the context of women's place in society has comparisons with talking about Britain First in the context of discussing immigration in the UK.

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