9 thoughts on “‘How feminism hurts men’

  1. Not only do these lines of satire read like direct quotes from fringe groups like the MRA ‘movement,’ they are echoed by Fatherhood Initiative supporters, used as rhetorical soundbites for republicans (against mothers of color who they blame for all crime, poverty, etc), and even (I think the most frightening) people in younger generations that “would never call themselves a feminist because that’s so unequal.” I totally agree, however, that satire is one of the best methods for defeating it (similar to the fact-checking backlash to “Planned Parenthood performs 97% abortions”). Thanks for the post!

  2. Agreed. Poking fun is the way to deal with MRA types. Similarly, poking fun is the way to deal with the Sarah Palin types who argue that white Christians are oppressed by ‘Happy Holidays’ (which is probably an even more absurd claim).

    Probably the closest I’ve come to trying to address MRA type claims is by pointing out that a feminist perspective actually better addresses alleged cases of oppression of men than alternative frameworks. For example, there’s a book out there called “The Second Sexism” written by a philosopher (who is not an MRA guy, as far as I can tell) that collects a bunch of stories about men facing various hardships. While he proposes that there’s a “second sexism” against men, it comes clear when one looks at the cases through a feminist framework that they’re actually just cases of the “first sexism” where men become collateral damage.

  3. Matt, I’m not sure I get your comment re the SS. One of his cases concerns sending men, but not I women (until recently) to war. How do men become collateral damage in such a case.

    In fact, I reviewed the book for the Phil Magazine. I was fairly critical, because I think that one needs to look at issues of power to understand a lot of what’s involved. E.g., why cross-dressing men are more scornedd than butch women.

  4. Anne, I think many of the cases are cases of men as collateral damage (e.g., child custody cases). Some of the cases are just cases that should be analyzed in terms of something other than sex and sexism. If we’re analyzing why men are sent to war, we can talk a bit about patriarchal assumptions about men as warriors, women as caretakers, and so on. But the bulk of our analysis had surely better be about geopolitics, war, imperialism, and political economy.

  5. I’m not sure I agree that satire is a helpful tool. It does seem to bind together those who already agree with the satire, but is there any evidence satire changes the beliefs of people whose beliefs need changing? There might be! I don’t know…

    My silver bullet would be some sort of system (some people’s college experience, some of the time, is one such system) by which people would spend time around the people in the group with whom they claim an issue. For instance (anecdotal evidence warning!) when my Dad went to college in 10,000 BCE, he met new people and let go of much of his Southern Baptist prejudices. I’m not sure reading a satire about Southern Baptists would have had the same effect on him.

    Also, I think satire tends to be friendly toward the idea that our *opponents* are primarily stupid, bad people who can’t see the obvious. I think a plausible psychology, though, would be quite a bit more rigorous and suggest a more nuanced explanation for their beliefs (something like Dr. Drabek is suggesting, about war, in comment #5.)

    Does that make sense? What does anyone else think?

  6. Satire hardens the resolve of MRAs and increases their number.

    Keep in mind that many MRAs are divorced fathers (if I were to guess, I’d say they are 70-80%). They come from all walks of life, every part of society, every educational level. From your perspective, feminism is an assertion of basic claims for women that cannot be reasonably denied, a rejection of archaic restrictions on female participation in all aspects of society, and perhaps a righting of past wrongs.

    From a typical MRA perspective, however, feminism is the dominant ideology of a state that can remove him from his home, permanently eliminate him as a real parent to his children, and impose a punitive tax on his past and future income — with a snap of a woman’s finger, from his perspective.

    Satire is a kind of entertainment for like minded people. It would be far better, however, if you took some of these claims seriously and argued against them with clarity, but not with feminist cant. Telling a man who has been crushed in every possible way by a state sponsored ideology that he is privileged is not effective. Then, again, maybe your view is that these people are fringe idiots who should be ignored.

    Keep in mind that a it takes a surprisingly small number of serious and motivated members in a political movement to start making an impact. Probably 2-3% of American men would be sufficient.

  7. David: I think satire is good at revealing to people who might otherwise take a position seriously and think that it has intellectual merit that the position is ridiculous. It probably won’t work on those who are committed to that position (unless they haven’t really thought about it much), but I’m not sure anything will. Some people firmly believe in creationism, others in misandry, and rarely can either be argued out of their positions. I do, however, agree with you that exposure to other people and ideas is often the best method. Luckily, satire and exposure aren’t mutually exclusive. We can have both.

    And in case it wasn’t clear, so far as I can tell MRAs don’t have positions worth taking seriously. A rather telling passage in <a href="R. Tod Kelly's "The Masculine Mystique" was how people who were actually involved with professional associations concerning male victims of rape or domestic abuse distanced themselves entirely from MRAs.

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