(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Which Danny has Opinions on MRM, MRAs and the Feminist Reaction as such.

First off, I'm a gay man. Why is it important that I start with this? Because as a gay man my experience is different than that of a woman or even a straight man. It informs and flavors my opinions and how I interact with the world.

Secondly, I work on queer and feminist projects. I say feminist projects because my work is to question certain patriarchal systems and modes of thinking that I find problematic in the world (a common enough definition of feminism), but as a man, I don't think "I am a feminist" is a blanket term it is appropriate for me to claim. I also don't think Men's Rights Activism or the Men's Rights Movement is at a place where I can get behind it  Rather than working in the capacity of a reactive movement against a movement that itself is already a reactive movement, you should be addressing the cultural problems that are causing them to react and looking at why they are reacting the way they do to better address the root of the issue. Your goal is gender equality as you see it, therefore rather than being anti-feminist, be pro gender equality.

Now that that's out of the way, here's my response to a post on tumblr. My contributions are in bold and I've italicized the bits I'm responding to.

I don't think the below shirt should exist because it is inherently polarizing and serves little use except to make MRAs angry. It's poorly made and does not adequately articulate feminist goals of gender equality. This is counter productive to the overall goals of both movements.

Click Here
Text (would be legible on actual shirt):
1. You have no problem with the gender wage gap. But you hate having to pay for dates.
is no wage gap.

tl;dr  (in order) The wage gap is justified because women take more time off than men. The 77 cents per dollar statistic is inaccurate and based on faulty math. Women are paid less because they major/pursue careers in fields that pay less. Repeat. Same as previous with marriage and child-rearing.

In general I would normally disagree with linking to other tumblr posts (no matter how educated they may be) as source material, but the sources link to what would be considered academically qualified material. 

Okay, all of the above, fair points, now tell me why. Why is it a culturally accepted practice that women take more time off than men? Why do women choose "safer" job prospects? Perhaps this is because historically women have been told that they're weaker or that they're less capable in the work environment and have been socialized to accept this. Rather than being told you can be anything, they're told by the media and local cultural influences that they can be teachers and nurses and secretaries. The problem is still rooted in the culture and system that perpetuates this, just because you can use numbers to show that the wage gap as it is popularly portrayed doesn't exist does not mean there isn't still a problem in our society. 

2. You insist that it’s a scientifically proven fact that men are stronger than women. But you complain about society believing that it’s worse for a man to hit a woman than for a woman to hit a man.

Yeah, because there’s obviously no problem when violence in one direction is abhorrent to the general public but when it’s in the other direction, it’s acceptable…


Violence against anyone is wrong. Based on the premise that if it is more culturally acceptable for women to hit men then any discussion or statistics regarding sexual assault will be necessarily skewed to ignore men who are survivors because they would be socialized not to report. Rather than infighting about who it's more wrong to hit, work on ending the culture of violence that allows anyone to act violence on someone else.

The problem that both statements are addressing is the belief that men are stronger than women. Physically and (implicitly as a result) emotionally. If you address that culturally propagated belief along with anti-violence work, the secondary part will resolve itself.
3. You believe that the age of consent is unfair and that there’s nothing wrong with having sex with teenage girls. But when you find out that a teenage girl enjoys sex, you believe she’s the biggest slut in the world.

Mind showing an example of the first sentence? Honest request.

Honest request, honest answer: porn. Do a google search, the fact that porn advertised as "teen girls" and "barely legal" is a thing should be somewhat sickening in the way that it trains men to objectify younger women.

I'm not going to find specific examples of people believing/supporting the former statement, so I have no idea how widely held it is and would rather not search out those areas of the internet. I'm guessing that this statement is a reaction to memes like Pedobear. Which is supposed to be funny because it addresses issues that no right-minded person would act on. Personally, when it comes to rape and pedophilia I don't think it's ever okay to joke.

4. You hate when a woman automatically assumes that a man is a douchebag before getting to know him. But when you like a woman who likes another man, you assume he’s a douchebag just because he’s not you.

Maybe it’s jealousy and not thinking that someone’s a douchebag. There is a difference.

I agree with the commentary since I don't think the statement from the t-shirt adequately describes the double-standard they're trying to address: highlighting a personal dynamic that has been described as the "nice-guy syndrome" which in short is creating a sense of self-victimization because you are not the object of desire. This is an ego-centric behavior that happens on all sides of the gender spectrum. Jealousy can be a healthy feeling so long as it does not result in controlling behavior or language.

5. You believe that if women want equality, they should be drafted into the military. But you also believe that the military is not a place for women.

Again, requesting an example.

From the 2012 GOP Presidential Platform. All of the points could be summarized as "We're okay with women (and gays) in the military as long as they don't get in the way of what we try to do." Well why do you think women will get in the way? Because (again) it's assumed they're mentally or physically less capable? Ask a woman who has actually served and I think she'll show you how less capable they are.

I could also make parallels to the rational behind Don't Ask, Don't Tell, that gay men don't belong in the military because it will hinder the working capabilities of straight men in the military (the same core belief that leads to the idea that straight men should be afraid of gay men in the locker room). 

6. You hate when women assume that men are like wild animals. But you believe that a woman who doesn’t cover up and make herself invisible to men is just like someone wearing a meat suit around wild animals.

Those would be the more radical MRAs, who, like radfems, really don’t give a shit about the other sex.
This is like me saying that you’re a feminist if you’re a hairy lesbian who wants to kill all men.

Despite how troubling it is, women assume men are like wild animals (violent and only interested in sex) because the majority of women who experience violence experience it from men and when they report or act in retaliation to that violence, they're asked by the legal system (court and police) what they were wearing. Don't believe me? Go to a domestic violence shelter or Slutwalk event and ask that to thousands of women who have had to live that experience. What a woman wears should have no bearing on her potential to be raped. If you believe it does, you are assuming the former statement that men are monsters because the two concepts are inseparable.

7. You hate the fact that men are bullied for not conforming to their male gender roles. But when you find out that a man disagrees with your beliefs about women’s rights, your immediate response is to try to emasculate him by comparing him to a woman as an insult.

Here’s a little something on that type of language and how it’s not misogynistic. It’s not saying that it’s bad to be a woman. It’s saying that men (and women) who are called such are lesser men/women.

Go follow the link and read what it has to say.
I'm not a fan of any of these pejorative terms no matter who uses them. However specifically regarding the final statement that "Feminine men are not women, they’re lesser men" why is feminine language and words that have highly female connotations beside their negative ones used to describe such men? Why are there not more terms that call out these men for being "lesser"It's precisely because the negative connotations of female-pejoratives have more negative associations than their male equivalents (cunt being a dirtier word than dick for example) that make this language misogynistic. If comparing a man to be like a woman is a bad thing because he is not a woman, it creates the parallel that suggests being a woman is a bad thing. Insulting someone by questioning their gender identity is misogynistic because of the systematic assumption of the power of men. It places being a man over being a woman both culturally and linguistically.

Even if you don't think this type of language is misogynistic (and I'm sure very little I say will change your beliefs if that is the case),  but you fall in line with the commentary above, you still find such language problematic for other reasons and why in hell are you not working to get people to stop doing it?

8. You hate when women assume that there are no nice guys. But you call yourself a nice guy and act like it’s a rare quality that should cause women to be all over you.

Because it’s not as if there are women out there who claim to want someone who’s nice while simultaneously claiming that there aren’t any nice guys out there, and then, when confronted with a guy who’s being nice, don’t give him the time of day, and then continue going on about wanting someone who’s nice and that there aren’t any nice guys out there.

It’s not that it’s a rare quality. It’s just that there are women out there who don’t own up to their words.

There are bad apples on both sides who don't know what they fucking want and don't recognize when something good is in front of them. If they're too wrapped up in their own bullshit to realize how much of a catch you are, MOVE ON, it's clearly not a healthy relationship for you anyway. It's not easy, but it might be necessary.

The problem with the friendzone is the rhetoric used to self-describe it. Feeling disappointed is fine but current rhetoric used by a lot of Nice guys is what makes this disappointment a problem by expanding it into a retaliatory self-victimization. The social narrative of the friendzone favors women, because our culture privileges the view that women are weaker and subservient. They're expected to pine and whine and want after a man. At the risk of psychoanalyzing a fictional archetype, the narrative of the Nice guy in the friendzone emasculates him. It makes him (as we discussed above) less of a man, which can often lead to problematic language used to describe him and overcompensation with regard to the object of desire.

The video linked herein highlights to me the emphasis of good communication skills. If the narrative that society tells you works to get the girl (or guy) isn't working, why are you still using the narrative society tells you to? If you're disappointed and hurt by someone using you and your "friendship" you're entitled to that indignation, but is it necessary to resort to gender-based pejoratives? In the language of conflict reduction, use "I" statements to express how you feel.

9. You hate when women assume that men just want to get laid. But when you find out that a man is a feminist, you assume that he’s just doing it to get laid.

This one, I won’t try to argue with, because I’m sure it’s happened before. Also, there are male feminists out there who only do it to get women (I’ve actually seen advice floating around about going into women’s studies classes just to hook up).

I think I'm living proof that it's possible to be a man and femin-ist without looking to get laid. But I'm also gay so I'm an outlier in this specific context.

Women assume men only want sex. MRAs disagree with this assumption. MRAs assume all male feminists want sex. The problem I see here is hypocrisy inherent in the middle statement. Even if it's happened before (and I'm sure it's happened before and is even happening), shouldn't as someone fighting for gender equality your goal be to shame those men for setting a bad example and living up to the assumption you disagree with rather than propagating that assumption? You're not doing yourself any favors.

10. You hate when women make generalizations about all men. But when a woman calls you out for being sexist, you claim that all men think like you.

How the hell is this relevant to the MRM and not just the response of guys who don’t wanna consider that maybe they’re being sexist?

This one's going to take me a second to parse out what's actually being said by both sides.

If I understand the original point correctly, it says that members of the MRM don't like women making generalizations about all men and when women call out (highlight, point a stick at) sexism, these men say that all men think like them (itself a generalization about all men). It's pointing out hypocrisy. Whereas the response says that men making such generalizations are reacting to the loaded term "sexist" as a means to justify their actions and not necessarily a reflection of the MRM.

This is one instance where I think both could be right. It is hypocrisy if men from the MRM make those kind of generalizations and there is a good chance that it is a reaction to being called out on your sexism. The latter is true both inside and outside the MRM when it happens. I'm reminded of that illdoctrine video on speaking about being racist vs saying racist things and how the discourse of calling someone out has to focus on the latter in order to prevent this kind of reactionary bullshit.
11. You insist that women should be responsible for protecting themselves from being raped. But when they follow the one piece of advice that actually works, which is being aware of red flags, you complain about them assuming that all men are rapists.

There’s a whole world of difference between thinking that all men are rapists and being precautionary. There are women out there who keep an eye out for red flags, and then there are those who are automatically jumpy just because crap, a man’s around! No, those women aren’t keeping an eye out for red flags. They’re being paranoid and sexist.

Paranoia, while not necessarily rational, does not make the actions of such women sexist. For a woman who has been raped or experience domestic violence perpetuated by a man (a fact that you can't tell unless you know the person and even then it's fairly sketchy), being jumpy might actually be a precautionary measure and survival mechanism. And considering that PTSD is fairly common among rape survivors, I would even go so far as to say sometimes being that kind of jumpy should be expected.  Rather than complaining about how women react to violence or potential violence, why don't we work to make the world a less violent place? Instead of calling feminists sexist for being afraid, why not work to give them fewer reasons to be afraid.