This is a long but interesting read, if you're interested in gender-related issues.
Book chapter: But what about the men?
more excerpts:The title of this book is based on a well-worn trope in the feminist community, “what about teh menz?” It’s a dismissive trope, and has come into being with good reason. In many feminist spaces, most particularly on the internet, it is difficult to establish a decent dialogue about women’s issues without various men intruding, insisting that circumcision rates in the U.S. must be addressed instead of the issue of female genital mutilation in Africa, insisting that male rape victims must be discussed instead of female rape victims. These persistent conversation-derailers have succeeded in making a bad name for themselves, and given rise to the “what about teh menz?” trope as a boilerplate dismissal of these tired distractions from the addressing of women’s issues that is the raison d’être of most feminist communities.
There’s a problem with that, though. Once the dismissal is done and the conversation is dragged forcibly back onto the rails… what about the men?
We live in a sexist society, one where gender programming starts at birth (though the advent of the sonogram has allowed parents to get a head start by painting the nursery pink or blue and stocking up in advance on gendered toys and clothes) and is so pervasive as to be inescapable. Feminism has done an excellent job analyzing and challenging the ways that these assigned and enforced gender roles damage and deform the lives of women. The same tools of analysis can be applied to the damage and deformation that men suffer. And that damage, sad to say, is severe.Men who do not fit the box of hegemonic masculinity get all kinds of stigmatized. For instance, consider men who want to help raise their children. Stay-at-home dads and men on the “mommy track” often face disapproval and the belief that they “laze around all day” or “aren’t real men.” In public, men are all too often patronized as “Mr. Mom” or treated as though it’s exceptional and startling that they want to spend time with their children; it’s depressingly common for men openly interested in childcare to be called pedophiles.The problem of gendered, sexist expectations of men is enormous, and deeply ingrained into the culture. How are we to even begin dismantling such profoundly entrenched and damaging ideas? By using the same skills and tools that have worked before.Feminism tends to focus on women[....]Then, too, many feminists have done excellent work in dealing with men’s problems. Stronger rape laws and paternity leave are just two of the benefits men have received because of feminism[...]However, this valuable work has just made the problem clearer by highlighting how much more needs to be done. Freedom is not a zero-sum game. Liberating men from restrictive gender roles and gendered oppression is intrinsically bound up with liberating women from the same things.Many men get a bad first impression of feminism from zealous young feminists who, regardless of their intentions, alienate the heck out of men. Some of those men will later see the nuance that they initially missed and come to understand the value of feminist thinking. Many, perhaps most, will not. This is not a net win for feminism. Most feminist spaces, online and in the real world, are not particularly welcoming to men. Even given that there are often good reasons for that, how many men have been lost to gender egalitarianism forever because they didn’t put in the extra effort to overcome that perceived hostility, or because they had already had their bad first impressions cemented and were not willing to change their minds? What might have been accomplished by not chasing away so many potential allies?Ultimately, however, there’s another reason why feminism needs men[...]it is impossible for feminism to accomplish its goals without men; liberating any gender requires liberating all genders.[...]Generally speaking, any stereotype or assumption about women carries with it an implicit stereotype or assumption about men, and vice versa.[...]
Men are all slobs… women should be keeping house.
Men always want sex… women never want sex.
Men don’t cry… women are hysterical.
Women are expected to know how to take care of children… men can’t be expected to even know how to change a diaper.
Women are only valuable for their looks… men are all shallow.
Women are all gold-diggers… men are only valuable for their success and money.
[...]Misandry mirrors misogyny.misandry and misogyny are inherently linked: if you eliminate one without the other, it will only mutate into a new sexist form. For instance, “the second shift” is when women who work outside the home come home and still do a disproportionate amount of the chores. It’s the classic consequence of liberating women so they can work outside the home without having their femininity questioned, but not liberating men so they can lift up a dishrag without having their masculinity questioned. By not liberating men, feminism traps women in a sexist situation that is little, if any, improvement.I thought this was an interesting read not because it was particularly revolutionary (many of the ideas here have been brought up numerous times by feminists and otherwise, both here and elsewhere) but because it's a fairly well-written exploration of the issues that (imo) doesn't seek to demonize feminism, women, or men.The thing about the kyriarchy is that there aren’t a bunch of people in a shadowy headquarters, twirling their mustaches as they plot how to best use their Oppression Beams and Discrimination Rays to cause misery and suffering on earth. It would be easier if there were, because we could blow up their headquarters, make a wry quip, and roll the closing credits on social injustice. Instead, the kyriarchy is made up of real people, some of whom are saints and some of whom are bastards and most of whom are just muddling through as best they can. The kind of people that love their families and give to charity and foster kittens and sometimes get angry at drivers who don’t know how to use turn signals. Ordinary people. And it’s those people who are perpetuating the kyriarchy, the sick system that oppresses all of us.
Unlearning your kyriarchal conditioning is a process. Nobody is as good as we deep down know we ought to be: you, us, Mother Teresa, famous people who write about feminism for big-name print magazines, everyone messes up. The point is to learn to do it less. As Samuel Beckett once said, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
It might be interesting to some of of you, particularly some of the men here who have very strong opinions about how "feminism" relates to men. It was written by two men, not "feminists", in case that information helps you process it in a more neutral way.
(if someone posted this already and I missed it, let me know and my apologies)