Friday, September 11, 2009

The MRM, Feminism and Labels

A mesh up of some interesting posts. We start with Pelle Billing who categorized feminist critics for us.
  1. At this level you have no criticism towards feminism and believe that feminism is spot-on. You are a feminist yourself and possibly self-identify with a particular branch of the movement.
  2. Some mild criticism starts appearing. You find it important that masculinity studies within the feminist framework are carried out, since you believe that patriarchy hurts men too. Many liberal men and cultural creatives can be found in this category.
  3. Radical feminism (i.e. the belief that men structurally oppress women) is criticized without hesitation, but classical feminism is embraced and deemed to be the solution to gender issues. You believe that women were unfairly disadvantaged in the past, but that the only correction needed is civil and legal equality around the world. You may or many not have anything against a men’s movement. This is the level where we find Christina Hoff-Sommers, who’s written Who Stole Feminism and The War Against Boys - two very important books for the men’s movement.
  4. Both gender roles are viewed as being more or less equally limited and harmful to the individual. Men and women face very different gender roles, but neither one can be said to be much worse than the other. Consequently, you believe that feminism only views half of the problems that a discourse on gender needs to address, and a masculist discourse is needed to balance things out. This is the stance (according to my interpretation) of author Warren Farrell, who is perhaps the best known and most important writer in the men’s movement.
  5. This level is identical to number 4 above, with the addition that you criticize the common feminist position of believing that all gender differences are socially constructed. It’s not that people at level 4 ignore innate sex differences, but at level 5 you consider them to be crucial in any balanced discussion on how gender shows up in culture and society.
  6. At this final stage, you believe that the male gender role is worse than the female gender role, and that things could only be set right by by having a dominant masculist movement, similar to the way we now have a feminist movement dominating the discourse.
 Looking at this list I would say I am somewhere in between 5 and 6. I want a stronger MRM as feminism is dominating the discourse and believe that the male gender role has more disadvantages than the female one. I still wouldn´t go so far and call it oppression, which I think is a too strong word as men and women in the western world usually live a fairly good (privileged compared to other parts of the world) life . As I also believe there must be a balanced discussion (a MRM that is just the reversal of feminism is equally bad) I am really in between 5 and 6. Probably, depending on the topic at hand between 4-6 (of course the female role has its downsides as well). A part of me believes to stop looking at feminism completely and just focus on men´s rights. You can see me fail doing so regularly here.

On the feminism is NOT about ending ALL inequalities post, this one, by Jerry Bogs from the battlingblog, is a nice follow up, critisizing feminist leaders.
Countless feminist writers wonder, often in seeming exasperation, why many women and men still reject feminism or feel threatened by it. 
What such feminist writers fail to understand is that for probably most of the men and women “who reject or are threatened by feminism,” the problem isn't feminism. It is feminist leaders.
There's a difference, just as there is a difference between religion and religious leaders. The Islamic religion and extremist Islamic leaders illustrate the point. Islam, I'm sure, is a fine religion, but some of its extremist leaders promote it by denouncing as evil — and often calling for violence against — all those who refuse to accept Islam. Like Islam, Christianity provides excellent tools for living a life of goodness and faith. Yet consider Christian leaders like Pat Robertson. He supposedly writes about enforcement measures” not only for criminals but also for dissenters from the "soon to be re-established" Christian culture. Religious leaders in this category no doubt prompt many people to throw the baby out with the bath water, to spurn not just the religious leaders but their religion along with them, to see both as one and the same.
| Any "ism" is only as good -- or bad -- as its leaders and the media portray it. | 
A similar conundrum exists for feminism vis-a-vis feminist leaders. While increasingly fewer people oppose feminism — when it's defined as the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it: the "theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes" — a huge number continue to oppose feminist leaders whose views they often regard as sexist and divisive. “Too many prominent feminist leaders,” says Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism?are role models of intolerance and anti-male prejudice. Too many play fast and loose with the truth.”
I believe feminist writers can do more than write commentary asking why so many men and women resist feminism. They can challenge feminist “leaders,” feminism's dominant voices, to jettison their antimale ideology and become more sensible and under- standing of men. (He who feels understood by a person feels more willing to listen to that person. But this is a whole new topic, one for a future commentary!)
They might also demand that the mainstream media stop letting these feminist “leaders” dominate the discussion on gender. “Regrettably,” says Daniel Potter, a senior journalism major, “as in the case of many other well-intentioned movements lacking broad support, generally political radicals receive the preponderance of attention.”
My sentiments exactly. If over the years feminist radicals had not received the preponderance of attention on gender -- if there all along had been fair-and-balanced reporting that included the male side -- we might not have seen such tragedies as that committed by Canada's Marc Lepine, the disturbed man who, before killing himself, killed 14 Dawson College women, mostly because, I suspect, he had formed his view of feminism from the vilely antimale views of radical feminists.
A worthwile read. In that posting he made quite some examples about feminists in the media. Some noteworthy.
Doing exactly that on the issue of violence, renowned feminist leader Phyllis Chesler says without citing sources, “According to contemporary studies, 90 percent of all violent crimes are still committed by men. ... When those women who commit 10 percent of all violent crimes do kill, nearly half kill male intimates who have abused them or their children, and they invariably do so in self-defense.” In other words, Chesler divides the sexes into two chief categories: men as violent victimizers and women as peaceful innocents. (For a more balanced perception on gender violence, go here.)
Kim Gandy, president of the National OrganizationKim Gandy, president of NOW for Women, supports Roe v. Wade for women but says about Roe v. Wade For Men:
According to the National Center for Men Web site, as a result of Roe v. Wade, "[w]omen now have control of their lives after an unplanned conception. But men are routinely forced to give up control, forced to be financially responsible for choices only women are permitted to make, forced to relinquish reproductive choice as the price of intimacy.” That's a whole lot of talk that, when you get right down to it, means "have an abortion or I get to walk away." Either way it means zero consequences and zero responsibility, and they want the courts to call it "reproductive choice for men."
Gandy blatantly lies when she asserts that Roe v. Wade For Men tells women “have an abortion.” Her lie, of course, serves a purpose: telling it permits her to then justify rejecting for men the very reproductive choice she demands for women. To her, apparently, women should be legally allowed to escape the responsibility of parenthood, but men shouldn't be — this from a prominent feminist leader who claims the feminism she represents is about equality and individual choice! (For the record, Gandy has on at least one occasion acknowledged “societal” bias against fathers, though she failed to admit that at least an equal part of the bias comes from women.)
Fabled feminist leader Gloria Steinem built a career on, among other things, fleshing out sexism. Yet according to, she can dish it out fairly well herself: “If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?” And there's this: “Pornography is the instruction. Rape is the practice.” Might I remind Steinem that since this venomous outpouring about male sexuality, porn has proliferated like mold in a dank cellar, yet rape has dramatically dropped
Attorney Wendy J. Murphy is called upon frequently on cable TV to proffer feminist Wendy Murphyinterpretations of sex crimes. She teaches a seminar on sexual violence at the New England School of Law in Boston. Showing how she apparently regards male sexuality, she reacted with particularly vitriolic misandry after male students at Harvard built a 9-foot-tall snow sculpture of a penis in reaction to the widespread campus celebration of female sexuality and anatomy, an on-going celebration that is inspired by “The Vagina Monologues.” “'What if students,” Murphy said, “had built a snow sculpture of a Nazi swastika or the confederate flag? As a sculpture, a snow penis can't cause much direct harm, but it clearly serves as a powerful symbol of sexual dominance and gendered violence. Would Harvard's administration have been so deafeningly silent if students built a sculpture that symbolized race dominance or ethnic cleansing?”
Murphy's misandry is appropriately dealt with by Cathy Young:
Let me get this (no pun intended) straight. An erect penis is a symbol of sexual dominance and violence, comparable to the swastika and the confederate flag. Does this mean that sexual intercourse is comparable to the Holocaust, slavery, and ethnic cleansing? A more shocking statement of hatred for maleness and male sexuality is hard to imagine. Unfortunately, these silly and hateful comments are typical of the state of academic feminism today. And then, feminists act surprised and outraged when feminism is perceived as silly and anti-male.
Can you imagine what kind of sexual-violence seminar Murphy must teach at Boston's New England School of Law?
While I certainly do agree here, I must say online feminists are not necessarily any different. Of course to say all feminists are this or that is a lie. I had fairly good discussions with some of them. With the majority sadly not. Of course one has to keep in mind what the internet does to people.

Finally some thoughts about feminism and labels. Some time ago I found yet another feminist tag. Pro-BDSM feminists. I assume this is an add-on to pro-sex feminism as a lot of pro-sex feminist are probably quite liberal when it comes to sex, porn and prostitution but not when it comes to BDSM lifestyle which could be interpreted as man dominating woman (maledom). This however was not meant as a critique for BDSM or that kind of feminism, I was again surprised to what extend labels in feminism are used and applied, if you believe in one more additional thing. We have radical-, eco-, pro-sex-, postmodern-, marxist-, black-feminism and much much more. I was trying to jokingly come up with anti-feminist-feminism (as of course being for equality means one is a feminist), but realised there is already such a thing -> Sommers equity feminism (which critics describe as anti-feminism). There is probably no point where one drops that label to become something totally new. I wonder if there are pro-life feiminists....of course there are....and I am not really surprised as a topic like "Can I do xyz and still be a feminist" quite often appears on feminist sites. So much for my observation.

EDIT: While I am at it I am snatching Pelle Billings core belief which really sound reasonable and very well
- Gender liberation is a good thing
- Feminism is too one-sided to ever achieve gender liberation
- Men’s voices need to become part of the gender debate
- Both sexes have been oppressed by their gender role, not only women
- Gender roles have developed as a functional fit to historical circumstances

1 comment:

  1. What you are talking about is not feminism, it is feminazism ...Feminists fight for equality not misandry