Nobody’s Listening

Tried to give you warning but everyone ignores me
Told you everything loud and clear
But nobody’s listening
Called to you so clearly but you don’t want to hear me
Told you everything loud and clear
But nobody’s listening

Those Linkin Park lyrics kept coming to my mind as read the recent kerfuffle on The Good Men Project Magazine. For those who did not follow it, Tom Matlack wrote an article called Being a Dude Is a Good Thing that focused on how some men feel that women blame them for being men. Matlack’s article came on the heels of “Male Guilt” week, and may have been a response to Hugo Schwyzer’s article about why all men are potential rapists.

Matlack’s spawned a twitter-feud between him and several feminists. This led Matlack to write about the feud on GMP, which in turn led to several responses from feminists. However, the tension between Schwyzer and Matlack seemed the most apparent, and continued to the point that Matlack asked Schwyzer to remove an article accusing Matlack and men in general of “gaslighting.”

As I see it, all this comes from a failure of people to listen to each other. I am not talking about people agreeing with each other’s political views, but trying to understand why the other side feels as they do.

Despite being called The Good Men Project Magazine, the site features a lot of female and feminist-centered content. Whether intentional or not, it gives the impression that the site is a feminist space. That impression was supported earlier this year when the site featured scathing attacks on the men’s rights movement, and recent choices by the editors to remove or moderate comments written by or about male victims.

The problem with that impression is that Matlack wants to talk about men’s stories, and many men’s stories do not fit into the narrow feminist scope. At some point, some man would want to write about how terribly some woman treated him or how women in general talk to him or how society makes him feel as a man. These are topics that people need to discuss if they want to understand the male experience, and they cannot be glossed over, watered down, or ignored.

Yet when Matlack tried to do that, the response he got from feminists was hostile. They did not just take issue with the way he wrote his article, but with the content of the article itself. They dismissed that men faced any discrimination, sexism, or bigotry. They treated men’s complaints about being blamed for everything as whining over losing power and privilege. In other words, feminists engaged in “gaslighting.” They are trying to convince men that men never experience any sexism or misandry, that feminists never bash or insult men, that it is all in men’s head, and it is actually men who are causing all the problems.

None of them listened to anything Matlack said. They hear it, or rather read it, but it never sunk in. They never treated his comments as serious or considered that many men do genuinely feel attacked by women and feminists. Instead, those feminists either ignored the comments or argued in bad faith as they ironically complained about men failing to listen to respect women’s feelings.

Keep in mind the context of how all this began. This started out as a critique of the presumption of male guilt and how it makes men feel. The point of the discussion was to focus on men’s feelings, yet feminists chose to shoot down men’s feelings and turn it into a discussion about women. They refused to listen men, and ended up playing Matlack to the point that he, like many male feminists, buckled down to prove his feminist credentials.

As I wrote on GMP, you cannot have a discussion if you are not willing to listen to the other side. No one must agree with what the other side says. However, people do need to respect other people’s feelings and let them express whatever they may feel. For the last year, GMP ran several articles by feminists telling men to listen to and respect women’s anger. I do not think it is much to ask for feminists to listen to and respect men’s anger.

This situation happens every time men try to talk about their experiences with feminists. Unless men run everything they say through a feminist filter, the whole thing breaks down. While this time it resulted in Schwyzer resigning as an editor for GMP, re-opening his blog, and getting a ton of “You Go Girl!” praise from feminists, the underlying problem remains: feminists do no want to listen to men’s stories.

Until feminists learn to listen to what men say without judging them, expecting men to play by feminists’ rules, or waiting to throw out a retort, the two sides will never have an actual discussion, assuming feminists actually want to have one.

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33 thoughts on “Nobody’s Listening

  1. Unfortunately your assumption is incorrect and thankfully in the final line of your post you recognize that. I think the creeping militarization and adversarial nature that is rising in this corner of the Internet (and will become unhinged on the wake of the agent orange dossier) is going to have some very real reprecusions to women and society as a whole. Especially In my country where our supreme court ruled yesterday that a man retiring of losing his job is not sufficient grounds to reduce his alimony, which is perpetual here in Canada.

  2. And what really bothers the piss out of me about the that whole thrown down at GMP is that there are so many feminists that are just going to blindly side with Schwyzer and just continue supporting the silencing of any man whose experiences don’t coincide with what feminist ideology has already decided is the truth about the male experience.

    But in all honestly I could live with Schwyzer being at GMP if it meant getting rid of Marcotte instead.

  3. Danny, I think that unless those people personally experience what men go through or see it up close, they are not likely going to change their minds. Far too many feminists forget that they are dealing with real people with real feelings. At some point they need to set the doctrine aside and look at things as they are instead of as feminists want them to be.

    I think the problem for GMP was that Schwyzer undermined their goal of getting men to tell their stories. Schwyzer did not seem the least bit interested in men’s stories. Rather, he was more interested in converting men to feminism while criticizing them. I do not know how GMP will change or whether they will try to include more diverse political voices, but if they want to reach a broader male audience, I think they will need to lose the political angle the site currently has.

  4. Seriously? Hugo has quit? How extreme. I guess that confirms my view there is no safe middle ground on GMP. It’s more of a battlefield/chaos.

    I think everyone needs to learn about “invalidation” in the emotional sense. “trying to understand why the other side feels as they do.” … Sort of. It’s more the emotional experience of “feeling heard”. Emotionally connected to others while feeling as you do. However you do.

    Once again TS, you’ve said it very well. Bravo!

  5. Oh, the sweet irony of all of this. Read this article and several others on Feministe (including comments) http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/11/15/a-message-to-yashar-ali-from-a-woman/ ; then compare how feminists and their allies behave. Double standards anyone ?
    P.S Toysoldier, I really like your blog and how you calmly discuss everything. Keep up the good work.
    P.P.S Thank God thst feminists are a very tiny minority group that no one really pays attention to in my country (Women Party did not cross threshold, heh)(I am from Poland).

  6. Now if I understood the original piece correctly, it was saying “Look, sometimes guys do things differently. Why is that a problem?”
    Seems reasonable to me.
    And naturally one of the first replies was a woman ranting about whiny males and…actually I’m not sure what the hell she was on about.
    Looking at the article again, and then reading the firefight that broke out afterwards I can only say.. were you people reading the same article I was?

  7. Read this, it sounds so true.
    http://www.avoiceformen.com/misandry/chivalry/an-open-letter-to-tom-matlack/

    Let’s give Tom Mallack some time to gather his thoughts; maybe he won’t ignore his experience with “friends”. Truly, with friends like this… oh, and I am on one hand happy that Schwyzer no longer contributes to the GMP, because his pieces always shame men (like a commentator put it in one comment “litttle lady in trouble- she needs help !” little boy in trouble ? suck it up and examine your privillege !”).
    On the other hand, the true enlightment came from the comments on his articles: from you, Daddy’s, Eric M and many other good men. It’s the one thing I will miss.

  8. Wirbelwind, the Feministe is a good example of the double bind male feminists are in. If they do not talk about how other men oppress women, they are keeping “The Patriarchy” alive. However, if they do talk about how other men oppress women, they are talking out of turn. If you want the triple threat, there is also this: if male feminists talk about how other men oppress women but remind people that as men they really are not in any place to talk about the issue, they are wussing out. No matter what they do, they did something wrong.

  9. Looking at the article again, and then reading the firefight that broke out afterwards I can only say.. were you people reading the same article I was?

    That is the most ironic part about the feminist reaction to Matlack’s post. They did the very thing they accused him of doing as they accused him of doing it.

  10. Good riddance, I say.

    Hugo’s goals and philosophies went against what The Good Men Project was about. He didn’t want to hear men tell their stories. Or rather, he’d rather hear men tell their stories that have everything to do with how they oppress women, are poisoned by masculanity, possess male priveledge and are to blame for sexism.

    He doesn’t even listen to criticism either. People will protest all they want and state their objections to his writing crystal clear and Hugo just brushes them off.

    The only problem I have with this whole thing is that, while Hugo is gone, they still have misandric gynocentrists like Amanda Marcotte remaining, calling people like Clarence (or was it Clarisse) “Creep”.

    Still, I’m glad he’s gone.

  11. It amazes me how feminists treat male feminists. It is as if they want to create a tiny little minority group of their own that they can beat-up on and humiliate.

  12. Far too many feminists forget that they are dealing with real people with real feelings.
    True. Far too many of them see “male” and take off running without even thinking twice.

    I think the problem for GMP was that Schwyzer undermined their goal of getting men to tell their stories.
    Agreed. To him there is no room for a man to tell his story unless that story is about how terrible he is to/about women. And that does indeed totally go against GMP’s efforts.

  13. He doesn’t even listen to criticism either. People will protest all they want and state their objections to his writing crystal clear and Hugo just brushes them off.

    He’s just an outlier.

  14. Or, at the very least, ideological purity is WAY more important to these people than having friends.

    It is as if feminists think it is possible for a handful of hipster chicks with green hair to defeat Teh Patriarchehh by themselves. Who needs allies?

  15. There is no such a thing, or rather patriarchy exists only if their heads. Just like “jews rule the world” sort of thing. These actions serve at least one good purpose, however- men observe and analyze how feminist men are treated by their comrades.
    And they arrive to conclusions that feminists wouldn’t appreciate.
    It’s funny, actually. I wanted to learn something about feminism in USA and GB, so I typed it in Google; I got feministing, feministe, S.C.U.M and several other pages at the top. I left SCUM for later and began reading feministe. While many articles sounded reasonable enough, it was their line of thinking that was suspicious to me: excusing female behaviour and always assuming the worst from the male: it was very obvious after reading the comments.
    Then I read pieces like “the politics of hello” and others… same with feministing… thankfuly, I ran into QRG comments and through her website- to you and GMP.

  16. Not in the least surprised.

    Few weeks back I posted on GMP suggesting a dignified way Hugo could step back. That was never going to happen. Feminism is, of course, the enactment of history’s biggest grudge. It’s second AND first nature to them. Amicable splits are a logical impossibility.

  17. Gwallan, there could have been an amicable split had Schwyzer been willing to see Lisa Hickey and Matlack’s side of things. As I said, it all comes down to listening to other people. Schwyzer could have written all the misandrous articles he wanted if took the time to understand why so many men find feminist views hateful. I do not agree with the the right-wing that there is an anti-Christian, anti-family values tone in American society. However, I do understand why they feel that way. Every day there is some prominent liberal trashing those people because of their faith, because of their small communities, because they, like most people, do not want their way of life to change. Sometimes the liberal commentary is right, and sometimes it is clearly mean-spirited. The problem is that the two commentaries look the same, so one cannot tell if liberals are sincere in their criticism or just having a go at the right-wing.

    None of that means I must agree with any of their positions. I just understand that if I make a certain criticism about them it will get a certain response because of how they view those comments. It costs me nothing to treat the right-wing as people, yet it seemed to cost Schwyzer and femnists like him everything to treat men as people.

  18. Even though people like Hugo never listen, I am.

    I have another article up on The Good Men Project.

    http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/survivors-tales-victims-of-abuse-come-forward/comment-page-1/#comment-82929

    What I need from you Toysoldier, and everyone else here, though, is to find survivors of female abuse or female bullies. Particularly male survivors of these two things.

    If you know anyone of the kind, please direct them with this link to my article so they can share their story in the commentary section. I promise, the haven is going to be safe from any invalidation as I’ve got Lisa and her team closely monitoring the comments.

    We need to show the world we’re not anomolies and that girls and women can bully or hurt boys and men.

    Oh and be sure to tell them, when they want to comment, they should identify as male or female before posting their story in the commentary section.

  19. ht tp://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/the_good_men_project_i_used_to_know

    “It’s a real shame to see that a steady campaign of misogynist blather from so-called “men’s rights activists” in the comments at Good Men Project has poisoned founder Tom Matlack’s mind. Personally, I’m a big fan of just banning MRAs. They have nothing of value to add to a conversation, and exist online solely to disrupt any conversation they fear might lead others towards reaching the conclusion that women are people. The whole mission behind the Good Men Project is presumably to advocate for good men, and while they do publish writings by actual good men, they also publish writings by overt misogynists like Paul Elam, who by definition cannot be good men, any more than members of white supremacist groups can be called “good men”. Differing viewpoints is one thing, but promoting the work of open bigots is just fucked up. ”

    Amazing how can generalize in the very first paragraph and be annoyed later of such generalization. Do the the feminist authors on the GMP want to discuss anything, or do they simply want to silence anyone that speaks up on male rights and abuse issues?

  20. Archy, Marcotte has a history of accusing people of doing the very thing she does to people. I think much of her work centers around projectiing her own anger and bigotry onto men, and waiting for other feminists to agree with her.

  21. Archy – I fear that Ms Marchotte and her Lieutenants are just upset that they have lost a play ground where Ms Marchotte’s particular brand of “anti-social engineering” is no longer welcomed. She does have a highly defended world view that is not agreed with by many – and as a professional Blogista she knows that Controversy breeds net stats and that means pay day.

    I see that Ms Marchotte mimics Tom when she titles her piece “The Good Men Project I Used To Know” – and as they say Mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery – or you just lack the imagination and capacity to be original! P^)

    Perhaps she is just peed off because somewhere on the net there is at least one place that has rejected her image and idolatry! World Domination does get that tad harder to believe in and convince others of when you have lost out so publicly and you have no default position to fall back on. Even Ghandi knew that!

    She can advertise all she likes, but people can pop over to GMP and see the difference in style, tone and quality. The Court Of Public Opinion is always a Hanging Judge, and some just don’t get that.

    …and of course she is determined to set a time line and event Horizon around Twittergate. She most definitely doesn’t want people delving into archives where it is clear to see the history of much abuse – and she would hate so many to analyse it and then disagree with her public brass fog horn. Defences are built for a reason. P^)

  22. I just talked to a feminist about it, and she agreed with Amanda, she hasn’t met a single decent “MRA”. What’s sad is that I don’t think they even realize their bias or hatred for MRA’s, then go and get angry at anyone who questions feminism. I am at a loss to understand how people that want to fight bigotry, ignorance, etc are worldclass leaders at showing it themselves.

  23. Mediahound, the odd thing about Marcotte’s complaint is that very few of the articles on GMP are written by men’s rights activists. There are about a dozen or so, and most were published earlier this year. It is not as if GMP is a men’s rights haven. Her complaint is simply that non-feminist men are allowed to voice their opinions on a website about men.

  24. I am at a loss to understand how people that want to fight bigotry, ignorance, etc are worldclass leaders at showing it themselves.

    It is called projection, “a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.”

  25. TS – there is nothing odd about Ms Marcotte’s complaint and associated conduct!

    She simply seeks to distort reality, most deliberately. If she told the truth she would have no blog! She “panders” to a select readership and if they were gone she would have no one to “Pander” to her!

    Pandagon is such an ironic name given her pandering and desperation that some were gone.

    The emblem/logo is even Black and White and indicates how she views those who “Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation”.

  26. “It is called projection, “a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.””

    It could equally be “Displacement” – when one uses aggression at a person or object that is not the cause of the aggression.

    “Displacement involves taking out our frustrations, feelings and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. Displaced aggression is a common example of this defense mechanism. Rather than express our anger in ways that could lead to negative consequences (like arguing with our boss), we instead express our anger towards a person or object that poses no threat (such as our spouse, children or pets).”

    It is quite possible that having created herself as a Feminist Icon and Blogista, that she in fact does not agree with her own Tropes and Ideology. But as it provides income and status she has to go with it. The Cognitive Dissonance that results leads to frustration and aggression which is them aimed at those who remind her of the trap she has created fro herself. She attacks men and women who don’t agree with her public views, not because they are wrong, but because they remind her that she knows she is wrong and wants to stop being wrong, without loosing face or income.

    It’s as good an explanation as many others! P^)

  27. Thanks for the replies, you folks seem extremely well informed. :)
    I’ve noticed quite a bit of trying to control conversations in feminist articles, even some of the masculist ones have it. GMP usually ends up with a bunch of debates and fights over privilege, oppression olympics and other monumental fuckups that do nothing to help.

  28. Archy – there are even debates over the meanings of words, who does and doesn’t read them, what words mean and even who are using words as munitions.

    Hell – no wonder we are all getting lost and drowning in a Soup Of Words.

    It may just be best to turn off the internet and save us all from RSI. P^)

  29. For mediahound (since you love info:P) and others, I just found this potential gem for domestic abuse at least.
    ht tp://www.fact.on.ca/Info/dom/hines01.htm – “Psychological Effects of Partner Abuse Against Men: A Neglected Research Area” from 2001
    Probably the most indepth research into the LACK of attention to male victimization and the effects of abuse. They have studies showing men suffer more serious physical injury and others showing women suffer more, so there definitely seems to be quite a lot of conflict in studies as well. Also calls into question the often said “women act in self defense” with some studies suggesting abuse is quite often mutual. Illustrates the problem where there are no abuser support resources for women, so police often have to arrest the man which can get the couple into counseling since arresting the woman wouldn’t do much to help without those resources.

    I hope the article is helpful, to me I think it’s a wonderful example of why we need to study more than just male attacker, female victim. I truly hope everyone gets a chance to read at least some of it, and I’m sorry if this isn’t the right article to post on as I wasn’t sure where else to post it.

  30. “I am not sure why the MRAS are happy about hugo leaving. He was a great recruitment tool.”

    I do not see it as people who are seen as MRA being happy. I do see a lot of people being able to engage in communication and dialogue free of certain dogmas and world views that Hugo encouraged and even thrived upon. Some call him controversial but fail to link that word to controversy.

    There are now more wide ranging views to be heard, and for information to be considered. It also allows many people who have been fatigued by the conduct of some to join in without fear of being “Shammed” for not agreeing with a subset of loud persons. Every word is no longer dissected and reinterpreted for offence to be generated and used.

    There is an old saying “The Empty Bottle Makes The Loudest Noise”.

    Fuller dialogue and communication comes from content! Cheers!

  31. @Archy

    Interesting study – which does highlight a great deal. The findings have been known and used in Europe for some years, so I wonder at what appears to be US inertia.

  32. Pingback: “Creep” shaming | Toy Soldiers

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