Male Survivors of (Child) Sexual Abuse/Violence, a Non-Feminist View

A few weeks ago, Daran mentioned a thread on a feminist blog pertaining to male victims of sexual violence. Having viewed the thread, I voiced my concerns about its intent and the safety of non-feminist male victims posting their experiences in such a hostile environment. While I had no inclination to believe those concerns would be taken seriously (demonstrated here and here), I did hold out a little hope for the possibility that such a thread would not devolve into a feminist analysis of male survivors that BeenThere feared.

But such is luck because that is precisely what happened.

Richard Jeffrey Newman wrote:

Feminism, more than any other socio-cultural/political form of analysis, articulates the different positions boys/men and girls/women occupy vis-a-vis sexual violence. When a girl or woman is raped, the rape enacts, confirms, affirms her status in a male dominant society as a sexual object; it makes explicit that part of the social script for what it means to be a woman that says a woman exists to be used sexually by men. On the other hand, when a boy or man is raped, the rape interrupts his status as a sexual subject; it turns him into something he is not supposed to be in a male dominant culture. Part of talking about men’s experience of sexual abuse on its own terms, it seems to me, has to include the taking apart of this aspect of the experience; and I do not see how we can talk about this without coming to the conclusion that male sexual subjectivity in a male dominant culture is built on the denial of precisely the vulnerability that abusers exploit. This conclusion, carried to its logical political and socio-cultural ends, is a quintessentially feminist insight.

Part of the problem is that under feminism males cannot address issues of their vulnerability on their terms. Feminism has already defined the term and the conclusions that must be reached. And since the male experience is considered subjective (implying that feminism is objective), i.e. it is only the male’s internal interpretation of his experience, not that what he has experienced occurs externally on a greater social level, it can be treated as an example of the “patriarchy hurting men too” and readily dismissed.

From a non-feminist perspective, however, the issue of male vulnerability has not been defined. There still exists the potential to understand how society, as affected by both genders, supports and often enforces the denial of male vulnerability. One can then see the various aspects of this denial, from society’s expectation of the “strong man” to feminism’s denial of how women benefit from society’s demands on males, from a wider, more objective position.

At the same time, however, feminism names the structures—political, socioeconomic, cultural and even psychological—that normalize the kind of power hierarchy that leads to the sexual abuse and exploitation of both boys/men and women/girls. Broadly speaking, feminism gathers these structures under the label patriarchy or male dominance. Curiousgyrl gets at this point in a comment where she points out that “men systematically rape male children and other men [because of the] way that male dominance works; there [are] not only benefits for exercising male dominance but consequences for refusing or being unable to do so.” I realize that her formulation very neatly elides the fact that there are also female abusers. What I will say about female abusers for now is this: the boys/men they abuse are also suffering the consequences “of refusing or being unable” to exercise male dominance. In other words, even if female abusers do not neatly fit the feminist paradigm of the dominant and abusive male, boys and men who have been abused by women still suffer their abuse within a male dominant context, and it is feminism that first named that context for what it is. Still, the phenomenon that curiousgyrl points out is a structural one; it does not get at male survivors’ interior experience, and it is that experience I am hoping this post will motivate people to discuss.

Speaking as a male survivor, this is a most unhelpful analysis. It not only dismisses male experiences as ultimately inconsequential, but it also reinforces the societal norm that should a male fail to prevent the assault he was complicit in it. Feminism fails to acknowledge female abusers or hold them accountable for their actions. Instead feminism holds to the paradigm that these women’s actions are the result of a male-dominated society. This shifts responsibility back onto men, allowing women to maintain their victim status while stripping males of any potential victim status. The abuse the males suffer is a “consequence for refusing or being unable to [exercise their male dominance over women].” All this culminates in the position that whatever happened resulted from the actions or inactions of the man or boy assaulted. He now bears the responsibility for his abuse, and his failure to acknowledge his responsibility is evidence of his male dominance.

If I read you correctly–though I am expanding on your use of the term “rights”–what you are saying is that feminism rejects the idea that the ways in which women and girls define their experiences ought not to be circumscribed by what makes men uncomfortable or feel left out. By implication, this means that it is not the job of feminism to help men come to terms with feeling left out, etc. This is essentially what I meant in point one, when I said that women, not men, are the subjects of feminist discourse and that men ought not, therefore, to expect to be put on an equal footing with women within feminist discourse–because a feminist analysis/focus on women’s experience will, by definition, leave men on the margins at one point or another, and will absolutely render men as the objects of analysis. More to the point, for a man/men to insist that the way to deal with that marginalization is for his/our experience to be made central, or co-central with women’s experience, within feminism is precisely for him/us to try to circumscribe what women can say because he has been made uncomfortable.

Speaking as a male survivor, this is not something I have asked for nor wanted. Feminism, by its definition and application, excludes male experiences. From a logical standpoint there is no reason to ask or demand inclusion as the subject of feminism’s concern is not society as a whole but women. Nothing is gained by shifting the focus of a political group that it inherently unconcerned with and has demonstrated an unwillingness to acknowledge the experiences of other groups. From a practical standpoint there is no reason to ask or demand inclusion as there is no benefit in doing so. Feminism gains nothing from male experience as its goal is to improve the status of women and acknowledging the male experience runs counter to feminist theories.

Also, the misrepresentation here is that males wish to be included in feminist discussions as opposed to discussions about sexual violence. This is a common mistake since the majority of those discussions occur in feminist spaces. One should not conflate the two. The desire is to be included in the general discussion. This is further conflated by deliberate attempts of feminists to undermine male-focused discussions. So on the one hand males cannot speak openly in feminist because it is considered an attack on female survivors, and on the other males are not allowed to speak openly outside of feminist spaces because feminists would then not control the discussion.

———————————————————————————————————–

It is important that male survivors be allowed to present their experiences on their terms. One view should not trump another nor should anyone be prevented from expressing the totality of his experience, if he so wishes, because parts of it run contrary to accepted positions. This is perhaps the main reason why feminism is ill-equipped to address the needs and concerns of male survivors. It supports male silence and disregards the affects that silence has, specifically how it undermines the healing process when one is forced to ignore negative aspects of one’s experience.

Again, if any non-feminist male survivors wish to discuss their experiences without feminist analysis, you are welcome to do so here. If any survivors need help and support, please check the Male Abuse Resources.

Note: I am posting this on my blog out of respect for the blog owner’s moderation policies and because non-feminist views are inconsistent with the tone of the original thread.

EDIT: I added Richard’s whole quotes and a link to the third quote.

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68 thoughts on “Male Survivors of (Child) Sexual Abuse/Violence, a Non-Feminist View

  1. I will try to come back to this when I have time because I think it is an important discussion. For now, I will only assert that you quote quoted from my post on Alas quite selectively and that you have failed to acknowledge a point I made quite clearly and on which we agree, i.e., that feminism, because its focus is women’s experience, is not the place for male survivors to talk about our experience on our own terms. The fact that I have found certain feminist insights helpful in my own healing and understanding of what happened to me does not change this. It is also interesting to me that my own experience of seeking help was precisely the opposite of yours; I found tremendous support among the feminists I knew and the hotline I called was enormously supportive as well.

    Ok: enough for now. But, like I said, I will try to come back. This is, I think, a necessary discussion.

  2. I will try to come back to this when I have time because I think it is an important discussion. For now, I will only assert that you quote quoted from my post on Alas quite selectively

    Firstly, welcome! I appreciate your response.

    I do apologize for my selective quoting. It was not done to misrepresent your position. But I can see how it can be perceived that way. My intent was to address the specific issues. However, I can see how that can be perceived as a misrepresentation, so I will include the whole quote and bold the portion I specifically wish to discuss.

    and that you have failed to acknowledge a point I made quite clearly and on which we agree, i.e., that feminism, because its focus is women’s experience, is not the place for male survivors to talk about our experience on our own terms.

    You are correct. I did not mention this. However, the reason I did not mention it is because while we agree that feminism is inadequate for male-focused discussions, you still analyzed the male experience from a feminist perspective. This struck me as counter-productive and slightly contradictory because you agree that feminism approaches the male experience from a skewed position.

    The fact that I have found certain feminist insights helpful in my own healing and understanding of what happened to me does not change this.

    I agree and I would not tell you to abandon those insights. I think it is important though to understand that everyone has not had this experience. For some survivors feminism provided nothing and for others it did great harm. The same can be said of survivors who found religion. As survivors we often assume, by virtue of our experiences, that what works for us is universal; it will work for everyone. This, however, is not true and can become problematic when others do not support or reject aspects of a particular insight that helped in one’s healing.

    I do want to make it clear that I do not and will not tell anyone to abandon what works for them. That is not my place.

    It is also interesting to me that my own experience of seeking help was precisely the opposite of yours; I found tremendous support among the feminists I knew and the hotline I called was enormously supportive as well.

    Ok: enough for now. But, like I said, I will try to come back. This is, I think, a necessary discussion.

    I look forward to your comments.

  3. I agree in broad terms that RJN’s thread has so far ‘gone wrong’ in a way that was quite predictable. I’m not sure whether I agree or not with the detail of your analysis – I will need to study it in more depth. But for the moment I am rather backlogged in other threads.

    I too will come back.

  4. For some survivors feminism provided nothing and for others it did great harm.

    That’s probably true of some female survivors too.

  5. That’s probably true of some female survivors too.

    I do not know many female survivors, so I have no first-hand knowledge of how feminism impacts them. It would be interesting to know what their experiences were and how they addressed their issues.

    I look forward to your other comments.

  6. NOTE: I discovered this post, along with several of my own, in my spam blocker. I am still unsure why WordPress blocked this comment and my own, but I will look into it.

    toysoldier:

    while we agree that feminism is inadequate for male-focused discussions, you still analyzed the male experience from a feminist perspective. This struck me as counter-productive and slightly contradictory because you agree that feminism approaches the male experience from a skewed position.

    I’m not sure this is entirely accurate: I don’t think I analyzed the male experience of sexual abuse at all. Rather what I did was point out ways that I think feminism allows us to think structurally about male survivors and male perpetrators–you are, of course, correct that I did not address the question of female perpetrators at all, and I should have made it more clear that it was something I intended to come back to–because I think that being able to think structurally is necessary for being able to think politically. This is a point I made in my response to curiousgyrl’s comment in the sentence after the section you put in boldface. You may not accept the feminist analysis which characterizes our culture as a patriarchal/male dominant one, but that argument–since I do accept the feminist position–is quite different from arguing that I subjected the male experience of sexual abuse/violence to a feminist analysis.

    To be more specific, and also to point out a carelessness of language on my part, here is the part of the quote that you put in boldface:

    On the other hand, when a boy or man is raped, the rape interrupts his status as a sexual subject; it turns him into something he is not supposed to be in a male dominant culture. Part of talking about men’s experience of sexual abuse on its own terms, it seems to me, has to include the taking apart of this aspect of the experience; and I do not see how we can talk about this without coming to the conclusion that male sexual subjectivity in a male dominant culture is built on the denial of precisely the vulnerability that abusers exploit.

    First, the carelessness: The second use of the word “experience” in the part of the quote I put in boldface should have read “phenomenon,” to refer to abuse as a phenomenon, not the abuse of an particular boy/man (I will, when I have the chance, correct this in the original post), because I did not mean to imply that the interior experience of all men who are abused is that their status as men has been interrupted. Indeed, that is an intellectualization of the experience that one can make only after the fact and it is, of course, for the individual survivor to decide if that description fits his experience. Second, the specificity: Unless you disagree with me that, in general, men are still socialized to be the sexual aggressors/initiators; that we are, in general, not supposed to think of ourselves as the objects of sexual desire/activity in the way that women are–i.e., we are not supposed to be sexually penetrated (though that is only one, extreme example); and that following this social script is, generally, what we are expected to do in order to be recognized as “real” men, then it seems to be pretty obvious that, on a structural level, rape or some other form of sexual assault violates not only the body of the man who has been assaulted, but also the social script of manhood that he is expected to follow. This does not mean he experiences it this way, and it does not mean that he should be made to shoehorn his experience into this way of thinking about things. What thinking about things this way makes room for is a way of talking about how the rape/sexual abuse of boys/men fits into the power hierarchy of masculinity; it allows us to say something about the perpetrators (and I think this true for male and female perpetrators) and the social and cultural dynamic that is at work in the abuse they commit. It allows us, in other words, to politicize the nature of the abuse itself.

    Now, you may disagree with my analysis of masculinity; I am not trying to persuade you to accept a feminist view of the world. All I am trying to do here is illustrate that I was not trying to impose a predetermined ideological framework on the experience of survivors. I called my post on Alas “a beginning,” and that is precisely what it is. In subsequent posts, I intend to talk quite a bit more specifically about the ways in which feminism is not only inadequate, but also inhospitable when it comes to trying to talk about male survivor experiences.

    Also, the misrepresentation here is that males wish to be included in feminist discussions as opposed to discussions about sexual violence. This is a common mistake since the majority of those discussions occur in feminist spaces.

    Fair enough, but this begs a couple of questions:

    1. Why bother to enter feminist discussions of sexual violence at all? Why not simply create your own?

    2. Why not do as feminists have done and confront the men who hold social and political and socioeconomic power–because it is, overwhelmingly, men–who are unwilling to look the reality of sexual abuse/assault of boys/men in the face and compel them to make that part of the public discourse in the way that feminists have done for sexual violence against women?

  7. Pingback: Male Survivors of (Child) Sexual Abuse/Violence - Discussion « It’s All Connected…

  8. This is a response to Richard’s response.

    I think the reason your post did not go through is because of the default 2 links limit WordPress set. It should have sent the comment into moderation, but it does not appear to have done so. I apologize for that.

    In response to my comment you stated:

    I’m not sure this is entirely accurate: I don’t think I analyzed the male experience of sexual abuse at all. Rather what I did was point out ways that I think feminism allows us to think structurally about male survivors and male perpetrators–you are, of course, correct that I did not address the question of female perpetrators at all, and I should have made it more clear that it was something I intended to come back to–because I think that being able to think structurally is necessary for being able to think politically.

    I think the issue here is that feminist structural analysis was created to address the issues women face from a particular political position. Because of that position, it may dismiss or completely miss other factors that are key in thinking structurally about male survivors, such as the impact of female perpetrators. In order to fully understand the male experience, one must use a structural analysis that is not limited to one view or a certain set of views. This may be more necessary for sexual abuse given its variant forms.

    You may not accept the feminist analysis which characterizes our culture as a patriarchal/male dominant one, but that argument–since I do accept the feminist position–is quite different from arguing that I subjected the male experience of sexual abuse/violence to a feminist analysis.

    This is true only in a grammatical sense. In application, you are using feminist positions, theories and rhetoric to approach the male experience. That is an analysis from a feminist perspective. The difference is only in the wording. While the analysis is not inherently bad or wrong, it does fail to address or discuss the male experience in its totality because all the elements of that experience do not fit into the feminism scope. This results in a partial view that may be useful for some (such as yourself), but is ultimately unhelpful for others (such as me).

    The second use of the word “experience” in the part of the quote I put in boldface should have read “phenomenon,” to refer to abuse as a phenomenon (I will, when I have the chance, correct this in the original post), because I did not mean to imply that the interior experience of all men who are abused is that their status as men has been interrupted.

    It is the phrase ‘male sexual subjectivity’ that needs correction, not the second use of ‘experience.’ That phrasing implies that the experience is an internal interpretation on the male’s part that is not reflected externally in society.

    Unless you disagree with me that, in general, men are still socialized to be the sexual aggressors/initiators…

    I agreed with you up to this point:

    It allows us, in other words, to politicize the nature of the abuse itself.

    Why does male sexual abuse, or any abuse for that matter, need to be politicized? I understand that many concerns in our society and culture end up becoming political issues, but I do not see the need to do the same to male sexual abuse.

    Now, you may disagree with my analysis of masculinity; I am not trying to persuade you to accept a feminist view of the world. All I am trying to do here is illustrate that I was not trying to impose a predetermined ideological framework on the experience of survivors. I called my post on Alas “a beginning,” and that is precisely what it is. In subsequent posts, I intend to talk quite a bit more specifically about the ways in which feminism is not only inadequate, but also inhospitable when it comes to trying to talk about male survivor experiences.

    I understand your intent, but the framing you used is part of a particular ideological framework. I think it is possible to discuss the male experience without focusing on any particular ideology. It is not necessary to discuss the inadequacies of feminism or any other ideology because that does not increase our understanding of the male experience. If anything, it points out what we do not know. However, this lacking knowledge can easily be gained by sharing those experiences. The analysis, from my perspective, is unnecessary. That is not to say that it should not happen; however, such analyses hinder any discussion of the male experience.

  9. I did not know about the two-link rule. Thanks!

    I am very pressed for time, so I cannot give you a full response, but I’d like, for now, to ask you one clarifying question:

    It is the phrase ‘male sexual subjectivity’ that needs correction, not the second use of ‘experience.’ That phrasing implies that the experience is an internal interpretation on the male’s part that is not reflected externally in society.

    I do not understand what you mean by this, because my understanding of what I wrote is precisely the opposite: that the male sexual subjectivity I was talking about is precisely reflected externally in society. Is it possible that we are understanding the word subjectivity in different ways?

  10. It’s configurable. Because the spammers have not (yet) found my blog, I have set it to 10. Despite that, your posts got eaten. I have no idea why.

  11. Your link “considered an attack on female survivors” is broken.

    I have now read your post more closely than I did before. The first part – your personal disclosure, I will come back to. The second part – where you analyse RJN’s piece I agree with entirely. I do, however, wish to emphasise one or two points of agreement.

    Speaking as a male survivor, this is a most unhelpful analysis.

    Indeed. A one-line summary of the analysis would be “She abused you because you refused or were unable to abuse her”. The choice Richard presents us with, between success (abusing women) and failure (being their victim) is stark one, and one that I do not accept.

    Also, the misrepresentation here is that males wish to be included in feminist discussions as opposed to discussions about sexual violence. This is a common mistake since the majority of those discussions occur in feminist spaces. One should not conflate the two. The desire is to be included in the general discussion.

    YES! This is what I mean when I talk about inclusion. However I perhaps should put my hand up to not being sufficiently clear about this.

    I do not know many female survivors, so I have no first-hand knowledge of how feminism impacts them. It would be interesting to know what their experiences were and how they addressed their issues.

    That’s probably worth blogging about in its own right, but for eexample, I have known two women who resented the exclusion of men from DV shelters. One said that what she really needed in the aftermath of her abuse was a man to be nice to her. Another said she felt betrayed that the DV shelter permitted her abusive mother to visit, but not her non-abusing father. “Betrayed” was her word.

  12. RJN wrote:

    I did not know about the two-link rule.

    I just changed this. Hopefully it will stop WordPress from blocking your posts. I am not sure why it is not putting them into moderation, though.

    I do not understand what you mean by this, because my understanding of what I wrote is precisely the opposite: that the male sexual subjectivity I was talking about is precisely reflected externally in society. Is it possible that we are understanding the word subjectivity in different ways?

    Subjectivity is defined as:
    1. the state or quality of being subjective; subjectiveness.
    2. a subjective thought or idea.
    3. intentness on internal thoughts.
    4. internal reality

    I am unsure what definition you are using, but this is the only one I am familiar with.

  13. Ok, now I understand. I meant subjectivity as the state of being a subject rather than an object, almost in the grammatical sense; how one constitutes one’s understanding of oneself as an actor in the world, and to the degree that I was talking about a constructed subjectivity–meaning the way male sexuality is constructed through social norms, etc.–I understand the subjectivity I am talking about to be reflected quite explicitly in the outside world.

    Don’t know if that clears things up at all, but I was not talking about subjectivity as something that exists only internally, in someone’s head.

  14. Ok, now I understand. I meant subjectivity as the state of being a subject rather than an object, almost in the grammatical sense; how one constitutes one’s understanding of oneself as an actor in the world, and to the degree that I was talking about a constructed subjectivity–meaning the way male sexuality is constructed through social norms, etc.–I understand the subjectivity I am talking about to be reflected quite explicitly in the outside world.

    You are discussing two different, albeit related, issues here. One is the male experience of sexual abuse and the other is male sexuality. Both can affect the other, but understanding the social norms that affect male sexuality does not provide much insight into the male experience of sexual abuse because the experience is not limited to sexuality.

    Also, social norms are defined differently depending on the ideology or philosophy, so it may be best to examine social norms and how they affect male sexuality from a broad perspective, i.e. specifically what the expectations are.

    I also want to note that I am following the original thread. Despite how the thread has been derailed (the irony notwithstanding), I think it is important to look at how that has happened and what specifically is being discussed. This may give you and those posters some insight as to why no non-feminist male survivors have posted on that thread or the other.

    I plan on addressing several of the recently posted comments later when I have more time.

  15. Pingback: Excluded Survivors’ Thread « DaRain Man

  16. I just wanted to say that I will not be posting in this thread anymore because I am needing to devote my time to other writing projects and blog posts–some of which will be on this topic and I will be happy to continue the discussion then.

    I do, however, feel the need to respond to this summary of my position by Daran:

    Indeed. A one-line summary of the analysis would be “She abused you because you refused or were unable to abuse her”. The choice Richard presents us with, between success (abusing women) and failure (being their victim) is stark one, and one that I do not accept.

    I am not going to parse the ways in which I think this is a wilfully narrow reading of what it means to “exercise male dominance” (the phrase from my original post) because I don’t have the time. All I will say is that I do not see the relationship between abuser and abused (in whatever gender combination), or between men and women as it is defined within feminism, as you have implicitly characterized me as seeing it here.

  17. 1. Why bother to enter feminist discussions of sexual violence at all? Why not simply create your own?

    As I stated before, many of the discussions about sexual violence occur in feminist spaces. This is not exclusive to blogs and forums, but conferences and offline discussion boards as well. While creating a space for males to discuss their own experiences is a good idea (see the Male Abuse Resources links), because males are excluded from the overall discussion, what we do on our own will be overlooked if not wholly ignored. Also, since the framing typically is not only violence against women but sexual violence as a whole, I see no logical reason for non-feminists male survivors to be excluded at all. Perhaps feminists consider our experiences unimportant or irrelevant to their discussion because we do not agree politically. However, if the goal is to foster greater understanding, then non-feminist male survivors should be welcomed. Even if there is disagreement, our experiences (I am speaking specifically of hostility and blaming male survivors are subjected to) could be learned from and likely prevented from happening again.

    Please note that no feminists outside of you have commented on my posts. There appears to be an unwillingness to listen to and discuss the topic with non-feminist male survivors on non-feminist terms. I think this is problematic as that unwillingness can come off as dismissive even if it is intended to reduce or prevent conflict.

    2. Why not do as feminists have done and confront the men who hold social and political and socioeconomic power–because it is, overwhelmingly, men–who are unwilling to look the reality of sexual abuse/assault of boys/men in the face and compel them to make that part of the public discourse in the way that feminists have done for sexual violence against women?

    I disagree that it is overwhelmingly men who are unwilling to look at the reality of sexual assault males face. The very fact that we must have this discussion on two separate blogs, that is I am not allowed to share my opinions and experiences in a feminist setting, indicates that it is not just men who overlook the reality of male sexual assault. This is further indicated by studies like the Invisible Boy and comments denying the prevalence and severity of male abuse. It is important to acknowledge all aspects that overlook or ignore the reality of male sexual assault. Feminism plays a large role in this, specifically on how society views and treats male survivors and the resources made available to them.

    Ultimately, the discussion I would like to have is one similar to what happens in male spaces. Male survivors relate their experiences as they are and they discuss the various aspects without judgement or ridicule. I am unsure if this can happen in feminist spaces because of the intensely political nature of such discussions. I feel similarly about holding such discussions in religious spaces as well, since everyone does not share the same views on faith and religion. There tends to be a constant need to defend one’s views instead of listening to the experiences presented. It was this kind of discussion I was hoping for on your threads, one devoid of feminist theories except as presented in context of an individual’s experience (specifically how it affected him), not as the main issue or as the point of analysis.

  18. Hi, I’m Daisy. I’ve been reading all this and not saying anything; I’ve been trying to understand. I don’t know that I do yet, so I hope what I have to say won’t offend you. I’m making a sincere effort to appreciate your position, and as part of that effort, I have a few questions.

    So what I’ve gleaned is that you had a terrible experience with feminists while trying to cope with your abuse, and feel that feminists and/or feminism tend(s) to treat male survivors in a way that is at best inappropriate, at worst, an additional experience of abuse. Though you recognize that feminism by definition centers women and women’s experiences, you’re frustrated that it doesn’t properly address male experiences, because, as you see it, the discourse about sexual violence is dominated by feminist thinking. Have I got that right?

    I guess I just want to ask Richard Jeffrey Newman’s question again, because your answer confused me.

    Why bother to enter feminist discussions of sexual violence at all? Why not simply create your own?

    I think it’s probably true that feminists were among the first people to seriously address sexual abuse, and it’s certainly true that feminism primarily addresses it as it applies to women. But why is that such a serious problem?

    There didn’t used to be any real system for dealing with survivors of sexual violence, feminists created one. I’ve gathered that you think the one they created is totally inadequate when it comes to male survivors. Maybe it is. It just seems to me that it’s inexpicable and unfair to be more than miffed about that. Feminism isn’t ideal for coping with all kinds of serious problems about which many femininists are personally concerned, but no one expects feminism to deal with, say, the trauma of returning soldiers, or to help people cope with terminal illness. That doesn’t mean feminists don’t think that there should be resources for veterans with PTSD, it just means that it isn’t feminism’s job to provide them. This is still true even though feminism might want to look at how female soldiers are treated, or try to deal with PTSD in women who survived domestic violence. This seems parallel to me. I think that feminism is opposed to all kinds of abuse, and that the vast majority of feminists would be happy to see organizations springing up devoted to helping male survivors, but I don’t think that it is feminists’ fault if there is a dearth of such organizations. Feminism does not address all the world’s problems, nor does it claim to. If a problem is outside the scope of feminism, then a different perspective is required to cope with it, and someone should take it upon themselves to develop it. But that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the perspective that wasn’t useful. The fact that sometimes one needs to use a screw doesn’t mean that nails are bad.

    Sorry if I’ve rambled… Does that make sense? Have I misread you?

  19. Welcome Daisy!

    So what I’ve gleaned is that you had a terrible experience with feminists while trying to cope with your abuse, and feel that feminists and/or feminism tend(s) to treat male survivors in a way that is at best inappropriate, at worst, an additional experience of abuse. Though you recognize that feminism by definition centers women and women’s experiences, you’re frustrated that it doesn’t properly address male experiences, because, as you see it, the discourse about sexual violence is dominated by feminist thinking. Have I got that right?

    My experiences are demonstrative only. I would have reached the conclusion that feminism, by virtue of its definition and application, is an ineffective and inadequate political ideology without such experiences. And as I stated before, there is no desire to have feminism address the male experience. The issue is the feminist framing of discussions about sexual violence and how male survivors and their advocates are either wholly excluded from or minimized in such discussions.

    I think it’s probably true that feminists were among the first people to seriously address sexual abuse, and it’s certainly true that feminism primarily addresses it as it applies to women. But why is that such a serious problem?

    It is a serious problem because feminists control the existing support networks and actively undermine efforts to create similar support networks for male survivors. This is further complicated by feminists stating that they wish to prevent all forms of sexual violence while deliberately excluding male survivors and ignoring female rapists.

    Feminism isn’t ideal for coping with all kinds of serious problems about which many femininists are personally concerned, but no one expects feminism to deal with, say, the trauma of returning soldiers, or to help people cope with terminal illness. That doesn’t mean feminists don’t think that there should be resources for veterans with PTSD, it just means that it isn’t feminism’s job to provide them. This is still true even though feminism might want to look at how female soldiers are treated, or try to deal with PTSD in women who survived domestic violence.

    No, feminism is not ideal for coping with all kinds of serious problems, but unfortunately it is commonly presented as such. It stands that if feminism is wholly incapable of or unwilling to address similar needs of different groups of people, there may be something inherent in its ideology that is flawed, particularly if the position is that feminism will address gender biases, privileges and favoritism.

    I think that feminism is opposed to all kinds of abuse, and that the vast majority of feminists would be happy to see organizations springing up devoted to helping male survivors, but I don’t think that it is feminists’ fault if there is a dearth of such organizations. Feminism does not address all the world’s problems, nor does it claim to.

    These two statements are contradictions. While I do not typically deal from a Manichean position, one either opposes all kinds of abuse, implying that one will address those issues or actively support those who already do, or one does not. Feminism cannot have it both ways. That position is akin to stating all causalities of war are bad, but only aiding injured women, literally stepping over injured males in the process.

    If a problem is outside the scope of feminism, then a different perspective is required to cope with it, and someone should take it upon themselves to develop it. But that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the perspective that wasn’t useful. The fact that sometimes one needs to use a screw doesn’t mean that nails are bad.

    Your analogy is not quite accurate. Alternative perspectives addressing sexual assault are wholly rejected by feminists, many of whom actively work to undermine and misrepresent those alternative perspectives. More so, why the feminist perspective fails has not been addressed, so one cannot say it is there is nothing wrong because the reason for the failure has yet to be examined.

  20. It is a serious problem because feminists control the existing support networks and actively undermine efforts to create similar support networks for male survivors.

    Really?

    I buy that feminists control the existing networks and that those networks aren’t equipped to handle male victims, but I can’t imagine that feminists are actively working against people who try to set up parallel networks. I can’t imagine they would even have the time, let alone the funding, let alone the interest.

    And actually, do feminists really control the system? Some feminists are pretty ticked off right now because of comments made by a RAINN spokesperson.

    No, feminism is not ideal for coping with all kinds of serious problems, but unfortunately it is commonly presented as such.

    I don’t think that’s true — I think it’s pretty clear that feminism aims to address sexism and aid women — but okay.

    It stands that if feminism is wholly incapable of or unwilling to address similar needs of different groups of people, there may be something inherent in its ideology that is flawed, particularly if the position is that feminism will address gender biases, privileges and favoritism.

    I’m not totally sure what you mean by this, but I’ll just say that I think feminism does address gender bias, being that, by and large, women are the victims of gender bias. If feminists have failed in one area to help a small percentage of victims, then that’s a serious mistake, but I don’t think that it is necessarily indicative of an inherent flaw, and I don’t think it
    s productive to say so. I think that kind of criticism — not, this is a place where your thinking has a problem, but, your ideology is a problem in itself — probably makes it hard for people who have committed themselves and their time to feminist work to hear your perspective.

    These two statements are contradictions. While I do not typically deal from a Manichean position, one either opposes all kinds of abuse, implying that one will address those issues or actively support those who already do, or one does not. Feminism cannot have it both ways. That position is akin to stating all causalities of war are bad, but only aiding injured women, literally stepping over injured males in the process.

    Okay, I don’t think I was clear enough there. I think that feminism is, at its essence, opposed to abuse. I don’t think that feminist thinking advocates abuse of any kind. However, when it comes to action, feminism has a narrow focus. That doesn’t mean that feminism itself or participating feminists think that other issues aren’t important, or that other problems aren’t serious. So a group devoted to helping female rape victims is going to help female rape victims, and that group is necessary and good. It’s not enough, the world needs many other groups, but it’s doing it’s job. And it’s really hard for me to imagine that those people are going to fight someone who tries to start helping male victims, because obviously, that’s needed, too.

    Alternative perspectives addressing sexual assault are wholly rejected by feminists, many of whom actively work to undermine and misrepresent those alternative perspectives.

    I know I sound kind of silly here, but, really? Who, when, why, how?

    I just want to say, feminists are not like, say, Democrats, who have an official platform and official spokespeople. Or, they are, but in a much, much more amorphous, unofficial way. Feminists are just people. There is no membership card. Anyone can claim the title. So it’s hard to talk about “feminists” because, you know, which feminists?

  21. Daisy:

    I buy that feminists control the existing networks and that those networks aren’t equipped to handle male victims, but I can’t imagine that feminists are actively working against people who try to set up parallel networks. I can’t imagine they would even have the time, let alone the funding, let alone the interest.

    Here‘s an example:

    Let me give an example. The following account is not my experience. It was told to me by one of the two female founders of the survivor group I used to work for. She had no reason to lie and I’ve no doubt she was telling me the truth.

    The two members, both women, went as delegates from the group to a conference for female survivors in the south of England. When they arrived, (having paid their fees in advance, and having incurred travel expenses from Scotland) they were told by the organisers there was a problem. Some of the other delegates were objecting to their presence. The group qualified to attend as a survivor group for women, (and of which women were the majority of members) but because it was a survivor group for men as well, this offended the sense of gender-purity of some of the other delegates. Eventually their objections were put to a vote, which was defeated, but there was a substantial minority who voted to exclude our delegates.

    In the same post I quote a comment I posted to Alas:

    Many years ago, I was an administrative support worker of a group for both male and female survivors. We had a funding application rejected on the grounds that the funder was supporting the local Women’s Aid Centre, and therefore there was no need to support us. Set aside for a moment the fact that the services we offered to women were complimentary to and non-overlapping with those of the WAC; what this episode illustrates is the complete invisibility of male survivors, despite our efforts to centre them in our campaigning material.

    The WAC was in no way to blame for this situation, but it illustrates the effects of shutting out male survivors from the discourse.

    Finally there’s this, from a comment so the same post:

    In 1993, at the same time as I was working for the survivor group, but unrelated to that work, I was taking part in a summer playscheme for children. One day an outing had been scheduled and we needed a bus. The rule for voluntary organisations with resources like buses is that they share with those that don’t. However when we asked the woman’s centre[*] this rule apparently didn’t apply to them. They were willing to lend us their bus, but only if we promised not to allow any adult men on board. I’m not sure why. Maybe they were worried about the male cooties, I don’t know…

    [*]not the woman’s aid centre; that was a different organisation whom we got on well with, despite their getting our money on that one occasion, which appalled them as much as it appalled us.

    Although this wasn’t about feminists blocking the development of male survivor resources, it illustrates the mentality of some feminists, though certainly not all of them. As I said, we got on very well with the WAC, and I have nothing but praise for how they treated us.

    And actually, do feminists really control the system? Some feminists are pretty ticked off right now because of comments made by a RAINN spokesperson.

    RAINN, I know, has made some moves toward inclusion, and as you say, it ticks off some feminists, who would rather men be excluded.

    I think it’s pretty clear that feminism aims to address sexism and aid women — but okay.

    That is OK, but it shouldn’t do so at the expense of men. Since it claims to be opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sex, it is hypocritical of it to discriminate against men. Since it blames men collectively (including sexually abused men) for all the worlds ills (including sexual abuse) it victim-blames abused men. This is also hypocritical, because it objects to the victim-blaming of women.

    I’m not totally sure what you mean by this, but I’ll just say that I think feminism does address gender bias, being that, by and large, women are the victims of gender bias.

    I don’t agree that women are victims of gender bias by and large. Both sexes are victims in different ways, but while the biases that effect women have been highlighted and addressed, those that effect men are largely unrecognised and unaddressed in society at large, and given dismissive or derisory treatment by feminists.

    An example would be the near universal cultural value that views men as disposable and renders them invisible as victims. Arguably the exclusion of male survivors from services and from the discourse is an example of this.

    If feminists have failed in one area to help a small percentage of victims, then that’s a serious mistake, but I don’t think that it is necessarily indicative of an inherent flaw, and I don’t think it productive to say so. I think that kind of criticism — not, this is a place where your thinking has a problem, but, your ideology is a problem in itself — probably makes it hard for people who have committed themselves and their time to feminist work to hear your perspective.

    I agree that it’s hard for feminists to hear our perspective, and I’m not sure what the solution to that is. Feminists seem to demand that we accept their perspective, which to us would seem counterproductive.

    I’ve identified several problems with feminism in this comment. Other than making it hard for feminists to hear our perspective, you’ve not actually identified any flaws in ours.

    Okay, I don’t think I was clear enough there. I think that feminism is, at its essence, opposed to abuse. I don’t think that feminist thinking advocates abuse of any kind. However, when it comes to action, feminism has a narrow focus. That doesn’t mean that feminism itself or participating feminists think that other issues aren’t important, or that other problems aren’t serious.

    If feminism think that issues which affect men are important, why does it so often deny, dismiss, minimise, and ignore them?

    So a group devoted to helping female rape victims is going to help female rape victims, and that group is necessary and good.

    As a matter of interest would you consider it appropriate to have a group devoted to helping white rape victims?

    It’s not enough, the world needs many other groups, but it’s doing it’s job. And it’s really hard for me to imagine that those people are going to fight someone who tries to start helping male victims, because obviously, that’s needed, too.

    As I pointed out, some do. But the problems are structural too. If the only available literature about abuse is unsuitable for men, perhaps because it blames men, then groups which try to help men have an additional problem. Women who were abused by other women, or for whom men have been their primary support may also feel alianated by male-blaming literature.

    And inclusive approach is better for everybody.

    Alternative perspectives addressing sexual assault are wholly rejected by feminists, many of whom actively work to undermine and misrepresent those alternative perspectives.

    I know I sound kind of silly here, but, really? Who, when, why, how?

    Well, for example, feminists typically objectify men as abusers or perpetrators rather than victims, so a typical feminist response to a men qua victim discussion is to attempt to refocus it onto men qua perpetrator. Depending upon how this is done, it can be more or less victim-blaming. A particularly noxious dynamic is where a feminist (or pro-feminist, he’s usually male) puts his avuncular arm around the male survivor’s shoulder and confides “We need to look at how we as men abuse women…”. Well hey, speak for yourself if you must, but include me out.

    I just want to say, feminists are not like, say, Democrats, who have an official platform and official spokespeople. Or, they are, but in a much, much more amorphous, unofficial way. Feminists are just people. There is no membership card. Anyone can claim the title. So it’s hard to talk about “feminists” because, you know, which feminists?

    The feminists we meet on the major feminist blogs. The feminists who other feminists recognise as feminists.

  22. The two members, both women, went as delegates from the group to a conference for female survivors in the south of England. When they arrived, (having paid their fees in advance, and having incurred travel expenses from Scotland) they were told by the organisers there was a problem. Some of the other delegates were objecting to their presence. The group qualified to attend as a survivor group for women, (and of which women were the majority of members) but because it was a survivor group for men as well, this offended the sense of gender-purity of some of the other delegates. Eventually their objections were put to a vote, which was defeated, but there was a substantial minority who voted to exclude our delegates.

    Personally, I disagree with whoever it was that wanted to exclude those delegates. But the fact is that they weren’t successful, right? So it was a minority of bigoted people who were defeated. That seems like good news to me — a few people resisted, but most were in favor of inclusion, and the majority won.

    Many years ago, I was an administrative support worker of a group for both male and female survivors. We had a funding application rejected on the grounds that the funder was supporting the local Women’s Aid Centre, and therefore there was no need to support us. Set aside for a moment the fact that the services we offered to women were complimentary to and non-overlapping with those of the WAC; what this episode illustrates is the complete invisibility of male survivors, despite our efforts to centre them in our campaigning material.

    That’s unfortunate, but as you say, the WAC was in no way to blame. The funders were. So (presumably feminist) organizations that help women are not the problem. The problem is the larger culture (i.e. the funders), and that’s something feminists struggle with, too.

    RAINN, I know, has made some moves toward inclusion, and as you say, it ticks off some feminists, who would rather men be excluded.

    Feminists are ticked off because they read that spokesperson’s statement as implying that rape is more serious when it happens to men, not because RAINN is trying to help male victims.

    Since it blames men collectively (including sexually abused men) for all the worlds ills (including sexual abuse) it victim-blames abused men.

    It blames the system that privileges men at the expense of women, not individual men (so, not individual victims). The power dynamic that feminists blame is the same one at play in many cases in which men are sexually assaulted.

    I don’t agree that women are victims of gender bias by and large.

    Okay. I disagree.

    I’ve identified several problems with feminism in this comment. Other than making it hard for feminists to hear our perspective, you’ve not actually identified any flaws in ours.

    I’m still not totally sure what your perspective is, and while I see the problems you’ve pointed out as serious problems, I disagree that feminism is to blame.

    As a matter of interest would you consider it appropriate to have a group devoted to helping white rape victims?

    No. Because there is no pervasive global culture that encourages the rape of white people simply because they are white. If there were such a culture, I would consider it necessary.

    If the only available literature about abuse is unsuitable for men, perhaps because it blames men, then groups which try to help men have an additional problem. Women who were abused by other women, or for whom men have been their primary support may also feel alianated by male-blaming literature.

    Okay, so we need more literature. Let’s write it. But I see no reason to be upset with the authors of the current body of literature, which is helpful for many people. It doesn’t help everyone, so let’s add to it. That doesn’t mean the stuff that’s already out there doesn’t need to stay out there, though.

    The feminists we meet on the major feminist blogs.

    That’s a huge group of people. They definitely do not all feel one way.

  23. Daisy:

    Why bother to enter feminist discussions of sexual violence at all? Why not simply create your own?

    We do, but just talking among ourselves is insufficient. We must also challenge the hegemonic discourse which portrays men solely as perps.

    I think it’s probably true that feminists were among the first people to seriously address sexual abuse, and it’s certainly true that feminism primarily addresses it as it applies to women. But why is that such a serious problem?

    For a start, it portray men solely as perps. When I was just emerging from the abusive (she abused me) relationship that I had been in until 1990, The local council (UK equivalent of City Hall) mounted a poster campaign called Zero Tolerance. The message was “Zero Tolerance of Male violence against Women and children”. It made me feel like crap at a time when I was especially vulnerable.

    There was no need for that.

    Feminism isn’t ideal for coping with all kinds of serious problems about which many femininists are personally concerned, but no one expects feminism to deal with, say, the trauma of returning soldiers,…

    I don’t know of any returning-soldier-trauma service that that helps only male soldiers. If there was such a service, and no comparable provision for female soldiers, feminists would be screaming blue murder.

  24. When I was just emerging from the abusive (she abused me) relationship that I had been in until 1990, The local council (UK equivalent of City Hall) mounted a poster campaign called Zero Tolerance. The message was “Zero Tolerance of Male violence against Women and children”. It made me feel like crap at a time when I was especially vulnerable.

    Okay, but I’m a feminist, and I think that’s bad, too. So what I’m hearing from you is, there are a lot of stupid, ignorant people, doing stupid, ignorant things. A lot of those things degrade women. A lot of those things dregrade men. The world is full of problems. But I don’t think that feminists are out there working to make things worse.

    I don’t know of any returning-soldier-trauma service that that helps only male soldiers. If there was such a service, and no comparable provision for female soldiers, feminists would be screaming blue murder.

    The point I was trying to make is that there are a lot of problems that feminism doesn’t address, because it isn’t within the scope of feminism to do so. I don’t know that the abuse of boys and men is one of those things, but some people on both sides certainly think so. I was just trying to say that the fact that feminism doesn’t deal with something doesn’t mean that feminism inherently flawed, or that most feminists don’t care about that problem. Nothing deals with everything. It’s not possible.

  25. Daisy, I want note that I am not ignoring your responses to my comments. Daran addressed your responses and it would not be useful to repeat what he stated.

    I buy that feminists control the existing networks and that those networks aren’t equipped to handle male victims, but I can’t imagine that feminists are actively working against people who try to set up parallel networks. I can’t imagine they would even have the time, let alone the funding, let alone the interest.

    One would be rather surprised at feminists’ willingness to prevent the creation of such networks for males.

    I’m not totally sure what you mean by this, but I’ll just say that I think feminism does address gender bias, being that, by and large, women are the victims of gender bias. If feminists have failed in one area to help a small percentage of victims, then that’s a serious mistake, but I don’t think that it is necessarily indicative of an inherent flaw, and I don’t think its productive to say so.

    I disagree with your framing. The failure is not in one area (in this case sexual assault), nor is the percentage of victims small. But even if it were, feminism still fails to address that problem while claiming to address gender bias, ironically committing gender bias in the process.

    I think that kind of criticism — not, this is a place where your thinking has a problem, but, your ideology is a problem in itself — probably makes it hard for people who have committed themselves and their time to feminist work to hear your perspective.

    Yes, and this is true of any ideology that people have wholly committed themselves to. However, simply because its supporters will take the criticism personally does not mean one should not make criticisms about the ideology or its positions and application. In a way, taking it personally is just another means of dismissing the criticism and not taking it seriously.

    I just want to say, feminists are not like, say, Democrats, who have an official platform and official spokespeople. Or, they are, but in a much, much more amorphous, unofficial way. Feminists are just people. There is no membership card. Anyone can claim the title. So it’s hard to talk about “feminists” because, you know, which feminists?

    That is not true. The feminist platform deals with biases and injustices against women and there are many well-known feminists who routinely speak on the behalf of feminism and feminists. And while I doubt it was your intention to imply otherwise, Democrats are just people too. They have no membership card and anyone can claim the title as well.

    I was just trying to say that the fact that feminism doesn’t deal with something doesn’t mean that feminism inherently flawed, or that most feminists don’t care about that problem. Nothing deals with everything. It’s not possible.

    No, it is not possible to deal with everything. However, feminism specifically claims to address gender issues, so logically this should include male issues. But if feminism actually seeks only to address women’s issues and is incapable of addressing male issues, then that demonstrates an inherent flaw.

  26. Toysoldier, I just wanted to say that I know I’ve waltzed uninvited into your space, so thank you for being so polite. I appreciate it.

    The failure is not in one area (in this case sexual assault), nor is the percentage of victims small. But even if it were, feminism still fails to address that problem while claiming to address gender bias, ironically committing gender bias in the process.

    Okay. Maybe, then, it’s a misnomer to say that feminism addresses gender bias, and more correct to say that feminism addresses what feminism sees as the most significant kind of gender bias. I’m not sure how I feel about that definition. I’ll keep thinking about that.

    Or maybe I would say that I don’t find feminism to be a flawed ideology, but that some feminists use it in ways I wouldn’t advocate.

    Yes, and this is true of any ideology that people have wholly committed themselves to. However, simply because its supporters will take the criticism personally does not mean one should not make criticisms about the ideology or its positions and application. In a way, taking it personally is just another means of dismissing the criticism and not taking it seriously.

    Well, I’d thought your intention was some kind of partnership with feminists, wherein they understand and accomodated your perspective. In that case, it would be important to communicate effectively with feminists, which would involve taking into account the way they process your message. Am I mistaken?

    That is not true. The feminist platform deals with biases and injustices against women and there are many well-known feminists who routinely speak on the behalf of feminism and feminists. And while I doubt it was your intention to imply otherwise, Democrats are just people too. They have no membership card and anyone can claim the title as well.

    Okay, but the Democrats have an officially-sanctioned, centralized platform. In order to call oneself a Democrat, you’re rather supposed to be registered as such. The people who speak on behalf of Democrats have been elected by Democrats as representatives.

    Unlike with the Democrats, there are many, many public groups and individuals who call themselves feminists whom many other self-proclaimed feminists would consider anything but.

    No, it is not possible to deal with everything. However, feminism specifically claims to address gender issues, so logically this should include male issues. But if feminism actually seeks only to address women’s issues and is incapable of addressing male issues, then that demonstrates an inherent flaw.

    Well. There is a reason that feminism is called feminism and not humanism, right?

    I guess my main point of confusion is that I don’t understand whether you’re saying “I want men to have access to the same support systems as women” (which I whole-heartedly support), or, “It’s not okay that there is a school of thought devoted to addressing women’s issues” (which I disagree with), or “It’s okay that there is a school of thought devoted to addressing women’s issues, but it’s not okay that feminists claim to address gender bias generally” (which seems like a kind of minor complaint to me, but would be fair).

    So that’s my real question. Sorry it took me so long to figure out what I was trying to ask.

  27. Daisy: I’ve been a feminist since I was in my late teens, and that was … uh … a long time ago. To me, feminism has always been about gender equality, or to be somewhat more precise, the elimination of oppression due to gender. This is ‘big tent’ feminism, since everyone — women, men, gays, lesbians, transgender folks — suffers in varying degrees from gender oppression. It is also a principle-based perspective, since it is based on achieving fairness and justice regardless of what the gender victim’s presumptive ‘identity’ is.

    It has always been my assumption that most feminists had this perspective, and simply didn’t focus much on how gender oppressed men because they were either unaware of those oppressions or were simply giving oppression of women priority because they themselves were women and such oppression was usually far more overt politically and more meaningful to the women themselves.

    While I was always aware that some women weren’t merely unaware of how gender oppressed men but actively hostile to those who raised such issues, I had always assumed they were a minority. It has only been since I’ve been actively reading and participating in a number of feminist blogs over the past year that I’ve come to realize that it is in fact the overwhelmingly predominant view, and I now tend to think of two feminisms, ‘women’s perspectives only’ feminism and ‘gender egalitarian’ feminism.

    I realize my adherence to GE feminism puts me in a rather small minority. In the blogosphere, WPO feminism clearly holds sway. While there is obviously a great deal of overlap between WPO feminism and GE feminism, I think WPO feminism suffers from the same serious theoretical and political liabilities of any special interest group which is based on identity and not principle. For one thing, I think most WPO feminists make the fundamental logical error of, “Because all oppressors are men, therefore all men are oppressors”. The fact that the transgender hate talk espoused by certain radical feminists (visible on a recent infamous I Blame The Patriarchy thread) isn’t seen as logically incompatible with (WPO) ‘feminism’ is also, I think, a real problem. (Don’t get me wrong, BTW, I know that many WPO feminists condemned the noxious sentiments on that thread. My point is just that if your political philosophy derives its conclusions from group membership status instead of principle, there is no obvious theoretical inconsistency with folks who draw the line of membership one place instead of another.)

    To my mind, the issues that toysoldier raises are clearly about gender oppression and are relevant to GE feminism.

  28. Hi, ballgame.

    I think I am — or would like to be — the kind of feminist you are, the gender egalitarian kind, and if I’m focused on women, it’s only because those issues are so obvious to me. So I’m not totally sure what it is I’m talking about here. Something about toysoldiers’ posts jumps out at me as majorly out of line with my thinking, and I guess I’m trying to figure out what that is. I’m getting closer to thinking I just agree with him but am put off by his presentation to such a degree that the fact that we actually share the same opinions got distorted to the point that it was unrecognizable to me. Which is really my problem, not his.

    For one thing, I think most WPO feminists make the fundamental logical error of, “Because all oppressors are men, therefore all men are oppressors”.

    Agreed.

  29. Toysoldier, I just wanted to say that I know I’ve waltzed uninvited into your space, so thank you for being so polite. I appreciate it.

    Mine is an open space. I am glad that you appreciate my civility. Sadly, such politeness is lacking in the blogosphere.

    Okay. Maybe, then, it’s a misnomer to say that feminism addresses gender bias, and more correct to say that feminism addresses what feminism sees as the most significant kind of gender bias. I’m not sure how I feel about that definition. I’ll keep thinking about that.
    Or maybe I would say that I don’t find feminism to be a flawed ideology, but that some feminists use it in ways I wouldn’t advocate.

    Many ideologies often get used in unintended ways. The flaw is not that the ideology can be used that way, but whether the misuse remains consistent with the tenants of that ideology. This becomes a larger issue when that misuse is condoned, supported and/or propagated by the followers of that ideology.

    Well, I’d thought your intention was some kind of partnership with feminists, wherein they understand and accomodated your perspective. In that case, it would be important to communicate effectively with feminists, which would involve taking into account the way they process your message. Am I mistaken?

    In this instance, taking into account the feminist reaction would require either minimizing or avoiding discourse about how feminism has impacted male negatively. This would not be effective communication nor would it promote mutual understanding.

    Unlike with the Democrats, there are many, many public groups and individuals who call themselves feminists whom many other self-proclaimed feminists would consider anything but.

    I am unsure whether political parties really follow a one-size-fits-all rule. One should keep in mind that feminism is a political ideology, not a political party, much like socialism, conservatism and liberalism. Despite all the varieties one can find of those groups, they all still have general stances on particular issues that readily identify them as belonging to a given group.

    Well. There is a reason that feminism is called feminism and not humanism, right?

    Then that begs the question of whether feminists state they oppose all forms of discrimination, bias and violence simply because it is the politically correct statement to make.

    I guess my main point of confusion is that I don’t understand whether you’re saying “I want men to have access to the same support systems as women” (which I whole-heartedly support),

    Yes.

    “It’s not okay that there is a school of thought devoted to addressing women’s issues” (which I disagree with),

    No.

    “It’s okay that there is a school of thought devoted to addressing women’s issues, but it’s not okay that feminists claim to address gender bias generally” (which seems like a kind of minor complaint to me, but would be fair)

    Yes, though I do not find it to be a minor complaint given how males are affected and treated as a result of that claim.

  30. The flaw is not that the ideology can be used that way, but whether the misuse remains consistent with the tenants of that ideology.

    I don’t think that the misuse is consistent with the tenants of feminism, at least not feminism as I understand it.

    Yes, though I do not find it to be a minor complaint given how males are affected and treated as a result of that claim.

    Okay. I think you’re probably right.

    Thanks for your time.

  31. I think I am — or would like to be — the kind of feminist you are, the gender egalitarian kind, and if I’m focused on women, it’s only because those issues are so obvious to me.

    That is because one of the gender biases prevalent in society – and exacerbated by WPO feminism is the tendency to conceal men’s suffering. Examples: here and here.

    For one thing, I think most WPO feminists make the fundamental logical error of, “Because all oppressors are men, therefore all men are oppressors”.

    Agreed.

    You agree that WPO feminist take this view, or you agree that it is a logical error, or both?

  32. Daisy: I’ve been a feminist since I was in my late teens, and that was … uh … a long time ago. To me, feminism has always been about gender equality, or to be somewhat more precise, the elimination of oppression due to gender. This is ‘big tent’ feminism, since everyone — women, men, gays, lesbians, transgender folks — suffers in varying degrees from gender oppression. It is also a principle-based perspective, since it is based on achieving fairness and justice regardless of what the gender victim’s presumptive ‘identity’ is.

    I’d have little to quarrel with such philosophy if it really did exactly what it says on the tin. But why would it call itself “feminism”? One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.

    So why have a gendered name for this inclusive philosophy?

    [*]A mischaracterisation, because not all women agree with its perspective.

  33. You agree that WPO feminist take this view, or you agree that it is a logical error, or both?

    I agree that it’s a logical error. I’ve certainly seen some people take that perspective, but I’m not comfortable saying that all “WPO” feminists do, because I’m not completely sure who is and who isn’t that class of feminist.

    One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.

    There are some brands of feminism that maintain that masculine/male = bad… Maybe we’re just interpreting the term “WPO feminism” differently, but I don’t think that all feminism that is focused on women’s perspectives and isn’t gender-inclusive makes that jump. I think it’s possible to be working to help women (and not men) without hating men or maleness. Do all anti-racists who are doing anti-racist work and focused exclusively on the perspectives of people of color, making no effort to assist white people (even poor white people, white people who have been victims of hate crimes, etc.), therefore hate white people, and equate whiteness with evil? I don’t think so.

    I’m sure some people use the word patriarchy to mean what you say, but it’s also frequently used to refer to the male-dominance system, not to actual, individual men, who are recognized as having no more choice than women in the culture they were born into (this applies especially to male victims of sexual assault, who are clearly suffering within this power dynamic, and doesn’t really apply to male rapists, who are actively perpetuating it).

  34. Daran:

    I’d have little to quarrel with such philosophy if it really did exactly what it says on the tin. But why would it call itself “feminism”?

    For a few simple reasons: One is that historically, progress against gender oppression is a pretty direct result of the philosophical and political achievements of the women’s movement of the 19th and 20th centuries. Secondly, ‘feminism’ is a succinct term which clearly denotes opposition to patriarchy and which is specifically concerned with issues of gender (as opposed to, say, humanism, which can be concerned with issues of class, race, the impact of technology, etc.).

    Thirdly — and I think this may be where toysoldier and I disagree — I think it’s beneficial to remain a part of the overall feminist dialogue. After all, GE feminists are feminists, and are very much concerned about and aligned with WPO feminists on such issues as equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to choose, sexual harassment, the elimination of genital mutilation, etc. I don’t see any benefit to men or women for GE feminists to cede the term and the moral high ground to what are in my view the patriarchy-reinforcing gender divisions of certain WPO feminists.

    Finally, I think “GE feminist” is an effective way to distinguish oneself from certain types of MRAs who seem to oppose feminism and gender egalitarianism and seek to reinstate lost male privileges.

    One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.

    I don’t agree with this, and this isn’t what I mean by WPO feminism. Though a subset of WPO feminists certainly bear men in general a great deal of ill will and come close to embodying just what you describe, most simply see feminism as a movement about women and don’t consciously denigrate men when they exclude them from discourse about gender inequalities. (I do agree that the term patriarchy is often carelessly used to suggest that ‘all men are oppressors’, as noted.)

    Daisy:

    I think it’s possible to be working to help women (and not men) without hating men or maleness.

    I completely agree. To be clear, a GE feminist can focus on helping women and not men, as long as he or she sees those who are focused on men’s gender oppression as allies and doesn’t exclude them from discussions and analysis.

  35. I agree that it’s a logical error. I’ve certainly seen some people take that perspective, but I’m not comfortable saying that all “WPO” feminists do, because I’m not completely sure who is and who isn’t that class of feminist.

    It’s a much more nuanced view generally, and quite hard to pin down, especially in a discussion between multiple feminists, each of whom may have a slightly different view of exactly what it means, but who nevertheless have a shared understanding which allows discussion to take place.

    One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.

    There are some brands of feminism that maintain that masculine/male = bad… Maybe we’re just interpreting the term “WPO feminism” differently, but I don’t think that all feminism that is focused on women’s perspectives and isn’t gender-inclusive makes that jump. I think it’s possible to be working to help women (and not men) without hating men or maleness.

    It probably is, but much as you might like to be individually heard, feminism presents a collective voice to the world, and that voice, the voice of WPO feminism, says maleness/masculinity is bad.

    Do all anti-racists who are doing anti-racist work and focused exclusively on the perspectives of people of color, making no effort to assist white people (even poor white people, white people who have been victims of hate crimes, etc.), therefore hate white people, and equate whiteness with evil? I don’t think so.

    Antiracists have much the better claim to universal societally-imposed disadvantage toward POC, than feminists do toward women. There does not appear to be any antiracist equivalent to the feminist denial, dismissal, minimisation, and ingnoring of the disadvantages faced by men, probably because there appear to be no corresponding disadvantages to being white for them to deny, dismiss, etc.

    I’m sure some people use the word patriarchy to mean what you say,…

    That was ballgame’s definition, not mine.

    …but it’s also frequently used to refer to the male-dominance system, not to actual, individual men, who are recognized as having no more choice than women in the culture they were born into…

    Recognised by you, maybe, but not by all feminists. Many feminists refuse to acknowledge that men suffer significant disadvantages, and those that do won’t recognise it as female privilege. “But Patriarchy hurts men too” is at best a minimising discourse, at worst a derive one.

    …(this applies especially to male victims of sexual assault, who are clearly suffering within this power dynamic,

    Indeed, the very lack of attention given to male survivors can be viewed as a manifestation of the culture of male disposability within manstream society, but mainstraeam society doesn’t tell toysoldier, a sexual abuse survivor, that he “benefits” from rape.

    …and doesn’t really apply to male rapists, who are actively perpetuating it)…

    This appears to be a reference to the rape culture theory. There is an interesting discussion on my blog starting here. Several arguments were raised against the theory which I don’t think Q Grrl or NYMOM adequately addressed, among them, that it is the disproportionate fear of rape, rather than rape itself, which perpetuates the system by inhibiting women’s freedom, that this fear is promulgated by feminists themselves, and that successful women are not targetted for rape in order to “put them in their place”.

  36. Ballgame:

    To be clear, a GE feminist can focus on helping women and not men, as long as he or she sees those who are focused on men’s gender oppression as allies and doesn’t exclude them from discussions and analysis.

    Ahah! That’s where I am, and that’s why I’m here.

    Daran:

    …feminism presents a collective voice to the world, and that voice, the voice of WPO feminism, says maleness/masculinity is bad.

    Well, I disagree, because, as someone who spends a huge amount of time listening to feminist voices, I don’t get that message at all. I see a few embittered people saying things like that, but the overall picture I see does not condone that kind of thinking.

    Antiracists have much the better claim to universal societally-imposed disadvantage toward POC, than feminists do toward women.

    Here’s one place where you and I will likely always disagree (which is okay, of course).

    I’m more than willing to accept that men are the victims of their own brand of sexism and that it is often extremely destructive, and while the oppression of people of color is a whole other thing, I don’t think I could ever concede that women aren’t the victims of “universal societally-imposed disadvantage” in a way that men are simply not.

    But I want to add that I’m open to learning about the specific ways in which men are hurt because of their gender, and would always be supportive of people trying to help men and/or break-down oppressive gender systems.

    That was ballgame’s definition, not mine.

    Okay, I think you were mistaken about what ballgame was saying, though, because:

    One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.

    I don’t agree with this, and this isn’t what I mean by WPO feminism. Though a subset of WPO feminists certainly bear men in general a great deal of ill will and come close to embodying just what you describe, most simply see feminism as a movement about women and don’t consciously denigrate men when they exclude them from discourse about gender inequalities. (I do agree that the term patriarchy is often carelessly used to suggest that ‘all men are oppressors’, as noted.)

    Back to Daran:

    Many feminists refuse to acknowledge that men suffer significant disadvantages, and those that do won’t recognise it as female privilege. “But Patriarchy hurts men too” is at best a minimising discourse, at worst a derive one.

    I want to think about this and do some reading before I take a position on “female privilege,” lest I be guilty of the kind of dismissal you’re talking about.

    Several arguments were raised against the theory which I don’t think Q Grrl or NYMOM adequately addressed, among them, that it is the disproportionate fear of rape, rather than rape itself, which perpetuates the system by inhibiting women’s freedom, that this fear is promulgated by feminists themselves…

    I completely disagree.

    You’re right that it’s more about the fear of rape than rape itself, but, at least in my experience of being raised female, that message of fear is coming from everywhere but feminism, because when those messages aren’t coming from a feminist place, the behavior is condoned and legitimized — be careful around men, because this is just the way men are, you shouldn’t expect them to behave differently, it’s your job to protect yourself. Whereas the message I got from feminists was always very cleary, this is not the way men naturally are or have to be, and if they are that way, it’s because they’ve been taught to be, the same way you’ve been taught to be afraid.

    …and that successful women are not targetted for rape in order to “put them in their place”.

    What makes you say that?

  37. Daran:

    There does not appear to be any antiracist equivalent to the feminist denial, dismissal, minimisation, and ignoring of the disadvantages faced by men, probably because there appear to be no corresponding disadvantages to being white for them to deny, dismiss, etc.

    Good point.

    I’m sure some people use the word patriarchy to mean what you say,…
    That was ballgame’s definition, not mine.

    Maybe it’s a tertiary point, but I hadn’t defined patriarchy when Daisy made her comment. I think Daisy was referencing your notion that feminism sees everything masculine as bad, which, as noted, is not what I’m saying.

  38. Thirdly — and I think this may be where toysoldier and I disagree — I think it’s beneficial to remain a part of the overall feminist dialogue.

    For whom is it beneficial?

  39. For whom is it beneficial?

    People who are opposed to gender oppression, and who see the ‘echo chambering’ that results when folks divide themselves along gender alliances as tending to reinforce ‘gender blinders’.

  40. Daisy (quoting me):

    …feminism presents a collective voice to the world, and that voice, the voice of WPO feminism, says maleness/masculinity is bad.

    Well, I disagree, because, as someone who spends a huge amount of time listening to feminist voices, I don’t get that message at all. I see a few embittered people saying things like that, but the overall picture I see does not condone that kind of thinking.

    I too have spent a huge amount of time listening to feminist voices. Our different perceptions are likely to be a combination of Outgroup Homogeneity Bias (on my part, obviously, since feminism is an ingroup to you, but also on the part of contrafeminists in general), and a lack of sensitivity on your part to the matters that concern us. (I don’t intend to suggest that you’re an insensitive person, only that you’ve not been sensitised to these particular issues.)

    May I make one last attempt to lure you down the dark alleyway that is my blog, where you will be quietly strangled engaged in courteous discourse. In this post I have tried to develop a vocabulary which I can use to refer to some of these issues. In particular to the discussion of what I mean by “typical” feminist behaviour, and how it is perceived externally. The post also summarises many of the problems I see in feminism.

    Antiracists have much the better claim to universal societally-imposed disadvantage toward POC, than feminists do toward women.

    Here’s one place where you and I will likely always disagree (which is okay, of course).

    I’m more than willing to accept that men are the victims of their own brand of sexism and that it is often extremely destructive, and while the oppression of people of color is a whole other thing, I don’t think I could ever concede that women aren’t the victims of “universal societally-imposed disadvantage” in a way that men are simply not.

    I am not denying that about women. The claim is that both men and women are each the victims of univeral societally-imposed disadvantage in ways that the other sex are not.

    You have accepted my phrase “universal societally-imposed disadvantage” for women, but not men, replacing it with “their own brand of sexism [that is] often extremely destructive“, which doesn’t sound as bad (at least to my ears. Also the italicised words imply instances of extreme destruction rather than a pattern. In the vocabulary I have just set forth (which, incidently I wrote before reading your post) this appears to be instanciation and minimisation, and by minimising you invoke the Odious Comparison.

    Now the point of this is not to beat up Daisy, but to get you thinking about the (undoubtedly subconscious) sexism that leads you into these discourses. Alternatively, if you don’t think they’re sexist, feel free to defend them.

    But I want to add that I’m open to learning about the specific ways in which men are hurt because of their gender, and would always be supportive of people trying to help men and/or break-down oppressive gender systems.

    I appreciate that. That’s the reason why I want to engage you (and why I’d like you to come to my blog).

    Quoting ballgame:

    One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.

    I don’t agree with this, and this isn’t what I mean by WPO feminism. Though a subset of WPO feminists certainly bear men in general a great deal of ill will and come close to embodying just what you describe, most simply see feminism as a movement about women and don’t consciously denigrate men when they exclude them from discourse about gender inequalities.

    I understand that to be ballgame’s description of WPO feminism, rather than a definition. I agree that the denigration is often subconscious.

    I want to think about this and do some reading before I take a position on “female privilege,” lest I be guilty of the kind of dismissal you’re talking about.

    Cool. You might like to focus on the concept of male disposability, which manifests itself most obviously in sex-selective massacres of men during war but also in conscription and societal acceptance thereof, the bias against men at all levels of the criminal justice system, especially the death penalty, the higher rates of male suicide, of workplace accidents, and the big yawn that all these things get from the media. Even the exclusion of male survivors can be viewed as an expression of their disposability.

    Quoting me:

    Several arguments were raised against the theory which I don’t think Q Grrl or NYMOM adequately addressed, among them, that it is the disproportionate fear of rape, rather than rape itself, which perpetuates the system by inhibiting women’s freedom, that this fear is promulgated by feminists themselves…

    I completely disagree.

    Have you read the discussion? It was RJN (a feminist) who said that “The fact is that women, as a class, have to worry about being raped and sexually assaulted in a way, and to a degree, that men as a class do not“. (My emphasis). Also Q Grrl has quoted inflated and outdated rape prevalence figures.

    You’re right that it’s more about the fear of rape than rape itself, but, at least in my experience of being raised female, that message of fear is coming from everywhere but feminism, because when those messages aren’t coming from a feminist place, the behavior is condoned and legitimized — be careful around men, because this is just the way men are, you shouldn’t expect them to behave differently, it’s your job to protect yourself. Whereas the message I got from feminists was always very cleary, this is not the way men naturally are or have to be, and if they are that way, it’s because they’ve been taught to be, the same way you’ve been taught to be afraid.

    I don’t agree with either POV. Most men don’t rape.

    …and that successful women are not targetted for rape in order to “put them in their place”.

    What makes you say that?

    That’s a good question, and one which would require a whole blog post to itself to address. I will, however, cite this feminist source for the proposition that “There is overwhelming evidence that men rape within the same class or race and down.” If that’s true (and I note they don’t cite any of their “overwhelming evidence”) then while upper class women get raped by upper class men, lower class women get raped by everyone. Ergo, if you want to avoid rape, it’s better to be upper class.

  41. ballgame (quoting toysoldier):

    For whom is it beneficial?

    People who are opposed to gender oppression, and who see the ‘echo chambering’ that results when folks divide themselves along gender alliances as tending to reinforce ‘gender blinders’.

    I agree, which is why I use the term “feminist criticism” which could include self-identifying feminists.

    Do you have a blog anywhere?

  42. Daran: I have been dragging my feet about getting my own damn blog, though I think that will change in 2007 … flattered that you asked, though.

  43. ballgame (quoting me):

    That was ballgame’s definition, not mine.

    Maybe it’s a tertiary point, but I hadn’t defined patriarchy when Daisy made her comment. I think Daisy was referencing your notion that feminism sees everything masculine as bad, which, as noted, is not what I’m saying.

    Ah, I see the cause of the misunderstanding. The phrase at issue was “One of the problems with WPO[*] feminism is everything male or masculine is bad, and everything bad is attributed to masculinity or maleness (Patriarchy) while female is similarly construed as good, feminism, for example.” I wasn’t defining “Patriarchy” or “Feminism”, but citing them as examples of obnoxiously gendered words.

    When I said it was “ballgame’s definition” (Daiy’s phrase, I should have said “description”) I was referring to ‘WPO feminists make the fundamental logical error of, “Because all oppressors are men, therefore all men are oppressors”’.

  44. ballgame, do you email? I can be reached at darang a-t lineone d-o-t net. Put “ballgame” in the subject line or there is a risk it will be spamdumped unread.

  45. ballgame (quoting me):

    I’d have little to quarrel with such philosophy if it really did exactly what it says on the tin. But why would it call itself “feminism”?

    For a few simple reasons: One is that historically, progress against gender oppression is a pretty direct result of the philosophical and political achievements of the women’s movement of the 19th and 20th centuries…

    It’s also the pretty direct result of two world wars which took men out of factories, and put them, via trenches, into graveyards, and put women into the factories to replace them.

    Secondly, ‘feminism’ is a succinct term which clearly denotes opposition to patriarchy and which is specifically concerned with issues of gender (as opposed to, say, humanism, which can be concerned with issues of class, race, the impact of technology, etc.).

    As I pointed out, both “feminism” and “patriarchy” are obnoxiously gendered words with far too much baggage attached to them, in my opinion.

    Thirdly — and I think this may be where toysoldier and I disagree — I think it’s beneficial to remain a part of the overall feminist dialogue. After all, GE feminists are feminists, and are very much concerned about and aligned with WPO feminists on such issues as equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to choose, sexual harassment, the elimination of genital mutilation, etc. I don’t see any benefit to men or women for GE feminists to cede the term and the moral high ground to what are in my view the patriarchy-reinforcing gender divisions of certain WPO feminists.

    I don’t think toysolder disagrees with dialogue per se. Rather he objects to the insistence by some feminists to accept their terms for discussion. (Example: “One of the things that feminists will rightly insist on when men want to be part of what I will broadly call “the feminist conversation” (though of course it is quite a bit more than a conversation), perhaps especially when that conversation is about sexual violence, is that the men in question should acknowledge, take responsibility for, and be willing to be held accountable for, their own male privilege and the male privilege that men have as a class”. My emphasis.)

    Toysoldier’s courteous reception of Daisy and other feminists is evidence, I think, of his general willingness to engage in dialogue.

    Finally, I think “GE feminist” is an effective way to distinguish oneself from certain types of MRAs who seem to oppose feminism and gender egalitarianism and seek to reinstate lost male privileges.

    At the expense of failing perhaps to distinguish oneself from WPO feminism.

    I can certainly see advantages in passing for feminist if you are able to do so. I cannot, so I don’t even try. But really, what word you use to describe yourself is the least of my concerns.

    I don’t agree with this, and this isn’t what I mean by WPO feminism…

    Ah, I got confused and responded to these words when Daisy quoted them, thinking they were hers. Sorry.

    Quoting Daisy:

    I think it’s possible to be working to help women (and not men) without hating men or maleness.

    I completely agree. To be clear, a GE feminist can focus on helping women and not men, as long as he or she sees those who are focused on men’s gender oppression as allies and doesn’t exclude them from discussions and analysis.

    I guess it’s possible to run a whites only bus service, without hating blacks.

  46. You’re right that it’s more about the fear of rape than rape itself, but, at least in my experience of being raised female, that message of fear is coming from everywhere but feminism, because when those messages aren’t coming from a feminist place, the behavior is condoned and legitimized — be careful around men, because this is just the way men are, you shouldn’t expect them to behave differently, it’s your job to protect yourself. Whereas the message I got from feminists was always very cleary, this is not the way men naturally are or have to be, and if they are that way, it’s because they’ve been taught to be, the same way you’ve been taught to be afraid.

    Just to clarify: I’m not claiming that feminism is the only or even the major source of the fear. Only that it serves to exacerbate it. Another example: Take back the night marches. (Men are twice as likely as women to be attacked while out on the street.)

  47. Daran:

    It’s also the pretty direct result of two world wars which took men out of factories, and put them, via trenches, into graveyards, and put women into the factories to replace them.

    I have no argument with you on that. The world wars created a huge demand for labor and ‘Rosie the Riveteer’, agreed. And yes, hundreds of thousands of American men enjoyed the highly dubious ‘privilege’ of being maimed and dying in the carnage of those wars, a ‘privilege’ rarely discussed among WPO feminists when they pretend that patriarchy only oppresses women and only privileges men. Following WWII, of course, the government did actively try to yank women back into their traditional feminine roles of child rearing and cooking.

    At the expense of failing perhaps to distinguish oneself from WPO feminism.

    WPO feminists will ‘distinguish’ you quickly enough on their own!

    To be clear, a GE feminist can focus on helping women and not men, as long as he or she sees those who are focused on men’s gender oppression as allies and doesn’t exclude them from discussions and analysis.

    I guess it’s possible to run a whites only bus service, without hating blacks.

    OK, I have to call you out on that one, Daran. That useage of the racist analogy is no more valid here than it was upthread. One can be a Democrat focused on, say, gay rights issues, and never have much involvement with peace efforts, but still feel like those who are involved with peace efforts are on your side, and they’re on yours. As long as you support each other and acknowledge that you’re each working on important issues — and have full rights to work on those issues under the Democratic umbrella — you’re on the same team.

  48. OK, I have to call you out on that one, Daran. That useage of the racist analogy is no more valid here than it was upthread. One can be a Democrat focused on, say, gay rights issues, and never have much involvement with peace efforts, but still feel like those who are involved with peace efforts are on your side, and they’re on yours. As long as you support each other and acknowledge that you’re each working on important issues — and have full rights to work on those issues under the Democratic umbrella — you’re on the same team.

    That is a key issue, and I think a difference in perhaps what I am working for versus what others are working for. I do not want to work under the feminist umbrella, but I do want mutual support. Yet often I find that gaining that support–receiving it as it is given–rarely happens. There is a significant, vocal, powerful vein of feminism that actively undermines those efforts, and in fact contorts and distorts those efforts into the most unrestrained misrepresentations one could ever see.

    So while I agree with the bolded portion of your statement, I think it is necessary to add this support and acknowledgment must come without any attempt to force one’s terms on the other. The discourse must be open and one must willingly accept that there will be differences in opinion. If that can be reached, then I think it would be possible to have mutual support.

  49. I guess it’s possible to run a whites only bus service, without hating blacks.

    There are all kinds of things wrong with that analogy, and ballgame pointed some of them out, but here’s the big one, which is the biggest difference between your thinking and mine: I think that men, like white people, are a privileged group. Though patriarchy is more complicated than white supremacy — whites don’t suffer at all in the latter system, while in the former, men certainly do — I, like many feminists, maintain that what you call the “odious comparison” is true and entirely relevant to the conversation.

    But like I said earlier, there’s nothing to be done about that. I think you and I will always disagree there.

  50. Another example: Take back the night marches.

    How do take back the night marches exacerbate that fear?

    (Men are twice as likely as women to be attacked while out on the street.)

    I’ve heard that quoted before, but are we sure that’s because criminals prowling the streets notice and then consciously spare women, or because men are more likely to be out in dangerous situations (i.e. late at night, or alone, or both), having not been taught to be afraid?

  51. Daisy:

    I think that men, like white people, are a privileged group. Though patriarchy is more complicated than white supremacy — whites don’t suffer at all in the latter system, while in the former, men certainly do …

    I don’t think those statements are logically consistent with each other. The first statement implies that patriarchy is a system whereby men only experience benefits (which are enjoyed by all men), and that no women derive benefits. The caveat about ‘men suffering’ in the latter statement implies that gender is a system which affords privileges and penalties to both men and women. (After all, saying that men suffer a gender penalty is logically equivalent to saying that women enjoy a gender privilege … in which case, women are also a privileged group.) It is, in a nutshell, the difference between WPO feminism and GE feminism.

  52. How do take back the night marches exacerbate that fear?

    Much of the march’s general position is that all males cannot be trusted. Females are told–explicitly or implicitly–that they live in a state of perpetual danger. Rape could happen at any second and can be committed by any random male. While it is true that stranger rape and acquaintance rape do occur, the marches present both in the most extreme manner, as if females must fend off rapists every moment of the day.

    I’ve heard that quoted before, but are we sure that’s because criminals prowling the streets notice and then consciously spare women, or because men are more likely to be out in dangerous situations (i.e. late at night, or alone, or both), having not been taught to be afraid?

    I doubt males are necessarily in more dangerous situations. The reason for the difference in the rate of assault and failure to prevent those assaults seem to be linked to our treatment of males, specifically our devaluing of their lives and our willingness to hold them accountable for actions committed against them.

  53. I don’t think those statements are logically consistent with each other. The first statement implies that patriarchy is a system whereby men only experience benefits (which are enjoyed by all men), and that no women derive benefits. The caveat about ‘men suffering’ in the latter statement implies that gender is a system which affords privileges and penalties to both men and women. (After all, saying that men suffer a gender penalty is logically equivalent to saying that women enjoy a gender privilege … in which case, women are also a privileged group.) It is, in a nutshell, the difference between WPO feminism and GE feminism.

    Hmm.

    I’ll think more about this, but off the top of my head, I don’t see how one could look around and not conclude that men have an advantage over women, all over in the world, in almost every area. At the same time, I don’t see how one could look around and not conclude that, despite that, there are ways in which men are hurt that are specific to their being men. Both of those things seem obvious and irrefutable to me, logically consistent or not.

  54. I’ll think more about this, but off the top of my head, I don’t see how one could look around and not conclude that men have an advantage over women, all over in the world, in almost every area.

    I would not agree with the “in almost every area” portion, however, your statement is certainly true. But one can also conclude that women have advantages over men as well. One is not inherently worse or necessarily more prevalent than the other, particularly when one considers that the latter rarely receives any attention.

    At the same time, I don’t see how one could look around and not conclude that, despite that, there are ways in which men are hurt that are specific to their being men. Both of those things seem obvious and irrefutable to me, logically consistent or not.

    The consistency issues stems from the implication of your statement “men have an advantage over women, all over in the world, in almost every area.” As ballgame stated, this implies that all males always benefit over all females. Your second statement explicitly states that at least some males do not always benefit from being male. That is why the two are inconsistent and logically cannot both be true statements.

  55. The consistency issues stems from the implication of your statement “men have an advantage over women, all over in the world, in almost every area.” As ballgame stated, this implies that all males always benefit over all females. Your second statement explicitly states that at least some males do not always benefit from being male. That is why the two are inconsistent and logically cannot both be true statements.

    They keyword in my statement, then, is almost — men are given the advantage in almost every area, but in the ones where they’re not, women are. So, I think the system hurts men in real ways that are specific to men, but I think the system hurts women more, because I think it privileges men in many more areas than women. Does my original sentiment — that men are both privileged (more than women) and harmed (less than women) by patriarchy — still seem inconsistent?

  56. I suppose the exception makes your theory work, but it seems a rather strange concession to make for the sake of consistency. How do you determine which privileges are better or worse?

  57. I suppose the exception makes your theory work, but it seems a rather strange concession to make for the sake of consistency.

    It was my position all along — I just didn’t articulate it clearly enough the first time around. 🙂

    How do you determine which privileges are better or worse?

    My assumption was that the privileges afforded to men are so numerous in comparison to those afforded women that it isn’t so much a question of better and worse as simple quantity. This is mostly because, so far, I’ve come across very, very few concrete examples of what I’d feel comfortable terming female privilege, but a huge number of things that strike me as male privilege. That’s probably just a combination of my being female (and so blind by default to female privilege) and having spent a lot of time in feminist circles (where male privilege is routinely called out). This question will likely get more complicated for me if/when I discover more privileges given to women at men’s expense.

  58. This is mostly because, so far, I’ve come across very, very few concrete examples of what I’d feel comfortable terming female privilege, but a huge number of things that strike me as male privilege. That’s probably just a combination of my being female (and so blind by default to female privilege) and having spent a lot of time in feminist circles (where male privilege is routinely called out). This question will likely get more complicated for me if/when I discover more privileges given to women at men’s expense.

    You are not blind by default. You are kept blind by a system that keeps you blind. Women have what I call “visibility privilage”. As women your needs are kept visible in the media, while men’s needs are surpressed and hidden, with the result that you can only see the apparent advantages they enjoy. “visibility privilege” is one of a series of five privileges, each of which overlaps with the last, and leads inexorably to the next. See This comment for a fuller explanation.

    That comment will be the basis of two, possibly three, forthcoming blog entries. As things stand, I spend too long explaining invisibility privilege with the result that the overview gets lost.

  59. I’ll think more about this, but off the top of my head, I don’t see how one could look around and not conclude that men have an advantage over women, all over in the world, in almost every area. At the same time, I don’t see how one could look around and not conclude that, despite that, there are ways in which men are hurt that are specific to their being men. Both of those things seem obvious and irrefutable to me, logically consistent or not.

    It’s logically consistent. I simply dispute the first statement. In Iraq, for example, men are twenty times more likely to be murdered than women. Women suffer a horendous risk compared with what we face in the west. For the men, it’s at genocidal levels. Many of the things routinely construed as male privileges in Iraq are in fact female privileges. For example, women are encouraged (or forced by their families) to remain at home where it’s relatively safe. Men have equally no choice but to go forth to make a living, where they are targetted for murder. Since neither have any practical choice, any fair assessment would judge the women to be privileged, but the extent that the murder is targetted at men, and the limited freedom they have is concealed by western media, while the tiny proportion of murders of women and the restrictions on them are highlighted.

    So in one place at least, women have privilege over men.

  60. I doubt males are necessarily in more dangerous situations. The reason for the difference in the rate of assault and failure to prevent those assaults seem to be linked to our treatment of males, specifically our devaluing of their lives and our willingness to hold them accountable for actions committed against them.

    You mean “our willingness to blame them for actions committed against them”. To “hold accountable” has positive connotations. It implies that it is right to hold them so accountable.

  61. OK, I have to call you out on that one, Daran. That useage of the racist analogy is no more valid here than it was upthread. One can be a Democrat focused on, say, gay rights issues, and never have much involvement with peace efforts, but still feel like those who are involved with peace efforts are on your side, and they’re on yours. As long as you support each other and acknowledge that you’re each working on important issues — and have full rights to work on those issues under the Democratic umbrella — you’re on the same team.

    If men are treated in a way functionally identical to blacks, then what is the difference?

    In fact there is a remarkable similarity between the arguments used to justify excluding men and those used to exclude blacks. For example, it was said that whites who used the busses would be scared by the blacks. The same argument is used to exclude men from services for survivors. It is said that men should found their own groups. New resources should be made available to them (when?) but existing female-only resources be kept. Separate but (not) equal. Even the male privilege argument is not new. Blacks were once told that they were privileged to have whites looking after them.

  62. (Men are twice as likely as women to be attacked while out on the street.)

    I’ve heard that quoted before, but are we sure that’s because criminals prowling the streets notice and then consciously spare women, or because men are more likely to be out in dangerous situations (i.e. late at night, or alone, or both), having not been taught to be afraid?

    It’s not criminals prowling empty streets. That’s as much a myth as rapists in the bushes. It’s tanked up thugs looking for trouble, usually in gangs, in crowded streets, often where there are plenty of women. They target men. Why not women? I guess women aren’t a macho enough test of their manhood. Often there is a racist dynamic.

    Robbers tend to lurk in the margins – alley ways, car parks, etc., which are empty, but close to busy places They prefer to attack women – less risk of a fight, but they’re prepared for one, and so it’s men who are most likely to get hurt.

  63. If men are treated in a way functionally identical to blacks, then what is the difference?

    Daran, I am not saying that it is consistent with GE feminism to sanction discriminatory practices. I am just saying that gender oppression encompasses a huge variety of practices, and no individual can be expected to be an activist against all of them. As long as a person is ideologically opposed to all of them in principle, and supports the efforts of others to eliminate them, that person can be a GE feminist even though he or she will (inevitably) be forced to focus on just a few issues as an activist.

    It is also inevitable, I think, that in most cases a person will tend to focus on those issues which are most salient to them personally. Just because someone who is black is keenly sensitive to and primarily focuses on discrimination based on race does not make him or her a homophobe. Just because I am not an abortion rights activist doesn’t mean I’m not pro-choice.

    Having said that, I have found that most feminists in the blogosphere are not GE feminists, and that many do condone anti-male practices and attitudes, and are either indifferent to or actively hostile towards those who oppose these practices.

    I think you also raise a significant point about the notion of ‘separate but equal’ when applied to gender, which frankly could be a topic all by itself.

  64. My bold thoughout:

    Daisy:

    There are some brands of feminism that maintain that masculine/male = bad… Maybe we’re just interpreting the term “WPO feminism” differently, but I don’t think that all feminism that is focused on women’s perspectives and isn’t gender-inclusive makes that jump. I think it’s possible to be working to help women (and not men) without hating men or maleness. Do all anti-racists who are doing anti-racist work and focused exclusively on the perspectives of people of color, making no effort to assist white people (even poor white people, white people who have been victims of hate crimes, etc.), therefore hate white people, and equate whiteness with evil? I don’t think so.

    ballgame:

    To be clear, a GE feminist can focus on helping women and not men, as long as he or she sees those who are focused on men’s gender oppression as allies and doesn’t exclude them from discussions and analysis.

    Me:

    I guess it’s possible to run a whites only bus service, without hating blacks.

    Ballgame:

    OK, I have to call you out on that one, Daran. That useage of the racist analogy is no more valid here than it was upthread. One can be a Democrat focused on, say, gay rights issues, and never have much involvement with peace efforts, but still feel like those who are involved with peace efforts are on your side, and they’re on yours. As long as you support each other and acknowledge that you’re each working on important issues — and have full rights to work on those issues under the Democratic umbrella — you’re on the same team.

    Me:

    If men are treated in a way functionally identical to blacks, then what is the difference?

    Ballgame:

    Daran, I am not saying that it is consistent with GE feminism to sanction discriminatory practices. I am just saying that gender oppression encompasses a huge variety of practices, and no individual can be expected to be an activist against all of them. As long as a person is ideologically opposed to all of them in principle, and supports the efforts of others to eliminate them, that person can be a GE feminist even though he or she will (inevitably) be forced to focus on just a few issues as an activist.

    This branch of the discussion began with Daisy’s remark quoted top. We haven’t been talking about people being activist against discrimination against women in fields where women are discriminated against. We are talking about people who discriminate against men. Unless we’re talking about post-coital birth control, pregnancy, or birth, the only way “to help women (and not men)” is to exclude men.

  65. I think it’s possible to be working to help women (and not men) without hating men or maleness.

    I had also intended to embolden these words.

    TS EDIT: Done

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