I spotted this post on Feministe yesterday:
Recently, a friend and I were discussing ways to get men invested in ending gender oppression. We realized that we have some information that you (yes you!, dear reader of Feministe) might benefit from.
Clearly, while it isn’t what I would call easy, bringing women to this work is a bit easier, and probably more intuitive. Women and non-gender conforming people are the obvious “losers” in patriarchy, facing sexual violence, a lack of institutional power and personal agency, and a lot of generally crappy stuff that I assume most readers here are familiar with. But men are told they are benefiting from patriarchy. In fact, within that closed system, with no vision of what life might be like if no one had to be the loser, men do have a better quality of life than women in many ways. So it can seem like patriarchy helps them out.
It is a very rare individual who simply wants to give up their power because it’s “fair.”
My friend and I have both been organizing around feminist issues (and doing a lot of educational work specifically with men) for over a decade now. Through a rather torturous experience of trial and error, we’ve started to see a pattern of successful vs. unsuccessful approaches when it comes to involving men.
The Left has never been particularly good at mentorship and leadership development. I’m sure lots of activists knew this stuff before us, but no one ever shared it with us. We had to learn the hard way. That sucked. Perhaps you would like to avoid it?
The blogger goes on to give a two-step program to convince men that they unfairly benefit from “patriarchy” and only feminism can wash away that particular original sin. The tone of the post carries the typical air of infallibility, along with the usual rhetoric that appears in feminist writings. The post also contains the usual appeal to feminist authority, this time citing Anne Fausto-Sterling’s debunked writings on “feminist biology.”
The method suggested is exactly the same thing the religious right employs to combat any encroachment on traditional family values, specifically against homosexuality. Blaming and shaming people for their own pain is never a good tactic, nor is it very wise to attempt to deceive people whose trust one wishes to gain. Given the baggage feminism carries with men, particularly the misandry and androphobia that is commonly part of feminism, the best means of discussing the issues men face would be to actually address the issues from men’s perspectives. In this way, one is more likely going to find common ground, and that common ground is more likely going to make those men open to listening to one’s positions.
However, if the ultimate goal is to get men to focus solely on women’s issues by pretending to care about issues that affect to them, it will backfire incredibly fast and incredibly badly because few people are capable of sustaining such a deception sufficiently enough for their ultimate goal not to seep through their rhetoric. To this point, if one were speaking of the issues men face and then suddenly jumped to men raping women, the average man would catch one’s intention and likely stop listening. The reason is because he is not a woman, so talking about female rape does not affect him unless one contends that all men are rapists. It would be more prudent to discuss male rape, particularly considering that 1 in 6 males will be victims of sexual abuse by 16 (40% of which is committed by women, which often has a far worse effect). In this way one could make a comparison for those experiences and make a broader point about society’s treatment of sexual violence. It would be wise, however, to avoid placing blame solely on men by resorting to untested, unproven and unquestioned feminist theories such as “patriarchy.”
In short, if one lost the attempted indoctrination, one might be able to have the conversation with men one wishes. If one does not, the effect will be the equivalent of the religious right trying to convince gay people adopt their faith.