Originally posted on May 14, 2009
I have been commenting on a thread concerning men ranking other men’s attractiveness. The thread is on a feminist blog, so while there was some acknowledgment of men’s insecurities, there was a quick effort to backtrack from that acknowledgment and ensure that no fault or responsibility was placed on women.
What prompted me to comment were some of the responses to the post that struck me as unsympathetic to men’s experiences and feelings. I found one particular comment ironic given how feminists tend to assume that men should find all women attractive and think that female insecurity is a crisis men should feel compelled to address.
As has occurred far too many times in conversations with feminists, when I tried to present the male perspective as valid I was shot down. As varied as feminists might be, they appear to employ the same tactics when dismissing an unwanted perspective. The conversation quickly devolved into how men rape and abuse women, how women are oppressed and powerless, and how men resort to violence when faced with rejection. When I presented my own experiences with women as anecdotal evidence of some of the ways women behave, it led to attacking those experiences, my opinion of women and finally resulted in completely ignoring the topic at hand.
This is was not unexpected, however, it seems like a odd tactic to use in context to the discussion. One would think that it would be better to listen to men’s experiences rather than brush them aside considering the thread was about how men feel about themselves and how they rank themselves and other men based on the signals women give. The only way to understand what drives men’s insecurities is to hear men describe it themselves, so it would make more sense to acknowledge their feelings and perspectives.
While part of the reason for the unwillingness to do so may lie with its the incompatibility within the feminist framework, a large part of it most likely lies with feminists’, and perhaps women in general, unwillingness to view themselves as part of the problem. As I noted on that thread, people find it easier to fault others, and it is much easier to say that men’s problems lie solely with men themselves and that women play little to no role in creating, perpetuating or exacerbating the problems.
It is a curious position to hold because relationships involve at least two people, so it is not very likely that only one can affect the other. The same is true in social engagements. It is not very likely that only one person can affect the other. It is not very likely that all women or most women are clear in their messages and intent while men bumble along. At some point one would have to acknowledge that women miscommunicate frequently enough for it to constitute a problem, or least justify the plethora of relationship gurus and literature, most of which is geared towards helping women learn — ironically — how to communicate their wants and needs.
Given that, it is all the odder that anyone would push aside the feelings, needs and experiences of men, whether in regards to their insecurities or in regards to how women respond to and treat men. That would seem to be an important thing to acknowledge as people often view their own actions in only a favorable light. Few people are willing to admit that they react badly to rejection or respond badly when approached. From their perspective their behavior is reasonable, if not warranted. Of course, those on the receiving end might disagree. Better still, even when such negative behavior is acknowledged, it is often downplayed. It is an attempt at justification driven by entitlement, and it sounds just as hollow coming from women and feminists as it does coming from men and “nice guys.”
In the end, one could always avoid such conversations, especially if one can predict where they will go and how they will end. However, part of the reason these issues exist is because people do not talk about them and part of the reason why they continue is because people do not validate the other side’s point of view. There is always more than one way of looking at things, and sharing experiences helps demonstrate that. Yet, one cannot force others to see one’s perspective, so in some instances it is more like one is talking to a brick wall than another person.