I have not read anything on the Good Men Project since Joanna Schroeder informed me that I am banned because of my critiques the site’s treatment of male survivors and specifically because I am a non-feminist male survivor. That was of little consequence as I only read articles from the site when they appeared in a Google alert, and even then I kept my participation on the site to a limit.
The reason I rarely participated there was because, like many feminist spaces, the Good Men Project suffers from stilted discussions. While some people running the site may want to have open discussions, many of them do not. Rather than exchange ideas, these people prefer conformity to feminist ideas and theories. Any critique of feminism prompts an increasingly hostile response that typically ends with one or more feminists declaring the discussion “impossible” and the comments critical of feminism suddenly disappearing.
In my opinion, that is not how one fosters a discussion. Exchanging ideas can be difficult. People do not always agree, and some disagreements can become testy. However, as long as the anger remains directs at ideas and not people, one should allow those testy discussions because they are the nature of the debate. Blocking such comments only prevents an honest debate from happening.
Sometimes, as is typical at the Good Men Project and other feminist sites, that is the intention. Many ideologues cannot handle any criticism. The more personal their connection to the ideas, the more the ideology forms the core of their identity, and the more likely the ideologues will dislike the comments. Blocking the comments and banning certain people is a way of “controlling” the criticism. It does not actually work, of course. There is nothing stopping people from criticizing those ideas in other spaces. However, it does effectively prevent that kind of discussion from occurring in their spaces.
Such is the case with David Perry’s article The Straight Married White American Male Feminist Manifesto. According to the page, there are 243 comments on the tread, yet a number of them are missing. Perry explained this:
Just for the record, I’m deleting feminist bashing. If people want to deal with the contents of my essay, no matter how critically, I’m delighted to engage in discussion. If people want to take specific models of feminism and critique them, I’m delighted to engage in discussion.
Lots of places on the web to bash feminists. This thread is not one of them.
Here is the problem: Perry removed the comments, so how do we know the comments were bashing feminists? How do we know Perry did not remove comments he had no response for, as the Good Men Project’s moderators tend to do? How do we know that Perry did not take a critical comment the wrong way and assume it was an attack?
Perhaps the reason why Perry sought to silence critical voices is because he cannot answer basic questions about his positions. For instance, Tom Brechlin asked:
Patriarchy implies the institutions of male rule and privilege. So privilege that men commit suicide at almost epidemic level and is rising? . So privileged that men are least to be diagnosed with depression and other mental issues? So privileged that majority of addicts are men? So privileged that most father don’t have custody of their kids? So privileged are the men that they continue to build prisons to house them? So privileged that the enrollment of men in higher education is dropping? So privileged that most of the murders in this country of men? …. Wow, hell of a lot of men sure missed that boat.
The world is full of many problems and many of them attack men directly. But to deny the existence of patriarchy is to mis-understand many of the circumstances that lead to male oppression as well.
Let’s just pick one, the clearest in your example: custody. The reason men lack custody of their children, at the core, is the assumption that women will be responsible for child-rearing. This is an aspect of patriarchy. Undermine patriarchy by promoting gender equality in parental responsibilities, and rights will follow.
I understand your frustration, though, and it can be hard to see.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Note the circular logic in his initial comment: “the Patriarchy” exists because “The Patriarchy” exists.
Perry’s example of child custody demonstrates the inherent problem with this feminist theory. At the turn of the 19th century, men were typically awarded custody in divorces.This continued well into the 20th century until there was shift in thinking. At that time, many child psychologists argued that a mother and child should not be separated, and that led to more mothers getting custody. In recent years, bias against men has played a larger role. The present assumption is that fathers are inherently less capable of parenting than mothers and less necessary than mothers, so men tend not to get custody. Men are also more likely to work longer hours, so courts will give custody to the mother. Even if the father is the primary caregiver, the child or children are often thought to be better off with the mother.
Challenging those notions does not actually bring more rights. Instead, it brings the opposition to those rights — primarily from feminists. For example, the National Organization of Women opposes shared parenting laws and implies that fathers seeking custody of their children are abusers. That trend occurs in many, if not most, feminist responses to the father’s rights movement.
What Perry fails to acknowledge is that the examples Brechlin gave undermine the notion of “The Patriarchy.” If this oppressive system is as dominant over women and so beneficial for men as feminists claim, how is it that men cannot use their “male privilege” to prevent bad things from happening to them?
The fundamental principle of privilege is the ability exploit it at will. We see this with the wealthy. They often use their status to get their way. Yet it would appear that not only are men incapable of doing that, but they also face tremendous risks, many of which benefit women.
Logic would suggest that we look at the situation in totality. It would also suggest that we drop any ideological perspectives before we take that look lest we project our expectations onto the findings. Perry does not or cannot do that. He is so adamant in his feminism that even when presented with examples disproving his beliefs he hunkers down.
Indeed, such is the extent of his unwillingness to engage in open, honest, objective discussion that Perry requests an example of feminists misrepresenting abuse as largely male against female to perpetuate their theory of “The Patriarchy,” then proceeds to delete the citation, then claims he did not delete it, then admits to deleting it, and then states, “I can find plenty of feminists arguing that rape is rape and gender is irrelevant. It seriously took me 30 seconds, though I had to scroll past the MR sites to get to them. If you want to perpetuate conspiracy theories, you’ll have to do it somewhere else.”
This is kind of intellectually dishonest gamesmanship may wow many feminists, yet it also shows that feminists, particularly academic feminists, cannot engage in a basic discussion without trying to control the facts, and when the facts do not fit into their neat little theories, they bow out of the discussion or delete the critical comments.
What makes this particular exchange hilarious is Perry’s almost neurotic defense of feminism. For example, when Danny asked Perry to explain what male privilege justifies the high suicide rate among boys, Perry completely dodged the question, stating that he did not “know enough about suicide rates to weigh in intelligently on this complex subject”, but if the problem stemmed from gender roles “the solution is more feminism, not less feminism.” This is despite no feminist organization that I know of doing any outreach to help boys with any of their issues.
Yet the truly sad part was this comment:
I am fascinated in this thread how much attention is being paid to boys, though. I’m happy to talk about boys. But 90% of the comments to an essay about girls, with specific examples, has been, “Yeah, but what about me and my son!” It’s disturbing, but perhaps a result of the nature of GMP as a community.
Yes. It is disturbing that on a site supposedly dedicated to talking about men and boys’ lives that “90% of the comments” would talk about boys lives.
Again, it takes a certain amount of intellectual dishonesty to speak to people with reasonable opposition to your political beliefs in that way. Perry later states that he regards these critical voices as “MRA trolls,” and seems to take glee in dodging any meaningful criticism of his ideas.
This is useless in terms of discussion. All Perry seems to want is a pat on the back from other feminists, particularly female feminists, for saying how horrible women have it and how super-duper awesome men have it.
However, it is insightful in terms of the general gender discussion because it shows the ways feminists treat those they disagree with. Perry turns to passive aggressive condescension when the questions get too hard, and when that does not work follows it with victimhood. His failure to answer the most basic questions shows how little he actually thinks about what he believes.
There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. One can believe whatever one wishes to without any proof to support it. One cannot, however, then present those beliefs as fact and keep resorting to catchphrases like “you’re just afraid of losing privilege” when one cannot honestly defend against a simple critique.
I thought of nice ending, but I decided to leave readers with this exchange because it so telling. For frequent readers, Danny is the same man who writes about men’s and race issues, and he is nothing but polite:
One definition of troll involves derailment of comment threads, but I have come to understand that in the MRA worldview, every thread about feminism MUST be derailed to how men have it so hard. It’s also important that anyone who expresses positive things about feminism be attacked. To me, that’s trolling. To them, it’s “debate.”
It’s fine, I get it, and I’ve learned a lot watching it.
But until I see some demonstration of empathy, and believe me, I feel lots of empathy for the real parts of the MRA complaint (which has been most of what they bring here, as Tom and Yohann and Danny are very practiced at making GMP threads about them and their needs) – but until I see some empathy, I feel their contributions to discussion are limited and very much fall into the trollish category.
Did you know that I have received multiple emails from people, mostly women, who want to say things about my essay but are afraid to come into the comment thread, because they don’t want to be stomped all over my Tom, Danny, and Yohann (and some people I’ve had banned based on non-published comments)? Does that seem like a safe environment for discussion to you?
Anyway, busy day today. Enjoy the thread.
I’ve seen this one a few times. When things get ugly call for empathy, while showing none in return. I’ve been trying to talk to you with the utmost respect (for your views even if they different) and frankly in return you’ve mostly been repeating that I’m wrong because I’m not feminist.
I’ve tried the empathy path before with feminists and I learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay.
This is now just a stand off and we are getting nowhere.