This is a continuation of my previous post about Suzzanah Weiss’s article in which she explains where men’s rights activists go wrong in their arguments by ironically proving their arguments. Here we go:
2. Fathers Are as Important as Mothers
Another common men’s rights issue is child custody and, more generally, men’s ability to play as active a role in the family as women do.
Feminists totally agree with this as well. Everyone should have a choice regarding what role they play in the family, and their a/gender shouldn’t factor into that.
That is an interesting position given that feminists either ignore or oppose efforts to increase father’s roles in their children’s lives. For example, the National Organization for Women opposes shared parenting laws, claiming that they give abusive men access to their victims.
Feminist organizations pushed for government-funded family programs that often exclude fathers as potential beneficiaries. Family courts routinely grant custody to mothers, even in cases in which the fathers are the primary caregivers. Child support laws appear gender neutral, yet they are applied primarily to fathers. Noncustodial fathers often receive limited contact with their children, which is subject to change at the mother’s request. Yet rather than supporting fathers in their attempt to address this bias, feminists claim that the bias is a myth concocted by bitter men and sexist men’s rights activists.
In fact, having more equal households benefits people of all a/genders. In relationships between men and women, for example, women whose male partners are helping out around the house are more able to prioritize their careers.
That has nothing to do with recognizing the roles fathers play in their children’s lives. Rather, it prioritizes women’s desires over fathers’ importance. It also assumes that men do nothing in their homes or that want they do matters less than what women do.
But men’s smaller role in the household is also not evidence that they’re oppressed.
The argument about oppression does not come from men’s role in the household, but how they are treated when it comes to custody issues. Men are held financially responsible, yet treated as physically negligible regardless of the clear importance to their children’s lives. When both parents agree to a particular arrangement, say that the father will work and the mother will stay home with the children, this equal decision is flipped on men during separations or divorces and used against them. Now they can be shut out of their children’s lives, lose a significant among of their pay check, and face mounting legal bills because of the “sacrifices” the woman made to stay at home.
There’s nothing inherently oppressive about being a stay-at-home parent or being a breadwinner. The oppression lies in the beliefs that leave women confined to the former position while men are confined to the latter and non-binary people are totally erased.
It is most impressive to watch someone contradict themselves that fast. There is nothing oppressive about being a stay-at-home parent except if one thinks that this is what one ought to do, and this view is incidentally the social norm. So there is something inherently oppressive about being a stay-at-home parent, or rather mother?
Women are deemed ideal homemakers because people expect free labor from them and don’t consider them as capable of most jobs. Men are deemed ideal breadwinners because they are considered deserving of money and capable of earning it.
It is interesting how Weiss views women’s situation in the most negative light and men’s situation in the most positive light. This propensity for feminists to never see the negative of men’s experience is precisely why people assume feminists pretend to care about men’s issues. The curious part is that feminists have little trouble seeing the problem with being the primary breadwinner when the person is female. It is as if the sex of the person involved determines whether compassion and empathy will be extended.
Yes, there’s also the belief that men aren’t great with children or household chores. But since childrearing and homemaking are devalued in our society, this belief is not as pejorative as the belief that someone doesn’t belong in the workplace.
Child-rearing is not devalued in our society, and the only reason homemaking lost its value is due to feminists arguing that it oppressed women. This gross attempt to prove women have it worse is made more ridiculous given that the point of this section was to prove feminists care about father’s rights. So far Weiss has not stated anything in support of those rights, instead falling back to the “women have it worse” mantra so many feminists resort to when they have no actual argument.
Aside from the root ideologies […]
Weiss keeps mentioning “ideologies” yet fails to name a single one. Which “ideologies” are causing these problems? What are their names? Who followed them? Who advocates for them?
[…] the other thing that determines whether or not a family structure is oppressive is whether people have a choice. And like MRAs, feminists believe men – and anyone of any gender involved in parenting a child – should have a choice in their familial role.
Yet feminists oppose efforts to give men the ability to choose their familial role, including the ability to choose whether to be a father. There are men paying child support for children conceived by women impregnating themselves using semen from used or damaged condoms. Where are the feminists opposing this? There are men paying child support for children conceived despite being told by their female partner that she was taking birth control? Where are the feminists? There are men and boys and paying child support to women raped them and kept the child. Where are the feminists?
For all the feminist support for men’s right to choose their familial role, feminists are strangely silent on these issues.
3. Circumcision Is a Violation of Bodily Autonomy
Some men’s rights activists also talk about circumcision as unjust treatment of people with penises.
Once again, many feminists agree on this. Male circumcision is a feminist issue. However, it is not proof that men are an oppressed gender.
If by “many” feminists Weiss means a few, that would be accurate. Most feminists do not discuss the issue at all. When they do, they typically argue that:
While decreased sensitivity can be an effect of circumcision, it is not its usual purpose. It’s most often done for supposed health or hygiene (which has been debunked as credible) or to honor a religion or culture. […] But female genital mutilation is performed in attempt to repress women’s sexuality, enhance men’s pleasure, and keep women from having sex outside of marriage so that they can be the property of their husbands. And unlike male circumcision, it has no potential benefits for health or hygiene and has more severe risks.
That does not sound like feminists have much concern for boys who have their foreskins forcibly removed. That sounds like feminists do not care much about the issue at all because they think girls have it worse.
In fact, criticism of male circumcision is often thinly veiled anti-Semitism.
Do not throw out an accusation of antisemitism as excuse for feminists ignoring this issue. Approximately one third of the male population over 15-years-old is circumcised. Most of those circumcisions occur as a result of religious or cultural norms. The majority of the surgeries are not performed by doctors, and there is a high risk of complications in those situations.
The gross amount of misinformation about this unnecessary procedure is staggering. The notion that circumcision prevents HIV and other STIs comes from a single, incomplete study. Even though the scores of circumcised gay men who contracted HIV in the latter part of the 20th century should provide enough evidence to prove that claim wrong, here is a complete study showing what basic common sense should indicate: circumcision does not prevent any STI. Yet the claim that it does is so prevalent that some nation’s government leaders have had to warn people against assuming circumcision acts as a natural condom.
The most curious part about the feminist downplaying of male genital mutilation is that they oppose the same acts being done to girls in the same cultures in which it is done to boys. Feminists oppose the Muslim practice of female circumcision due to the damage and harm it causes, yet have no problem with these same people throwing circumcision parties for boys. Feminist rail against harm to girls, but they are quiet with boys die as a result of botched circumcisions. They have nothing to say about forced circumcision committed against political opponents or that the International Criminal Court refused to consider it an act of sexual violence.
No, feminists are so opposed to acknowledging that there is anything wrong or harmful about male genital mutilation that people feel free to joke about using it as a method to keep boys from impregnating girls. We needed to conduct a study to show that cutting off thousands of nerve endings found in the foreskin actually reduces men’s penile sensitivity.
None of this would be tolerated if the victims of this unnecessary brutality were female.
Again, we can be angry about an issue men face without viewing it as a result of a hierarchy that puts men below people of other a/genders.
Why would we do that when it is clear that the current situation puts men below women in terms of concern? Let us do the math: there are approximately 7.5 billion people in the world. According to current statistics, about 200 million females have been circumcised to some degree. There are no accurate numbers of the rate of complications, but a conservative estimate is that 1 million females will experience some sort of problem as a result of the surgery.
Conversely, one third or 1.25 billion males are circumcised. The data on the complication rate varies, but it appears to be about 0.2% in Western countries. It may be higher in non-Western countries where less sanitary practices are used. Let us use the 0.2%. That would result in 2.5 million males experiencing some sort of problem as a result of the surgery.
Even with the lower prevalence rate of complications, there are still more males who experience medical problems as a result of genital mutilation than females, that is not factoring in the rate from non-Western countries. Is it acceptable that 2.5 million men and boys face bleeding, urinary tract infections, loss of skin, castration, or death? Is this is an argument we need to have when most circumcisions are committed against boys’ will, assuming the boy is old enough to even speak?
Honestly, if we had instructional videos in which we could hear girls screaming as they go into shock, would this be considered not bad enough to be mutilation? Are we really to believe that a society that would allow this happen to a three-day-old infant does not place males lower than females?
4. There’s Nothing Wrong with Men
Lastly, one of MRAs’ biggest complaints against feminists – and people in general – is that they portray men negatively.
And honestly, I’ve had the same complaints about certain feminists – for example, essentialist feminists who say women should be empowered because the world needs more caring and nurturing instead of men and their wars.
That doesn’t represent all feminists, though.
I will quote myself from a previous post: if your movement has existed in its current form for over 60 years, and since its inception people assumed you hated a group, and people still assume your movement hates that group, perhaps it is time to admit your movement hates that group.
Feminists frequently complain about people, particularly men, assuming feminism is about hating men. Wherever would people get this idea? It is not as if feminists write articles about how all men are potential rapists until proven otherwise. It is not as if feminists use hashtags mocking male feelings or threatening to kill men. It is not as if they target socially awkward males and accuse them of feeling entitled to sex with women. It is not as if feminists claim that all men belong to a global hegemony intent on oppressing women for some unspecified reason.
That never happens.
If people think negatively about feminism and feminists, one ought to look at their arguments first. They may have a point. Or one can complain about how hard it is having to prove you are not a bigot… as you present incredibly bigoted arguments. Case in point:
I’ve personally found that most are against this kind of stereotyping. Benevolent sexism isn’t great for women either, after all, since it sets up unfair expectations and advocates only conditional respect.
Women are still the victims of men’s “benevolent sexism”. Even when men are being nice they are still sexist. How is that not a negative portrayal of men? Oh yes:
Feminists acknowledge that most violence against women is committed by men, but we don’t view this as inherent or natural to men. We view it as a result of a patriarchal society that oppresses everyone – as an issue of socialization.
In other words, feminists blame it on men, the ones who created, perpetuate, and benefit from said “patriarchal society that oppresses everyone”. How convenient that men are to blame for own problems as well as women’s.
Men are conditioned to be aggressive and domineering toward gender minorities like women through violent depictions of masculinity in the media, pressure to act masculine in front of their peers, and expectations from caregivers starting at a young age. This doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for hurtful behaviors, though.
Given that women make up the majority of the human population, I am tempted to ignore this statement as the ramblings of an uniformed ideologue. Yet this type of thinking is precisely why Weiss felt comfortable to write something so blatantly inaccurate. We must challenge such stupid thinking.
Men are not conditioned to be aggressive and domineering. Violence in the media does not make men violent, and masculinity is not some evil force whispering atrocious deeds into men’s ears.
This argument is a convoluted way of making women perpetual victims and absolving them of any responsibility. It is also a pathetic attempt to allow feminists to hide their sexism and bigotry behind a veil of righteous indignation.
We don’t hate men. We hate toxic masculinity. We believe men can be better than they’re made out to be. Instead of getting defensive, men should be on board with that.
Yes, of course. Why be defensive when someone blames you for their problems and then argues that you never experience said problems, but on the off chance those problems do happen you technically did to yourself?
There is zero support for men or men’s issues in Weiss’s article. As I stated in the first part, she has her narrative — “it’s all men’s fault cuz feminism didn’t do nuthin'” — and she will stick to it no matter how much it makes it look like feminists do not support men or men’s issues. The need to protect the ideology trumps looking at evidence and drawing a fair conclusion.
It is difficult to take Weiss’s article as anything other than another sorry attempt by a feminist to condescend to men about supporting “men’s liberation” while ignoring everything men have to say about their own problems. All this proves is that men’s rights activists are right to be skeptical about feminists and their “support” for men’s issues. It seems unlikely that someone supporting your concerns would add caveats such as “but if you’re ready to fight for men’s liberation without putting anyone else down, we welcome you with open arms.”
This is coming a person who supports a group that engages in ironic misandry, i.e. the act of “pretending” to hate men because people think you hate men.
Perhaps the most entertaining part about Weiss’s article is that like many other feminists she did not have a single positive thing to say about men. She had plenty to criticize and strawman over, yet nothing nice to say about the group for whom she cares so much.