Monday, November 30, 2009

Masculism: An Introduction

Besides racial issues, I also find myself involved in intense discussions regarding gender dynamics, particularly as they apply to our current cultural values. Often these debates quickly devolve into accusations of bigotry (much the same as with racial issues) that don't really accomplish much other than solidifying the opinions of the other person in opposition.

However, at the risk of being perceived as a chauvinist-pig, I would like to introduce many of you to a movement that isn't as well known as it's female counterpart, Feminism. This movement is concerned with the advocacy of men's rights and the promotion of male equality in the context of changing gender roles. This movement is little known outside of the blogosphere and esoteric academia. It is - I think - an important concern in these modern times.

That is, Masculism.

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I am a Man (capital M). I am empowered by my masculinity. I strongly identify with the label "male" and employ it in the construction of my own identity.To be a man is part of how I express my personality. As a guy, dude, bro, chap, bloke... MAN! I do not apologize for my gender, nor excuse - and I also don't oppress or discriminate.

To me, being a man is a positive thing, and masculinity is a positive attribute to encourage in boys - and girls - as much as it has been to encourage femininity in them as well. Maleness means to me: being assertive, logical, passionate, courageous, loyal, empathetic, clever, and proud. These attributes do not come at the expense of automatically making the other gender, Women lacking in them. They apply without casting shadows from their backlight on the ladies.

Unfortunately, it seems to me (and many other men, apparently) that masculinity is taken negatively, and that men are punished in our culture through various ways - psychological, structural, subtle, obvious, even straight-up prejudicial.

Television-shows portray smart, capable women... and the dumb-fuck husband lucky to have her. Magazines contain ads of chest-waxed male-models, as if suddenly men cannot be hairy anymore. There's ball-tapping in middle-schools. Prison-rape. Compulsory military service. Disparity in rights as a parent. The list goes on... stiffer penalties for raping a girl/woman than raping a boy/man. Violence towards women is horrible - violence towards men is comedy. False-rape claims ruin the reputations of men who have their names splattered all over the papers while their accusers remain anonymous. Women do not get drafted. The Belizean Grove is applauded despite being women-only, and meanwhile The Elks Lodge gets sued for being men-only.

The concepts of manliness are often ridiculed as being backwards and old-fashioned, or condemned as anti-feminist misogyny. The masculine is devalued from laughable to downright contemptible.

 Taken from Wikipedia: [Masculism article]

"Masculism & Masculist Concerns

Masculists cite one-sided legislation, selective enforcement, and neglected civil rights as examples of discrimination against men and boys. Examples of questions raised by masculists may include:


Masculist concerns focus on societal acceptance of violence harming men paired with the stigma against violence harming women, as well as males being taught or expected to take on violent roles.
  • Men forced to risk their lives in male-only conscripted military service.
  • Violence against men minimalized or taken less seriously than violence against women
  • Women are more violent than men in some research studies asking both men and women.
  • Depiction of violence against men as humorous, in the media and elsewhere (see [Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them!]), when women are also violent.
  • Assumption of female innocence or sympathy for women, which may result in problems such as disproportionate penalties for men and women for similar crimes, lack of sympathy for male victims in domestic violence cases, and dismissal of female-on-male rape cases.
  • Societal failure to address prison rape, including issues such as prevention (e.g., reducing prison crowding that requires sharing of cells), impunity for prison rapists, and even correctional staff punishing prisoners by confining them with known rapists. Attention has been drawn to portrayals of male rape by women, or implied rape, as humorous.
  • Circumcision (characterized as harmless tradition by some, and as male genital mutilation by others) being advocated while female genital mutilation is prohibited, although both practices are purported to reduce sexual pleasure and expose the patient to possible health problems.
  • Equality in child custody, such as shared parenting
  • Pregnancies carried to term despite agreements ahead of time that they would not be, subjecting men to unwanted parental responsibilities and/or child support expectations (see [Dubay v. Wells])
  • The opposite of the above, where a man who feels he wants to have a child has no say in whether his girlfriend/wife aborts their child (see paternal rights and abortion)
  • Equality in adoption rights allowing either unmarried males or females to adopt.

    • Legislation that addresses women's needs without considering the corresponding need in men (e.g., Women, Infants, and Children Act; Violence Against Women Act)
    • Biases in the justice system against men, such as higher incarceration rates and longer sentences for men (compared to women) for the same crimes
    • Statutory rape laws enforced more vehemently in instances where the victim is female and/or the perpetrator is male.
    • Rape shield laws, which may prevent some men from adequately challenging their accuser
    • Cathy Young, who does not consider herself a "masculinist," argues that in rape cases, "the dogma that "women never lie" means that there is, for all intents and purposes, no presumption of innocence for the defendant" [Cathy Young Article]
    • Men pay higher premiums for auto, life and disability insurance, though discrimination according to race or other criteria is prohibited.
    • In some countries, men have to pay more income tax than their female counterparts. E.g. in India the income tax exemption limit for men is Rs 1,50,000 per annum while that for women is Rs 1,80,000 per annum.
    • Men not being believed after having been raped by their wife, girlfriend or fiancĂ©e; lesser or no penalty for women that rape men
    Social concerns
    • Increasing suicide rate among young men, four times higher than among young women
    • It's usually seen as socially acceptable for a female to try out or follow masculine social norms, whereas if a male does the same for feminine social norms they often attract unwanted attention and are victims of ridicule and insult.
    • Lack of advocacy for men's rights; little domestic abuse support for men.
    • Bias in health concerns; for example, more advertisements and awareness for breast cancer than prostate cancer, though both cancers kill approximately the same number of people each year.
    • Incarceration for not paying child support, particularly for unwanted children, in contrast to women's right to abort
    • Special government agencies for women's affairs with no corresponding agencies for men's affairs
    • Lack of legal ramifications or enforcement for paternity fraud"
     Also, in education, men tend to lag behind women in performance as well as enrollment. [60 Minutes Story] Notably, all-male schools are determined to be chauvinistic, if not downright illegal, while all-girls schools continue to be well-supported.

    An important figure in this movement is Warren Farrell, whose books on the subject have greatly influenced my own thoughts on Masculism. Another important figure: Fred Hayward (especially his address to The National Congress for Men in 1981).

    Some related articles that elucidate on the concerns of Masculism, as well as the various problems it addresses in society.

    - [Confessions of a Masculist]
    - [The Diverse and Growing Men's Movement]
    - [Toy Soldiers]

    The main problem that Masculism addresses are the advancements made for women that come at the cost of men. If equality is the goal, then how does taking from the rights of one group or person create rights for another? Is there only a certain number? Are they like limited-edition sneakers? Better buy before it runs out... Break the glass-ceiling, the closet-door, the draft-harness! Just leave the building intact, please.

    Better yet, get out from behind the lace-curtain! Seriously, our culture is highly feminized, from television to legal jurisdiction, from domestic abuse to education. We have pushed the justifiably oppressed position of women in the past towards near-equality in the present. Obviously we should continue this trend, BUT NOT by punishing the other half of the population.

    In a world-culture so focused on redressing the inequalities of old systems, we forget the problems we create right now. We return the rights and freedoms stolen from groups as disparate as race, gender, socio-economic class, and even sexuality. But during this guilt-inspired firehouse sale of paying cultural debts, we seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. The Masculist movement is an attempt towards gender egalitarianism. It is probably not possible, and more than likely will not be realized in my lifetime, but by the power of Grayskull that doesn't mean we shouldn't try!

    This has been your introduction to Masculism.


    11 footnotes:

    Anonymous said...

    Not to be an ass but a lot of the above is really idiotic. Maybe if you travel the world you will realize that women are not 'near quality'.

    I do agree that the domestic violence is biased. That men are often always seen as the 'opressor' and females only the victims when in some situations the roles are reversed...but I disagree with a lot of what you posted.

    if we are so free (within 'developed' nations)
    -Why are women still on average making less?
    -Whey do men still dominate the highest most prestige jobs. Look at Forbes top 500 companies
    -Why is it that men in t.v. shows are 'ugly' yet their wives are HOT, skinny women
    -Why is it that a women who is in charged and 'tough' considered a BITCH yet when refering to a men those are all great qualities.
    -Why is it that when women are raped they are often not taken seriously..and often the first thing asked by officers is 'What where you wearing" (often making it seem that she provoked it)
    -Why is it that all women are Scare/paranoid d to walk alone especially at night. When men generally don't care
    -Why is it that most of the seriously poor people in America (and the World) are women and children
    (maybe if this wasn't the case..then ID agree that men should have an opinion when speaking about abortion and a womens body/choice... but at the end of the night it is a womens body and ultimately she'll be the one bearing it)
    -Why is it alright for men to sleep around and be considered 'the man' while a women doing the same is considered a WHORE..
    -Why is it when a guy is sensitive...or when another guy is trying to insult another guy he calls him a 'Bitch or Pussy' all terms associated with being female! (why is it so insulting... more than being called an asshole)

    there are so many whys. But youre seriously wrong if you really think we live in a 'feminized' culture... that is impossible when anything associated with being a female is still seen as inferior.

    Zek J. Evets said...

    @anon: "not to be an ass" usually means you're just about to do something that would make you an asshole. but okay, let's roll with it.

    - women on average make less, but in many areas women make MORE than men. for example: care-givers, nursing, porn, elementary school teachers, pretty much anything working with children - due to the stereotype that women are better with kids than men.

    - prestige jobs? that's a quality statement, and so that'll have to be left to your opinion. but keep in mind that there are many rich & famous women who also dominate in their particular industries (i.e queen elizabeth II, j.k. rowling, oprah, etc.) also, if you're looking for evidence from forbes of powerful women in industry, check out their top 100 most powerful women 2009. []

    - not sure what you mean by why are men "ugly" and women "HOT" on television shows... to me that seems to promulgate the stereotype that men are ugly and women beautiful. why can't men be good-looking?

    - doing the comparison of men in charge = tough, and women in charge = bitch is a sad, old adage. there are numerous examples of tough women not being referred to as bitches. the chancellor of germany, for one, or margaret thatcher. (people called her a bitch for different reasons than her skill at politics.) what you're saying here is a common misconception that simply isn't as prevalent as it used to be. obvious a woman in charge is tough, just like a man in charge is tough.

    - you have your facts wrong about rape. women are ALWAYS taken seriously when it comes to rape, even when they make false-claims. in movies and television, women being raped is NEVER portrayed comedically, whereas men being raped (especially prison-rape) is ofte ridiculed. when a woman is raped, her name is kept out of the papers, and there are numerous organizations to help her. for men, no such treatment is given. a woman gets far more support than a man when it comes to rape, especially in the united states. so, the real question is: why is it that when men are raped they are not taken seriously or treated the same as when a woman is raped?

    - why is it that anyone is scared/or paranoid to walk around at night? i go through many dangerous neighborhoods and worry about getting mugged, raped, beaten, maybe even murdered. that is a common fear of ALL PEOPLE, not just women. and, conversely, there are lots of women who often walk alone, even at night, and are not scared. fear to walk alone at night is a psychological issue that has more to do with where you are rather than what gender you are.

    - why do you equate women being poor to mean that men shouldn't have a say in abortion? those are two completely separate issues...

    first, poverty is a GLOBAL problem, and the treatment of men who are poor is significantly different from women. women often receive support in single-sex shelters, as well as more donations, hand-outs, or coverage of their situation than men. a women who is poor is a victim of circumstance. a man who is poor is a dumbass and needs to get himself together. that is the cultural perception, especially in the united states.

    Zek J. Evets said...

    now, for abortion, men should have a say UP TO A POINT. conception of the child could not have occurred without him, and so he has rights and responsibilities that make him an equal participant in the discussion of whether to take the child to term, abort it, or work out an arrangement that is agreeable to both parties. technically speaking, that child belongs to BOTH the man and the woman, so to exclude him is to deny his participation in the act of creating new life. if you want to deny the father rights to help determine the future of any child that he conceives with a woman, then you can't ask for child-support or assistance from him. it's all or nothing.

    - apparently you seem to have a lot of misconceptions about the perception of women in our culture. nowadays, women who sleep around are perceived as independent, sexy, empowered, and overall modern. the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s paved the way for women to be as promiscuous as men without significant repercussions. read a book called, female chauvinist pigs. it explains this change in more detail.

    - the jocking and teasing that men do to each other is a form of bonding. we use derogatory terminology because the point is to disguise overly sensitive feelings through a facade of toughness. this is a problem men often face, having to conceal their emotions because any perception of a man having feelings condemns him as being "weak" or "less of a man".

    as for the actual terms themselves and why you think many refer to women or the feminine, that is also based on your false-perception of the situation. the words are common slang and used because they are easy to remember. women often call each other "bitch" "slut" "whore" "cunt" and other words, yet are still good friends. another example is the use from black people to employ the word "nigga" around each other, yet never actually think of each as a "nigger". men employ slang and swear words, but do not truly believe those things.

    you're welcome to disagree with me, but unfortunately i do not see much in your arguments to prove that my information isn't valid. in fact, there is a significant number of men in the world who would be incredibly offended to hear you dismiss their suffering. when someone says inequalities exist, you don't pretend they're lying - you investigate the claim to determine how true it is. the same for when women started demanding their rights. if not for people actually thinking, instead of responding with gut-reactions to their own narrow life-experiences, there would be far more inequalities in the world than there are now.

    we DO live in a feminized culture, and while it may be difficult for women to notice this (just like white people have a hard time recognizing white privilege) it does exist. the point isn't to destroy feminism, but to promote masculism and gender egalitarianism.

    thank-you for your especially concerned comment. i appreciate you writing a real response to my post.

    Anonymous said...

    First off

    -yes women make more in certain fields, but it still does not beat the OVERALL situation. Women have learned to work within restriction and make the best of it. The feminization of jobs is not a womens doing. Women are hired in nursing jobs because we are expected to be 'natural' bearers which is false. It just created to keep us in domestic jobs such as maids, clothing factories, porn, secretaries nursing, preschool teachers, etc the generally make LESS. Men are not refused from getting into those fields but they rather not because they are not 'deemed' worthy since they pay less and are 'women' jobs. Believe me women are not keeping men from getting into this all means we welcome it!Feminization of certain jobs is just a way to continue exploiting women... if women are making more its because they have fought for it. But yes they make more but then again who are their bosses? Look at the bigger picture!

    -I just hate the argument just because there is an Oprah and there is Serena Williams..or who everr you want to throw around. For every 1 you can give me i can give you 10 men... Equality is a fair game...and so far it isn't!

    -why are men not 'good looking' idk go ask the CEO on t.v. networks...that happen to be men?? They are the ones creating the images that 'average' guys can obtain hot/pretty girsl while while 'ugly' girls can't obtain better looking guys. The perpetuating that guys should focus on a females look. On average female roles on t.v. are sexualized/commodified more than males. GO beyond t.v. shows..look at ads, magazines, etc. At the end women are commodified more then men.

    -And believe my I don't not have my facts wrong about rape. I think I would know the facts about something that is greatly emphasized within my Major. Most organization that help women deal with rape and domestic abuse don't only limit their help to women. Men tend to refuse going to help because its degrading for them...Since 'how is it possible for men to allow himself to be raped'..THIS WAY OF THINKING ONCE AGAIN WAS NOT AND IS NOT GENERATED BY WOMEN...look at yourself and your fellow brothers and ask yourself why do I allow for this train of thought to continue.

    -yeah its a common fear. But believe women are taught way more than men to always 'walk in groups' or have a man walk her to her car. Since we are young we are taught to live in fear...don't go to far stay within the 'safety' of their home and parentss to protect them (only leaving when there is another man around to protect them)..while Men are encourage to 'explore' and be more "BRAVE" etc...

    -I equate to women being poor and men not having an opinion on abortion because once again those who are mostly poor are single women who have children..where are their fathers?? When all men step up to their responsibilities then maybe they can have a say whether a women should or shouldn't have an abortion. and it doesn't only apply to the poor. The truth is that women are mostly always left with taking care of the children physically and emotionally... And believe it its not that WOMEN don't want their husbands/lovers/male partners to also help with duties.. They refuse to do it..because 'its a womens' job.. Women are not keeping men out of this..

    Anonymous said...

    -and yeah so women are trying to regain control of their sexuality and bodies..lead by the second wave of feminism. BUT believe me the MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD do not think of independent and empowerment when women 'sleep around'. GO take a survey... i'll read the book if you go take a're perception of this is very limited go to the south or midwest..the east and west coast is a different America.. go to other countries and ask around then tell me that 'things are changing'

    -yeah poverty is a global issue and women tend to get more help because poverty is feminized... as are many things..sadly the Feminization of things is not a good thing.

    -when the jobs become feminized it leads to exploitation
    -when sex is feminized- women become commodities
    -when the land becomes feminized 'mother earth' it becomes degraded/conquered/exploited
    -when poverty and aids becomes feminized its because women are in a shittier situation ( women being raped, cheated on, isolated, refused from getting a better education, etc) in a higher percentage than men... the beautiful thing about feminism is that it aim to improve the conditions of all..not only women.

    -and thats bullshit on the guys using slang to hide their feelings... im pretty sure women are not the ones forcing them to hide their feelings. And the thing with those slang words is their history just like nigga..etc. Their history is not a good one... You can not compare the way men use it as when women use it.. just like it is not right EVER for a white person to call a black person a 'nigga'.. because even if it is 'JOKING' around the sentiments and history is still there... a white person will NEVER understand. Just like 'black' community trying to regain control women also do it... WORDS and Slang is about power...i thought as a writer you would know how much of an effect WORDS have. Read Chomsky read Foucault..

    feminization of things and feminism is not the same..through FEMINISM we are not trying to feminize thing..quite the opposite feminists are trying to combat feminization.

    your knowledge of 'feminism' is very limited... I think people have an erroneous idea about feminist as excluding/maneaters trying to dominate over men. FEMINISM (in all its complex sides...since there are many different types of feminism and to narrow down to just a general type is a huge mistake) is about gender equality. For MEN AND WOMEN.

    Zek J. Evets said...

    @anon: okay, apparently you're missing my point.

    i'm not trying to argue the shitty situation of women. what i'm talking about is the shitty situation of men - the developing shitty situation of men.

    so, while i understand your points about women, that isn't what i'm talking about. i'm talking about what's going on with men.

    anyways, if you want to keep carrying the flag for feminism, that's awesome. meanwhile, i'm gonna worry about the other gender that ISN'T getting as much press.


    Anonymous said...

    I'm late, but have you read "Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?" It's a debate book by Warren Farrell and my Ethics prof that we had to read for class. My biggest complaint was that the book was too short for either author to develop his points, but our class really got into it over the rape issue (which is another story for another time).

    Apparently Warren Farrell and I agree on at least some things, seeing as I'm about to write a paper that sides with him (according to my prof), but one thing that gets my goat is that so many of the "Dad's Rights" advocates completely ignore the large number of fathers (especially Black ones) who abandon their children with few repercussions. I'm all for promoting the rights of father's after divorce, etc., but I would fine that viewpoint more legitimate if those advocates felt just as strongly about censuring deadbeat dads and urging them to take responsibility, because the number of the latter greatly outweighs that of the former. I equate it to someone who's always railing about "the White man keeping us down" while saying nothing about the rates of Black-on-Black violence, Black males in prison, etc. Can't see the forest for the trees, indeed.

    Zek J. Evets said...

    @jasmin: haha, i bet your class got into it over the rape issue... some of things farrell says about it can make people very angry. mostly because they're true.

    i think the parts of the masculist movement(s) that are concerned with father's rights tend not to be concerned with deadbeat dad issues because there are already many laws in place to protect women from those kinds of situations. alimony, child-support, social-groups, government institutions, legal precedents, etc. there are myriad examples of what is essentially a system in place to provide support for mothers, but very little for fathers. advocates point out that many supposedly "deadbeat dads" are in fact devoted fathers punished by a very unforgiving system. (take, for instance, the case of wilbur street.)

    so, what you refer to as "few repercussions" seems to be a misrepresentation of what actually goes on. (although, that depends on how often mothers report incidents of deadbeat fathers, which can lead to variations in different communities where legitimate systems are less popular.)

    ignoring the forest for the trees is difficult when you're trying to redefine what "forest" means, and what are the "trees".

    censuring bad fathers is something that should be encouraged by masculists, but it's very difficult to balance the issues when one is overexposed and the other is barely acknowledged to even exist at all.

    Anonymous said...

    I think it was ironic that by modern standards, my professor was the biggest feminist of them all. We talked about date rape, and alcohol, and all that jazz, and I think he was surprised by the opinions of most of the girls in the class (myself included).

    I think the issue of fathers being kept from their kids merits legal solutions (though Warren Farrell isn't completely on the up-and-up about that--the vast majority of custody agreements are arranged mutually outside of the courts, so he overestimates the number of involuntary non-joint custody situations) but I would like the issue of deadbeat dads to be met with social solutions. The issues are 2 sides of the same coin, in respect to what part of the puzzle they lack. I think there wouldn't be as many laws in place to enforce child support, etc. if it wasn't so socially acceptable (and in many cases, downright easy) to skip out on it, something else that varies by community. For all his waxing about being a men's advocate, Warren Farrell just seems like a (middle-class White) men's advocate to me because the issues of kids needing that fatherly influence (which I think is super-important) is going to manifest itself in the lives of most non-White kids differently. Same book, different chapter when it comes to the penal system, but once again that's another story for another time. :-)

    Anonymous said...

    PS. On rape (almost forgot Farrell's point on that): painting sex as a necessary part of a courtship transaction is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I agree with the idea that relationships are made up of give-and-take, so they do involve transactions in a sense, but I don't think a guy buying me dinner means I have to spread my legs, and the idea that accepting a free dinner means consenting to sex just suggests to me that Warren Farrell views company lunches as group orgy foreplay. As stepfather to 2 daughters (or it may be 1 bio, 1 step; I forget), I would hope he doesn't encourage them to "put out" on dates. His views on that just struck me as those of an unattractive loser who's mad that he can't get any, even when he attempts to "pay" for it (which is probably one of the reasons he can't get any in the first place). So it goes.

    Zek J. Evets said...

    @jasmin: well, i think it's fair to assume that feminism and masculism are both concerned with the same issues, only on different sides. ultimately both want the same things: gender egalitarianism and pursuit of happiness.

    however, a lot of the issues we're talking about haven't even been accurately measured. the statistics simply don't exist in many cases, and in others only covers one gender or another.

    warren farrell isn't trying to make sex a "necessary" part of courtship, but more pointing out how sex is used in courtship AS A transaction. he makes the correlation - albeit, strange for most people to understand, but true when you think about it - that a woman who consents to let a man take her out, pay for the evening, and then goes back to his place/her place/wherever and then sleeps with him, does convey the subtleties of a transaction, much the same way as if she were a prostitute.

    that is NOT to say that a woman who has sex with a man after he buys her dinner is a whore, but rather that modern-day courtship is often a case of the man "buying" a woman's time in the hopes that she will continue to accompany him, and that this will eventually lead to sex. this might seem simplistic - and it is - but it does explain how most male-female interactions are on a purely abstract basis.

    personally, i don't expect a woman to put-out for whatever reason (whether because i bought dinner, or movie tickets, or something else) but i do expect that if a woman consents to spend time with me - especially when she could be doing something else, then making the assumption that she's attracted to me and interested in getting somewhat physical (at least) is fair.

    the difference between farrell and myself (and between farrell and most people - but not feminists, interestingly) is that he sees sex as a commodity, which is how it is often used in our culture, but rarely openly perceived that way. by looking at sex as a "good" in this sense helps to explain his views, and how they reflect the experiences of many men.