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 fiancée; lesser or no penalty for women that rape men
- 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"
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.