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Jan 06 2012

The women have taken over!!11!

You have got to be kidding, Beeb.

Headline:

Do politicians ignore the ‘men’s vote’?

Listen to the Westminster political debate in recent months and you will hear one group regularly given special attention: women.

Ed Miliband has accused the government of introducing changes in areas such as social security that are “hitting women twice as hard as men”.

Meanwhile, David Cameron says that, with government initiatives like lifting over a million people out of paying tax, “it is mostly women who benefit”.

But what you will not hear is the opposite – top politicians saying they have policies specifically directed at male voters, or “male issues”.

You’re joking. You’re joking. Please tell me you’re joking.

But some men say they feel increasingly alienated from politicians who seem to talk less about their concerns.

Glen Poole is strategic director of the Men’s Network based in Brighton, which recently held a national conference to raise awareness among other men’s groups and policy-makers about their agenda.

You have got to be kidding!

They don’t talk about “their concerns” because they take them for granted because men are the assumed sex and women are the weird pathetic aberrations who need special frowning worried mention. This is not because women are stealing all the things!

This goes back a long way. From the moment women achieved the vote in the 1920s, political campaigners have targeted them and what are categorised as “women’s issues” – family, for example, or household spending.

Or baby food, or how to get the floor sparkling clean, or shoes, or The Shopping Channel. The kind of shit women pay attention to.

 

24 comments

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  1. 1
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    They don’t talk about “their concerns” because they take them for granted because men are the assumed sex and women are the weird pathetic aberrations who need special frowning worried mention.

    Yes – substitute “religious” for “men.”

  2. 2
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Glen Poole is strategic director of the Men’s Network based in Brighton, which recently held a national conference to raise awareness among other men’s groups and policy-makers about their agenda.

    Oh, joy. An MRA group that got the ear of major news channels.

  3. 3
    Grace

    I hear this from men I know all the time, that somehow if women can compain about gender discrimination, in order to be fair and equal men should be able to say the same thing, otherwise you don’t *really* believe in equality and you’re a hypocrite.

    And that the U.S. Senate being 17% female is proof we live in a matriarchy.

  4. 4
    Ani Sharmin

    They don’t talk about “their concerns” because they take them for granted because men are the assumed sex and women are the weird pathetic aberrations who need special frowning worried mention. This is not because women are stealing all the things!

    This.

    I’d be more sympathetic to some of the points, such as the point about getting students to do better in school, etc. if it wasn’t followed up by the “differences between male and female brains” stuff that gets used to make excuses for discrimination and stereotypes.

    From the article:

    Dr Rosie Campbell, an academic specialising in gender politics, has some sympathy.

    “If a father wants to get home to do bath-time, that is looked on less sympathetically than if he were a woman.

    “There are issues we’ve tended to call ‘women’s issues’,” she adds, “that men might want to claim back for themselves.”

    I actually don’t like the fact that things affecting the family, etc. are just considered women’s issues and that it’s considered less acceptable for men to participate in raising the kids, doing stuff in the house, etc. So, it’s a valid point to say that men should be considered part of that, too. They’re issues affecting the family, and therefore everyone, and I think those responsibilities should be shared. I expect part of the reason women and kids get groups together is because of the stereotype that women should be the ones taking care of the kids. However, to pretend this is an example of special treatment for women, rather than an example of discrimination against women, is annoying.

    The article reads like the people who are making the points in it assume that women’s issues get some kind of special attention whereas men’s issues get ignored, when the whole reason why people have to point out women’s issues in the first place is because they get ignored unless specifically pointed out.

    When it comes to healthcare, for example, part of the reason that healthcare concerns about things like birth control, etc. are considered in their own category is because people try to ban them. It really should be considered part of regular healthcare, but people have put it in it’s own category since they don’t think it’s a valid part of healthcare … so the people defending it have to talk about it as an “issue”.

    When it comes to education, part of the reason education for girls is considered a separate issue is because there are people who believe education for half the population isn’t important, based on physical gender.

  5. 5
    julian

    Oh lord, what’s next? White students complain that affirmative action has made it impossible for them to get scholarships?

  6. 6
    Grace

    @Julian,

    This already happens, too.

  7. 7
    Michael Brew

    White students complaining about affirmative action is SO last decade.

  8. 8
    Mike

    I actually don’t like the fact that things affecting the family, etc. are just considered women’s issues and that it’s considered less acceptable for men to participate in raising the kids, doing stuff in the house, etc. So, it’s a valid point to say that men should be considered part of that, too.

    Full agreement!

    However, to pretend this is an example of special treatment for women, rather than an example of discrimination against women, is annoying.

    I need a refresher: Why is this discrimination against women, and not discrimination against men?

    I’m not asking dishonestly, it has to do with women being stereotyped as caregivers to children and expected to stay at home, right? But I’m not sure anymore why this purely disenfranchises women, because it equally says that men are not caregivers and expected to stay away from home and the children. How does that not disenfranchise men? Both sides lose in this stereotype.

    Anyway, that recognition that men might like “women’s issues” was one of the only glimmers of enlightenment that I found in the article myself. That, and the fleeting acknowledgement that “that other factors, such as social background or income level, will be much more significant than gender.” Really, some biological asymetries notwithstanding, men and women are not that different from each other. I’ll be happier when everyone can just learn to embrace that.

  9. 9
    Ani Sharmin

    @Mike: I actually think that the stereotype is discriminatory against people of all genders, but I was responding to the article in which it seemed like some of the other quotes were from people who thought men were being ignored and women getting special treatment. I meant that it is *also* discriminatory against women.

  10. 10
    crowepps

    I wonder if Mr. Miliband has considered for even a moment that extra social security benefits for women might be the only thing that’s keeping his mother from needing to move in with him?

  11. 11
    Amy Clare

    “From the moment women achieved the vote in the 1920s…” Hah. Clearly it’s all the Suffragettes’ fault. Those misandrists!

  12. 12
    sailor1031

    “Or baby food, or how to get the floor sparkling clean, or shoes, or The Shopping Channel. The kind of shit women pay attention to.”

    Well if men were as involved in keeping things going as women are (because somebody has to do it) these wouldn’t be “womens issues”. Surely equality means equal responsibility yet it is still considered unusual when a man does take equal responsibility.

  13. 13
    jamessweet

    Blargh.

    On a similar note, I’ve noticed that Hollywood doesn’t make any movies where the twist is that the protagonist is a man.

  14. 14
    thomaspenn

    This is one of those things that makes sense if you don’t stop and think about it for more than a couple of seconds. The fact of the matter is that there are no men’s or women’s issues; there are just issues. Issues that predominantly affect women or women are more concerned with (i.e. abortion, contraception, child care, etc.) get called “women’s issues” to trivialize them and make them appear like the shallow concerns of a special interest group instead of legitimate social concerns that affect everyone. One would never talk about “men’s issues” the same way because the issues that predominantly affect men are already considered legitimate social issues.

    This is obvious if you look at the complete lack of a debate over insurance plans funding erectile dysfunction meds vs. contraception. One is a legitimate social concern, the other is a fairly minor quality of life issue, but it’s the “women’s issue” that we have to fight for.

  15. 15
    Retired Prodigy Bill

    @thomaspenn Exactly the example I was thinking of, the wide spread insurance coverage for erectile dysfunction versus the difficulties with support for things like contraception.

  16. 16
    Dave

    @13 – you forgot The Crying Game.

    Meanwhile, episode no. 137161863 in ‘The Internet is America’. We were talking about British nitwits, and suddenly it’s all about ‘insurance for erectile dysfunction’? Not here, mate.

  17. 17
    Ophelia Benson

    Mike @8 – no, quite right, it’s unfair to men as well as women. Feminism has been saying that all along…and, I think, can be assumed to be at least part of the reason the famously distant fathers of the post-War era have mostly given way to involved fathers.

    One of the most unfair-to-males items in the old gender code, I think, is the one about fathers not kissing (or sometimes even hugging!) sons after whatever age…10, 5, an hour. Ew. What an alienating rule.

  18. 18
    Martin

    OK…it’s not fair to men by this amount:
    |—|
    and not fair to women by this amount:
    |————————|.

    It used to be
    |-|
    and
    |——————————————————————–| respectively.

  19. 19
    Dan

    This particular male isn’t feeling alienated from Westminster politicians by virtue of his sex, but by virtue of the ideological orientation of Westminster politicians.

    There probably are some “men’s issues” that could do with more attention by policy makers.

    Mind you, only one springs to mind: testicular cancer as a public health concern.

    Apart from that, I don’t think feminism has come so far that men need to start worrying very much about their social position (and I don’t think the trajectory of feminism is anything for men to worry about anyway, not if we like and respect women). Unless you’re the kind of man that just doesn’t like having to compete with women for jobs, for example, on an equal basis.

    There may be issues around parenting and so forth where women could be said to get a “better” deal. If a man does want to play a bigger role in parenting, it might – possibly, just possibly – be harder to arrange that. There have been some moves in the right direction, on paternity leave etc.

    The bigger issue is the economic one that if one partner is going to give up working for childcare, then that will usually – I don’t have figures, mind – be the mother. Partly that might be inclination, but it is also still the case that the mother is likely to be earning less than the father, and so for a household your decision is kind of made for you by economic realities – realities which themselves may reflect inequality in the workplace.

    Anyway, I would like to record my frustration with some of the “men are victims of sexism” rhetoric.

    First of all, sexism in society doesn’t just reduce to “discrimination against women”. It does mean that, obviously, but it is an ideology first and foremost. An ideology that conditions the expectations and experiences of both men and women. And sometimes that might be to the apparent disadvantage of men. Particularly if you’re a man who wants to cut across traditional gender roles. This is true. But that doesn’t mean there is “anti-male sexism”, it’s just good old fashioned sexism.

    So maybe domestic abuse directed at men doesn’t get taken seriously (it’s only recently that domestic abuse directed at women started getting treated seriously), maybe we can think of other examples.

    There is some anti-male stuff out there, but not much, and it’s not ideologically sexist or part of the power structures of society.

    But what winds me up is the kind of whining comment like:

    “Oh, men are discriminated against too, we always have to queue up to get into nightclubs whereas women can just walk in no problem”.

    Fair? Maybe not. But the way men and women are treated at the entrances to nightclubs is part and parcel of social gender-stereotyping and sexism. Just so happens that in this case the blokes have to wait in the cold a bit longer.

    I think to sum up some people see “anti-male sexism” where I would just see “sexism”.

    Perhaps I just should have said that instead of all the preceeding waffle.

    Dan

  20. 20
    Dan

    “insurance coverage for erectile dysfunction”

    I don’t think I’d want to add a worry about my no claims bonus to all my other performance anxieties.

    Dan

  21. 21
    crowepps

    When thinking of how sexism affects men, you can’t restrict it just to instances in which women get in first or women get half-price drinks or trivial stuff like that, because sexism isn’t about competition between the sexes but instead the damage caused by the rigid gender roles even when there aren’t any members of the other sex around.

    Serious effects come from things ike it not being ‘manly’ to go to the doctor, so that serious problems aren’t caught and men die unnecessarily early. Then there’s the pressure to drink often and too much, to prove a man can ‘hold his liquor’ like other guys, that leads to higher rates of alcoholism. The pressure to drive like an idiot, because there are other guys in the car and men can’t drive like an ‘old lady’. The pressure to continue to eat like a teenage boy into the ’40s because healthy food is ‘girly’. The prohibition against paying attention to and expressing emotions, so that the wife gets the impression he’s indifferent and leaves him, and the children don’t feel ‘close’ to Dad and don’t bother to keep in contact.

    How about it being ‘sissy’ to wear a helmet, or use a seat belt, or drive sensibly, or use the safety equipment at work? How about the practical joking, horsing around, ‘ha ha ha, look at Frank dangling from the crane hook, what a larf’ bullying high stress atmosphere that leads to stupid injuries? How about the stigmatization of men who complain about safety deficiencies as cowards that leads to deaths in coal mines and oil rigs and other places where rules are ignored and nobody dares to complain because ‘real men don’t whine about safety’.

    The MRA’s bring up ‘more men die at work’ and they’re absolutely correct, but they forget to mention the most common cause for a man to die at work is a traffic accident, the next is getting hit by an object, and the third is falls, all of which are likely preventable by more attention to minimizing risk-taking.

  22. 22
    opposablethumbs

    what are categorised as “women’s issues” – family, for example, or household spending.

    Because men don’t have families, or anything to do with household spending. I know that’s been said better above, but it’s so blatant! Bleeccchhhh.

  23. 23
    Lyanna

    Mike @ 8: I would not say the man who cannot become a househusband is being disenfranchised, though I would say he is being unfairly restricted.

    “Disenfranchised” means being stripped of political/economic power (it’s why the vote is called the franchise). I think it’s useful to reserve that word for its original definition. The homemaker role is not a position of political or economic power.

    The breadwinner role, however, is: it comes with a salary and the ability to control it.

    So I’d say the woman who can’t be a breadwinner is both disenfranchised and unfairly restricted.

    The man who can’t be a homemaker is being unfairly restricted, but not disenfranchised, because he’s not shut out of power. He’s shut out of a relatively powerless role (which he should have the freedom to assume).

  24. 24
    testit

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