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Oct 09 2011

The Disadvantages of Being a Man

Jason Thibeault at Lousy Canuck has an excellent post on his blog: The Disadvantages of Being a Man. In it, he talks about many of the specific, practical ways that rigid gender expectations hurt men… including many of the issues that the “men’s rights activist” movement focuses on, such as child custody and the expectation that men be cannon fodder. And he does it from a thoroughly feminist, egalitarian, anti-patriarchal perspective, acknowledging that while rigid gender expectations do hurt both men and women, they overwhelmingly hurt women more, and they’re best dealt with, not by women and men treating one another as enemies, but by women and men joining together to take these expectations down. Thus making it clear that you can take these issues seriously without being a hateful, venomous, misogynist. Job well done. Check it out.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    SlightlyMetaphysical

    There are two things people are expected to say when they talk about how sexism affects men too:

    1. “Of course, the answer to this isn’t to reverse the effects of women’s liberation. The point is that sexism against one sex is invariably sexism against the other (in as much as there are two sexes), and feminism and men’s rights not only can, but have to work cohesively.”

    2. “Of course, men are far less hurt by this than women. Women are undoubtedly the people who are suffering more all the time. In fact, all men’s problems are just minor insignificancies compared to the suffering of women. I just thought I’d bring this point up, even though anything that affects men is invariably trivial.”

    One of these viewpoints is necessary to hold if you’re not a hateful, venomous, misogynist. The other one is not.

  2. 2
    Greta Christina

    SlightlyMetaphysical @ #1: “Women are hurt by this significantly more than men” is not the same as “Men’s problems are just minor insignificancies compared to the suffering of women, and anything that affects men is invariably trivial.” I hope you’re not equating those two.

  3. 3
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    To be fair, some individuals and communities, especially online, have become so trigger-happy after dealing with MRA trolls for so long that they instinctively dogpile on anyone who suggests that these issues should be given any meaningful amount of space at the table at all. So, someone who’s incurious or privileged enough to not second-guess the fundamental attribution error and not wonder about the history behind this kind of response could easily come off with that impression…

  4. 4
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    A couple of quick notes about how men get to have this conversation without being seen as MRA asshats (except probably by the hair-trigger folks azkyroth describes):

    1) On our own blogs and websites, instead of hijacking feminist blogs on a daily/hourly basis.

    2) On feminist blogs when it is appropriate and especially if the harm is roughly equivalent. Bringing up the difficulty men have in custody cases is fair if child custody is the topic. Bringing up that problem in a case about rape or FGM is dismissive, demeaning, and just wrong.

    3) On feminist blogs when the topic comes up. You’re not hijacking someone else’s place for yourself that way.

    And I’m going to sneak in my quick pet peeve about “the patriarchy”… the existence of male dominance of society is one facet of the totality of privilege in society. Sometimes (usually in comments) I see a sort of reflexive “you’re a man, you enjoy privilege so shuut up!” which isn’t always really fair, or really true in any meaningful way. It is sort of like the joke that some Jewish people tell about the giant Evil Jew Conspiracy that rules the world and controls its wealth, yet they are Jewish and are still waiting for their share of the cash. “The Patriarchy” isn’t doing much to benefit most men, because the overall power structure is set up for Rich White Men, not just any random guy, and certainly not poor Black or Latino men.

  5. 5
    Jim Baerg

    I think this is relevant to the discussion
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DoubleStandard

  6. 6
    jose

    Kind of sad many men have to be convinced that they are personally harmed by sexism in order to get them to start half-listening to something remotely similar to feminism.

    Did black people have to convince white people that slavery was bad for everyone, not just for the slaves?

  7. 7
    ozymandias

    I am going to be an utterly shameless self-promoter now and point out that the blog I corun, No Seriously What About Teh Menz is an entire blog designed to discuss men’s issues from an egalitarian and anti-sexist perspective. :)

  8. 8
    Dan M.

    The “dogpile MRAs first, ask questions later” folks are, well, empirically justified in their presumption. It’s helpful to have a trusted source vouchsafe the counter-examples. (Though I’m not sure that Greta’s necessary here inasmuch as being a FtB member seems to vouch for the Canuck.)

  9. 9
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Did black people have to convince white people that slavery was bad for everyone, not just for the slaves?

    Worse. With a few exceptions (probably more than made the history books, granted) they had to have white people do most of the convincing for them.

  10. 10
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The “dogpile MRAs first, ask questions later” folks are, well, empirically justified in their presumption. It’s helpful to have a trusted source vouchsafe the counter-examples. (Though I’m not sure that Greta’s necessary here inasmuch as being a FtB member seems to vouch for the Canuck.)

    Doesn’t just turn comment threads into a highschool-style popularity contest?

  11. 11
    Dan M.

    Doesn’t just turn comment threads into a highschool-style popularity contest?

    Well, I certainly don’t remember high school having any citations of statistics, explanations of historical context, discussions of interdisciplinary overlap, or hard statics of crime rates, unlike the comment threads in FtB, so no, I don’t think it does.

  12. 12
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I remember goalpost-moving and the like rather clearly, but I think you’ve already answered my question.

    I haven’t yet had a chance to sit down and digest the linked article but it sounds interesting thus far…

  13. 13
    spriteless

    Jose: Yes, black people had to convince white people that slavery was bad for everyone, not just slaves. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Narrative_of_the_Life_of_Frederick_Douglass,_An_American_Slave/Chapter_6

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