Masculinism

Someone challenged Aron Ra to explain feminism to him via a Youtube video, begging every single one of the seven questions. Aron Ra gave laudable answers, though PZ Myers pointed out some errors and some of the pitfalls that Aron Ra stumbled through (owing, entirely, to the framing of the questions — just look at the expectation of an autocratic hierarchy with an authoritarian power structure).

In the comments at PZ’s, the thread rapidly became a “what about the men” derail by someone who apparently, genuinely, just wanted to explore the topic. He suggested an apposite inverse to feminism would be “masculinism”, which deals with the ways that men are disadvantaged in society.

I had done, some time ago, a piece on the disadvantages of being a man. Strangely enough, all of them stemmed from the current structure of our society, which undeniably advantages men disproportionately. There are a few corrections that need to be made to that essay, which I’ll try to touch on in here. I feel the need to talk about “masculinism”, “egalitarianism” (in reference specifically to gender relations), what it could look like, and why it’s particularly incomplete without integrating into feminism.

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Fischer: Women earning money is misandry

You know what’s interesting about the fights we’ve had in the secular community lately? You know, the ones about whether or not women deserve to get belittled and dismissed and dehumanized systematically by members of the community who are apparently still to this day in good community standing with our community’s leaders? They’re only about a step better than the completely backward atavistic views that come from religion. How dare these women make more money than men, emasculating them and undermining God’s great plan for society?

Feeling burned for people holding you to account for your words, Bryan? That passive-aggressive bit at the beginning, it’s telling — the fact that people are excerpting your words, with full context, and are showing you to be a biblically blinkered sexist asshat with those very words, must really chafe you.

I’m sorry, was that not politically correct of me to say?

At least this guy looks like an ass for saying what’s on his mind. Maybe one day the other asses will too.

Libby Anne on equity feminism vs gender feminism

Sorry I’ve been mostly absent from the blogohedron these past few days. I’m actually hard at work on a WordPress plugin to allow for ad-free subscriptions, and over the past several days, I’ve been pouring my (sadly, waning) blogosphere time into that plugin instead of blogging. (Why my blogosphere time is waning, however, is a different story — one I may even get to tell you about shortly. For right now, suffice it to say I’m doing my damnedest to keep a bunch of plates spinning, and some things need more attention right now.)

In lieu of my writing anything of my own, I will gladly link to people who’ve written things I wholeheartedly agree with. Over at Love Joy Feminism, FtB Expat Libby-Anne has written a bang-up post on the difference between “equity feminism” and “gender feminism”, and she hit on a meme I can honestly say I actively desire to have propagated — equity feminism could be better described as “libertarian feminism.”

I’ve noticed something as I’ve watched the conflict over feminism play out in the atheist blogosphere. Rather than “equity feminism” I would call it “difference feminism” or maybe “libertarian feminism.” I don’t really have a good label for exactly what’s going on, but vjack is right that there are some people in the skeptic community who reject the feminist focus on questioning and challenging gender roles. Here is an example from prominent skeptic Harriet Hall:

I think it is unreasonable to expect that equal numbers of men and women will be attracted to every sphere of human endeavor. Science has shown that real differences exist. We should level the playing field and ensure there are no preventable obstacles, then let the chips fall where they may.

Kuhle made this same argument in his article when he argued that there are natural differences between men and women and derided the idea that gender roles are socially constructed. Kuhle’s line of reasoning is why some people argue that it’s only natural that the vast majority of engineers are men and that the the fast majority of stay at home parents are women. Men are just better at spacial reasoning, after all, and women are perfectly evolved to care for children! Based on this same sort of argument, Michael Shermer responded to a question last summer about why speakers at atheist conferences generally tilt male by saying that

it’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a guy thing.

It’s hard to tell when going of fairly short statements made in blog posts or comments, but the idea seems to be that if you ensure that there is equality before the law, it shouldn’t matter that men dominate in STEM fields and in leadership positions, or that that women find themselves doing the majority of the childcare. We shouldn’t bat an eye or ask why – instead, we should just accept this situation as natural and inevitable because men and women are different.

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Underwhelming response to trans rights bill, overwhelming response to trans beauty queen

I don’t know if you realized it when it happened, but last time around here in Canada, when bill C-389 amending the standing 1977 Canadian Human Rights Act to include transsexual and transgender rights was about to pass in the last parliament, it became a victim of the 2011 election when the government was dissolved before it could become law.

The process, which had taken almost a year, fell apart before its proponents’ eyes. Transsexual and transgender persons came within a hair’s breadth of being protected under our Charter, but became an accidental casualty instead of Harper’s bid for more power. They truly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

If you have a memory that stretches all the way back to 2011, you’ll remember the common media narrative and pushback against this bill was that it was the “Bathroom Bill” — a bid to allow “perverts” to use a woman’s bathroom despite having a penis, and possibly prey on unsuspecting little girls. Suddenly, public bathrooms would go from safe havens to molestation central.

You know, because homosexuality and transsexuality are all about molesting little kids. Or something.

So, you might be surprised to know that this time around, now that Bill C-276 by Liberal MP Hedy Fry and C-279 by NDP MP Randall Garrison were introduced and now that by luck of the draw Garrison’s bill was read into the Parliament, pretty much nobody’s taking it seriously at all.

Not the media, not the MPs, nobody.
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Dads to Huggies: “We’re no dummies”.

Huggies Diapers stepped in it bigtime recently, by pulling the same stereotyped crap about single dads you get from every sitcom and movie involving single parent fathers. Dads protested, and Huggies pulled the odious ads.

The “Dad Test” campaign, posted on Facebook and geared towards men, was meant to be funny. The idea behind the campaign, according to Huggies, was to prove that Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything. As the ad’s narrator explains, “We put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, along with their babies, in one house, for five days.” They showed hopeless, overwhelmed dads in cliched scenarios (i.e., watching sports, neglecting their babies) as their wives get their nails done and sip tea (how original).

Well, let’s just say that viewers were not amused (and I don’t blame them one bit). They flocked to Facebook with claims they’ll never buy Huggies again, and even created a petition – called “We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies,” at Change. org (so far, around 1300 people have signed it). Huggies quickly responded by apologizing, pulling the ads and replacing them with new ones that show dads sitting in gliders and rocking happy babies in their laps.

So now the ads include confident, capable men, and all it took was a campaign to tell Huggies that the “only mothers are parents” bullshit won’t fly. Yet another way traditional gender roles screw things up for men. I’m earmarking this for some hypothetical future sequel to the Disadvantages of Being a Man post.

Yeah, I’m not terribly amused by this either. This is stuff Huggies should be getting right the first time around. Surely they do product surveys, surely they know that men are often buying their products, and surely they know that many of those men are the primary child caregivers. We men are not sports-watchers and beer-swillers by default; we are not incapable of emotions or imbued with toxic masculinity except where we are molded by the same societal gender roles that do so much damage to women. It is in all of our best interests to disassemble these societally enforced ideas, and a diaper company reinforcing them to be “funny” just shows how difficult a proposition it will be.

Are universal statements always a problem?

Or just sometimes?

It occurs to me that many (“ALL!” “Shh.”) of our problems around these parts viz every new conflagration, from our recent conversation with Mallorie Nasrallah, to the statement by DJ Grothe that we only blog about controversial topics for hits, to the pushback against a Rebecca Watson blog title as though it meant she hates all atheists, is the fact that we as skeptics seem to have a problem with blanket universals even when they are not intended as universals. They are the quickest single thing you can do to engender hatred amongst your commentariat.
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The More ^Than Men project launches

Watch this space. A truly excellent man, Sasha Pixlee, has thrown down the gauntlet. We as a community need to change, and change is going to take more men. And more than men.

I’m a straight, white man and the subcultures I am a part of are dominated by straight, white men. I’m a gaming and science fiction nerd. I am an atheist, and I am a skeptic. Any time you attend gatherings of those groups you see a lot of white faces, a lot of male bodies, and those dudes – like me – prefer women for sex partners. Despite the fact that I should fit right in to these groups I often feel uncomfortable in them because of their homogeneity.

We live in a diverse world and I think we can all agree that any time a group’s makeup is less diverse than the world at large there are reasons for it. Here in the United States we have more diversity than most places, but when attending nerd events, atheist events, and skeptic events I keep finding myself in the majority. Why is that? I believe it is because something about those groups is making women and racial and sexual minorities feel like the group is Not For Them or are experiencing things that make them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I would like to change that.

I wrote a piece several months ago for this project when Sasha asked for support. It was supposed to launch at Dragon*Con, but better late than never. And it couldn’t come at a more timely juncture, when misogyny is rampant in our atheist and skeptic communities. I will be dusting off that piece and updating it so it’s relevant, and will link you when it is posted.

This is important. If I have my way, this will be a watershed moment. This is about telling men in our communities that change needs to happen — that more men need to get on board with the idea that we need more than men.

“I’m tired of being a ‘Woman in Games’.”

Oh, look! The skeptic blogosphere ain’t the only place where being a woman is in and of itself a novelty! Leigh Alexander at Kotaku discusses how she’s treated as a gaming journalist, by virtue of her sex:

It’s just that I’m shocked that grade-school concepts like “diversity is constructive” and “treat human beings equitably” are concepts that somehow still need championing, still need arguing for. I mean, really? I have to explain many times that the convergence of varied perspectives makes creating things-–like video games-–more fruitful? Or more simply: You think boys’ clubs are better than spaces where everyone gets equal respect regardless of their gender? What’re you, five?

Now why does THAT sound familiar?
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The Disadvantages of Being a Man

Before I start on this post, nothing I say here is intended to be a slight on people fighting for equality from the perspective of other genders or sexes. I intend this as an acknowledgement of the many ways that men are disadvantaged by the same societal mores that disadvantage women in other, additionally serious (and in many instances more serious) ways. I am a feminist as well as an egalitarian, and I approach these issues with those ideals as my starting point. This is in no way an attempt at drawing a false equivalency between the issues the various genders and sexes encounter.

The patriarchal society we find ourselves in today is a significantly eroded one, where the patriarchy finds itself under attack from almost every angle, but it remains a patriarchy still. Thanks to the monumental efforts of the feminist and civil rights movements, not to mention the recent secular pushback against religious authoritarianism and its adherents’ less than progressive ideals about women’s role in society, what was once a society that prided itself on its white male hegemony is now a more pluralistic one, though far from egalitarian. This patriarchy still exists, and societal pressure for men and women to conform to specific gender roles still has the very inertial effect on forestalling progressive change.

And while these gender roles have many powerful side-effects with regards to women and their sexual self-determination, men are not wholly insulated from the splash damage. In fact, I strongly believe that these gender roles are largely responsible for all of the gender related issues that all sexes and genders experience today.
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