The only thing that makes life hard for men is other men


Unfortunately, they also make life miserable for everyone else, too. It’s not just the misogyny, either — the misogyny is a gateway to racism, violence, and organized opposition to any progress that doesn’t put them in charge.

The “Men’s Rights Movement” (MRM) regularly overlaps with and reinforces white supremacy and the “alt-right” through a shared belief that dominant groups in society — men and whites, respectively — are actually oppressed. Along with other “anti-feminist” activists, this misogynist coalition seeks to force its regressive viewpoint on the rest of society, from movie releases to federal education policy. From online harassment to deadly violence, the MRM and its activists are an immediate and growing threat.

Their “opression” is a garbage myth that festers everywhere. We white men are catered to constantly, and we get upset if someone doesn’t bow down low enough to us. It’s getting embarrassing to be in this group.

“Nobody cares about white men,” is a sentence I hear far too often. In facebook comments, tweets, article responses, emails, the op-eds of major national papers. Nobody cares about the white men left behind. Nobody cares about the white men who are collecting unemployment, or working middle management, or not getting regular blow jobs. Nobody cares about the white men whose hair is thinning and dad-bod is settling in and they never got to walk into a party with a hot girl on their arm and now it’s too late. Nobody cares about the white men who have to learn new terms like “privilege” or “cultural appropriation” or “social justice” — terms that don’t do anything to explain why they aren’t rich or powerful or happy.

But of course, everyone cares about white men. Do you want a movie about what it feels like to be a middle-class white man who has never gotten to skinnydip naked in the middle of the night with a hot girl? Oh it’s an entire genre. Do you want a really long think piece about how hearing the phrase “black lives matter” and having to go to community college instead of Harvard even though you only had a 2.3 gpa turned you into a neo-Nazi? If someone hasn’t written it yet, they will. Do you want a great American novel about how being a white dude working a secure, middle-management job with full health and retirement benefits makes you want to open fire at the next company potluck? Pretty sure your local librarian can point you to a few dozen.

Yeah, all you have to do is go to Netflix or Amazon Prime and open up almost any movie — anything from the 1980s is particularly awful, but there’s contemporary stuff that does the same thing — to find Big Men bullying or demeaning women or minorities, solving problems by shooting people. And those are the heroes. Our role models are mostly cocky, gleeful assholes.

You do find shows that feature women or black people in intelligent roles, but those are mocked. Worse, look at something like She-Ra where women play heroic characters, and then check YouTube, where you’ll find man-babies raging about how cartoon women have stolen roles from cartoon men. These are people who think their masculinity is enhanced by screaming about how portrayals of adolescent girls don’t have large enough breasts to suit their needs.

It can be humiliating to be a man, sure…because of that minority of loud, obnoxious cockwombles who use their privileged status to make the world worse for everyone else. The only way to affirm one’s superiority is to stomp on someone below you in the social hierarchy, I guess. I found this story insightful: it’s about how the system is set up to benefit the worst men. The system, in this case, being Facebook, which advertised a wholesome group about “Dads With Daughters” and wrecked the whole thing by bringing in swarms of asshole men.

Chatters says the ad, which features just a father and daughter, brought to his group a wave of single and divorced dads: “Unfortunately, a lot of, I guess I would say, jaded men coming from custody battles and situations where they’re not 100 percent in their children’s lives. They come to the group for support, but that’s a different type of energy. These men have been separated from their partners in a probably negative way, which means that men are coming to this group with a negative perspective of women.”

And even if the more extreme members are a minority in his group, they post a lot more. Given Facebook’s new “badge” system that rewards more active users, the smaller but louder faction rules, Chatters says.

“There is a lot of the research that focuses on masculinity, and how most men are in a place where you can reach them positively and help them understand certain aspects,” he explains. “But when there is a minority of men who are not, that minority of men basically control the larger group of men with their behaviors. And that is very much playing out in this group.”

We could talk about how a social media site like Facebook can be so dazzlingly incompetent at comprehending social behaviors — they’re about bringing in advertising dollars, not facilitating healthy conversations, and pathological train wrecks are always better for that — but this post is about bad men. I think that it’s important to note that a majority (maybe?) of men want to do what’s fair and right, and don’t feel threatened if someone who is not a white man is succeeding. Unfortunately, the system is set up to give control to the most disagreeable and overbearing jerks in a group, whether it’s a little forum on Facebook or the US Senate. That means this becomes the face of every white man on the planet.

I don’t want to be that guy. Most of us don’t want to be that guy. Sadly, the men who do want to be that guy are given the keys to drive us into the ground at birth.

Comments

  1. says

    And when the violence becomes so bad that people are upset, they’ll point to anything:
    Mentally ill!
    Video games! *
    Absent father!
    The girls didn’t appreciate him enough!

    *WE should talk about video games and how they reinforce that narrative, but no video game gun has ever killed people IRL

  2. says

    Speaking of which, while we’re finally getting people to talk about far-right white nationalist/supremacist terrorism, we’re not talking enough yet about anti-woman terrorism (George Sodini, Elliot Rodger, Alek Minassian, etc). Yes, there’s now a bright, shining spotlight on the radicalization of incels, there isn’t enough of a conversation about how when they are doing is terrorism targeted at women.

  3. PaulBC says

    … and also persisting serialized data without thinking about forward compatibility.

    Now that you mention it, most of the culprits were men, but they weren’t exclusively even in the case I’m thinking about right now (and needless to say, it can also make life hard for women who have to deal with the onerous data migration involved).

  4. PaulBC says

    And not to be flippant about the original point here, I agree that “white men” are not an oppressed group, unless having to be lumped in with the likes of Mitch McConnell is a form of oppression. It’s not my favorite feeling as a white man, but I can live with it.

  5. wanderingelf says

    I think that it’s important to note that a majority (maybe?) of men want to do what’s fair and right, and don’t feel threatened if someone who is not a white man is succeeding.

    Sadly, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise, given that 53% of men supported Drumpf in 2016, and 51% supported Republicans in 2018 (at least according to the stats from Pew). I find the second stat especially damning, since by 2018 the whole “I didn’t realize how bad he would be” excuse was no longer tenable (if it ever was).

  6. microraptor says

    wanderingelf @7: Anyone who could honestly say that they didn’t know how bad Trump would be in 2016 had no business voting because they were too clueless about the issues.

  7. says

    wanderingelf @ 7: “Sadly, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise, given that 53% of men supported Drumpf in 2016, and 51% supported Republicans in 2018”

    Careful. Those are percentages of those who voted. Seeing that roughly half the population does not vote regularly, that’s an extrapolation. I am not convinced that those are good figures for the general population. My reasoning is that over 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump and as a group, they are over represented in the pool of voters (they REALLY like to vote). Further, many marginalized groups are under represented thanks to voter suppression and other factors.

  8. HawkAtreides says

    As a Man™ I have some Very Serious Opinions about She-Ra.

    Entrapta best princess. Fight me.

  9. says

    I wonder if the two black guys at Starbucks think it is only men that make their lives difficult.

    No, but you’re mixing up the categories. White women uphold white supremacy* and usually outsource the actual violence to the white men. But the life of those guys wasn’t made difficult because they are men (though race and gender do interact as in what is called “misogynoir” or the image of black men as overly violent), but because they’re black. We know that similar things happen to black women and children, but not to white men and women.

    *And if you read the articles you see what they’re getting as their rewards, which shows what a hell of a drug white supremacy is.

  10. brain says

    Yeah, all you have to do is go to Netflix or Amazon Prime and open up almost any movie — anything from the 1980s is particularly awful, but there’s contemporary stuff that does the same thing — to find Big Men bullying or demeaning women or minorities, solving problems by shooting people. And those are the heroes. Our role models are mostly cocky, gleeful assholes.

    PZ, do you really think this is the problem? Movies with stereotyped characters? People, normal people, can distinguish between entertainment and real life. They can enjoy movies or books representing situations they’d never endorse or want to experience in real life. They can watch a sexist movie without becoming sexist. They can read books written in racist, homophobic cultures and periods, appreciating them without buying the wrong parts.

    And by the way, if you want to remove all racist, sexist, homophobic, bigot material from our lives you need to destroy probably 99% of all books, movies, theatre and opera scripts, fairy tales, traditional stories, songs. Everything from the beginning of human history until at least y2k. And this is stupid and useless.

    (Incidentally: I love Dr Who. The last Doctor is a woman, and it’s almost universally recognised as one of the worst Doctors. This is not because she is a woman, but it is because the authors chose a very good actress that does not fit into the role, just because they wanted a woman. She “is not the Doctor”. And this happens in a show which has change, diversity and irrelevance of exterior aspect at its core.)

  11. jefrir says

    Brain, I must have missed the part where PZ mentioned destroying or removing media containing bigotry; could you point me at it?

  12. brain says

    @jefrir: I’m sure you can work it out by yourself. Probably it’ll be easier for you if you stop distorting what I wrote sticking on purpose to single words, and instead try and understand what I was actually saying.

  13. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Brian: “Probably it’ll be easier for you if you stop distorting what I wrote sticking on purpose to single words, and instead try and understand what I was actually saying.”

    I just want to emphasize the delicious unintentional irony that this was written by someone who read PZ’s OP and came away with it being a call for censorship…

    Oh, and I also loved this bit: “The last Doctor is a woman, and it’s almost universally recognised as one of the worst Doctors.”

    Note there is not a single shred of evidence presented for this opinion. Hell, it’s not even presented as an opinion. Brian doesn’t even have the courage to accept it as his own. I’t s just “universally recognized, ” much like Darth Cheeto saying “Many people are saying…”

    [sharpens claws]

    So, Brian, thinking of staying around for a while?

  14. brain says

    @17 Giliell:

    Brain, what do you think”culture” is, how it is created and what it means to us.
    I could tell you that the country I live in is the one where the word “cultura” was created. But let’s simply assume we are both able to read a dictionary and let’s get to the core of your question. Which meaning of the term “culture” are you interested in?
    My point was: personal growth is something complex and not necessarily linear. You often learn by being exposed to stupid ideas more than by being padded in positive ones. Also, that it doesn’t matter if you enjoyed Rice Burroughs or action hero movies: what is important is your attitude, being able to distinguish what is fun on tv from what you should do in your life.

    Anyway: Matt Smith was the best, then Tennant, imho.

  15. says

    I could tell you that the country I live in is the one where the word “cultura” was created. But let’s simply assume we are both able to read a dictionary

    In short, lots of pompous hot air and no substance.
    Why do people think they look smart by telling others “go look at the dictionary” as if dictionaries weren’t for one written by humans and constantly revised* and for the other just at best a starting point of a conversation, not something substantial.
    *There’s a famous quote by García Marquez that he once read the dictionary entrance for “yellow” and realised it left him with no idea what yellow was.

  16. brain says

    @22 Giliell

    Why do people think they look smart by telling others “go look at the dictionary”

    Oh dear. I actually wrote the opposite, stating that neither of us needs to go for a dictionary (meaning that I didn’t want to start a discussion on the literal meaning of culture, and deeming you mature enough to agree on that).
    Then I proceeded to explain a meaning of “culture” related to the topic we’re discussing, while still waiting to understand from you why you brought up that question about “culture” in the first place.

    But ok, let’s quote Garcia Marquez without progressing in the discussion if you prefer. (Well, actually no, I’m not interested).

  17. PaulBC says

    brain@16

    PZ, do you really think this is the problem? Movies with stereotyped characters? People, normal people, can distinguish between entertainment and real life.

    “Normal people” maybe. Attorney General Bill Barr, not so much:
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/bill-barr-interview-dirty-harry-death-wish-vigilante-justice

    “I say, now, was that an unjust or morally repellent act? Is the reason that the audience applauds when that happens because the audience is morally bankrupt?” Barr asked, incredulously. “Or is there something else going on there?”

    And this is by way of letting real life police off the hook for use of deadly force for fear that they’ll get mopey and “not take those risks.”

    I agree that fiction should be able to explore any part of the human condition without being seen as an endorsement of bad behavior. But actually “liberal” Hollywood more often than not makes an unambiguous endorsement of rough justice over due process. Those who insist on following the law are nearly always the ineffectual buffoons, proved wrong by the end of the film. And here we have someone high in the executive branch of government using this endorsement to make his own point.

    I don’t think this is “the” problem, but I think it is a real problem. Yes, they have a right to make movies like this, and nothing’s going to stop it, but I find it ironic that that bugbear of the rightwing, the entertainment industry, uses so much of its talent and resources to promote an essentially authoritarian outlook when it comes to crime and law enforcement.

  18. PaulBC says

    Aside about dictionaries: since they define words in terms of other words, every definition is ultimately either left open or ultimately circular (an obvious point). I had a dictionary when I was about 10 years old that defined “dolt” as “blockhead” and when I looked up “blockhead” it only said “dolt.” Bad dictionary, but at least I was familiar with “blockhead” (from Charlie Brown more likely than not).

    Dictionaries do contain useful information about the relationships between words. It would be interesting to see how far an advanced AI could get with only a dictionary. E.g., it might be hard to describe “yellow” in words and not very useful to present it, e.g., as a wavelength of visible light, but enough examples of yellow objects tells you something. You can infer a rough concept of color as a way of classifying things and even a sense of what sighted humans think about these colors subjectively (at least those who wrote that dictionary). (Or you could listen to Donovan singing about his true love’s hair in the morning when they rise, in the morning when they rise, but I digress.)

    It seems a lot less relevant whether some is from the country where the word “cultura” was first invented. I mean, it has roots in Latin, and probably earlier than that. The concept is also not unique to those who use the word (Chinese: 文化 wénhuà. I had to look it up, but can we assume it means something close enough and they had that idea too for thousands of years?)

    (No point here, but the part about the dictionary is true. I might even be able to find it on Google books if I look.)

  19. brain says

    @16 PaulBC

    I see your point. Still, I think the problem is in your Attorney General. We also have a stupid and populist government, with the same mix of raw ignorance and clever manipulation of people’s instincts -but the problem is in the people who vote them, and they don’t become like thet by watching “Lethal Weapon”.

    Those who insist on following the law are nearly always the ineffectual buffoons, proved wrong by the end of the film

    That’s true, and part of the reason is that we all would like to have some superhero come and solve complex problems in a simple way. The Good guy on one side, the Bad Guys on the other: that was the world when you were a kid and things were simple.
    But also consider that people go to the movie to be amazed, to see something uncommon and out of their everyday experience. They go and see dragons, wizards, starships, people who reconquer the love of their ex after the love has gone. Seeing a bunch of person who do good things by their everyday, normal, routine work is something that can be and has been done, but for sure it’s much less attractive for mass public. So, in a sense, I’m almost happy that we do not see to many films with normal people doing normal stuff of not being assholes.

  20. PaulBC says

    brain@26

    Well, fiction is fiction and it serves whatever need people have. Yes, the best thing is to learn to distinguish it from reality. Personally, I think fantasy genres (Marvel universe, Joss Whedon) actually get the balance better. While the rule of law is basically ignored, at least there is usually karmic payback for cruelty. The Star Trek universe is closer to showing an actual endorsement of following protocol, even if they have to break it to move the plot along.

    I still find it ironic that the entertainment industry is so often portrayed (at least in the US) as “liberal.” It usually presents pluralistic values and doesn’t respect tradition, so that may offend conservatives. But there is another component of it that absolutely feeds the dominant American culture of might makes right.

  21. says

    Giliell at 15.

    I’m getting more and more troubled when groups are talked about as being the same, like when white man and men of color are identified only as men. and ignoring differences.
    Trump does that when he says all Mexican immigrants are rapists and thieves.
    That type of thinking also had unfortunate consequences on the border during the Matanza.
    like the killings at Porvenir, or that of Jesus Bazan and Antonio Longoria. At that time all Mexicans and Mexican Americans were suspected of being bandits.

  22. says

    Brain

    . I actually wrote the opposite, stating that neither of us needs to go for a dictionary

    So what did you mean?
    Were you claiming that since we both know the dictionary definition we don’t need to look it up, or were you referencing some definition beyond the dictionary that you still refuse to give, thus making me work with an unstated premise that you could always change depending on the argument.
    I tell you what you should look up. It’s called arguing in hood faith.

    Robert Baden
    Now that’s some world class false equivalence. White men and men of colour do share similar characteristics and positions in terms of gender and gendered power. There is no such structure that links “Mexicans” and “rapists”. But thanks for indirectly comparing me to Trump and his inspiration of mass shootings cause I identified men as men.

  23. brain says

    @30
    You brought up the culture topic, without explaining why you are asking about it. And you are the one that provides zero contribution to the topic. So, piss off.

  24. racingboo says

    “…a shared belief that dominant groups in society … are actually oppressed…”

    Question for help with ongoing research, in which I see this myself. My specialism is Media Studies but it overlaps so much with social psychology/sociology that I’m learning as fast as I can. I’ve been trying to find academic literature that explores this phenomenon, if anyone can point me to a good source I’d be much obliged. Especially if it has a name.

  25. brain says

    @32 WMDKitty

    Men just make life hard for everyone. White men more so than others, but yes, ALL MEN.

    These kind of stupid, sexist comments are the reason feminist women don’t get so much support from men.

    Just for you to understand how stupid is your remark: do you think PZ “makes life hard for everyone”?

  26. Saad says

    These kind of stupid, sexist comments are the reason feminist women don’t get so much support from men.

    TRIGERRED!!!1

  27. PaulBC says

    John Morales@35 Well, it’s a start but not really as good as a link to a readable survey paper on the topic. Sometimes actual human beings do know things that aren’t easy to find in a search.

  28. brain says

    John Morales: I’m not familiar with the term “dolt”. So I searched for it online:

    “dolt”: term used in expressions like “you are a dolt” when you are so lazy and/or stupid that you cannot come up with a real objection.

    As for “collective names”: you seem to have problems with pronouns. You can climb all the mirrors you want, writing that “ALL MEN” are a problem means having some serious issue. Something that requires a good specialist asap.

    Anyway, if you are a man, please stop writing here, you’re making life harder for everyone. Thank you.

  29. brain says

    Yeah. Also “roses are red, sky is blue”.
    I said “meaningful”: this is a generic -and false- statement good for fortune cookies. Like, try and tell this to someone who has cancer, or depression.

    Oh, and obviously, you’re distorting what WMDKitty wrote, trying to get on top of your mirror wall.

  30. John Morales says

    brain:

    I said “meaningful”: this is a generic -and false- statement good for fortune cookies.

    It’s the post title. And it may be wrong in a literal sense, but it ain’t meaningless.

    Like, try and tell this to someone who has cancer, or depression.

    <snicker>

    Oh, and obviously, you’re distorting what WMDKitty wrote, trying to get on top of your mirror wall.

    Heh. You do amuse me with your vacuous bluster.

  31. brain says

    Morales:
    Meaningful content from the sum of your posts once removed insults, tactical diversions and generic babbling: zero.

  32. Jazzlet says

    brain this ain’t your blog, so telling people to piss off is even more pointless than the rest of your comments.

  33. brucegee1962 says

    @brain 16

    More heat than light on this thread. I want to skip the arguing about definitions and go back to the start of this kerfuffle:

    PZ, do you really think this is the problem? Movies with stereotyped characters? People, normal people, can distinguish between entertainment and real life. They can enjoy movies or books representing situations they’d never endorse or want to experience in real life. They can watch a sexist movie without becoming sexist. They can read books written in racist, homophobic cultures and periods, appreciating them without buying the wrong parts.

    And by the way, if you want to remove all racist, sexist, homophobic, bigot material from our lives you need to destroy probably 99% of all books, movies, theatre and opera scripts, fairy tales, traditional stories, songs. Everything from the beginning of human history until at least y2k. And this is stupid and useless.

    As a teacher of literature, this kind of attitude drives me absolutely crazy. What you’re saying is that the culture we live in doesn’t have any effect on us. You act as if you’re defending traditional culture, but you’re doing so by dismissing the role of culture altogether. That gets my dander up.
    How do you think people acquire their knowledge of how to deal with members of the opposite and same sex, how to see themselves as family members and citizens, how to have even a basic sense of right and wrong, OTHER THAN CULTURE? Yes, our parents may instruct us some. But surely ” books, movies, theatre and opera scripts, fairy tales, traditional stories, songs” teach us far, far more about how our society expects us to behave.
    As for whether or not this makes us have to “remove all racist, sexist, homophobic, bigot material from our lives” — surely you’re familiar with Sturgeon’s Law, that “90% of everything is crap.” What we’re seeing now is that enough time has now passed that we can start discerning the difference between the good stuff and the crap in the last few decades of the 20th century. And part of what makes the crap crap is that it relies on (usually racist and sexist) assumptions about people, rather than how people actually behave.
    And no, this doesn’t mean that all the stories of the past has to go in the dumpster. Someone like Shakespeare or Chaucer is probably more “politically correct” in their portrayal of women and minorities than nine tenths of the movies made in the 80s.
    But it does mean that if I was to watch, say, a pre-Little Mermaid Disney movie with my daughter, I’d want to have a long talk with her about agency and why the princesses in those movies seem incapable of solving their own problems.

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