Gathered together are a number of articles related to how men and boys are treated by society and the media. The articles, for the most part, concentrate on misandry, domestic violence and female violence and reflect an anti-RADICAL FEMINIST viewpoint. Although articles are pro-male, they are not anti-female.

Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


How feminists use victimology to unleash tyranny...

Some time ago I became the darling of a fierce band of mostly American feminists, middle-aged, trained in the humanities, standing on the cultural left. In their eyes they saw a green and sensitive guy, bristling with perceived feminine virtues - one said, `.your soul radiates pure energy' - and they enlisted me as a crony in their row with patriarchy. They weaned me on their ideology: in the difficult path to liberation (which these feminists had achieved), each woman had to break out of patriarchal conditioning and find her voice and sensuality. They acted motherly, and they warned me of the hostilities I would have to grapple with, even from other male-voiced women. I would be, they exhorted, another victim of maleness that is supplanted in my women lovers, too. One of them wrote in an email that my intensity of emotions, my bare soul, my quest for the truth (whatever that might be) would at once attract and repulse women. She wrote, `Most people will feel uneasy in your presence, and you can become a target and a scapegoat, but trust the universe because you will find a partner who will embrace your truth telling and intensity, but it will be a rare bloom.'

In her epic 1982 book In a Different Voice, the Harvard social psychologist Carol Gilligan argued that women's distinct `moral voice' is stifled by a `male-voiced' culture. She amasses empirical evidence that paints a bleak picture of young girls who, at around puberty, become reticent and withdrawn - and she wields this as proof that women's voices are silenced at an early age. What's more: young boys are victims of their own nature too, and she insinuates that young boys have to be disinfected from their toxic masculinity. Gilligan's book made Jane Fonda cry, and jumpstarted a wave of rallying by women enraged by a sense of injustice, some valid, others more feudal.

Now Harvard is opening a gender studies centre that will use In a Different Voice as its starting point and blueprint, and Jane Fonda has donated $12.5 million to the effort. The gender studies centre will investigate how patriarchy conditions gender norms, then tweak curriculums to fight sexism. This means, in the ethos informed by Gilligan's work, a psychological re-engineering of the self to knead the persona in young girls and boys according to feminine strictures.

By now I had started to feel that some feminist proposals unfairly give women an arbitrary advantage over men. My feminists, for example, want the rape laws changed into something resembling a female autocracy: if a woman feels raped, even if she did not resist at the time, then the man is by extension guilty. I told them the status quo in child custody where the mother almost always wins custody of the children is unfair; they replied that the women should always get custody because females are superior nurturers of children than males. I found these attitudes patronising, more so because they are packaged in that conservative pretence of compassionate salvation (we are only rescuing you from yourself).

When I lamented that most of the women I have loved have been as tyrannical as many men in relationships, they admonished me to be patient. Women's anger, they said, are the spasms of thousands of years of oppression, the feminine prisoner thrashing in its cage. (Oh, what about personal responsibility?) They reminded me of what poet Muriel Rukeyser wrote: `What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.' My feminists abhorred the penis, which, with its rape accusations, symbolises the stick that beats women into submission: it is eager, probing, and invasive.

All the same, I started to sit uncomfortably with the concept that maleness is pathological. Is there anything inherently wrong with masculinity as long as it's fair and non-violent? Perhaps masculine traits - competitiveness, emotional indifference, libido - are innate characteristics shaped by evolution to hone humanity's chances of survival and propagation? Perhaps the young girls' alleged uncommunicative stance that Gilligan paints is simply a normal state of reassessment in their development?

Christina Hoff Sommers, an American dissident feminist and philosopher, raises these questions in her book The War Against Boys published last year. Sommers dismisses Gilligan's research as anecdotal and argues that overzealous feminism, rather than silencing girls, is actually scarring boys with existential guilt for their male characteristics. She points out the harm done to a six-year-old boy in the US who, in 1996, was disciplined by his school for kissing a girl on the cheek, and stigmatised as a sexual harasser. It's boys who are in crisis, Sommers argues, and you only have to consider that in the western world more girls are graduating than boys to acknowledge that. Sommers fears the `increasingly aggressive efforts to feminise boys,' especially now that Harvard is legitimising Gilligan's work with its stamp of approval; when Harvard squeaks, the world pays attention.

It seemed that my feminists look at every strand of women's torment and conflict and blame it on patriarchy. There is historical basis for this, but now, after thirty years of feminism, we have to move on, and we have to dissipate our anger as a prerequisite for reconciliation (not entrench the battle, like my feminists). Also, believing that society is in a quandary because of a perceived loss of innocence of femininity is simplistic, the crunch of nostalgia projecting a lost, imaginary utopia.

`Young women are unhappy,' they argued.

`So are young men,' I said. `Maybe the problem is that in the western world, with our premise that the self can be cultivated, we expect unrelenting happiness and when we are unhappy we perceive a problem. What if our search for happiness is misguided? What if we are simply animals programmed to survive and propagate, and survival is a struggle that by definition can't produce happiness? Isn't happiness an abstraction?'

All my feminists are estranged or frustrated in their love relationships, past or present, and they feel abused at the hands of their male partners. In her 1999 book Rebels in White Gloves, Miriam Horn tells the story of women whose lives were broken by the lies and infidelity, and lack of support, attention and compliments in their love relationships, then goes on to argue that the politicisation of these personal feuds empowers women to find strength for their anguish through `public solidarity.' Yet this kind of empowerment has nothing to do with gender politics, with respect, with equality. It's simply the collective rage of women who have turned the tensions inherent in intimate relationships into a political struggle that seeks to implant a feminine mindset in men, so that men would think like women and harmony would ensue. This is a misguided, one-sided theory.

Men in relationships suffer from the same kind of misdemeanours induced by women (in two-thirds of marriage separations in the West, it's the woman who deserts the man due to dissatisfaction with the quality of the relationship). There is always a danger in politics to politicise personal struggles and flog personal vendettas. Relationships are power struggles and their hierarchical nature triggers resentment, but you cannot blame patriarchy for that. You can't say, Men, you just can't trust them, because using the same measure you can't trust women either, at least not the women of my generation and my world, who are independent and successful.

My feminists all watched The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler. It's a story of personal anguish and anger, but the anger is not objectified: it takes the form of an anti-male tirade. In the fallout of rejection by a partner, we often mutter generalised attacks on all males or all females. We fall into that trap now and again, but now an extreme band of influential feminists - exactly because they have a voice now, not vice versa - want to make the issue public policy. Fight sexism, fight condescending treatment, fight for an equal voice in the workplace and in personal relationships, fight for better communication between the sexes, fight for more emotional openness by both sexes. But don't project personal retribution into public retribution because that's the politics of tyranny under the guise of victimisation.

Written by Victor Paul Borg



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