PHMT, Why Feminists Can Be Your Friend

Posted by mouthyb | Posted in , | Posted on 5:28 PM

4

The idea that men are hurt by society is not, as some writers would have you believe, brand new. It is, in fact, a thing: a well-studied thing. Feminists have an acronym for that (the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too), and there are several social science journals dedicated to men's issues. Typically, however, the journals are generally about gender issues, since there's plenty to study.

Unfortunately, most people don't know this. The study of the ways society hurts men falls in that unfortunate part of the Venn diagram of disciplines between feminism/gender studies, shit we aren't supposed to talk about as a society and men aren't supposed to acknowledge their problems.

In this case, gentlemen, feminists really are your friend. Let me tell you why.

First, let's start out by dispelling a few ideas. Feminists are not female supremacists. There are people, some of them women, who believe that it should be women's turn to fuck shit up (be in leadership positions everywhere, always, things will be perfect then.) There are people, some of them feminists, who want to move away and make women-only colonies where they can discover who they are without respect to what they feel is a society dominated by a male bloc, which they will magically not struggle with once there's no men in the area.

This view is fantastic, as in the product of wish-fulfillment fantasy. It has elements of truth in it: demographically, white dudes are in positions of power much more often than not. Feel free to google the demographics of CEOs, the House and/or the Senate here in the US to confirm this. Count heads, instead of looking for a single woman to prove there's no problems. Many women have been badly hurt by a society which treats us like objects and ignores our humanity and agency in some key ways, and don't feel like they'll ever be able to get their needs addressed.

The fantastic bits, of course, are the ones in which women magically fix everything by being uberbosses, that society's influences can be dispelled just by getting away from society, and that men are not also wounded in the process. The nasty bit is thinking of it as a competition: if only I was the boss, I'd do it right all the time.

No. No you would not. We replicate society whether we want to or not, and it's a lot of effort not to keep replicating society. You see, we internalize it.

That competition for the win is central to why the study of how men are hurt in society falls into the center of that Venn diagram. Feminists have a concept called the kyriarchy. In plainer English, it's the idea that bad shit happens to people in multiple ways, and it's possible that people take a dump on you in one way, and like you in another. Think of it like this. Very few of us are going to win the lottery and/or have been born into enough affluence to ensure you never have to work. Assuming you have to work, you're at a disadvantage compared to people who have more money than you. They can afford a lawyer, have more time to workout, aren't in debt, have more disposable income, etc. However, it may be that you benefit another way: you may be straight and/or conventionally attractive. If that is true, you may be poor, but you don't have to worry about being beat up because you're gay and people don't constantly comment on your ugliness. Does being straight and attractive automatically cancel out not having enough money to pay your bills?

Not really, despite all the stories about using bewbs to get things. It's possible to experience different kinds of oppression and different kinds of advantage, and they really don't cancel each other out. They're situational.

Don't think of that as a 'win'. It's not a competition. If my rights are respected, it does not mean you have no rights left. We don't have to compete to be heard. We can help each other.

It is true that some people end up in shitty positions more often than others. For this reason, feminists are your friends: they catalog the ways some people gain advantages in society, and try hard to find ways to even that shit out.

For men, this means that you have something to draw on when you want to talk about being hurt by economics, or by orientation, or by toxic expectations of masculinity. For women, it works much the same way. Feminism gives us a framework to talk about being treated like a walking pair of tits all day, or being told we are less capable or intelligent. Feminist theory also gives you a battle plan for dealing with it as a society.

Seriously. Feminists do a LOT of critical theorizing about how society hurts people, and a lot of pressuring social institutions to keep up with that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, gender is treated like a species difference. Men are from some place and women are little green aliens, or something along those lines. Men are supposed to automatically know what's going on and be in control and women are supposed to pick berries and shop. Men don't talk about their problems; that would make them like a woman or something.

Let me extend my hand to you, reader, as a feminist scholar. That Venn diagram you're stuck in, where you can't talk about the ways you've been hurt in society, where it's almost always your fault something went wrong--- we have words for that. We have strategies for dealing with it, and we hate it, too. We're stuck in our own versions of it, after all.

Instead of assuming that all feminists want is to hurt you, try us out. Sure, we have our cranks and our shitheads. The stakes are really high, and if we're competing, we can't afford to be wrong.

If we're competing. We don't have to be.

Please, go to google scholar and check the theory out. Remember: I can be wrong, you can be wrong, and I'd like to think we can agree society can be wrong. But we don't have to be aliens to one another.

Comments (4)

As someone who is not a feminist scholar (but who likes learnin' and likes feminism), I'd really appreciate if you can suggest a point in Google Scholar to start with.

Also, your comments box is a bit broken.

Hmmmm, I thought I'd fixed the comment box problem. Can you tell me what's happening?

Sure, I can suggest a starting point. Since a lot of this uses very specific language, I don't mind giving you a leg up. I'd try the following phrases:

benevolent sexism (takes you to a mess of PDFs, so you aren't just reading the abstract)

stereotype threat

sexism and STEM disciplines (or physics or computer science, etc)

gender and social control

gender and sexual harassment

(also these studies, which have special relevance for me: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/92/2/425/ AND http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/facbios/file/BerdahlAMR2007.pdf)

I think I posted near-simultaneously to your fixing it; Stupid Browser Tricks let me work around it, and it seems I don't get CAPTCHAd any more anyways.

Anyways, I appreciate the response. I finally made it all the way through the archives, and it's been... interesting. Enlightening, frightening, many -ings. I've never tried out Google Scholar, so this should make finding the good stuff a lot easier. The sooner I can understand this, the sooner I can help others (I'm thinking in particular of a certain little girl that loves math, reading, art, Transformers, and figuring out the hows and whys of the universe, and for whom I would be devastated to find out she'd been discouraged from any of those) understand it as well. If religion can do so well by catching 'em young, I figure I might as well see if that works with feminism and science.

Whew, glad to know it's fixed.

I'm grateful in ways which are hard to describe when people who are parents are interested in promoting their interests, instead of conditioning them to distrust the things they're interested in. So, you know, thank you.

Post a Comment