On the false claims of “A War on Men”

I have another piece up at Daily Life Australia (part of the Sydney Morning Herald media family), looking at the risible claims of a “War on Men” that have set the interwebs ablaze this week.

Excerpt:

Much of the male rhetoric of the so-called ”gender wars” is rooted in rage-filled indignation at women’s newfound capacity for sexual selectiveness. Dimly aware of an “earlier time” when “women knew their place” (the bygone days of the vulnerability-for-responsibility exchange), these men (and their female surrogates, like Suzanne Venker) direct their anger not only at the women who reject them but at the feminism that empowered women to be more “choosy” about those with whom they mated. Women today can afford to say, as many of my students do, “If I meet the right person, then I might consider getting married – and if I don’t, then I’ll still be fine.” Contrary to what the Abbots and Venkers might claim, that “if/then thinking” represents tremendous opportunity for both sexes. It means women can avoid being trapped in desperately unhappy marriages; it means that men can trust they’re being chosen for their emotional and sexual desirability rather than their bank balance or their staid reliability.

To put it simply, the more freedom women have to say “no,” the more men can trust the authenticity of their “yes.”

If there is a “war on men,” it’s not being waged by feminists. It’s being waged by an unholy alliance of social conservatives and evolutionary psychologists who relentlessly repeat the message that men can only feel powerful when women make themselves powerless. In the modern gender battles, it’s worth asking which side believes in men’s capacity to be fully human. Reading the propaganda, it’s clear it’s not the side of the sexual traditionalists.

Read the whole thing.

18 thoughts on “On the false claims of “A War on Men”

  1. “Much of the male rhetoric of the so-called ”gender wars” is rooted in rage-filled indignation at women’s newfound capacity for sexual selectiveness.”

    —-

    No. That is you simply attributing nasty motives to men as a class once again. They apparently – according to you – all act with this single-minded, evil motive.

    You don’t give evidence of your assertions against men, and they are often not even plausible. I don’t think the way that you assume, and plenty of other men don’t think that way either. The rest of your article is based on that faulty premise.

    I realize that your “fan base” is going to eat up statements like that. They confirm their own bigotry. But is that the only reason – or the real reason – you do things like this? Why constantly throw out all of this hate – unfounded – and then ignore people who ask about it?

    • The original article by Susan Venker painted everyone with broad brushstrokes as well:

      “In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.”

      She didn’t give evidence of her assertions either, and I don’t think they’re plausible at all. I wasn’t raised to think that way and I don’t know anyone, female or male, that has.

      To your point though, Hugo’s assertion that:

      “Much of the male rhetoric of the so-called ”gender wars” is rooted in rage-filled indignation at women’s newfound capacity for sexual selectiveness.”

      …in the context of this article actually is “gender war” anti-female (and I would argue anti-male as well) rhetoric from a woman.

      Which is interesting.

    • I’m certainly no member of Hugo’s fan base, but in this instance, he has the right of it. Conservatives are all about “tradition,” as they define it, and they’re angry that their definition of it (male dominated society with women in submissive roles as wives and helpmeets) has been overturned by feminism, which has made women aware of their own agency and that being a wife and mother is not the be-all and end-all of existence. He isn’t attributing this anger to “men as a class,” only the men who have bought the message that life owes them a beautiful woman who places serving his wants and needs first, and feels cheated that the promise hasn’t been fulfilled. For evidence that these men exist, you need look no farther than any online forum where MRA’s are present.

      • Usual cheap shot at the men’s rights movement there. Most MRAs (apart from an irrelevant extreme fringe who want to rescind women’s right to vote etc.) just want a return to fairness – especially in the courtroom. Yes, some of them are angry, but having one’s kids taken away and being billed for the “privilege” – or being thrown in jail due to a false accusation – would do that to anyone (including a woman).

        The movement does have problems, in my view, mainly in going after the wrong target in many cases, but most self-identified MRAs did not start out that way – they were faced with some gross injustice in their lives, not a loss of privilege.

        • I won’t deny there aren’t legitimate men’s rights issues that need addressing. It’s just that when MRA’s comment on feminist and woman-friendly blogs and forums, it takes little prodding for them to turn Full Metal Misogynist in seconds flat. If you made a drinking game out of MRA usage of terms like feminazi, cunt and whore in the average comment thread, your liver would give out in minutes.

          • Not trying to advance a “no true Scotsman” argument, but I doubt that very many MRAs bother to make inflammatory comments on feminist message boards. There is no shortage of misogynistic men (and/or adolescents as I suspect) who make such comments, but I doubt that many of them then head over to antimisandry.com and make thoughtful arguments and comments there.

    • If there is a purely fictional one of those out there, then we should. As long as you don’t confuse it with the real one, being waged by right-wing politicians demanding government ownership of every uterus in America.

      • Funny, what I see is more like a war being waged by feminists using whining infantile rhetoric like ‘it’s MY body!’ in defence of their right to murder their unborn children.

        We don’t let children decide that they want to eat candy instead of broccoli at dinner, we leave it up to the parents to decide that. Similarly, I’m certainly not inclined to let people like yourself decide that they get to have an abortion because they don’t want the inconvenience of a baby. It is *absolutely* the government that ought to make those decisions, and the fact that the government has abdicated its responsibility since 1973 is a crying shame.

        • It is her body. That’s pretty much the end of it. And it’s the usual anti-choice myth to say that women who get abortions do so mostly as a matter of convenience, as if they’ve just changed their minds over what shoes they wish to wear.

          But I’m fascinated by this idea that the government should have the right to intrude in personal medical decisions. How about this? Let’s say you have a 5 year old child, and he needs a kidney transplant, without which he will die. Should the government absolutely have the right to step in and order you, as the parent, to donate your own kidney to your child? I mean, if we’re going to be consistent with the view that it’s the government’s prerogative to require a parent to donate anything, especially their own bodies, to ensure their child’s survival at all costs, then shouldn’t that legal privilege be in force in cases where the child is undeniably a person, living outside the womb, as well as where the child is still a fetus (or even just a blastula) still within the womb, where your side insists they have just as much “personhood” as the 5-year-old?

          I’d really rather that anti-choicers like yourself just be honest, and stop pretending you’re really all about saving the babies. What anti-choicers are really after is denying women their bodily autonomy, because the more autonomy and agency women have, well, the more men like the ones Venker talks about feel their own power threatened. Isn’t it?

          After all, if the anti-choice right really cared about the babies, they wouldn’t be voting to cut funding to education and access to health care, would they?

          Just a thought.

          • “It is her body. That’s pretty much the end of it.”

            ——-

            Well, that is not really the end of it. The state makes use of men’s bodies all the time – I never heard the argument “it’s his body” when my older brother got drafted and sent to Vietnam.

            I’m not even necessarily anti-abortion. The argument that women are privileged creatures and their body reigns supreme, although that attitude certainly isn’t taken with men, is hard to take sometimes. The smoke and mirrors used by the Supreme Court are also kind of stupid. The Supreme Court is basically there in that capacity to uphold the Constitution. There is nothing for or against abortion, or even the specific “privacy rights” discussed, and legislation should have given women abortion rights, not a phony, unwarranted decision by the Supreme Court.

          • It is her body — and her child’s body. So it’s not as simple as you were suggesting, Martin. But you knew that.

            “I’d really rather that anti-choicers like yourself just be honest, and stop pretending you’re really all about saving the babies. What anti-choicers are really after is denying women their bodily autonomy, because the more autonomy and agency women have, well, the more men like the ones Venker talks about feel their own power threatened. Isn’t it?”

            No, it’s actually the “saving the babies” thing. Nice try, though.

            “After all, if the anti-choice right really cared about the babies, they wouldn’t be voting to cut funding to education and access to health care, would they?Just a thought.”

            Just a cliche, and one I’ve refuted a few dozen times. Not all pro-lifers favor such budget cuts; even if many do, reducing funding to education or health care is a far different action from allowing someone to be KILLED. Yours is the same argument made by the Sandra Fluke acolytes — that my not PAYING for something is the same thing as my PREVENTING you from having it. It’s not.

          • Re: After all, if the anti-choice right really cared about the babies, they wouldn’t be voting to cut funding to education and access to health care, would they?

            Haha.

            It might surprise you to know that, on economics, I’m a socialist (as in, not the French or Swedish kind, more like the Venezuelan kind). I vote Democratic, generally, mostly because I find the free-market capitalism of the Republican Party so objectionable. My social/cultural conservatism, and my contempt for feminism, come from exactly the same place as my contempt for liberal capitalism.

            It might also surprise you to learn that some of the most left-wing governments in the world (Venezuela, Nicaragua, and many others) have strongly anti-abortion policies. Really, you need to educate yourself and realise that the world is bigger than the confines of the American two party system . Of course, in my experience the sort of liberal feminist crowd that populates these comment sections doesn’t tend to be particulaly distinguished either intellectual or morally, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this all *does* come as a surprise to you.

            Re: It is her body. That’s pretty much the end of it.

            Uh, no, it isn’t. Why does that give her a right to decide to murder her unborn baby? I don’t think we are intended to have absolute control over our bodies: that’s a deeply unnatural and antihuman way to look at things. Killing another human person for your own convenience is not something any of us should have a right to.

            Regarding the kidney example, uh, there are some rather salient differences, don’t you think? Donating a kidney puts the donor in some pretty serious health risk, for one thing, and I do support a limited right of abortion in cases when there are serious health threats to the mother. For another, choosing *not to initiate* a relation of care to your child (i.e. by not donating the kidney) is very different than interrupting a relationship that already exists, at the cost of that child’s life. And finally, there are other potential kidney donors. There’s no replacement for the mother’s womb.

            Feel free to ignore the genuine arguments, though, and just resort to the usual babblings about ‘autonomy’, ‘righs over our bodies’, and whatever the other buzzwords of the day might be.

  2. 1) Males involuntarliy having their bodies altered during infancy. Hugo, *cough cough.*
    2) Fathers losing custody of their children unless the mother is literally freebasing in the courtroom.
    3) Feminists using counterfeit rape statistics to coax legislation into enacting guilty-until-proven-innocent policies.

    Nope. No “War on Men.”

    AS,
    Bull’s-eye.

  3. “To put it simply, the more freedom women have to say “no,” the more men can trust the authenticity of their “yes.””

    Authentic, as in “yes” to the wedding, followed by “yes” to the wife-initiated divorce.

    Trusting that first yes is not rational.

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