One of the interesting phenomena that I’ve noticed is that feminists are often a lot more confident when they talk amongst each other on their home ground, or facing (real or imagined) outright misogynists. There tends to be very little discussion with critics, particularly egalitarians. One of the annoying things is that despite there being quite a lot of feminists on Quora, you can have two different threads like this:
All but one basically just say “Why do you hate women, want to restore the patriarchy and love rape?” which are answered by people saying that this isn’t actually what they believe at all, they’re just tired of the intellectual dishonesty, name calling and lack of self-awareness from too many feminists. Where feminists ask anti-feminists to explain feminist concepts, several people give answers showing that they do in fact know them. There was one thread that emerged in response to one of the non/anti-feminists, but much of that involved claims of misogyny. Criticising feminist theory is not misogyny. Questioning feminist statistics is not misogyny. Saying ‘what the fuck’ is not misogyny. Being exasperated at repeated and unsubstantiated accusations of misogyny is not misogyny.
Several questions on the feminist movement and particular claims or policies, and crickets in response. One woman who said that she guesses she’s a feminist responded to one of the 17 sets of questions, to say that they were good questions and she couldn’t answer them. There just hardly seems to be any willingness to engage with critics with a good faith argument at all; a lot of the time I just see feminists looking for the most egregious examples of misogyny, followed by attempts to label everyone who doesn’t call themselves a feminist as fully on board with this. It’s actually quite religious in that way, particularly in the way that the name feminism is so important. If you don’t consider yourself a feminist, it doesn’t seem to matter what you actually believe or do. If you do, there’s a huge spectrum of all sorts of beliefs from egalitarianism to overt man hating (“Feminists don’t hate men, they’re about equality!” [lists several anti-men and anti-equality statements from prominent feminists] “Not all feminists!”). If you’re anti-feminist, you must really hate women – even if it’s just how people in the movement often act rather than its espoused claims that you dislike.
The problem is that if feminists want to avoid polarisation, they have to engage with the arguments of critics without just ad hominems in response. Many MRAs are anti-women; that is clear. Many feminists are also anti-men. There are also many on both sides who are more reasonable.
I wrote this article a while ago, and also got no response (well, none from feminists at least). The question was “What male/female double standard do you hate the most?”
Honestly, there are a lot of ones that women have to go through that annoy me. Slut shaming, body shaming, the expectations that some women have on them to adjust their life to make everyone around them happier, the fact that their opinions are often not taken seriously, the way that men and women’s emotions are often treated (women are allowed to be emotional, but often respected less because of this and assumed to be emotionally compromised. Men are not allowed to show ‘feminine’ emotions, but are allowed to show more negative ones and deny that they are emotional at all).
However, I will name two ones that affect men that annoy me. Feminists often claim that any difficulties men have are due to the patriarchy or toxic masculinity, so here are two difficulties directly championed by feminists, and based on research that has been known to be false for decades. (This is not to be seen as an attack on feminists in general, as I am largely in agreement with them).
Abuse. This must be tackled and men are guilty of a lot of abuse, but the way that it has been dealt with is to state that domestic violence IS violence against women. You see this in any UN literature on the topic and in government information and initiatives. PSAs basically universally depict IPV as men attacking women. Feminists have known that the Duluth Model is not accurate for a long time (just ask the founder), yet they continue to push it. This is based on the theory that IPV is men exercising control over women through violence (as if women can’t do the same). It dances around the actual data that women commit more unreciprocated IPV than men and goes as far as to blame the patriarchy for lesbian IPV. It does not adequately describe reality and in many cases does not even describe the reality of men who beat their wives. It ignores the needs of men who are abused by women and those who look for support from helplines, shelters or the police often find these avenues the most hostile to them. Partner and child abuse by women is ignored, even when presenting data showing that it exists. This is the only part in the explanation of the following table that mentioned gender: "The largest categories in the nonparent group were male relative, male partner of parent, and “other.” We certainly wouldn’t want to give the impression that mothers can also abuse their children.
Another one is divorce: research has shown that After Divorce, Women Rebound Faster But Stay In Poverty Longer. This cites the claim by George Mason University Sociology and law professor Lenore Weitzman in her book “The Divorce Revolution,” (http://www.amazon.com/The-Divorce-Revolution-Unexpected-Consequences/dp/0029347106) that a typical woman endures a 73 percent reduction in her standard of living after a divorce. Her typical ex-husband enjoys a 42 percent increased standard of living.
Unfortunately this was debunked over 20 years ago, but it’s still being stated as fact. Women do lose household income, but not nearly that much.
Dr. Peterson re-evaluated Dr. Weitzman’s data and concluded that women have an average 27 percent decline in their standard of living and that men have an average 10 percent increase in their standard of living after divorce.
Additionally, he found that 9 percent of men experienced a 73 percent decline in their standard of living after divorce.
This research has been used in several supreme court cases though, and it has been used as the justification for the idea that the husband’s job is to ensure that the wife continues to have the lifestyle she is accustomed to. On the other hand, no such safeguarding is given to the man, as “household income” is considered to be a good proxy for “standard of living”. This is not true, and it should be obvious from the fact that men tend to suffer more psychologically from a divorce.
The whole point of divorce is that you want to leave the lifestyle you’re accustomed to. The financial support comes as part of the relationship; it’s not some disembodied reality. Where men’s work is taken for granted and the psychological benefits (particularly children) that were part of the relationship are taken away, of course they will take longer to get over it. Where the men who lose huge amounts financially as well as socially from a divorce are overlooked, of course there will be bitterness toward feminists. Where men are prevented from sharing custody (and actually enabling women to make up that difference in standard of living!), of course they will doubt the idea that even feminists think the change in standard of life after a divorce is about the money.
I do not hate feminists at all, and I certainly don’t want women to suffer from divorce or have to endure abuse from men. However, when I see issues affecting men being responded to by feminists saying that this is all about the patriarchy and that they are the cure (or that men are just not resilient enough), I have to say that I hate the double standard that only women should benefit from equality. Iceland is one of the most equal and happiest countries on earth, and both men and women’s contributions as parents are embraced. Custody is assumed to be shared, men spend more time around kids and less time in prison, and abuse is lower despite all the opportunity men have to do it. This is the feminism I want.