I’ll get criticised for this, but what the hell.
MRAs and PUAs speak to those people because feminists don’t. Men are not a uniform group. Increasingly nowadays, movements are not a uniform group. There are many different people, including women and men who care about women, who see a number of issues affecting men that are generally not being addressed by feminists. Nor should they necessarily be addressed by feminism, which can legitimately focus particularly on women’s issues. But instead of working alongside groups focusing on men and promoting good practices, feminists want to be the only show in town and insist that every one of these groups is full of women-hating white supremacists. They certainly agree that men have problems, and insist that these are due to patriarchy and will of necessity be solved once feminism deals with it. However, they are not issues that are taken particularly seriously by a lot of feminists, because of the implicit claim that anyone who advocates for these issues is a rabid misogynist. The idea that patriarchy is the only issue ignores women’s self interest and agency in culture in the past and present, and assumes that a feminist society would treat men fairly. Maybe it would, maybe not. Feminism needs to listen to men if this is to be true though. Of course you can find many examples of violently sexist men in men’s groups – there is a lot of sexism and racism around and there are large, asymmetrical problems primarily or directly affecting women. Those who do hate women will congregate in those groups, and spread their hate. But people become interested in men’s issues for many reasons other than the desire to promote white male dominance. For example:
- Providing a group that talks about men, their roles and their particular needs. Men will continue to make up roughly 50% of the population in the future, so unless you want to have 50% representation in feminist groups, you should encourage positive spaces where men can discuss gender and society in a feminist-positive way. This will include them making their own decisions and exercising their agency. It does not have to mean that they deny women’s agency or negate feminism, and working together while breaking down the myth that promoting feminism is not opposing men is a good way to promote positive results.
- Encouraging positive male role models in society
- Helping those insecure men to be confident as constructive members of society who respect women.
- Advocating for issues that affect men. Some of these issues relate to women too, but men have a different perspective. Positive social change involves respectful negotiation, not demonisation of each other.
- Not every woman is an angel. I happen to know a few vindictive or abusive women and men who they have abused. This is often not taken seriously enough, or cheap words are used to dismiss it. However, it can be helpful to have groups focusing on men, since a lot of women’s groups or DV shelters focus exclusively on female victims. Custody laws can protect vulnerable women and children, but they can also victimise men (see above point about women not being angels). One friend is currently going through this, and his ex is making up a lot of lies about him, that he can show are not true. However, in order to counter these claims he would ruin himself, since he’s already homeless and job insecure since the divorce. He will have to fight an uphill battle at a heavy cost, and the men around him are saying to forget about it and not fight in court – it is fruitless and he will lose everything like some of them have.
There are examples of feminists who say that it should include men, but these are generally like the he for she movement or calling men to be allies. Here’s the thing though: allies fight each other’s battles – it isn’t a one-way deal. I have been on BoingBoing for about 10 years as well as reading many feminist sites, and at times it is seriously hard to find positive encouragement of good behaviour among the criticism of the bad behaviour. I know that the bad behaviour is a problem that feminists are particularly concerned with, but the scope has to be larger than calling out evil – there needs to be a more welcoming attitude toward men who are insecure and want to navigate difficult issues. Calling them sexist pigs will not change anything other than making them more entrenched in their poisonous ideologies. You understand this when it comes to Islam – building bridges is much more constructive than throwing stones and alienating people, even though I can do the same as this article and find 100 examples of extreme sexism among Muslims and Muslim groups – but there need to be more places that encourage people toward a more feminist perspective rather than using shame and name-calling as a motivator.
Counter male insecurity by proving that feminists are not themselves insecure.
(I won’t respond for a while since it’s late, but I’m not ignoring anyone)