Why Denying The Importance Sex-Based Discrimination Against Men is Rooted in Misogyny

Continuing the discussion from Death threats drive Anita Sarkeesian from her home:

Well, I was warned, so I couldn’t reply to this in the original thread.

A. “Not conforming to gender roles” is the same thing as “Being a man” or "Being a woman"
Let’s talk about the idea that when men are kept away from “women’s work” that’s because they are not conforming to gender roles whereas when women are being kept away from judge and CEO positions it is not. These days people would be hesitant to say something in public like, “Being a judge is men’s work,” because they know that would be over the overtly-sexist line. Instead, a person who decides not to appoint as many women as men judges (as my federal government has been doing) is making some kind of conscious or subconscious judgement that women are less fit for the role of judge than men - whether because they believe women are less intelligent, less objective, less whatever.

I can think of two ways to come at this. First, I am pretty sure that the sort of people who deny women jobs based on their sex are kidding themselves if they are trying to separate out gender roles and abilities. The thinking would go: Why shouldn’t women be judges? Because they aren’t suited to be judged. Why should women care for children? Because they are suited for caring for children. The gender role and the aptitude are actually the same thing - that’s how God made us.

When you look at a man who goes to the extreme of killing women, we say he hates them because they are women. That’s true, but it is just as true to say he hates them for not conforming to their gender role. His understanding of their gender roles (in one recently highly publicized case) is that the function of women is to sexually service men. Women were very much not conforming to that gender role. That sounds insane and it was idiosyncratic, but it is only a matter of degree more insane and more idiosyncratic than every other gender role.

But secondly, let’s actually separate those things, since we know they can be separated. Suppose we accept that men are discriminated against because of their gender roles and women are discriminated against because of their perceived abilities. That means we are tacitly accepting that men could easily do women’s work but they simply choose not to. We are accepting that caring for young children is easy work - it’s built into our culture. This is a contributing factor in why it is underpaid in the first place.

B. If Men don’t do “women’s work” because it pays poorly, why do women do it?
Unless we accept the idea that women are actually less valuable than men, we can’t simply say men don’t do “women’s work” because it pays less.

We also can’t say that it’s because men simply aren’t interested in it. That was one of the arguments that men tried to use to keep women out of “men’s professions:” Women don’t want to be lawyers anyway. Check out this: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BwUCj0GCEAAtGyw.jpg. It’s the first point on the list against women getting the vote: they don’t want the vote.

Men don’t want to do “women’s work” because “women’s work” is seen as a thing a man shouldn’t do. It’s just like the clothing issue. There was a time that women would have been persecuted for wearing pants the way men are still persecuted for wearing dresses. It wasn’t enough at that time to simply say, “Well women don’t want to wear pants.”

And Men’s Rights Activists will point at that and naively say, “See, women have more rights than men,” but that’s missing the point. Most parents I know didn’t want to buy their daughters barbies or my little ponies because something about those “girly” toys put them off. Of course feminists have critiques barbies for lots of reasons, but we can hardly expect a three-year-old girl to come up with unique ways to explore what it means to be a girl in our culture - she’s three. Really, the reason we don’t like these toys is because they are “girly” and it is bad to be girly, it is bad to be feminine (I still don’t like barbie for a lot of reasons, but if my daughter one day really wants a barbie then she can have one and I will play barbies with her).

Men still insult each other by calling each other women. I don’t think women still insult each other by implying they are men (or at least not to nearly the same degree). The real point is that anything associated with being a women is degraded, and we are still okay with women degrading themselves by being women but it’s unacceptable for a man to degrade himself by being like a woman.

Also, the “pays less” is a red herring. Do a tour of elementary schools. Where I live the unionized teachers all make the same there. But virtually no men teach kindergarten, very few teach grades 1 and 2, and by grade 8 it’s a lot closer to 50-50 than 0-100. There are far more male nurses at the hospital than male childcare workers at the daycare. Where I live midwives make six figures but it is safe to say it is the most female job there is but somehow obstetricians still have lots of men among them so no one wonders if men can deliver babies. Men are staying out of these jobs because they are “for women” not because they are bad jobs.

C. But it’s just not as bad
Of course it isn’t, and I’m not sure how many times I have to agree with that point before people will stop bringing it up as a refutation. But when we say it’s not as bad, here’s what we mean:

Society is full of people. Each of those people faces discrimination in a different way. Some people who seem to objectively face harsh discrimination will be happy and fulfilled nonetheless, others who face seemingly less discrimination will have their lives ruined by it. If we took the total effect of sex-based discrimination against women and sex-based discrimination against men, we’d get a graph that looks like this:

Or maybe you’d prefer this to ensure we are capturing the difference correctly:

At any rate, we are comparing the averages - those vertical lines. Women have it worse than men. However, we know there are women out there who go and post “I don’t need feminism because” pictures who clearly do not feel discrimination has affected their lives (and there are women who don’t feel discrimination has affected their lives who are still capable of noticing it is out there affecting other people). And we know there are men who kill themselves because they can’t fit in as a man, so there are long tails regardless of where the averages are.

So it would be very silly to say that sex-based discrimination doesn’t have a greater impact on women than on men, but even in saying that we should be aware that sex-based discrimination is still literally killing men. That’s why I keep saying that I’m 100% okay with people saying, “That’s off topic, talk about it somewhere else” but I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when people downplay discrimination against men or laugh it off.

But what if it actually wasn’t just as bad. Imagine a society where men and women are considered equals. Men are lawyers and doctors and construction workers and women are daycare workers, HR professionals and homemakers. But both are paid equally. People generally both regard both professions equally. Everyone (well, everyone who doesn’t want to be something their sex isn’t supposed to be) is treated with dignity and respect. There is no separate but equal, that is not a fair society.

D. Okay, but lets get our priorities straight
Okay, so we want to address the fact that women make less money than men for the same work before we address the fact that men aren’t childcare professionals. We want to talk about governments systemically appointing male rather than female judges before we talk about men being allowed to wear dresses. That sounds reasonable.

Except they are the same thing and we can’t change one without the other.

Back in university if one of my friends wanted to bate another one of my friends into a bad double in a game of cards, the standard taunt was “are you a girly girl?” Last year when some of these same people got together in the same setting for a reunion, the same taunt came out when friend A said, “What are you, a girly girl?” friend B said, “You know, that taunt devalues women and I don’t think we should say that.” Friend B said, “You’re right, I would never say that in front of my daughter.” Everyone acknowledged that he probably said it because they were back in the old place they used to play cards acting like they did in university, but that they all ought to know better now.

What was that an example of, an example of fighting discrimination against men who take on women’s roles or an example of fighting against he idea that women are feeble or ill suited for manly professions? It was both. I think when we are striving to make things better we are going to find that it’s usually both. If a generation of men could somehow be raised that no longer thought that they were less valuable when they did “women’s work”, wore “women’s clothes” or acting in “feminine ways” how could that generation of men value women less than themselves?

When conversations like this come up, I think we often wonder what we can do. Sarkeesian made a video series, and that’s great. My friend, in the example above, nudged the consciousness of everyone in the room. That’s a smaller impact, but that’s what men can mostly do - make sure other men don’t subtly or overtly put down women directly or indirectly by putting down one another for being like women.

And I really hope we can all avoid laughing at people who are beaten to death for being different. Holy crap that drove me nuts.


Hi guys, I took a look at what drove this to a new topic, and just thought I’d pop in a few links.

If you’re interested in the disparity between the sexes, and how it’s reflected in employment - there are plenty of websites and studies that take a look at the at the issue.

While it is true that “women’s work” is typically lower paid, men are typically higher paid than women in traditionally female role positions. This site takes a look at 10 of them, comparing average wages. This article agrees. So, even though the job may already be lower paid, a man will still earn more on average than woman at that low paying job!

Forbes has this article on women entering traditionally male role positions - but they note “women earn an average of just 75% as much as male peers”. So women have to seek higher positions to earn equivalent salaries. (Women have been shown in several studies to fail to seek advancement. They aren’t generally good at pursuing it - it’s an aggressive action, and many women worry that it will reflect badly on them.)

Women are still getting into higher level employment. One reason more women are entering higher positions is that more women in our general population are earning and using a college degree right out of high school. Couples are waiting into their 30’s to have kids, and that has changed how women enter the workforce. Women aren’t waiting to go “back” to work - they’re now now putting their careers on an even plane with their home life. Employers see this as a commitment to a company, and they reward that commitment. Unfortunately, while parenthood does not negatively affect a man’s chances for advancement, a woman becoming pregnant can still be passed over for advancement due to the perception that she will be “less available” than her competition. This is true even if her competition is a man who is a father with several children.


Then there’s the insanity of ‘cocksucker’ being a put-down…

Way to go, owners of cocks. What’s our next trick?

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That’s why the male tears mugs and sarcastic “But what about the menz!?” comments bug me. If there was a post on Boing Boing about how disproportionately male the homeless population is, I doubt it would be considered off-topic to mention the problems homeless women have. And even if it was considered off-topic, posts by guys talking about drinking female tears and saying “But what about the womenz!?” would be quickly deleted and rightfully so.

I remember something being mentioned on TVO’s The Agenda about how in Scandinavian countries where pay is more equalized across professions, the number of women going into traditionally male-dominated professions goes even further down. Here’s the episode set to the correct time. The entire episode is interesting actually. They talk about the issues in this thread.


Defenders of sexism typically cite salary negotiations as the cause of this disparity. I find the idea very rich. If it is true that men negotiate more for a higher salary and thus get a higher salary that’s still a systematically sexist situation. As if salary negotiations are the high water mark of civilization that we have to cling to.

But that’s not even true. I think boingboing recently covered the experiment that showed identical resumes to various professors one with the name “John” on top and one with “Jennifer.” The average difference in hypothetical offered salary was $4k.

John Oliver had a good bit about this recently. Typically people try to argue down the size of the wage gap - is in 75%, 77%, 84%, 87%, 96%?!? It’s a really good example of how people nit-pick an irrelevant point to try to undermine a substantive one.

And I completely agree. The conversation in the other thread happened largely because some people decided to get into a debate about whether the word “sexist” could be used to apply to discrimination against men. I spoke up on that mostly because people trying to export their academic jargon as the “proper” definition of a commonly used word is kind of a triggering issue for me. I probably should have just kept my mouth shut here.

But then all of the sudden it wasn’t enough to say “We aren’t talking about men here” it was “It doesn’t matter if men suffer from sex-based discrimination.” I’m fine with dismissing a topic as off-topic, and I specifically created a different thread to get out of that conversation, but it couldn’t really stomach what I see as a second face of misogyny being used to supposedly battle misogyny - especially not when it took the form of basically laughing off murder.

Scandinavia has much better gender equality than North America, but it also has much better income equality. In Scandinavian countries you can generally support yourself and raise a family regardless of what kind of job you have - or even when you don’t currently have a job. Doctors are still paid more than food servers, but food servers don’t live in destitution (the EU thinks about 1% of Swedes are ‘poor’).

I think in those circumstances, it makes sense you would see fewer women striving to be bankers, for instance. But I would think you would also see fewer men striving to be bankers. I couldn’t find useful stats on this (especially because there are still bankers, naturally). Banking is boring work that, for most people, doesn’t give any sense of personal satisfaction. Creating actual things and caring for people are kinds of work that most people find more fulfilling.

If we had a society where men and women had pay equality and where no one was frowned upon for entering a profession that did not conform to gender expectations then we might start to see patterns in careers that would make us think, “Okay, this is a genuine difference between the interests and values of men and women.” in the same way that there is a genuine difference between the height of men and women. But of course, the cultural values of such a society would be pretty alien to North America, so you couldn’t extrapolate from one to the other.


I think that was the moment I realized that it’s possible to agree with much of what someone says while coming to those opinions from a different underlying philosophy. When I was growing up in Ontario in the 80’s and 90’s, there was a big emphasis on equality. It was mostly about racial equality. Equality between the sexes was just assumed.

There’s a technique (I assume I was taught this at some point) to help check if something is discriminatory. It involves word substitution. For example, a nearby convenience store used to have a sign up that said “No more than 2 teenagers allowed in the store at a time.” Some people would just jump right to that being discrimination. Others would find a way to justify it as being ok because teenagers are more likely to shoplift or something. In my mind I change the wording to “No more than 2 black people allowed in the store at a time.” and think that that rule certainly wouldn’t be ok, so why would it be ok to restrict a group based on age? Therefore the rule is not ok. It’s very similar to “treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

Because the results of that technique line up in most cases with other philosophies of equality, I think I assumed that’s what everyone was doing to determine if something was sexist or racist or otherwise discrimination. It turns out that assumption was very wrong.

I appreciate that you didn’t keep your mouth shut. It helped bring the source of that difference of opinion into focus for me. I assume I’m not the only one.

I think his point was that the Scandinavian countries are closer to what leftist feminists want in terms of equality of opportunity, but somehow the people in those countries have ended up going in the opposite direction from what feminist theory would predict in terms of conforming to gender roles. Personally I’d like to see Canada and the US move more towards the Scandinavian economic system. Whether that results in people sticking to gender norms or people moving away from gender norms, I don’t particularly care. That’s the business of each individual.


There was also a big emphasis on equality where I grew up, in Ontario in the 80s and 90s. Hmm… I might need a large sample size.

But to me that’s a bit of a caricature of feminism. I don’t think the feminists I know would predict that in a perfectly egalitarian society there would be an equal number of male and female firefighters. For the most part people are willing to admit that there is something different about men and women. The book I read that dealt with this the best (although this book is really just the best at a lot of things) is Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. Of course it would be a trans woman who is able to explain the differences between living as a man and living as a woman.

I think the most important thing to recognize is that for almost any trait you can imagine there is more variation within the sexes than between them. If you select a random man and a random woman from the population and compare their heights, of course if it’s an even bet you should put your money on the man being taller. But it’s not a 99% chance; I wouldn’t get it’s even 65%. And that’s one of the most obvious and objective ways we can say men and women are different.

If it turns out far more women than men want to care for children, that’s fine. It’s also quite possible that it’s going to take a few generations for things to settle in to a stable long term pattern. Of course those who oppose equality use this as a trick, jumping ahead to say that we are already there so we shouldn’t be upset if there are few female senior managers in our organization because that’s just how it shook out. People talk about women making different choices (wanting to raise kids mostly) as a smoke screen - men who want to raise kids aren’t discriminated against in the same way (presumably because these same people who think there is no discrimination going on think that fathers aren’t overly involved with their kids).

It feels like every argument, correctly stated, tells us we should be egalitarian and those same arguments, looked at sideways just a little, tells us to support the status quo. This is just a testament to the power of the status quo. Those who want to change it are expected to be perfect. But I think that’s why, on these boards at least, the Sarkeesian videos become such heated topics. It’s pretty easy to look at what someone else is saying and think, “Oh, they are one of those people,” when they may be poorly expressing support.


I wonder if there was something different about the approach to equality taught in the Ontario public school system then compared to before and after. It might be something to do with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms coming into effect in 1982. School-led prayer was struck down in Ontario in 1989 and I assume teachers explained why we were switching to a moment of silence.

I was thinking more along the lines of STEM fields, but yeah, mainstream feminists generally don’t think that. I suspect I have some biases because the most prominent feminist in my area isn’t a mainstream feminist. She’s a self-described radical feminist.

Do you recall there being a bit of a brouhaha over Sarkeesian’s use of the phrase “prostituted women” in the video before the current one? I didn’t even notice it while watching the video the first time because I assumed it was just a wordier way of saying prostitute. Apparently it’s a loaded phrase used by a branch of feminism that believes women can’t choose to be sex workers. That includes prostitution as well as pornography. That’s the branch Megan Walker, director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, advocates for.

She’s been behind an effort to add internet filter programs to all computers in the public library system. The Supreme Court recently overturned the current prostitution laws as unconstitutional. She agrees with what the Harper government is proposing rather than what sex workers say they want. Another feminist group held a “Slut Walk”. She wanted it renamed to an “Equality Walk” and said a slut walk would put them back years.

Until recently, I don’t think I really grokked that those views were an offshoot rather than mainstream feminism.

Now I’m curious what the number is. The graphs I found didn’t answer that specifically but they did show that the range of distribution of women’s heights is narrower than the range of distribution of men’s heights.

I think that’s about right. The only other topic I can think of that gets as heated is guns. Both topics seem to bring out black and white thinking.


To be honest I don’t remember that changeover. I don’t know exactly where you grew up, but certainly Toronto is the most functional example of multiculturalism in the world, so even outside of Toronto I think that had some spin-offs. I think our cultural attitude of being polite but not friendly allows people with very different attitudes to coexist peacefully.

Yeah, I used firefighters just to pick an example that you’d have to be a little wacky not to agree with. STEM fields are more complicated. I definitely think that prejudices have kept the number of women in those fields low. As I said above, though, I think that if we had real equality it might take several generations for the culture to catch up, and even then any disparity would be a product of the culture. Its conceivable that a culture would have more female firefighters to, I’m just sure that culture would seem quite alien to us

I noticed it because I think that this particular line of feminism (and misogyny, since a lot of people who talk this way and pass laws about sex work are not being progressive) is just wrong. The law the government plans to replace our old prostitution laws is absurd and I can’t imagine it surviving the inevitable court challenge because it basically creates all the problems the old one did.

As a friend of mine says, you don’t see people trafficked into the country to give haircuts. If sex services were available for sale in a safe, legal way, the human trafficking and exploitation elements would be minimized. They wouldn’t be entirely eliminated, but we’d have a much better chance to actually prosecute traffickers because victims could actually talk to the police and we’d have a much better chance at dealing with exploitation because workers could use the same mechanisms that are available to other exploited workers. There are a lot of holes in that, but making sex work illegal is working about as well as the war on drugs. In New Zealand this year, a sex worker successfully sued the owner of the brothel she works at for sexual harassment. To me, that is a country where it is safe to be a sex worker. (This is what I like about making my own thread… no worries about being off topic!)

Internet filtering is just plain dumb.

I don’t know how “mainstream” anti-porn and anti-sex work are in feminism. These days I think the former is not very mainstream and the latter may be moreso but I don’t know. When I have questions about sex based discrimination I check with my sister who is doing a masters in feminist theory but I wouldn’t describe her as “mainstream” anything.

Found the graphs, calculated the standard deviation. It’s actually a much better bet than I thought. Using the CDC’s numbers for the USA the man will be taller almost 92% of the time. So I was right that it was less than 99%. I bet it’s closer in Toronto where there are is a lot of racial diversity (so more likely you compare an East Asian man to a Viking* women, for example).

Yeah, I don’t even think guns goes as far as Sarkeesian does. Maybe if there was a particular person making videos on the internet for all the rage to congeal around.

* Being an exceptionally tall person of Scottish descent, I am fairly sure that I have Viking ancestry, as such, I have reclaimed the word to talk about myself and other giants from the north.


Allow an old Montrealer to disagree. It took Toronto the Good a full decade plus to catch up to where Montreal was in terms of attitudes in the '60s and '70s. (The rest of Québec didn’t catch up until very recently, which explains a lot of what has transpired since the '70s - Montréal, with more than half the province’s population, has a history of voting solidly red, but Montréal by itself can’t elect a government. Vagaries of the riding system, that. I digress, however…) The first company I worked for, in the early '70s, rather resembled a mini-UN - great place to work. I went to university at Sir George Williams, which became Concordia while I was there - I became something of a Tressette and Scopa shark, although I’m definitely not Italian; got invited to all the Hellenic Society dances. Now that was definitely unfair - I was obliged to drink ouzo while all my Greek friends were drinking Scotch! :smiley:

Actually, I think the Great Exodus of the late '70s and '80s might have contributed something to where Toronto is now - Ontario, and Toronto especially, got a very large leavening of Montrealers then, and they were generally the people who could afford to pick up shop and move (or were valued enough by their companies to be retained and moved as the company moved out). That’s to say that most weren’t people at the margins.

Yes. The two best math teachers I ever had were both women. One was the head of the department at Concordia, but she liked to keep her hand in teaching undergrads, and, man, did she know her stuff, and could she ever explain it clearly. In general, if it comes to work where a certain amount of smarts is all to the good, I don’t see that women are at a disadvantage. Of, say, the four most competent bosses I’ve had, two were women. I had no problem working for them. I think young women are often socialised to believe they can’t do it. I see more self-confidence problems still in young women than young men. It’s a waste of talent.

I think, to add to this on an economic perspective, it is not entirely unusual to see salaries drop when women start to form a solid portion of a field - we have the medical profession in Eastern Europe as an example. In a number of the countries, the majority of physicians are now women, and the salaries aren’t really what you’d expect physicians to make. Part of that is that Eastern Europe is still behind Western Europe economically, but I recall seeing that salaries did drop with increased participation by women. (I just can’t find the trend lines at the moment.) I would suspect there’s a tipping point where social attitudes start pushing down both salaries and male participation.

[Doctors’ and Nurses’ Salaries][1]

Information on the breakdown of practitioners by gender is here:

[Practising Physicians][2]

Probably true, but this is a situation where the term “being prostituted” does apply from time to time. There is more grooming of young women to enter the trade than actual human trafficking, usually a kind of emotional bait-and-switch by their pimps - agency on the part of the sex workers is often illusory as a result. The situation is far from black and white: feminists of Sarkeesian’s ilk have grabbed one part of the picture, and it has an element of truth to it as far as it goes, but only as far as it goes.

Still, I love our Supreme Court…

Really? I’m rather partial to pleated plaid skirts on formal occasions. I don’t get hassled at all when I wear them, but that might have something to do with the sgian dubh peaking out of my stocking…
[1]: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/gov_glance-2011-en/06/02/index.html?itemId=/content/chapter/gov_glance-2011-32-en
[2]: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/health_glance-2009-en/03/03/index.html;jsessionid=ebh9ket2s38ni.x-oecd-live-02?contentType=&itemId=/content/chapter/health_glance-2009-25-en&mimeType=text/html&containerItemId=/content/serial/19991312&accessItemIds=/content/book/health_glance-2009-en

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Just wanted to say that this is really heartening to read - sometimes it feels like saying “this thing you’re complaining about doesn’t actually represent a mainstream feminist idea!” is shouting down a great empty well, so I’m glad that sometimes it makes a difference to people!


This is absolutely true of the mental health professions. They used to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Today 90% of students in MA-level mental health programs in California are women, and over 60% in PhD or PsyD programs are women.The only field that still graduates more men than women is psychiatry, and psychiatrists get paid extortionate fees for doing almost no therapy whatsoever, just assessment and medication management. Men who are getting master’s degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy or Clinical Counseling are treated much the way men are in nursing school, though with slightly less condescension - they’ve gone from being the dominant Good Old Boys to being the little princes who get told all the time how exceptional and valuable they are because “we need more male therapists!” Meanwhile program directors, tenured faculty, executive administrators and board members of professional and accreditation groups, etc. are still more likely to be male. My profession’s election ballot this year had 14 candidates on it for a handful of positions, and 10 were men.

And on the gripping hand, the wages for therapists have been dropping like a stone for the past two decades. I just found out the other day that the Blue Cross reimbursement for MFTs in the SF Bay Area is only $3 more than I was getting paid a decade ago in Denver. I don’t even want to pretend to have the math skills to calculate that relative to inflation and cost of living, nor do I want the attack of acute rage face that would come along with it.


No disrespect to Montreal.

I know that the situation for many women in sex work is really bad. When people bring that up it makes me think of people talking about murderous drug gangs in support of drug prohibition. It feels like more problems are created by outlawing it than solved.

Critics of legalization like to point to studies that show that when sex work is legalized the incidence of human trafficking goes up. But, of course, what those studies really show is that the reports of human trafficking go up. Legalization really does work to help to address this.

Everyone knows not to mess with a Scot.

There’s a weekend in the summer where I see a lot of men in dresses and they don’t have any problems around here. But men in dresses still have to fear for their safety on a daily basis in a lot of places. Even where things are better they are only so much better, the violent element is still there and if you run into them the fact that there are only a few doesn’t help you.

Violence against trans women is staggering disproportionate. Trans women are not men in women’s clothes, but I’d wager heavily that people who are violent towards them almost largely think they are. People manage to dismiss this problem very easily. Now that may just be a problem that people have with trans people, but much of the time anger about trans women is just plain old misogyny. It’s so inconceivable to so many that men “want to be women.”

I think it’s really hard to define what the mainstream is. For most people, their exposure will be to whoever has the loudest voice, and people who shout crazy things tend to get more media coverage. This whole discussion came out of Anita Sarkeesian’s most recent video (well, the death threats she received because of it). It’s actually kind of amazing how much attention she gets considering how reasonable she is. As above, I strongly disagreed with her “prostituted women” terminology (though to be fair the women depicted in the video games are mostly depicted as being exploited), but she really doesn’t say anything terribly provocative or controversial for the most part.

“Lucky” for her that her critics are so insane that she gets lots of media coverage. (Big, big scare quotes around lucky there, since getting rape and death threats isn’t really good fortune. Of course this plays into the detractors who say that she wants to get rape threats so she can get rich and famous, but what can you say that doesn’t play into their hands - they take literally everything as evidence for their case)

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The thing is, none of these pieces ever go beyond the statistics. I haven’t worked all of these jobs, and only know a little about some of them, and I want to stress off the bat that I’m not defending this, merely reporting reasons why it is the way it is, but having first-hand knowledge and knowing people in some of these professions, here goes:

  1. Social Worker Fair or not, male social workers tend to be put in the more dangerous situations, leading to higher pay; I’ve also heard anecdotal evidence from more than one source that men are fast-tracked into management to keep them away from children (because, you know, men are child molesters).

  2. Nurses Mostly anecdotal, but I can tell you that I know plenty of folks–mostly women–who want female nurses. Guys get fast-tracked into management to keep them away from women. Yes, this is due to patriarchial (for lack of better term) pressures. They also tend to get more advanced technical degrees, have a higher level of education, work the (obviously more dangerous) night shifts, and more dangerous/backbreaking assignments like medevac.

  3. Cashiers Personal experience: the women tend to be seen as an easier target by thieves, so they tend to be on the day shift/main registers, while guys tend to be night shift, outlying registers, what have you. That’s my own personal experience with being a cashier in my college days; guys were just assumed to be more fit for the jobs that were more likely to involve dealing with shoplifters. Not at all fair, a little stupid, but that’s what happens.

What the frick is going on with the formatting…

Wow do I wish this was hard to believe.

I get where you’re coming from, I really do…but in my personal opinion, even though you seem to have misgivings about Men’s Rights, I think we need to move the conversation away from feminism.

Why? Because I can tell you, as a Stay-At-Home-Dad over the past three years, feminism really doesn’t give a crap about me. No, really, it doesn’t.

And…I mean…goddamnit so much…I’m getting upset now. Legit upset.

I started staying home with my younger daughter when she was two. She’s five now, and in kindergarten. But when I first started staying home with her, one of the expenses we cut was daycare, and we live in a rural spot so there weren’t any kids nearby that were her age. I’d take her to the park to play with other kids. Or rather, I would try to take her to the park, to play with other kids. It’d work fine for a while, but one of the first things I’d notice is the horseye. You know. There’s a guy at the park. With a little girl. The moms would be texting furiously on their phones. And when one loaded up…they’d all go. So my kid would get to play with other girls and boys for about 10, maybe 15 minutes, before we had the park to ourselves. (Just to show what kind of cultural blinders we have, half the time there would be crackheads in the park.)

And people don’t seem to “get” that the notions of Stranger Danger (something BoingBoing has been pretty vocally against in the past), Not All Men, and the Poisoned M&Ms all come from the same place: men are dangerous. We need to make this a feminist issue? Pfft. We’re told that, because some men are dangerous, that it’s up to us to fix those men. We can’t be trusted until there is no rape and no child molestation. Further, I have been told, multiple times, that I’m either a.) making it up that moms left, clutching their children, or b.) in the wrong, because women are constantly in danger from men and it’s impossible to tell, by looks alone, me from a crazed rapist and/or murderer.

I followed the MRAs for a while, at least on Reddit, but my God what a bunch of whiners. But please, don’t make my issues a feminist issue. When you do that, you make it a women’s issue and exclude me from the conversation that’s all about how society discriminates against me for being nonconformist.

I get really upset at MRAs because they basically make it almost impossible to talk about real issues that face men. They act like such assholes that it makes anyone who cares about the issues seem like an asshole. Feminists have faced the same problem many times - in the early 90s it was almost impossible to talk about feminism without someone misquoting Andrea Dworkin back, “all heterosexual sex is rape”.

I understand that your interactions with feminists have been lousy in many cases, and the examples you point to certainly don’t speak well for feminists. But you can go and look at any movement and find that the majority of people in it are just tribalists attacking anyone who they see as against the movement with no thought.

It sounds like you live in a place that is much worse for men than the place I live. Where I am there are always lots of dads at the playground with their kids and generally women with kids will easily start conversations with men with kids. There are still problems for sure - I think men have to stay closer to their kids just to make sure its obvious who they are there with. Men are still seen as dangerous, but fathers out with their kids are generally given an exception.

But how did that come to be? It’s not because the men explained over and over that they aren’t dangerous, it’s because the local culture just isn’t one where people feel threatened by other people.

Every struggle for equality and rights borrows from the previous ones, and the thoughtful people who support any struggle for rights recognize that we either make things better for all of us or for none of us. If you look around it’s not hard to find feminists who are systemically racist, anti-trans, and all kinds of other bad things. But feminism that doesn’t care about the rights of black women or that doesn’t care about the rights of trans women isn’t much use at creating a better society.

And neither is feminism that doesn’t care that right now men are in a very bad place. I got really genuinely angry in the thread that spawned this one. I’ve repeated over and over that I am fine with not bringing up problems men have in threads that are about discrimination against women - that makes perfect sense. But that can be said without being dismissive of those problems. If someone suddenly brought up AIDS in Africa in the thread it would be met with “Well, that’s a really big problem but I don’t see how it’s related to this discussion.” When someone brings up real discrimination against men there is usually a sideswipe in there, suggesting its not a problem.

Part of that is that the issue is polarizing and a lot of the people bringing up mens issues are just assholes derailing the conversation. It’s happened too many times. But that’s just an example of people extending “I don’t like MRAs” to “It’s fine if men are treated badly.” Disagreeing with an issue because they disagree with the people who claim to speak for it.

My experience is that if I want to find a group of people who actually talk about how society discriminates against people for not conforming to their assigned roles (by sex, by class, by whatever) that group of people is composed of feminists. In my personal life, my experience has been that reasonable people identify as feminists.

But let me separate out two different issues. First, there is the issue of men being discriminated against because they are taking on women’s roles. That is an issue that feminists should be very concerned about and is very much about misogyny. It’s about treating men badly for being like women, it’s about thinking that “being like women” is bad.

A second is treating men like they are dangerous. This is an issue of discrimination against men that really doesn’t relate to women’s issues at all (except in that, you know, everything is related). A public “Hey, I’m not a dangerous predator” campaign seems like it would be ineffective at this point, but I think this is something that needs to be talked about.

The pedophile thing is an intersection of the two. Men are around children, but we know men don’t care for children, so it must have something to do with them being dangerous. Of course our society is also extreme overzealous about putting on a show of protecting children (not so much actually protecting them).

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Also, “Hey, I’m not a dangerous predator” is a subset of “But Not All Men are like that”.

I agree that most people have, at least, feminist leanings. My wife has always made more money than me, I have two daughters, I want all three of them to be treated with respect, I want them to be able to take care of themselves, etc. But…y’know…I’m going to illustrate something here by pulling a couple of quotes from your comment…

Those two grafs paint MRAs and feminists as being very similar.

Well, it’s probably important not to try to bring it up when the conversation is about how some men have done a horrible thing. It often come across as an attempt to diminish the importance of the specific event or actions being discussed.

I think almost all groups are very similar. They are all composed of people. All groups will have their share of jerks.

But there is a big line between someone like Dworkin being credited with saying something crazy (which she didn’t say) and MRAs actually organizing to flood a campus rape reporting system with false reports to discredit it. My experience with MRAs is that they are very actively angry and often malicious. If that’s been your experience with feminists then obviously I understand why you don’t like the term and are suspicious of people who use it.


It’s easy to misinterpret (and misrepresent) “violation is a synonym for intercourse.”

You know, I don’t see flooding the campus rape reporting system as being any different than pulling a fire alarm and screaming, “Shut the fuck up!” at a MRA talk. If what I’d seen about that particular reporting system is true, the notion was that anyone could call in, anonymously, report a violation, and the person who had been reported would be investigated. What I’ve been told is that the whole point of the flooding wasn’t to make it harder to report rape, but to highlight a huge flaw in the anonymous reporting system: anyone could report anyone, anonymously, which meant that there were no repercussions for, as an example, some merry prankster to call in a false rape report on their bro. Considering that swatting is a thing now, as much as I’d like to make things easier for victims, I agree with the activists that anonymous reporting is a terrible idea.