About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (sort of a bad wordplay on Orwell and machismo) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear language'), the umbrella of several of my literary projects in Dutch. This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

MRA deconstructed (III)

This part III of the series about Men's Rights Activists or MRAs. This part focuses on what a lot of them accuse feminists of to have caused in perceptions of men. The accusations can be briefly summed up by the title.

 

"It is not okay to be a man anymore"

What is a man? What does it mean to be a man? MRAs love to complain that traditionally 'male' character traits are now suspect thanks to feminism. This statement is stupid for two reasons, because most serious feminists don't believe in gender essentialism (so no trait is inherently male or female), and it's men who will bring up 'male' traits when they try to defend unacceptable behaviour, such as the "boys will be boys" thing after stories of sexual harrassment.

    Men are (deliberately) misunderstood

The myth of the misunderstood man ties into the previous paragraph. Again, if the problem with things like sexual harrassment is truly that women misunderstand men (it isn't), then maybe men should try to communicate more clearly. For instance, the thing with catcalling is that women understand all too clearly that men do it to impress their buddies - but men don't understand how it makes women feel degraded and unsafe. Falling back on being "misunderstood" is lazy as shit.
What MRAs think it is: Harmless intentions are twisted into malign ones
Actual issue: Male entitlement and privilege
Actual solution: Respecting boundaries

    Misandry is real and nobody ever talks about it

An individual woman can certainly hate men as a group, so in a literal sense, 'misandry' does exist. However, it doesn't exist in an institutionalised, systematic way like misogyny does. All signs that would indicate men being oppressed in certain areas of life are a consequence of a social order created and maintained by empowered men. The biggest and most empowered perpetrators of 'misandry' are other men. 'Misandry' is problematic because it gives the impression that it is an equal counterweight to misogyny, which is far from the truth.
What MRAs think it is: An unseen (female) conspiracy that keeps men down
Actual issue: Patriarchy hurts men, too (in different ways)
Actual solution: Destroy patriarchy

    Gender quota hurt men

Gender equality is not a zero-sum game. Of course, in a Board of Directors has eight positions and gender quota suddenly require two members to be female, some men on the previously all-male Board will be dropped from it. That creates a dent in male privilege, but it doesn't exactly hurt men across the (no pun intended) board. If we want to have women as our equals, it requires that we are prepared to share power.
What MRAs think it is: Political correctness gone mad
Actual issue: Men are still firmly entrenched at the top of all power structures
Actual solution: Correct sexist assumptions and attitudes that maintain these structures

On to part IV.