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Entries in Misandry (47)

Tuesday
Feb052013

Why I won't be taking up the "man prayer" or supporting 1BillionRising this Valentine's Day

This op-ed has been published on Online Opinion.

The 1 Billion Rising campaign has created a YouTube video called "Man Prayer," with words by Eve Ensler and film by Tony Stroebel.

The video notes read as follows:

Violence against women hurts everyone, including men. We invite our brothers to take up this cause, and be free from the limiting strictures of our modern definition of masculinity! #MenRise

There are so many things wrong with this video and the 1 Billion Rising movement that it's hard to know where to start.

Of course I support initiatives to reduce violence around the world and in our communities. In fact, much of my work for the past 10 years has been doing just that. I don't however support initiatives that do this by stereotyping and stigmatising any group, be it based upon gender, religion, race, age, sexual preference, socioeconomic status or any other demographic category. And I don't support initiatives that aren't based upon the evidence.

The message I get from the video is that men, boys and masculinity are bad, wrong, broken, stupid, violent and domineering. A message like this only creates violence, it doesn't reduce it.

Imagine a similar hypothetical video featuring girls and women saying "may I be a woman who is more rational and less emotional, who is a better partner who nags less, who pays my own way rather than being a gold digger" - and on and on using the worst stereotypes of women and girls. Now imagine that this hypothetical video was written by a man. How many women would accept it? The fact that the "Man Prayer" video was written by a woman, featuring the made-up 'voices' of men is deeply offensive.

The "Man Prayer" takes the worst stereotypes of men and masculinity that are held by a small percentage of men (and also a small percentage of women) and reinforces them, while painting the picture that females are free from the same and other vices.

The 1 Billion Rising campaign is based upon the "UN Statistic" that "one in three women on the planet is raped or beaten in her lifetime". There is no data to back up this claim - believe me I've tried to find it. It's true that arguably research shows that one in three women on the planet, on average, has experienced some form of violence in her lifetime. However most of these will have said 'yes' to a survey asking whether they have ever been pushed or slapped. A single slap can be a troubling experience, yes, but it is far from being beaten or raped. One in three based on this definition seems like a very low figure, over an entire lifetime, across the entire planet.

And if you ask the same questions of men about their experience of violence, twice as many men would say "yes" compared to women. Men experience violence - from other men and from women - at twice the rate that women do, and at much more severe levels. But there have been no high profile public campaigns or UN conventions about violence against men that I'm aware of.

Yes, women (and men) are violently raped and beaten far too often - a single victim is one too many - but the way to reduce this violence is to fight against ALL violence, wholly and inclusively, against all people, male or female, white or black, muslim or christian or atheist, old or young, straight or gay, rich or poor. And to do so in a way that doesn't attack or stereotype any other group. And to not promote misinformation in the process.

One of the greatest ironies of the "man prayer" is that it calls on men to create space rather than dominate it. The entire discourse on gender and violence has been dominated by the "violence against women" perspective for many years now, creating no space for men and women to work together to end all violence.  

Yes, some of the positive messages from the video are great - men should be able to express themselves free from the constraints of masculinity (as should women, free from the constraints of femininity). But let's send these messages without the negative stereotypes please.

Much of my other work for the past 10 years has been working to change the social, legal and cultural structures that constrain men. The difference between the "man prayer" and the work of my colleagues and I is that we don't blame and shame individual men or masculinity (or individual women or femininity) for the way they are shaped by social norms and structures. We work to change those structures - whether it is the lack of family-friendly workplace provisions and cultures for fathers who want to play a bigger part in their children's lives, the lack of services for men and their children who want to escape abusive relationships, the lack of male-friendly health services, or the education system that is anything but boy-friendly. 

Men are giving, we are both vulnerable and strong, we do listen as well as knowing, we are kind, we like to be in control of our lives, we cry, we do refuse violence, we touch as well as performing, we cherish our experiences as well as getting there, we take our time but we move fast when it is necessary, we share our fears and our shame with those close to us, we cherish, respect and love both our parents (not just our mothers), and we love women, children, and all living things - including (gasp!) men - just as women do. And sometimes we fuck up - just like women do. We are as deeply and richly human as women are.

If we want men and boys to be the best they can be, we don't need "man prayers," we need services and practical support for males on the ground where it matters.

Greg Andresen
Editor
Mens Health Australia

Thursday
Jan312013

Book review of "Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination " by Edward Kruk

This book is, in a word, courageous, in one sense in particular: it exposes how ideologies, “isms” based on an assumed superiority in which one group feels entitled to power over another, have no place in the quest for social justice, equality among human beings, because a state of inequality is inherently undermining of human well being. The example presented by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young of McGill University, in their book Legalizing Misandry, is that of ideological feminism. This is the second book in their trilogy, Spreading Misandry being the first and Transcending Misandry the forthcoming concluding volume.

Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men, despite its breadth, may have only skimmed the surface of the topic of institutionalized hatred against men in North American society, a “top-down” phenomenon with ideological third wave feminism as its source. Yet the book brings the full range of the current anti-male discourse in US and Canadian academic and legal circles into the spotlight, examining, among other issues, sexual abuse, violence against women, workplace harassment, child custody, prostitution and pornography, and human rights as entitlements.

From New Male Studies: An International Journal - Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 82-84.

Download full review.

Monday
Jan282013

The Bold, Independent Woman Of Today and the “Good” Men and Boys in Her Life: A Sampling of Mainstream Media Representations. By Peter Allemano

For decades, there has been an abundance of negative portrayals of men and boys in mainstream media, but here and there, especially in recent years, ostensibly “positive” portrayals have also been presented of exemplary men and good little boys who devote themselves to fulfilling females’ wishes and expectations. Although we cannot help but notice the “good” male’s existence (in movies, for example), we nevertheless pay little attention to him as an individual. Such representations of the “good” male do merit our attention, because upon examination, his psychological mindset is peculiar and ought to perplex us. We need to ask some hard questions about this representation. How does the “good” male image influence our attitudes toward the male sex in general? What does it teach boys about their futures, in adulthood? One unusual recent mainstream movie challenges the prevailing “good” male image and strongly suggests that there exists a far better and more realistic way to affirm the male sex’s best qualities.

From New Male Studies: An International Journal - Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2012, pp. 31-51.

Download article.

Sunday
Sep022012

To celebrate this Father's Day, White Ribbon engages in a spot of good old man- and dad-bashing

If you want to enjoy this Father's Day and celebrate being a Dad, or indeed celebrate your own father, it might be wise not to read the latest 'paper' from the White Ribbon Research Series titled Fathers, Fathering and Preventing Violence Against Women. Regretfully it appears to be a piece of error-ridden radical-feminist ideological rhetoric that could have been published back in the 80's at the height of misandrist feminism.

Here are a few choice quotes - please don't read on if you want to have a relaxing Sunday - and, no, we're not making these up:

"Many [fathers] are emotionally abusive and controlling"

"Many [men] condone [violence against women] by not taking it seriously, or by failing to speak out against it"

"The tendency is for men to assume that their mere presence in a family – as a father figure and role model – is what is required of them"

"The idea of fathers making a unique contribution to their children… risks reasserting traditional gender roles and downplaying key issues of gendered power inequalities"

"Most fathers would be surprised to learn that many of the things they do on a day-to-day basis, many of the beliefs they hold, ideas they express and actions they take, contribute to the perpetuation of men’s violence against women"

"The concept of a ‘male role model’… is built on the assumption that femininity is subordinate to masculinity and by implication, that women are inferior to men"

"Many men choose not to learn the skills of caring for children"

A longer critique of this paper will be published at a later date - stay tuned. We are disappointed that the White Ribbon Foundation, which had appeared to be moving in a positive direction, seems to have taken such a backward step. If White Ribbon wants to engage men and fathers in their campaign, a good start would be to stop bashing them.

Saturday
Sep012012

EMALE Issue 114 (September 2012)

In this month's issue:

friends are key to midlife wellbeing

fly in/fly out lifestyle bad for workers

male victims of violence face gaps in services and need special consideration: NSW Government Report

airlines demonizing men

events

  • MEN’S HEALTH NIGHT Armidale SEPTEMBER 12, 6.30PM – 9.00PM ARMIDALE BOWLING CLUB
  • Film Night Wednesday, 5th September 2012 Greater Union - Miranda
  • Gloves Off on Men’s Health, September 27 9:00am – 1:00pm Lane Cove Mens Shed, St Columba’s, 15 Figtree St, Lane Cove
  • PCFA Big Aussie Barbie - all of September

news briefs

  • Grim Reaper resurrected to star in a new advertisement aimed at rebooting AIDS awareness.
  • Women with Alzheimer's show worse mental deterioration than men
  • Psychology explains why guys don’t eat vegetables