4 Ways NOT to Argue for Male Studies

I’m sure that by now many of you have heard of this “male studies” thing. The Foundation for Male Studies will be dedicated to studying, well, males. The people advocating for this seem to believe very strongly in it, but really, their arguments just make me laugh. Here are the ways you shouldn’t argue for male studies*:

1. Don’t insist you “need to start fresh in order to examine the current state of boys and men.”

Because, you see, you aren’t actually starting fresh. This has already been explored in gender studies, sociology, anthropology, biology, etc.

2. Don’t say “It’s a study of males without all the ideology and self-righteousness of feminists about turning over patriarchy.”

For one, this statement makes you sound self-righteous.

Secondly, the study of males without the “ideology of feminists” is covered in anthropology and biology. Or at least it was in MY anthro and bio courses. I assume you would know that, Mr. Tiger, Professor of Anthropology.

3. Don’t argue that women’s/gender/men’s studies “critique masculinity rather than study it.”

It doesn’t take a college degree to understand that studying something is not the opposite of critiquing it. You don’t do one instead of the other.

4. Don’t say that “A lot of feminist argument is just irritating.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Such is the reaction this statement will get.

*I’d like to make clear that this is aimed at the creators of the so-called “male studies” program, not at the writer of this piece. I’m pretty sure that her wording in describing this discipline is more reflective of their, uh, ideology than of her own opinions.


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109 comments for “4 Ways NOT to Argue for Male Studies

  1. Grey Duck
    April 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I think it’s just as important to study how males develop their gender identity as it is to study how females develop their gender identity. And let’s not forget trans identities. And if we’re assuming that sexuality is part of gender identity, well, that just adds to the complexity. But I’ve never felt it made much sense to try to remove any one gender/sex/sexuality/etc. from the context of the others.

    So, I guess, gender studies wins this round. Sorry, male studies.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I guess “mens studies” wasn’t manly enough.

  3. Politicalguineapig
    April 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Dude studies sounds like a better name. Although “douche studies” may be more accurate.
    I have to admit, I like the idea of it. If only because it provides a handy-dandy way to identify ass-holes.

  4. April 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

    The main benefit that I have gotten so far from male studies is that just the mention of the possibility of it has resulted in something I have never seen before.

    Nervous feminists.

    And as good as it looks on them now it will look even better when male studies comes to fruition. Feminists have had a stranglehold on the study of the sexes for forty years. The same forty years that men and boys have seriously fallen into decline, which goes to show you that the study of males is probably not best left to scores of ideologues that hate them.

    Just a thought.

    So I urge all of you edgy feminists to keep the momentum up for us. Nothing better to point to the need for true academic pursuit than vitriolic tantrums from ideologues that are threatened by the idea that their hegemony is coming to an end.

  5. Mireille
    April 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

    So will male studies show that males of different species have more inherent similarities than human males have with human females? Because I’m assuming that “male studies” means studying all aspects of maleness and not just human males, because then they could just call it men’s studies.

    “Hey, men HAVE to scratch and pee in sand, because male cats have these characteristics. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to mark my territory.”

  6. Holy!
    April 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Evolutionary psychology and sociobiology have been doing excellent work on male issues. Malcolm Potts and Thomas Hayden’s “Sex and War” has shaken up scientific literature on the reasons why warfare, terrorism, and violence are nearly the sole purview of men. If male studies goes forward it needs to forget about silly attacks on feminism and focus more on work like that being done by Steven Pinker or by Anne Campbell, who approaches women from the same angle Potts and Hayden look at men. Her book, “A Mind of Her Own: The Evolutionary Psychology of Women,” is a groundbreaking work.

  7. April 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

    “The same forty years that men and boys have seriously fallen into decline, which goes to show you that the study of males is probably not best left to scores of ideologues that hate them.”

    -Why is it that all defenders of “male studies” have such trouble expressing their thoughts in wiritng? How do you “seriously fall into decline”? What does this even mean?

  8. April 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

    “warfare, terrorism, and violence are nearly the sole purview of men”

    -Erm, are you serious?? Have you missed the very recent news about the horrible terror attacks in Moscow? Those attacks were carried out by female suicide bombers and other women who helped them. Female terrorism is one of the biggest problems Russia faces today.

    As to warfare and violence, does the name Catherine the Great tell you anything? How about Elizabeth of Russia?

  9. ALH
    April 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I think that this post misses the point. Yes, much of what’s been taught in academia for, well, ever, has been influenced by patriarchal standards of what “mattters” (which is usually what matters for privileged white men). And, yet…men suffer from the social construction of gender just as much as women do. They are the ones forced into wars via conscription. They are socialized and encouraged to become “real men” in the same ways women are pressured into cookie-cutter versions of femininity.

    As a mother of two sons, I find that the information available on raising them to become good men is quite lacking. American Girls books include information on personal care, friendships/relationships, financial management, and other topics that are relevant to the lives of pre-teen and teenage girls. But where are the similar books for boys? There is an implicit assumption that boys can “get” all of this just by existing in the world. And I think that carries over to adolescence, young adulthood, and “man”hood.

    It isn’t so much that gender studies can’t encompass the issues that boys and men face; I’ve been in some courses where these topics are addressed. But I’ve been in academia close to 20 years, and I’ve overwhelmingly found that feminists — of which I consider myself one — are often insensitive to the male plight, as if thousands of years of patriarchy means that men in general don’t need to examine the ways in which the existing social order has negatively impacted THEM.

    The point being: I think each of the reasons you posted in the blog — as offered by the men’s studies folks — can be valid, when placed into a more benevolent context. But by mocking them, and being less than sympathetic to the ways in which society urges men into the same (or analogous) boxes into it urges women, you really kind of prove their point.

    • April 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

      ALH, I think that you and anyone else confused needs to go read this post over at the Sexist: “Men’s Studies” Too Feminist For You? Meet “Male Studies”. It sounds like what you’re talking about is men’s studies. Men’s studies and male studies are not the same thing. Men’s studies discusses masculinities, gender, etc. Male studies, this new invention, is explicitly anti-feminist.

  10. Holy!
    April 14, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Clarissa,

    Clearly you haven’t read the book. However, I’ll answer your question. I’ll also try and give some examples from the book. The vast majority of violent crime is committed by men. For example, in Los Angeles, statistics on gang murders revealed that the 2,000 prosecuted murders in a row were all committed by men.

    This is from the US Bureau of Justice statistics :”Men murder on average 8 times for every murder perpetrated by a woman. The homicide rate “gender gap” hasn’t closed over the years. In fact it has increased, and this despite a decline in number of homicides. In 1976 the ratio of male murderers to female was 5 to 1. By 1999 it was 9 to1 and at its peak, in 1995, it reached a surprisingly high 11 to 1 ratio.

    Read more: Violent Crime – Gender Differences In Violent Crime Offenders http://social.jrank.org/pages/1253/Violent-Crime-Gender-Differences-in-Violent-Crime-Offenders.html#ixzz0l5dAw6Eu

    That’s only in the United States. But violent crime stats are all dominated by men in every country we have records for. As to your charge on terrorism? Of course there are female terrorists. Who makes up the back bone of terror groups, today and historically? Men. Al Qaeda? Men. Islamic Jihad? Men. The IRA? Men. Hitler’s SS? Men. The Conquistadors were all men. The US Militia movement and the Ku Klux Klan all fit the pattern.

    Organized crime fits the same pattern. The Italian Mafia, The Russian Mafiya, The Triads, The Yakuza, Africans mobs, etc. All these groups are entirely made up of men.

    Of course female leaders have started wars and conquest; however, the engines of those wars were turned by men. The book looks at “platoon mentality” is the core of all armies–small bands of men. After all, Elizabeth and Catherine relied on armies entirely made up of men to do their fighting.

  11. April 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

    While I’m sympathetic to the fact that you can divvy up and narrow down legitimate academic study to anything, as Cara points out, there already is such a thing as men’s studies. Male studies is merely trying to replace a monolithic feminist viewpoint and agenda (which don’t exist) with a monolithic chauvinist viewpoint and agenda with an eye towards legitimating it.

    Sometimes, and this was something I almost touched on in a previous comment, I wonder if the whole niche nature of the Internet has allowed popular perception of feminism to molder as feminists turn inward when it comes to 101. I.E. A casual person isn’t going to come across 101 almost unless they explicitly go through the effort of finding it. More awareness of what feminism actually is wouldn’t deter the sanctimonious male studies set, but it would salt the earth somewhat.

  12. jen
    April 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

    The main benefit that I have gotten so far from male studies is that just the mention of the possibility of it has resulted in something I have never seen before.

    Nervous feminists.

    And as good as it looks on them now it will look even better when male studies comes to fruition. Feminists have had a stranglehold on the study of the sexes for forty years. The same forty years that men and boys have seriously fallen into decline, which goes to show you that the study of males is probably not best left to scores of ideologues that hate them.

    Just a thought.

    So I urge all of you edgy feminists to keep the momentum up for us. Nothing better to point to the need for true academic pursuit than vitriolic tantrums from ideologues that are threatened by the idea that their hegemony is coming to an end.

    Hahahaha :). Oh please, don’t flatter yourself, dear Paul. I don’t give a damn about ANOTHER guy claiming how terribly oppressed he is by gender studies and all the evil feminists surrounding him and hating on “male objectivity”, and how liberating it is to piss them off by re-packaging the same anti-feminist clichés as “male studies” and claiming it is even remotely scientific. if that’s your way to not have to stuff a sock down there, right on!

  13. jen
    April 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

    html-fail :) – sorry.

  14. Niki
    April 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

    We don’t need a Men’s Studies/Male Studies program to “counter” women’s studies programs. Analogies:

    -There are plenty of gay studies courses (if not gay studies programs, I’m not sure if those exist) in certain programs. For example, in literature/English programs, there are Gay & Lesbian Literature classes; there are no comparable “Straight Literature” classes. That would be unnecessary, because straight writers and heterosexual relationships dominate literary history in general.

    -There are programs studying Black History, Asian History, etc. There are no comparable “White History” classes. That would be unnecessary, because white people dominate the history books in general.

    -There are courses, possibly programs at some schools, studying what differently abled people have done for us in history. There are no comparable “Abled People History” classes. That would be unnecessary, because abled people dominate the history books in general.

    Need I go on? You can see my point here. Who dominates history books? Men. We don’t need a whole program devoted to honouring the same men who we’ve studied since elementary school.

    And this baloney about studying masculinity is, well, baloney. Because women’s studies don’t study femininity – or at least, when they do, they also study masculinity and see how society has constructed those things as opposite. Gender studies also accomplishes this. And developping an entire PROGRAM around the study of masculinity? I could understand a course or two, within a gender studies program, but this whole “Male Studies” crap is completely missing the point of what “Women’s Studies” actually does.

  15. Dan
    April 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I assume you would know that, Mr. Tiger, Professor of Anthropology.

    Meh… The whole thing is just concern trolling. Really, everyone knows that Lionel Tiger’s a boor, oh my.

  16. jen
    April 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

    and, by the way, this is paul’s delightful website: a voice for men, explaining all about the wonders of natural gender differences that are being supressed nowadays. i guess this is pretty much the gist of the scientific endeavour “male studies” (and i mean male studies opposed to men’s studies/gender studies – i am all for research and debates on how patriarchy effects men, too)… i feel enlightened, don’t you? :) http://www.avoiceformen.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=310&Itemid=36

  17. Tracey
    April 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Male studies is absolutely genious. By doing this, they have forced feminists into a corner that makes it seem like we are against Men’s Studies or male inclusion in Gender Studies. The idea of maleness is absolutely something that needs to be critiqued and dissected, and I would be willing to believe that it isn’t done enough, even in Gender studies programs. Also, the Men’s Studies section of bookstores do carry books on how the construction of maleness hurts men.
    But by coming up with Male studies, they are in part erasing the critiquing of maleness that already goes on and needs to go on more. It seems to me that Men’s studies is about examing and deconstructing masculinity as imposed on people born male, where as Male Studies is about reinforcing patriarchy and current construction of masculinity as the greatest thing since fire. But of course, when feminists push back against Male Studies, it makes it seem like we are against the things that are brough up in Male and Gender studies.

  18. Tracey
    April 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    edit:
    brought up in Men and Gender studies.

  19. April 14, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Honestly, I fail to understand why men’s studies have to be run in opposition to women’s studies, since the two are so completely intertwined and, moreover, cover the same ground. As a man, I understand where attitudes like this are coming from, but know also that it usually takes a personal process of challenging established norms and with it a kind of maturation to see beyond the anxiety that is just as virulent in men as is advancing unrealistic and unhealthy notions of body image for women.

  20. April 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Awesome piece. Male studies is pointless and redundant. Hopefully the only people who will be interested are the jerks who are already patriarchal.
    This whole issue just makes me want to strangle people.
    What bothers me most is it ignores trans, gays, and pretty much any perspective except for cis, white, middle/upper class males.

  21. meghann
    April 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    A lot of college student argument is just irritating. I propose a course of study with no students.

  22. Kristin
    April 14, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    This sounds like the sexist equivalent of the movement to start programs with names like “Western Civilization Studies.” There’s one in its nascent stages at UNC-Chapel Hill, thanks to the far-right John Locke Foundation’s activism.

    The problem, of course, is that almost *all* academic studies constitute some kind of Western Civilization Studies or another. And this is not about expanding academic disciplines at all–but instead about an ideological battle to maintain the sacrosanct Western-dominated academic canon. The same can probably be said for Male Studies.

  23. BadKitty
    April 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    The first 12 years of my education was spent studying men since they were the topic and central players in every single class I was in. Now if “Male Studies” means they want to study gender roles and the massive idealogical fuck-up that is the patriarchy, I can get behind that. Otherwise, meh. Same old shit.

  24. Kristin
    April 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    BadKitty: I don’t know that I could get behind that. I mean, a similar debate happens in the world of Critical Race Studies. Every now and then, someone asks whether or not we should have “Whiteness Studies” in order to examine the social functioning of “whiteness” as a tool of domination. I sorta think Critical Race Studies already serves that purpose, though, and Whiteness Studies doesn’t need its own discipline just so it can be seen as a legitimate “category of analysis.” I feel the same way about the idea of Male Studies. Take a Women’s Studies course if you want to learn about, say, entrenched sexist attitudes.

  25. April 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Its real easy to condescendingly say that “there’s nothing new here” (as if Men’s, Women’s, and Gender Studies have magically covered every walk of life) but I personally am going to take the wait and see approach. Who knows even if this ultimately doesn’t come to pass the idea of Male Studies might actually give some oppressed males some voice or at least the courage and or enlightenment to go find their own voice.

    And as for the “well history as we know it is already men’s history” I think that’s limiting at best of totally wrong at worst. numerically speaking the vast majority of men are not mentioned in history and the relatively few that do get to the top (by that I mean getting mentioned) do not represent them.

  26. PrettyAmiable
    April 14, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    “So I urge all of you edgy feminists to keep the momentum up for us. Nothing better to point to the need for true academic pursuit than vitriolic tantrums from ideologues that are threatened by the idea that their hegemony is coming to an end.”

    hahahahahahahahahaha. Irony.

  27. April 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    @Holy!

    Before you go on further about evo-psych, you should see this. Evo-psyche has been extensively co-opted by anyone and their pet hamster who wants to present their speculation about something as fact, and since evo-psych is often conveniently devilish when it comes to validating hypotheses, it’s pretty much worthless on the actionable conclusions front. Not mention evo-psych proponents annoying propensity to confuse “ought” for “is”.

    @Danny

    Its real easy to condescendingly say that “there’s nothing new here

    It’s easy ’cause it’s true. As has already been pointed about by Cara and Frau Sally Benz in the article: There already is a field called men’s studies. It’s part of gender studies, and contrary to popular conception- they’re actual y’know, studies. This means that instead of trying to base knowledge on an agenda, agendas tend to be based on knowledge derived from these fields. This whole male studies stuff is all about doing it bass-ackwards.

    As for oppression of men, I’m going to have to laugh that off, sorry. Oppression of men by whom? Perhaps if you consider oppression to be taking away privileges that no one should have had in the first place then maybe, but that’s kind of a self-serving definition of oppression isn’t it? I’m as heteronormative a male as they come, and I wouldn’t trade that status for any amount of material wealth. I’m not saying this to gloat, but it’s good to be a man in this society. It’s really good. Even if you’re not actively trying to take advantage of the benefits of heteronormative maleness, you will benefit from it. I’m in the business of ideas, specifically those about science. The thing I take advantage of the most is that people take me seriously when I say something and I don’t have to hedge my statements and worry about always being brutally second-guessed.

    That applies to all aspects of my life, but it’s damn good to have it apply to the one that’s most important to me. Meanwhile, a female scientist has to do deal with a lot more attitude and cynicism from peers and mentors. If she doesn’t hedge her statements carefully enough, it’s brashness or impertinence. In science you shouldn’t have to be afraid of being wrong, and the consequences for being wrong are much lower for men than women.

    Meanwhile men can be oppressed or otherwise harmed by social expectations, we know this from *gasp* gender studies. It’s just not something that affirms your apparent worldview. Which is why people had to fabricate an entire field for that express purpose.

  28. April 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Hiya Danny! Long time no speak! (Or, er, write…)
    I think the problem here is that all of the things I’ve seen mentioned about “male studies” is covered by one or more of the other forms of study. Certainly, once you add some of the other social sciences into the mix, the breadth is even greater. Additionally, as Cara mentioned, this really seems to focus more on anti-feminism than anything else. Which, okay, not everyone agrees with feminism or claims the feminist label, but bashing for the sake of bashing doesn’t seem right.

    I mean, yes, it’s possible that this will attract more men and they’ll come to realize that inequality affects men as well as women but, again, that’s what men’s studies was for, minus the anti-feminism.

    I don’t know, this just rubs me the wrong way…

  29. JSC
    April 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    If these male studies folks really cared about studying men, why are they so focused on feminism? Why are they framing men as victims as the focus of their discipline? If this were really about dispassionate analysis, they wouldn’t define themselves by their opposition to feminism, the same way the tea parties are defined by their opposition to Obama, rather than any coherent ideas. Not to mention using outmoded gender binaries.

    That said, I don’t think men’s studies/masculinity analysis in gender studies really gets its due.

    I agree with Danny that saying we don’t need to study men because all history (some people say all disciplines) is about men is dishonest. Actually, it’s kind of preposterous. Just because men are the primary actors in certain situations or disciplines does not mean you will learn about men or men’s identity or masculinity by studying said discipline.

  30. April 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    FYI folks stuck in mod at any point – please bear with me. Unsurprisingly, there are an awful lot of trolls in mod and in trying to sift through it all, I might be held up by posting your non-trollish comment.

  31. April 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    “As for oppression of men, I’m going to have to laugh that off, sorry. Oppression of men by whom? Perhaps if you consider oppression to be taking away privileges that no one should have had in the first place then maybe, but that’s kind of a self-serving definition of oppression isn’t it?”

    Funny (which I guess is why you said you would laugh this off) but I thought that all those other disciplines have shown that men are oppressed. But the best you can do is laugh at the idea of it and then put forth the hard work to admit that it can happen. Rest assured it does happen.

  32. April 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    “Funny (which I guess is why you said you would laugh this off) but I thought that all those other disciplines have shown that men are oppressed… Rest assured it does happen.”

    Thanks but I’m not going to rest assured. Citation needed. Unless you’re talking about the plight POC face or some other form of systematic oppression that probably does not affect men exclusively, I’m confident all you have are specific examples and anecdota. I looked at your blog and your post on the Titanic, which struck me as some of the most shallow thinking on the matter conceivable. I may yet be proven wrong, but certainly not by you.

    I’ll continue laughing until you have something concrete. Thank you.

  33. Valkyrie
    April 14, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    @Danny-

    Yes, men can be oppressed—by other men. Oppression based on race, class, sexual orientation, ability, etc all happen to men, because of the patriarchy. Feminism is the friend of men in this case. To act like you’re oppressed because women are no longer property is disingenuous, to say the least.

    As for the original post—yes. Gender studies, even men’s studies, covers topics of masculinities well. Every article I’ve seen about “male studies” shows it as just a font of antifeminist whining.

  34. Sailorman
    April 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    The Chemist 4.14.2010 at 2:21 pm
    …There already is a field called men’s studies. It’s part of gender studies, and contrary to popular conception- they’re actual y’know, studies. This means that instead of trying to base knowledge on an agenda, agendas tend to be based on knowledge derived from these fields.

    No way.

    The social sciences (not just gender studies) are VASTLY affected by the motivations, biases, and agendas of researchers and funders. Everything from what you write on, to who funds you, to how you analyze the data… it’s all got bias in it. And don’t even get me started on bad statistics.

    And that’s OK; it’s often hard to get rid of bias since it’s often very difficult (if not impossible) to do double blind stuff, and even then the researcher still exhibits bias in subject choice and study choice, and so on. It’s just part of the landscape.

    But the fact that it’s unavoidable or part of the landscape doesn’t mean that bias exists. In fact, it not only exists but is often institutionalized.

  35. rebekah
    April 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    @ALH,
    and that is what they have men’s studies for. Men’s studies is the equivalent on women’s studies, but it looks at all of the same things from a perspective of men. It looks at heteronormatitivity, Masculinity as it is “traditionally” defined, men’s work around the world, violence against men, etc.
    Males studies, has basically been set up because of the men who are threatened by things such as men’s studies, which actually teach men that the things that they have been told is “in their biology” is actually not true. This threatens the male studies people so they create male studies to counteract it. That is why we are against it. We want men to understand themselves and their identity, that is why we support men’s studies

  36. Holy!
    April 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    This threatens the male studies people so they create male studies to counteract it. That is why we are against it. We want men to understand themselves and their identity, that is why we support men’s studies

    The problem with some of that is it embraces the “blank slate theory.” In other words, everything is socially constructed.

  37. April 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Chemist:
    “I looked at your blog and your post on the Titanic, which struck me as some of the most shallow thinking on the matter conceivable. I may yet be proven wrong, but certainly not by you.”

    Really? Its shallow to think about how in those times men were expected to just give up their lives for women, even those they didn’t know? In fact that is an example of something that does fall mostly exclusively on the shoulders of men. The expectation to just throw one’s life away to prove something. Which is of course supported by the teasing/shaming/ridiculing of those who don’t (yeah giving up one’s life is simultaneously a grand gesture and something men are supposed to do).

    Valkyrie:
    “Yes, men can be oppressed—by other men. Oppression based on race, class, sexual orientation, ability, etc all happen to men, because of the patriarchy.”
    Its not like those other men actually have my interests in mind so pointing out I share gender with them means nothing. Yeah a system that is supposedly working to support men but actually crushes most men. But the point is it does happen.

  38. April 14, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    @Danny

    There’s a great deal wrong with the your Titanic assessment, but I’m still waiting for you to demonstrate this special systematic oppression of men that you’re so keen on talking about without actual evidence.

  39. Alara Rogers
    April 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    There’s a great deal wrong with the your Titanic assessment, but I’m still waiting for you to demonstrate this special systematic oppression of men that you’re so keen on talking about without actual evidence.

    Okay. 80% of all murder victims are men. One-quarter as many men are murdered by domestic partners as women are, but because so many men are murdered by strangers, and so many *more* men are murdered period, the statistic we usually hear is “5% of murdered men are murdered by domestic partners, in comparison to 65% of murdered women!” While those statistics are utterly horrifying (that 65% of murdered women are murdered by domestic partners), our domestic violence narrative is that only women are ever murdered or abused by partners and it’s always by men, whereas in fact if you look at the stats a different way, 20% of all victims of domestic partner murder are male. This is rarely noticed, because it disappears into the giant ocean of murdered men.

    Now, is this oppression? I think it is. Why do we not talk about the staggering figures for male murder victims? Well, part of the reason is that it *doesn’t* fit into a neat “victim vs. perp” categorization… because the killers are also men. Yup, men are the oppressors of men. 90% of all murderers are men. In fact, *all* crimes except the physical abuse of children are committed disproportionately by men, and when the difference in the amount of time men vs. women spend with children is factored, it turns out men spend more of the time that they spend with children in abusing them than women do.

    Men are the violence class. Men are given no gender-based protection from violence whatsoever — homeless shelters are considered more dangerous places for men than for women because they’re segregated by gender and men are more dangerous than women, which is awfully little comfort to the pacifist or physically weak man. Or the transman. Or the transwoman who has been wrongly miscategorized. In fact, in general violence is the province of the cisman, and largely the straight cisman at that, but gay cismen and transpeople of either sex are not granted the “get out of being the violence class free” card women are granted by society.

    So there’s one oppression for you, and I’m sure there are others. All of history is men’s history in that the actions of men are all that anyone cared to record, but men are genderless. Because men are the default human, history doesn’t record very well what the experience of being *male* is. Just as women are the sex class, men are the unsexed class, excluded from the concept of gender in our popular imagination (so even “gender studies” is often thought to be a euphemism for the study of women.) History is all about men, but not about maleness. So is literature. Men are highly visible but their experiences as specific to being male are not; fish don’t know they’re wet and men don’t know what “maleness” means when they are prevented from learning what “femaleness” truly is by their culturally cultivated lack of empathy for women. (Which is itself an issue. Imagine living in an environment where you are under relentless pressure, under pain of being ostracized, rejected by your friends, taunted by co-workers, occasionally even *killed*, to express contempt for the person you love. I mean, it doesn’t suck as bad as being the victim of that contempt, sure, but you can’t tell me psychological damage isn’t being done when people are being pressured to despise more than half the human race, and specifically, the half they’re *related* to, who raised them and are sleeping with them.)

    Now, does *any* of this mean that we need to have “male studies” as opposed to “men’s studies?” Almost certainly not. Just the fact that everyone involved with this seems to be considering their “male studies” to be about male victimization *by women*, when in fact male victimization *by men* is a vastly larger problem for men, tells me that this is all about sticking it to the feminists rather than actually doing anything for men. The truth that we express when we say “patriarchy hurts men too” is that both men and women are the victims of a system that was set up to give the small set of men at the top control over everyone. Is it worse to be an FLDS girl who is forced into marriage at the age of 13 and raped, or to be an FLDS boy who is cast out onto the street by his family, made to live in a world he’s been taught is almost literally demonic, cut off from all social support and all the people he ever loved? How about not comparing them? They both are unimaginably awful. But the people who caused such horrible things to happen to both the girls and the boys… are adult men who like to rape little girls and don’t want teen boys competing with them for the same pool of sex objects. If we analyze the harm that is done to men for being men, it’s almost invariably men that are doing it… so *any* form of “male studies” that hyperfocuses on female privileges over men rather than the ways that men do physical and psychological violence to each other is going to be, basically, of no use whatsover in actually identifying and correcting the problems men actually suffer.

  40. wootchristywoot
    April 14, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    The thing that gets me is that dominant culture IS “Male Studies” – hence the start of Feminism. How is this not clear? It always comes back to the base of common discourse which is male. This movement towards “Male Studies” has felt very reactionary to me, and in some ways serves to further undermine the work done in Feminism and Gender Studies.

    As commented earlier – men are (of course!) widely addressed in Feminist Studies. No one is ignoring men- and yes, some demonizing is inevitable in the field. However, how long has his been going on for women? Even Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, a seemingly feminist character is deafened by a beating from her husband by a book about ‘bad women’. There certainly aren’t any tales out there that treat men in such a manner… Just sayin…

  41. Ed
    April 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Just using the word ‘patriarchy’ to denote the more general concept of ‘harmful/regressive gender ideology’ in a discussion of how that ideology harms men demonstrates cleanly why it would be helpful to unwind what problems “men actually suffer” outside the context of a feminist narrative.

    The word ‘patriarchy’ simplistically imputes the gender regime to the collective will of all men. It suggests some kind of conspiracy among males, as a gender, to subordinate females. Feminists don’t define it or explicitly use the term in this way, but the implicit associations still resonate. It is part of a broader, sometimes subtle, probably not-completely-conscious theme in a good deal of feminist thinking that envisions men, separate from the activity of gender ideology on them, as the enemy.

  42. chipchop
    April 15, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Ed, I do think that for some (lots of?) people, “patriarchy” can conjure up the ideas you describe, but I’m not sure that getting rid of the term is the solution. After all, the word “feminist” also has negative associations for some. But feminists didn’t invent (and I don’t think generally encourage) those negative connotations–instead, those associations were created and are encouraged by anti-feminists. If we chose new words, it wouldn’t be long before those words were given those associations too.

    If we don’t acknowledge the work that feminists have done in HELPING MEN to have spaces to articulate “harmful/regressive gender ideology,” if we go along with this whole idea that feminists are just man-haters, that feminism (and its critiques of gender) aren’t valuable in studying men–well, then I think we’re taking a huge step backwards.

  43. April 15, 2010 at 2:57 am

    I always thought male studies was called “liberal arts.”

    I can do a castration anxiety song-and-dance as persuasively as the next guy, but I honestly can’t see the academic value of a field based solely on advocating right-wing ideology. Which means that it will end up as a major at Regent, Liberty, and Bob Jones in no time. C’est la vie.

    A more fun program would be an interdisciplinary M.A. in penis studies. That would actually be an interesting program–throw in everything from sivalingams to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” to the Washington Monument.

    But who the hell wants to just do “male studies”? Doesn’t the musk get a little thick after a while?

  44. April 15, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Chemist:
    “There’s a great deal wrong with the your Titanic assessment, but I’m still waiting for you to demonstrate this special systematic oppression of men that you’re so keen on talking about without actual evidence.”

    Well you have the way that men are treated when it comes to child care/custody, the way men are presumed to be child molesters, the way men are expected to throw their lives away in war (and history has shown that if they don’t voluntarily throw them then there are ways around that). You would see this if you had done more than just skim my site to find things to nitpick about.

    Now about my assessment of the Titanic being wrong. Care to go into that? (In fact you can even go over to the actual post and explain all those great deals of wrongness.)

  45. April 15, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I’m a trans woman and I’ve spent time on this lil’ blue planet as both a boy and a woman. It’s true: both being male and being female are full of their own versions of suck. I don’t think there’s much argument over this in many corners of feminism. The current system of gender kinda mows over everyone.

    Having said that, we are still living in a world that privileges masculinity and maleness as being stronger, faster, better, more. It’s not quite as in your face as it was, say, thirty or forty years ago, but the general notion is still out there. So, the problem has become rather insidious and unfortunately, it is much harder to point out the effects a more subtle prejudice that a more blatant one.

    So, this is what I have to say to the fellas who are all revved up over male studies. It’s great that you are concerned about how gender hurts guys. Even though the world tends to favor men’s interests over women’s, that certainly doesn’t mean that society is biased toward examining how the system actually hurts men. The system exists because it is very good at reproducing itself. That usually doesn’t involve folks gathering together for a group hug and discussing how society is hurting men or women. So, good for you, guys, in speaking up and addressing this issue. However, you risk reproducing the problems that are hurting you by ignoring that gender is bound up in a legacy of privileging maleness over femaleness, masculinity over femininity, and men over women. I’m not saying that your lives are all flowers and smiley faces. Not at all. However, your lives do exist within a power structure that has been around for millennia. To think that a few decades of feminist activism have erased that legacy is folly.

    Besides, the first symposium on male studies had Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute as one of the two moderators. Not a good sign. Not at all.

  46. April 15, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I meant to say this yesterday but got too busy and sidetracked – for those who take issue with Danny’s posts, can you take that discussion to his blog? Much appreciated!

    I agree with chipchop that a lot of words have negative connotations but that the replacements for those words would quickly develop the same connotations. This is part of the reason I stopped fighting the feminist label, because any alternative I might use will still be taken negatively if my end goal is the same (equality and the advancement of human rights worldwide).

    Sailorman, yes, bias always exists and it’s true that it sometimes ingrained in how things get done. But I think you’re missing the point being made: the impression is that women’s/gender/men’s studies are just people running around spouting their personal theories without anything to back them up. In reality, it is something that’s researched and studied like any other social science and, therefore, not as biased as people claim. Sure, anybody can write a book about nonsense, call it gender studies and get it published, but that’s the case with a lot of fields of study, yet gender studies gets all the flack. So the issue isn’t whether or not social science is completely unbiased, it’s whether or not gender studies is any more biased than the other social sciences, which it isn’t at this stage of the game given the attention gender receives in psych, sociology, anthro, etc.

  47. April 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I hope (and I say hope because I’m not sure) that there is a way to study the male gender without sidetracking a feminist perspective. Being a self-identifying male feminist, I find it difficult to understand where my masculinity fits into a world that has had more than its fill of toxic forms of masculinity throughout history. This generally means keeping my gender performance to a minimum, which is fine by me, but I am also a secure and confident human being, whereas most males arguing for male studies are not.

    I remember taking my first gender studies course in college, and being pleased with the first three weeks of study–it was my first introduction to gender roles, queer theory, child development, “gender performance” and so forth. But after this grace period, the course switched to an almost exclusive study of the ways in which gender affects people with female bodies. Nothing wrong with that, except the course was misnamed.

    In order to promote the understanding of gender, I believe it is essential to study ALL ways in which it is performed and from all perspectives. The victimization argument made by men is bullshit, and should not be rewarded in the LEAST. Their voices don’t need to be heard in these courses–they need to be quieted so that the minds behind them can learn. And that’s what it comes down to–people with power and privilege trying to exert it under the guise of opening minds.

    An appropriate course/concentration would be called “Masculinities” and cover hegemonic masculinity, the intersection of gender, sexuality, race, class, etc., the history of masculinity, trans masculinity, domestic violence, rape culture, and so forth. The list is long, and the material would appeal to a very wide audience–not just to persons with dangling genitalia. Studying masculinity is valuable and increases our understanding of the human experience. Studying men is different, and as easy as opening the nearest history book.

  48. April 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I’m going to have to side with those commenting on the anti-feminist tone of this “male studies” new angle.

    Also, absolutely EVERYTHING that Alara Rogers said upthread, X 2

  49. Sailorman
    April 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    frau sally benz 4.15.2010 at 8:12 am
    Sailorman, yes, bias always exists and it’s true that it sometimes ingrained in how things get done. But I think you’re missing the point being made: the impression is that women’s/gender/men’s studies are just people running around spouting their personal theories without anything to back them up. In reality, it is something that’s researched and studied like any other social science and, therefore, not as biased as people claim. Sure, anybody can write a book about nonsense, call it gender studies and get it published, but that’s the case with a lot of fields of study, yet gender studies gets all the flack.

    Sure. ALL those fields contain a few of (as you brilliantly put it) “people running around spouting their personal theories without anything to back them up.”

    It’s much more common, though, to find “people with a bone to pick or something to prove, trying to figure out a way to find support for their favorite point through directed research.”

    Is gender studies worse than the others? I am not so sure. It’s newer, and less universal, and less large, so it’s not necessarily the same as others. I’m not sure to the degree to which it enforces conformity, which is always fairly dangerous. Some fields are more conformal than are others.

  50. j-bird
    April 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Alara Rogers, you consistently leave some of the most thoughtful, interesting comments on this site. Thanks! :-)

  51. April 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Alara Rogers- Absolutely love what you said. Fantastic effing addition to this thread.

  52. April 15, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Oh, and about the rest, my two cents is that I’m on board with Men’s Studies all the way. I’d love to take the class. But the way that Male Studies is being described sounds like utter bullshit.

  53. April 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    @Frau Sally Benz

    Sorry, got carried away.

    @Sailorman

    I think my point is about the extent to which the move to create Male studies is driven by an agenda. Bias is another issue. Obviously any study is motivated by some perceived value of the study, but rarely are they built around such monolithic worldviews.

    I.E. I’m not so much saying that man cannot be oppressed or that there is no value in a study of it, so much as I am saying that the male studies crowd has a transparently self-serving idea of what constitutes that oppression and how best to evaluate it.

  54. Sailorman
    April 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Sure. Male studies is stupid not because there’s anything wrong with studying men, and not because it’s defined by an agenda (the first women’s studies departments definitely had an agenda too, albeit one which actually makes sense) but more because it’s defined by a negative (Not feminism! Not women! Noway! Nohow! Testicles, everywhere! ) And that’s not even all of it. It’s just… Hell, I don’t even know how to properly explain why I think that male studies makes no sense. But it doesn’t.

    Maybe i need to take a male studies class. then I’d know. But amazingly enough, even though I’m male I still do not Get It, at all.

    Heh.

    I will say though (and I am more cynical than most) that I have yet to meet any large group which is not pretty self-serving, and I certainly include plenty of people on “my side” in that category. There are plenty of reasons to dislike male studies but some of the more general ones can seem a bit ‘glass house’ if you know what I mean.

  55. Dawn.
    April 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Male Studies is a flagrantly desperate attempt to reinforce heternormative gender norms, perpetuate male privilege, and depict genuine academic discourse on male-bodied people as ideological rantings of “man-hating feminazis.”

    Sorry, douchebags. Gender Studies already does what you claim to do but really don’t. They are trying to back feminists and gender studies scholars into a corner by painting us as man-haters. Oldest trick in the book.

  56. Dawn.
    April 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Also: studying the social construct of masculinity is incredibly important and I advocate for much more of it. I haven’t read/heard a single feminist say anything negative about studying men. Patriarchy hurts everyone. We know this. Apparently the anti-feminists don’t, because they are still moaning the same old bullshit.

  57. Juniper
    April 16, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Actually ‘gender studies’ is a softened term for feminist led sociology – i.e. Feminism. If you read the reading lists and course structure for ‘gender’ studies, you will see that the typical reading list is feminist, and the typical course structure is based on women’s studies. There may be one ‘masculinities’ module, but this is also a term that explains masculinity by its relation to feminist perspectives. ITs a shame because gender itself is a fascinating topic as well as how gendered perspectives mutate interactions. A really good example is how both genders are conditioned to believe that a woman being aggressive is ‘strong’ or ‘sassy’, yet a man even talking passionately about an issue can easily be pegged as abusive or potentially abusive, and how this has come about both from a supposed ‘helpful’ focus on ‘exposing violent males’ as well as ‘supportive work environments’ where behaviour is regulated and controlled for both sexes. Many would explain this as ‘feminising’ the workplace, yet emotional and passionate communications are just as likely, some say more so, from women. The risk is that we have a society where men are restricted so heavily from being angry, passionate or indignant in case they are seen as ‘abusive’ or ‘unstable’ whilst simultaneously reporting that extreme violence is a ‘typical’ male behaviour, so that men are caught and improsoned by their own propensity for emotion exactly when women are allowed to be more emotional in public life. This is not a good situation at all, and it goes some way to explaining drink related violence. These two perspectives (that of the male gendered perspective and the female gendered perspective) do overlap and are confused, but to exclude one gender in gender studues because you believe that this is ‘fair’ because other subjects seem more male is ridiculous. Its is like saying that in physics we will deliberately not study physics on earth because there is a chapter in genesis about creation.

  58. Bagelsan
    April 16, 2010 at 5:23 am

    gay cismen and transpeople of either sex are not granted the “get out of being the violence class free” card women are granted by society.

    Women get a card to get them out of violence? Score! Where do I get it?

    Oh, you meant that they get to avoid being perpetrators, not that they get to avoid being victims. Oh. Joy. Crowd goes wild… (And I assume you mean “cis” women, in the above?)

  59. April 16, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Hmmm. Yes, Bagelsan, that part of Alara’s comment is a little shaky and needs a lot more elaboration to figure out exactly what she is trying to say.

  60. Alara Rogers
    April 16, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Oh, you meant that they get to avoid being perpetrators, not that they get to avoid being victims. Oh. Joy. Crowd goes wild… (And I assume you mean “cis” women, in the above?)

    Yes, I meant ciswomen. And I apologize, I caught that way too late.

    Of course I don’t mean get out of having violence committed on them (that doesn’t happen to anybody, sadly), I mean get out of being presumed to be violent and therefore be locked in with the violent people. (not “get out of committing violence”; anyone can choose to get out of committing violence. I’m talking about getting out of being *assumed* to be violent, the way women are *assumed* to be there for men’s sexual desires.) Since the majority of cismen are not violent, but the majority of violent people are cismen, and the *only* categorization schema we use to separate adults based on their likelihood of committing violence is “are you a biological male or a biological female”, ciswomen are usually separated from cismen in places such as homeless shelters, boarding schools, and prisons. But gay cismen are for the most part non-violent, and much more likely to be victims of violence than straight cismen, and transpeople of both sexes are for the most part non-violent and *vastly* more likely to be victims of violence than cismen. And, of course, non-violent cismen are likely to be the prey of violent cismen in an environment where they’re all locked together. (In the real world, where people mingle at will, violent straight cismen are the most likely victims of violence at the hands of other violent straight cismen, although I suspect that proportionately transwomen are a very close second; non-violent straight cismen and gay cismen tend to avoid violent cismen when they can, and ciswomen are highly unlikely to suffer violence from any man *except* the ones they live with or used to live with.) So being in the violence class puts non-violent cismen and gay cismen at high risk for suffering violence even though they are not themselves violent, and the toxic masculinity involved in policing gender norms is a major factor in the high rates of violence against transpeople… and being a cisman does not necessarily protect you against this violence if you are not adamant enough about proving your masculinity. There was one case (I can’t find the link) of a man who was shot in a restaurant by a homophobe/transphobe because the man, who was cis and straight, was holding his girlfriend’s purse while she went to the bathroom. The homo/transphobe who shot the poor guy was, of course, himself a cisman.

  61. April 16, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Oops! I missed the fact that she uses some rather messed up language in excluding “transpeople of either sex” from the group “women,” thus implying that trans women are a different group from the larger group “women,” or somehow not women at all.

    Good catch, Bagelsan!

    Also, there generally should be a space between “trans” and other nouns. “Trans man” not “transman.” “Trans woman” not “transwoman.” That’s a similar linguistic principle, by the way. Trans should be and adjective modifying “man” or “woman.” That is, a “trans man” implies that we have a man that is transgender. “Transman” implies a we have a person who something that is different from a man—that the person is some special variation of human called “transman,” maybe sort of like a man, but different.

    So, the original phrase should be worded:

    gay cis men and trans people of either sex are not granted the “get out of being the violence class free” card cis women are granted by society.

    I know that might seem picky to some, but how language is constructed shapes how people perceive sex and gender, often in ways that we aren’t even conscious of. Feminism has been working with that concept for decades now, so I think trans folk should be able to join in the effort, too. :-)

    I’m going to give Alara the benefit of the doubt and assume no discriminatory intent was behind her phrasing, but that it was a simple oversight.

    Quibbles over language aside, I’m still interested in a further elaboration upon what Alara meant in that part of her essay.

  62. April 16, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Oops, sorry Alara. I was writing my last post while you were posting yours. I see that you’ve responded. I’m reading…

  63. Orville
    April 16, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I don’t see the problem here. The Male Studies is needed because it is an exclusive place for MEN without the feminist bullshit and propaganda. A lot of feminists are just ugly man hating dyke bitches.

    Why can’t men have an exclusive studies about our own lives and experiences? The fact remains there is a lot of misandry in this world. For instance, fathers are discriminated against in relation to child custody cases this is a fact. Male studies will examine this form of discrimination. Men also encounter higher suicide rates, depression ect.
    I think it is very typical of these man hating ugly feminists to simply downplay the importance of male studies. I have taken women’s studies courses and I have noticed the misandrist anti male attitude of both professors and female students.
    Women like to play the game that they are always the victims in society they act as though they have no agency over their own damn lives.

  64. Alara Rogers
    April 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I don’t see the problem here. The Male Studies is needed because it is an exclusive place for MEN without the feminist bullshit and propaganda. A lot of feminists are just ugly man hating dyke bitches.

    Is it too late to add Orville to the troll competition?

  65. Alara Rogers
    April 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Also, there generally should be a space between “trans” and other nouns. “Trans man” not “transman.” “Trans woman” not “transwoman.” That’s a similar linguistic principle, by the way. Trans should be and adjective modifying “man” or “woman.” That is, a “trans man” implies that we have a man that is transgender. “Transman” implies a we have a person who something that is different from a man—that the person is some special variation of human called “transman,” maybe sort of like a man, but different.

    I see your point, Timberwraith, but linguistically, trans and cis are prefixes, not adjectives. To me “trans woman” sounds like “tele conference”, because trans comes from the class of prefixes rather than adjectives. We don’t use tele by itself and in all other contexts but this, we don’t use trans by itself either. And cis, even more so (aside from being used to talk about cisgender and cissexual people, cis isn’t used at all except in scientific terminology, where it’s a prefix.)

    However, since they’ve come to be used *as* adjectives, I can separate the words in the future. I’m generally in favor of considering language to work the way the people who use language actually use it, and by that standard I guess trans and cis have become adjectives in this context. (Also, by that standard, nauseous MEANS NAUSEATED, all you people who think that 19th century dictionaries are the be-all and end-all of language, because no one uses it to mean nauseating anymore. :-) Sorry, pet peeve.)

  66. April 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Ah, I see what you are saying, Alara. That makes sense.

    Also, I might add that trans woman are sometimes excluded from women’s shelters and programs dealing with rape because many cis women perceive us as being potential perpetrators of violence—in ways similar to the way they perceive cis men as being potential perpetrators.

    Of course, in actual practice, this means that trans women who pass as cissexual, are post-op, have correct identification, and are willing to remain silent about being trans are admitted without a hitch. Meanwhile, other trans women get kicked to the curb.

    I think in a general sense, you are correct, Alara and I like what you have written. However, whether one is assigned to the violence class is largely dependent upon the perceptions of cis people. For instance, if a trans man passes as a cissexual woman, he won’t necessarily be assigned to the violence class by cis people. He’ll simply be incorrectly viewed as a woman and hence, excluded from the violence class.

    Something similar can be said about trans women who pass as cissexual women. As long as people remain unaware of a trans women’s status as being transgender, she is treated as any other cis woman is. For instance, if I’m walking down a dark street at midnight and I pass another woman, she isn’t going to cross to the other side of the street in fear of potential sexual assault. That’s because I pass as cissexual. Because of cis perceptions, I’m just another cis woman walking down the street and at least in that moment, I am excluded from the violence class. People generally will not assume that I’m violent. However, because I’m a woman, people will assume that I could very well become a victim of violence, that is, sexual assault.

    What I am trying to say is that membership in a sex/gender based category such as “violence class” is far more complicated and far less stable for trans people than it is for cis people. In any given moment, it’s highly dependent upon people’s perceptions of a trans person’s sex/gender, people’s prejudices toward trans folk, and how much people know about a trans person’s life and personal history.

  67. April 16, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I might also add, for clarification, that people’s perceptions of a trans person doesn’t disqualify or invalidate their right to identify as a man, woman, bigender, genderqueer, or any other sex/gender identity that might apply. However, those perceptions can and do radically shift how one is treated by other people… especially in a world that doesn’t respect transgender identities in the first place.

  68. April 16, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Oh Orville, you are such a cute little troll.

    Mom, can I keep him? I promise to feed him and keep his litter box clean. Pleeeeeeease?

  69. April 16, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Juniper, I’m going to have to strongly disagree with you on a few counts. First, both gender and women’s studies courses/departments vary widely on what they cover. And, in fact, many of them DO include material on issues related to men. My school had a women’s studies department, but at least half of the course I took were actually about how sexism, stereotypes, gender norms, etc. affect men AND women. As I looked at MA & PhD programs, I found the same to be true of those programs as well.

    Also, this: “A really good example is how both genders are conditioned to believe that a woman being aggressive is ’strong’ or ’sassy’, yet a man even talking passionately about an issue can easily be pegged as abusive or potentially abusive”

    Um… what?! In my experience, if a woman is aggressive about something, she’s labeled a bitch, not “sassy.” And, yes, sometimes if men are really aggressive about something, it’s seen as potentially abusive, but I think it’s generally seen as them having a strong opinion. Maybe they’re labeled an asshole if they’re particularly asshole-ish about it, but that’s basically it.

  70. April 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Orville, I have no idea how you made it past mod, but your comment just made me laugh out loud. Your comment is just ridiculous on so many levels…

  71. Dawn.
    April 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Orville – thanks for the super cute trolling! Hate speech and totally ignorant statements are my fave! So adorable.

  72. PrettyAmiable
    April 16, 2010 at 10:51 am

    “A lot of feminists are just ugly man hating dyke bitches.”

    lol.

    I say “lol” not in the laugh out loud sense, but in the emoticon sense, where it is an individual drowning in a sea of sad.

  73. Skateaway
    April 16, 2010 at 11:26 am

    A lot of feminists are just ugly man hating dyke bitches.

    So, to parse:

    Ugly: Women who are not conventionally attractive are not entitled to an opinion.
    Dyke: Women who are not heterosexual are not entitled to an opinion.
    Bitches: Women who erroneously believe they are entitled to an opinion. (See: “sassy.”)
    Man-hating? Only toward ever-so-charming men like you, dear. ;)

    *Sigh* I know I’m feeding the trolls. I just hate that particular tired old argument SO MUCH, although it in itself proves the need for feminism.

  74. Alara Rogers
    April 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    The risk is that we have a society where men are restricted so heavily from being angry, passionate or indignant in case they are seen as ‘abusive’ or ‘unstable’ whilst simultaneously reporting that extreme violence is a ‘typical’ male behaviour, so that men are caught and improsoned by their own propensity for emotion exactly when women are allowed to be more emotional in public life.

    Wow, Juniper, this doesn’t tie out to what I see in real life at all.

    What I see is men freely expressing anger, and no one saying anything about it unless the men appear to be about to become violent. I see women who express anger treated as if they’re being “sassy” and cute, women who express anger treated as if they’re being overemotional, hysterical little wimminz who can be ignored, and women who express anger treated as if they are rude, overly entitled bitches… and it really depends on the woman, her situation and who she’s with. (Sadly, I see the “rude, overly entitled” construction applied disproportionately to women of color who get angry.) I don’t see men slammed for anger or treated as if it makes their opinion less valuable unless they are actually bordering on violence.

    And, of course, extreme violence is not a typical male behavior, but extreme violence is typically committed by men. This is often and easily confused, sort of like the statement “Mothers are women” is confused with “Women are mothers”. 90% of murderers and damn near all the rapists (seriously, the numbers of female rapists are so low you need a few zeroes after the decimal point) are men, but our best estimate is that 5% of men are rapists and significantly fewer men than that are murderers (I think less than 1%.) So it makes sense to talk about violence as an attribute of masculinity the way it makes sense to talk about motherhood as an attribute of femininity, but by no means does that mean all men, or even most men, are violent.

    But I do see that women are tagged with “unstable” a *lot* more easily than men, and our entire social discourse often presumes that anger is not an emotion. If I had a cookie for every time I’ve heard “men are rational, women are emotional”, I could make a few thousand dollars selling cookies. At the same time, there’s that 90%, and the concept of the “male ego” being fragile and men being willing to commit violence to protect it, and the understanding that men just get angry more often than women… it’s really as if anger is being understood to be “not an emotion”. Unless women express it. Then they’re overly emotional.

    But here’s the problem, and I think you have the germ of something there. Men are considered to be the default human; therefore men don’t have gender. So “gender studies” is automatically about women because only women have gender. Also, because gender studies would study both genders equally, and if men study women, are interested in women, listen to women and take them seriously, or involve themselves too closely with women’s issues, then the back-slapping fraternity of jocks and “manly men” will take their man card away, calling them pussy-whipped (or just a pussy). Men actually suffer social damage for empathizing with women. So if men come into a gender studies class, and it isn’t 100% about men and their issues, then they’re going to be required to look at things from a female perspective. And since women suffer *more* from the gender roles society tries to force on us, of course an honest gender studies class will deal *more* with the problems of women. And if women are more than 30% they’re 100%, because men are taught that women aren’t important and anyone who thinks they are important isn’t a man.

    So “male studies” is a transparent attempt to get around the problem of studying gender issues while still maintaining an essential patriarchal contempt for women. Men who are serious about gender studies, who are really interested in the ways that constructions of masculinity harm men, could *and have* entered academia to study gender… but those are men that are comfortable with taking women seriously, because you just can’t do work in gender studies without acknowledging that 90% of the pioneers in the field are female. “Starting fresh” implies to me “throwing out all the previous scholarship on the topic”, and this is such a stupid idea in any academic field, it has to be being suggested primarily because the previous scholarship on the topic is female-dominated and of course women couldn’t have had anything important to say.

    I do think that gender studies should not be a euphemism for women’s studies. I think there should be a robust role for men *and* women who want to study how sex roles and the construction of masculinity affects men and their place in society, without coming from the judgemental perspective of “men and everything about them is bad.” But you’ve got an image problem. Men don’t want to listen to women, empathize with them, study them, or work with them, so “gender studies” is of course dominated by women, who have a woman’s perspective on the subject, and the few men who do work in the discipline are ignored as traitors by the men who think feminism ruined the world. Men understand that there’s something wrong with masculinity, something they can’t quite put their finger on, but they learned the wrong lesson from feminism — feminism was easily able to say “the problem with women’s lives is male oppression” because men dominate society and heavily construct the culture we live in, but men took “men and women are at war with each other” from it rather than “men are involved in creating a toxic culture”, so they’re trying to blame WOMEN. Which, given 22% Supreme Court representation, 12% Congress, something like 20% of the CEOs, 10-15% of the punditocracy, vastly fewer of the school superintendants or principals given how many teachers are women, very few of the big-name directors, very few of the big-name actors, none of the owners of big media companies… exactly where do women, let alone feminists, have the power to do anything to make life harder for men as a class? If life sucks for men, they have to look at who created the culture. And, unfortunately, that was men.

  75. Roving Thundercloud
    April 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Alara, thank you SO MUCH for that last paragraph. You are hitting them out of the park on this thread!

  76. James
    April 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Fantastic post, especially the comments.

    Thank you Alara Rogers for your precise analyses in your posts. I wish I had found your illuminating views earlier.

  77. Susa
    April 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    For instance, fathers are discriminated against in relation to child custody cases this is a fact. Male studies will examine this form of discrimination.

    By explaining that the patriarchy believes that childrearing is a woman-only duty, therefore done only by women? And that feminism advocates for more involvement by fathers in the lives of their children, paternity leave, etc., ideas which make men just as likely as women to deserve custody?

    Somehow I don’t think so.

  78. Alara Rogers
    April 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    “For instance, fathers are discriminated against in relation to child custody cases this is a fact. Male studies will examine this form of discrimination.”

    By explaining that the patriarchy believes that childrearing is a woman-only duty, therefore done only by women? And that feminism advocates for more involvement by fathers in the lives of their children, paternity leave, etc., ideas which make men just as likely as women to deserve custody?

    Somehow I don’t think so.

    It’s also not so much of a fact as it used to be. Nowadays, 70% of fathers who contest for custody get it; the reason most fathers are non-custodial is largely because most fathers don’t try. (Either because they’re sexists who believe that child-rearing is a woman-only duty, or because they’re decent guys who are aware that the pressure on them to be a good provider and to *not* involve themselves with the kids so much have left the mother much more in tune with what the kids want and need, and they don’t want to disrupt that even if they’re angry at the mother.)

    But yeah. Behind *every* instance of discrimination against men, you see patriarchy. Young men are expendable and can be thrown away to die in wars? Sure, because that leaves more young women available for the old men who run everything. Men are expected to sacrifice their lives for women and children? Because patriarchy says that women are weak and can’t fight for themselves, and because *whoever* has the children is too heavily burdened to fight and taking care of kids is for women. (And it’s not always true, either; in refugee situations, in many places, men who are unburdened by women or children to take care of will cheerfully step on the bodies of women and children to make sure they get the lifeboats or the food.) Men aren’t allowed to feel sexy? Because the whole society is built around the heterosexual male gaze, and you can’t feel sexy when the only people allowed to assess your sexiness in public aren’t interested in you, and the people who *do* think you’re sexy are being publicly silenced.

    I may be optimistic, but I honestly, truly feel that if men really understood what a fucking raw deal they get from subtractive masculinity (ie, anything that women do well, men are not allowed to do at all) and the patriarchy’s habit of violently policing male conformity to masculinity, they would rise up and join us. Because it’s all very sweet to be the guy that everyone automatically listens to, to have someone at home to wait on you, to make better money than the woman next to you… but if the woman next to you is your wife, her lack of earning potential hurts your family’s income, and impairs your freedom — you *can’t* lose your job if your wife can’t replace your income. And if the price of having someone at home to wait on you is that you feel fundamentally unloved, unsexy and like you’re a walking wallet that your family barely tolerates, is it worth it?

    Little boy, here’s the whole world, on a platter, just for you. And all you have to do to take it is cut out your heart. Give up any true and honest love, give up the whole spectrum of softness and gentleness, give up your empathy and become a cutthroat competitor whose closest friends will turn on you like rabid dogs if they see you weak… and you can have all the power in the world.

    For what does it profit a man, if he gains the world but loses his soul? I think patriarchy has ensured that there are millions of men who understand the real answer to that question, at the end of their lives when they can no longer fix it.

  79. April 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Alara said:

    If life sucks for men, they have to look at who created the culture. And, unfortunately, that was men.

    It is certainly true that men, as a group, have a far greater share of power in creating and reproducing the craptastic gendered culture that we all have to cope with. However, we all do our part in reproducing gender on a day to day basis. Some of us are more mindful than others in trying to avoid reproducing the worst aspects of the system, but we still take our part. We do so in the way we talk to others, the way we dress, the occupations we engage in, and even in the way we relate to animals. For the most part, it’s not even conscious. We reproduce gender, in all of its shortcomings, via a never ending series of tiny, unwitting actions.

    So, yes, men as a group, have far more resources at their disposal in creating and reproducing oppressive systems of gender. However, those of us who are not men are not entirely innocent either. To not recognize our own contribution to this system is to run the risk of unwittingly perpetuating some of it’s worst aspects.

  80. Orville
    April 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    It really doesn’t matter what the man haters on this site say male studies is emerging in academia and that’s an important fact.

    Just because some ugly dykes and feminist bitches have a problem with male studies means nothing. Male studies is important and is needed in academia!

    Men we need an academic department specifically to our own experiences. Male studies will examine important issues such as why are young boys not graduating college or university? Why are boys doing so poorly in school? Young men commit suicide, have issues with depression. Male studies is needed and this academic discipline needs to be from a MALE point of view!

    The feminists on this website do not care about men or about young men that feel so alienated by society. The problem is, when young men become alienated they become menaces to society. Male studies will explore discrimination men of colour encounter in society, disabled men as well.

  81. Orville
    April 16, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    It interesting that the ugly dykes and the other feminists bitches on this website act as though the term “sexism” only applies to women. Men we also encounter sexism in society. Fathers are very important to children and numerous studies are illustrated that young boys require a male role model NOT a female role model.

  82. Susa
    April 17, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Men we need an academic department specifically to our own experiences. Male studies will examine important issues such as why are young boys not graduating college or university? Why are boys doing so poorly in school? Young men commit suicide, have issues with depression. Male studies is needed and this academic discipline needs to be from a MALE point of view!

    All this gets covered in mens studies. And the answers to these questions usually is: Male culture.

    Take boys doing poorly in school. Once girls were allowed to be educated and started advancing in academia, male culture, which defines itself as anything not female, starts to put down education, deeming it girly.

    Problems with depression? Male culture only allows for two emotions: anger and lust. Getting help or talking about your feelings is deemed girly and must be avoided. No wonder they get depressed and feel the only option open to them is suicide.

    Men’s studies covers this, and for that it is deemed too girly.

    Male studies doesn’t want to examine male culture; it wants to glorify the toxic attributes that bring about the problems you complain about.

    Feminism may be the reason you notice these problems, but it is not the cause of them.

  83. Politicalguineapig
    April 17, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Orville: It’s really simple. Men don’t give a d*mn about women, on the whole. Why should women care about men?

  84. April 17, 2010 at 1:22 am

    @Orville,

    You are one stupid fuck. “Male Studies” will take off when hell freezes over. And with global warming, that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

    Get out a pencil and pad of paper and go study males in an figure drawing class, and shut your fucking misogynist yap.

  85. April 17, 2010 at 3:29 am

    I’ll request that no one else respond to Orville or any other trolls who may make it through the mod filter before Sally returns to the thread. Thank you.

  86. April 17, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Thanks Chally.

    Orville, your claims are countered in the original post and throughout the comments. It’s clear you haven’t read them or you wouldn’t have written what you did.

    Everyone else, it’s not worth your time and energy to respond to Orville at this point. Don’t get me wrong, the comments have been quite amusing, but there’s really nothing we can say at this point that hasn’t already been said.

    That said, this lively comments section has been great, particularly the discussion of trans* inclusion in all of the fields we’ve discussed in the post and the thread. Please do continue those discussions without feeding the trolls. :)

  87. April 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

    It looks to me that just as the Men’s Rights Movement seems to actually believe about men and women what strawfeminism is said to believe about women and men respectively, “male studies” is a regendered vision of what MRAs and their philosophical brethren believe women’s studies to be, although there actualy is a male analogue to that (i.e., men’s studies).

    Men’s studies has value: by treating men qua men as a subject of academic studies, it helps erode maleness as being unmarked. Women’s studies without men’s studies (included or as a separate discipline, by that name or another) only perpetuates the problem Alara noted, that men are seen as people and women as a subtype of people. But male studies doesn’t seem to be about that at all.

    ALH:

    But I’ve been in academia close to 20 years, and I’ve overwhelmingly found that feminists — of which I consider myself one — are often insensitive to the male plight, as if thousands of years of patriarchy means that men in general don’t need to examine the ways in which the existing social order has negatively impacted THEM.

    Actually, as a man and a feminist, I have no problem with this. Feminism isn’t about “the male plight”; people, including feminists, who are concerned about that are permitted to create/expand a movement that does address it, but feminism is about women and the female plight. That feminism helps men is a bonus, not its raison d’être. Find a “masculist” movement not actually dedicated to preserving the hegemony of douchebags and I’ll join — but I’ll still be a feminist as well.

    JSC:

    If these male studies folks really cared about studying men, why are they so focused on feminism? Why are they framing men as victims as the focus of their discipline?

    Presumably because they assume that’s what women’s studies does, just with women.

    Sailorman:

    It’s just… Hell, I don’t even know how to properly explain why I think that male studies makes no sense. But it doesn’t.

    Not to put words in your mouth, but perhaps the suggestion that there are questions you’re simply not alowed to ask, areas of research that are off-limits — not because they’re well-trodden ground or thoroughly discredited (the way physicists are not allowed to research perpetual motion), but because the inevitable answer goes against the ideological underpinnings of the field.

    Alara:

    Young men are expendable and can be thrown away to die in wars? Sure, because that leaves more young women available for the old men who run everything.

    Well, that and that men kill and women nurture, women are property to be defended while men do the defending, women are passive while men are active — there is a common thread running through, but I think you oversimplified.

  88. April 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    As for the reason why “men are expendable and can be thrown away to die in wars,” I suspect a far more grim and violent explanation.

    We have thousands upon thousands of years in which “might makes right” has been the reality that underlies much of human history. Add to this the biological reality that, on average, men tend to be stronger than women. If you combine those to two things, you get this unfortunate circumstance: historically, men, as a group, have risen to power over women because on average, they can physically overpower women. To put it bluntly, men have been able to take power and establish patriarchal societies because access to greater physical force has enabled them to do so.

    Now, if men are the ones in control of a society and they got into power via an age old legacy of domination via physical force, who might they choose to populate the military? If “might makes right” is the underlying (often unspoken) philosophy, who is chosen to serve in the military? Women? Or Men? What kind of gendered cultural mythology might arise over the traits and roles of women and men under these conditions?

    I suspect that masculinity has evolved across the centuries in such a way that it is deeply intertwined with the notions of “domination via physical force” and “might makes right.” If men truly want to challenge their apparent status as disposable cannon fodder, they need to somehow decouple masculinity from those two notions. More generally, we as humans, regardless of sex and gender, need to challenge and find alternatives to “might makes right.”

    I know this will make me sound like I’m just another starry eyed hippy chick, but I think our survival as a species might depend on it.

    A few disclaimers:

    1) I’m not trying to imply that women shouldn’t be in the military or in combat. I’m trying to explain the history that I suspect undergirds our exclusion from such institutions. Given the nature of modern warfare, I find it hard to believe that physical sex has much bearing on a person’s ability to fire a rifle, launch a missile, fly an airplane, or pilot a destroyer.

    2) I’m not trying to imply that men are evil, brutal monsters. I think that there is a very *human* gender-free tendency to take advantage of the power that one has access to. Since men tend to have greater access to physical strength, they took advantage of it. If it were women who were physically stronger, I suspect we’d have a matriarchy instead. I strongly suspect that a matriarchy would be equally terrible… perhaps different, but still terrible.

  89. Holy!
    April 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    “If “might makes right” is the underlying (often unspoken) philosophy, who is chosen to serve in the military? Women? Or Men? What kind of gendered cultural mythology might arise over the traits and roles of women and men under these conditions?”

    There are fews bond of friendship stronger than those forged among men who have been in battle together.

    Men have always been the more violent sex. When you figure men have testosterone rates many times higher than women, it begins to make some sense. One of the main theories regarding war concerns small groups of men, who form the backbone of military units and platoons, with one man fighting for the man next to him. This has it roots deep in our evolutionary past when small tribes utilized young males to both hunt and fight other groups for resources, invariably in small groups.

    This “band of brothers” idea forms the root of militaries, insurgencies, and guerilla warfare to this very day. Jane Goodall and other have made very close comparisons between this and chimpanzee raiding parties. Modern warfare, though much different than tribal or chimp warfare, still relies on the rigid back bone of “bands of brothers.”

  90. April 17, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Personally, I’ve lived under the influence of high levels of testosterone until the age of 24, when I was still male bodied. Now, thanks to surgery and female hormones, that’s no longer the case (I’m a transsexual woman). In my own experience, I’ve seen the effects of social forces have far more effect on my personality than shifts in body chemistry ever have.

    Ironically, during the first year or two of taking female hormones, when my testosterone levels were starting to plummet into the basement, I frequently felt irritable and angry. If I had still seen myself as a guy, I might have responded to those emotions by acting like an aggressive @sshole, because that’s part of the social script entailed by the form of masculinity I was raised with. However, since I saw myself as a woman, I swallowed my ill feelings, smiled grimly, and played “nice girl.” If I hadn’t done so, folks would have dismissed me as an “unstable bitch” and I was very much aware of this. (Well, folks would have been equally likely to have dismissed me as “behaving like a man,” too.)

    How one views oneself has a powerful influence over how one behaves and what set of social scripts one follows. At 17, when I stopped viewing myself as boy becoming a man, and started to see myself as a woman living under unfortunate circumstances, my demeanor started to shift in radical ways… simply because I radically altered my self perception. No drugs. No surgery. No evolutionary biology. Just a shift in perspective and a will to change was needed.

    (And yes, I did indeed behave like an aggressive, nasty little putz while I still believed I was a boy. I grew up in a neighborhood which was lacking in terribly positive versions of masculinity.)

    I know that a sample of one does not make a study, but given my personal experiences, I remain unconvinced that biological differences between men and women explain the bulk of the crap we see under patriarchy and millennia of violent behavior in men. Plus, I’d rather not tread down an avenue that implies that men are biologically predestined to be violent jerks. Personally, I think that’s pretty dehumanizing toward men.

    Yes, I know this probably isn’t terribly convincing to the folks who buy into evo psych, but there you have it. *shug*

  91. April 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Oh crud, it looks like my comment got stuck in moderation. :(

    Well, any way, this little correction is for when my comment does appear. I would modify this part of my comment:

    I remain unconvinced that biological differences between men and women explain the bulk of the crap we see under patriarchy and millennia of violent behavior in men.

    To this comment:

    Other than average differences in physical strength, I remain unconvinced that biological differences between men and women explain the bulk of the crap we see under patriarchy and millennia of violent behavior in men.

    There’s actually several paragraphs of text preceding that quote. Hopefully, it will pop up soon.

  92. Holy!
    April 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    ” know that a sample of one does not make a study, but given my personal experiences, I remain unconvinced that biological differences between men and women explain the bulk of the crap we see under patriarchy and millennia of violent behavior in men.”

    I’m not suggesting it’s primarily nature. I’m suggesting the problem is both due to nature and nurture.

    You mention that saying that men are predestined to become violent jerks is insulting to men, it surely is, and I’m not suggesting that. However, if the problem is solely due to culture, than it even more so suggests that men are violent jerks. Because then patriarchal culture–a worldwide phenomen- would be solely due to men freely choosing to perpetuate such systems.

  93. Tamen
    April 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I am amazed at how many feminists claim that they have NO sway in how the culture is shaped and in how it’s being perpetuated.

    Because then patriarchal culture–a worldwide phenomen- would be solely due to men freely choosing to perpetuate such systems.

    I mean, this is just plain wrong. Women clearly do contribute to and participate in shaping the culture they’re a part of. How can they not?

  94. PrettyAmiable
    April 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Tamen, any individual doesn’t make or change a culture. A culture is pretty much a set of agreed upon norms for a group of people. The question is who has the power to set forth those norms and historically, and even today if you take a look at the thread on lawyer-wear, that has not been decided by women.

    How can they not? Easily. Take a look at all those women and especially transgendered individuals on that thread that get policed three ways from Sunday in how they dress. They would do it differently if they had the choice.

  95. Li
    April 17, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    “However, if the problem is solely due to culture, than it even more so suggests that men are violent jerks. Because then patriarchal culture–a worldwide phenomen- would be solely due to men freely choosing to perpetuate such systems.”

    Holy, even the most nurture-tastic of contemporary gender and power theory doesn’t assert that culture = free choice. In fact, most of it is pretty explicit in looking at ways that agency and cultural process interact. Additionally, most contemporary neurobiology takes this up as well by looking at neuroplasticities and the processes by which culture becomes hardwired, so to speak. I guess I am just saying that you are maybe making a bit of a strawtheorist argument here?

  96. Holy!
    April 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Li,

    You actually summed up what i was trying to say better than I did.
    I was trying to frame the argument between those who actually believe in “hardwired” behaviors and those who embrace the “standard social science model,” that is, a culturally determinist model. Cultural determinists mostly embrace the blank slate theory and would completely disagree with your notion that culture is hardwired and they reject the notion that biology or evolution inform behavior.

  97. Li
    April 18, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I didn’t say that culture is hardwired. I said, with what i will freely admit was a poor choice of words, that culture becomes hardwired. In that it inscribes itself on the actual physical structure of the brain. Behaviour influences the biology of our minds. What I’m saying is that contemporary neurobiology does not believe in the primacy of essential wiring, it suggests that the ‘hard’ wiring of our brains (that is, the physical structures of the mind) is as deeply influenced by our memetic inheritances as our genetic ones.

  98. Holy!
    April 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Li,

    You essentially just described the theory of nature and nurture, something I completely agree with. My main argument is with those who believe only in the nurture argument, Bella Abzug being a primary example; she denied the existence of (biological) differences between men and women. Gloria Steinem and Abzug referred to any idea of sex differences as “anti-American crazy thinking.” I think that is both wrong and harmful to analysis of the differences between men and women.

  99. April 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    The problem I have with evo psych (and similar perspectives) is that I see people employ it as an excuse for terrible behavior on the part of men and I see people employing it as a justification for maintaining the status quo. This is the way things have always been and this is the way things shall always be because our biology makes us this way. My response to this is always a) disbelief based upon having lived on both sides of the sex/gender divide and b) a strong suspicion that the person embracing evo psych wouldn’t necessarily enjoy some of the social implications of such theories if they were true.

    Look, we have a world torn by war, a world in which people’s lives have been limited and coarsened by the impact of male violence. In the US alone, we’re pouring tons of resources and our children’s futures into the gaping maw of war largely because of… male violence. We still have enough nuclear weapons to obliterate life on this planet, largely because of… male violence. Men have been running the world for a long time and things are incredibly messed up.

    If we actually embraced the belief that men are hardwired to be more prone to violence than women, and we couple that with the widespread damage that male violence brings into the world, and we consider all of this within the context of men having the lion’s share of control over the world’s cultures for eons, then this leads to some disturbing questions:
    1) What actions are necessary to curb the effect of a problem (male violence) that is biologically rooted in half the human race?
    2) Can men, as a group, be trusted in positions of authority?
    3) Can men, as a group, be trusted around children?
    4) Should men be surveilled in ways that women are not?
    5) Should men’s moral and social input in running a society be trusted as much as women’s?
    6) Should men, as a general rule of thumb, be subjected to a higher degree of social control by society?
    7) More generally, should men be viewed as a “suspect class” and thus have their access to full citizenship limited in accordance with that status?

    That’s a place that I really, really do not wish to head toward. Seriously. And yes, I see biologically determinist views of gender as inevitably dehumanizing men but maybe that’s because I don’t see masculinity as the awesome sauce wonderment that so many folks in patriarchal societies seem to share. There are deep, deep problems with the way masculinity is constructed and practiced and to declare those problems as biologically based is to imply that they could very well be largely intractable. In the end, that equates to, “men are a problem.”

    But again, before I get flamed as a misandrist, I believe that male violence is rooted far more in social forces than biology. I do not personally believe that men have brains that instinctively tell them to hurt other living things… at least no more so than women’s brains do.

  100. Holy!
    April 18, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    “The problem I have with evo psych (and similar perspectives) is that I see people employ it as an excuse for terrible behavior on the part of men and I see people employing it as a justification for maintaining the status quo.”

    I would take exception to that. Stephen Pinker, EO Wilson, and the other top evo psych and socio biologists DO NOT see their theories as an excuse for the status quo. Even a cursory glance at their works will make that evident. Secondly, neither field is biologically determinist. They both both embrace culture and biology as explanations of human behavior. Pinker makes this abundantly clear in his emphasis on culture and mitigating some of human kinds worst excesses.

  101. Holy!
    April 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    One of my previous comments has been moderated out. So I’m afraid I cannot respond to your points Li.

  102. April 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Well, gosh darn it, I’m glad that Pinker thinks that we can use culture to mitigate humankind’s worst excesses. When can we start considering my seven questions in our journey to reshape culture in a way that might counter men’s nasty habit of being the violent sex?

  103. April 18, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I think those questions is a very important task, especially given your assertion:

    Men have always been the more violent sex. When you figure men have testosterone rates many times higher than women, it begins to make some sense.

    So, can we start to answer some of those questions?

    Also, should testosterone blocking medication be mandatory for all boys and men who manifest violent tendencies?

  104. April 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    *rolls eyes* Please change “is” to “are” in my first sentence.

  105. Holy!
    April 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    1) What actions are necessary to curb the effect of a problem (male violence) that is biologically rooted in half the human race?

    Male violence has been greatly curbed the past few centuries.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk

    2) Can men, as a group, be trusted in positions of authority?

    That’s a moot point; men are already in positions of power everywhere. We need many more to women to fill those ranks though.

    3) Can men, as a group, be trusted around children?

    Considering the popularity and prevalence of two-parent, heterosexual couples, that is again, a moot point. However, I’ve seen no data sets that point to a majority of children being abused by men. Though men with very high testosterone levels do indeed have issues.

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=51013

    4) Should men be surveilled in ways that women are not?

    Moot point. That’s not an option in a democratic society. Men are profiled for criminal behavior in many ways women are not.

    5) Should men’s moral and social input in running a society be trusted as much as women’s?

    That depends on the soundness of such input.

    6) Should men, as a general rule of thumb, be subjected to a higher degree of social control by society?

    See number four’s answer

    7) More generally, should men be viewed as a “suspect class” and thus have their access to full citizenship limited in accordance with that status?

    Once again, that’s a totalitarian tactic that would never be implemented by anyone concerned with a healthy democratic process.

    I’ve never said all men are violent. I simply said men have a much higher tendency to commit violent acts. Though I’m very willing to read any information you have to counter that claim.

  106. Tamen
    April 19, 2010 at 1:01 am

    PrettyAmiable:
    I noticed on that lawyer-wear thread that there also were women arguing for a certain standard in women’s workwear. In no way trying to explain away the dickery of much of what were said by men I have to point out that the women arguing for some standard in that thread is affecting or perpetuating that particular culture.

    I mean, feminists fight and have fought to make some changes in society and culture. Much of it I agree with and some I don’t, but that’s beside the point here. The point is that it would all be rather pointless if one doesn’t believe that women have any sway in how the culture is perpetuated and/or changed. I believe they have.

  107. wriggles
    April 23, 2010 at 8:29 am

    It’s about time some men sorted themselves out. I don’t care what they call that if they just get the hell on with it and stop expecting femimism to do it for them.

  108. Bethany
    May 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Men are the focus of everything in American culture and, therefore, there is not as great of a need for men’s studies as there is for women’s studies. Men, if they really want to study masculinity, should just look at gender studies or even look into feminism because I’m pretty sure both categories look at the societal rules for men as well as women.

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