Do working men need feminism?

Stephanie Coontz says yes, and she makes a pretty convincing case.

Author: has written 5281 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

77 Responses

  1. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl January 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm |

    I agree with pretty much everything Coontz had to say in that article. Although I had to get through the first bit to get to her actual point, I wonder how many people are going to skim it and think she’s actually being some sort of MRA apologist.

    1. TomSims
      TomSims January 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm |

      That what she sounds like.

  2. EG
    EG January 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm |

    I sort of don’t care. I realize that utilitarianist arguments have a long history in feminism activism (John Stuart Mill, for instance), but I’m fundamentally uninterested in advocating for my rights based on the idea that my getting them will benefit the people who have historically benefited from my oppression, and I’m suspicious of men who need to believe something like that to support feminism. My rights and needs aren’t good enough reasons? Fuck you, then.

    Probably just as well that there are other activists who don’t feel that way.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas January 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm |

      I’m suspicious of men who need to believe something like that to support feminism.

      Yeah, me too, but at the same time I’d rather convince people to support good policies for bad reasons, than not at all.

      1. ldouglas
        ldouglas January 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm |

        And I guess the other thing I’d add is that it isn’t a matter of binary support/oppose; there’s the question of engagement. So there may be plenty of men who support all these policies, but will fight that much harder for them if it can be shown to be in their self interest.

        Frankly, that’s not something I find morally problematic; it’s basically true of everyone.

        1. Asia
          Asia January 14, 2014 at 12:53 am |

          I agree. Plus, she’s also writing for a very mainstream publication, the New York Times. It makes sense to make your argument personal for the widest possible selection of your audience.

    2. Random
      Random January 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm |

      An additional reason is not the same as “basing” your rights on something. It is additional reason to oppose oppression in addition to your rights. Both are probably sufficient individually, and together they make a stronger case.

      1. Random
        Random January 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm |

        Additionally, whether or not there are people who need a certain kind of reason to accept a claim or take up a certain course of action despite the existence of other, sufficient reasons is neither here nor there when evaluating whether that kind of reason is in fact a reason. So be suspicious of such people all you like, that doesn’t get you out of paying attention to what this person is saying and evaluating it on its own merits.

    3. a lawyer
      a lawyer January 14, 2014 at 11:42 am |

      EG January 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply
      …My rights and needs aren’t good enough reasons? Fuck you, then.

      This position seems a bit extreme in this particular case.

      Sure, you might refuse to consider/discuss the other side’s rights and needs when the other side is “rich ultra-privileged white men.” Whether or not it’s effective, it at least makes some sense because it’s basically a presumption that you’re not going to make concessions on their behalf.

      But when the other side is “poor and/or unemployed men of all races,” the whole “fuck you; you’re not welcome as a feminist unless you’re willing to ignore your own interests in favor of mine” thing is a bit of a stretch.

      1. PrettyAmiable
        PrettyAmiable January 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm |

        Deeply uncharitable reading, given EG’s demonstrated ongoing commitment to intersectionality.

        1. EG
          EG January 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm |

          Thank, Pretty Amiable.

      2. EG
        EG January 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm |

        unless you’re willing to ignore your own interests in favor of mine”

        Pretty much an asshole move there, putting words in my mouth and then objecting to them.

        I am and always have been perfectly willing to discuss the ravages of capitalism on working-class men. That’s part of leftism, a pretty traditional part. One could say that has, historically, defined leftism. But I’m not going to prioritize men’s self-interest when it comes to feminist activism. I know, it’s upsetting that there’s one political area in which male self-interest is not sufficient engagement, but that’s the way it is as far as I’m concerned.

        Supporting radical workplace restructuring because it will benefit working-class men? Sure. That’s fine. I’ve always supported that too. But if supporting workplace restructuring because it would benefit women, including working-class women, isn’t a good enough reason, don’t call it feminism.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm |

          But I’m not going to prioritize men’s self-interest when it comes to feminist activism.

          Of course you’re not. But a lot of men might, so it makes sense to engage them.

          Like, everyone puts varying amounts of effort into dealing with various things. Nobody has enough energy to devote their life 100% to gender and racial and sexual and class and everything-else equality at all times, because there’s frankly an unlimited amount of work you could do to attack each one. And so the argument that says “hey dudes, it’s in your self interest to fight for feminist policies’ isn’t saying “the only reason to support feminism is because it’s good for you too,” it’s saying “when you’re figuring out where to allocate your resources/energy/time, remember- not only is this the right thing to do, it also helps you out!”

          It’s acceptable for human beings to prioritize fighting the oppression they directly experience. From yours posts, it sounds like you have this idea that being anti-oppression is an on/off switch, and not a question of how much energy you can devote to any particular issue. Like, I support gay marriage. But I spend very little of my time fighting for gay marriage, because there are a lot of things I support, and that’s just not the won that wins out most days. And frankly, if I was gay and it directly impacted me/my partner, that ranking of what I spend my time/money fighting over would probably change.

          And that totally OK.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm |

        Unemployed and poor are two entirely different fucking things, O Lawyerly Purveyor of Intersectionality.

        Also, honestly? Intersectionally? I expect men to stand behind women’s rights. Because men (of any group) are privileged over women (of the same group as the men in question). I.E. White men oppress white women, desi men have privilege over desi women, bisexual men over bisexual women, etc, etc. If a man – any man – is opposed to women in general having equality, he is oppressing, at the very least, the women in his own group, and possibly others. So yeah. If you are dealing with Group (Men in general), they bloody well do have a moral obligation to support Group (Women in general) whether or not they see it as benefiting themselves. And if your comeback is that men in general wouldn’t do a thing for someone else unless there was something in it for them, well, that just says a lot about men, doesn’t it?

        1. Angel H.
          Angel H. January 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm |

          If you are dealing with Group (Men in general), they bloody well do have a moral obligation to support Group (Women in general) whether or not they see it as benefiting themselves. And if your comeback is that men in general wouldn’t do a thing for someone else unless there was something in it for them, well, that just says a lot about men, doesn’t it?

          He just wants a cookie.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm |

          My bad.

          A Lawyer, here you go!

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm |

          If you are dealing with Group (Men in general), they bloody well do have a moral obligation to support Group (Women in general) whether or not they see it as benefiting themselves.

          Of course everyone has an obligation to be pro-women’s-rights. But not everyone has an obligation to devote a specific portion of their time/money/energy to that fight when there are so many worthwhile fights to be won. And so pointing out that supporting feminist policies directly makes men’s lives better is a totally valid and useful way to attempt to nudge other people’s priorities.

          And on top of that, I’d rather people support feminist policies for the wrong reasons than not at all. Frankly, a lot of people out there are self-interested jerks, and if we can get them to vote in a way that makes the world a better place, I will waste exactly zero tears over why they did it.

          I think this is what I hate most about social justice activism in 2014 (and this isn’t aimed at you, so much as the world); the idea that what matters is what you support/ your ideological purity/ your philosophy of social justice, not what you actually fucking accomplish.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm |

          And on top of that, I’d rather people support feminist policies for the wrong reasons than not at all.

          No argument from me. I’m mostly just annoyed at the “what about the poor/unemployed/pooooooor menzzzzz” going on in this thread.

          Also, I trust men as a group less than I trust any other oppressor group, because frankly, half the time men decide they need better rights, it comes at the cost of women, which is unlike pretty much any other (legitimate) social justice movement. See also: post-WW women’s workplace rights.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 4:44 pm |

          So no. I’m going to side-eye a man who supports feminism ONLY BECAUSE it helps men way harder than I’d side-eye an anti-racist POC who fights against all racism because it’ll end their particular oppression. Sorry not fucking sorry.

        6. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm |

          So no. I’m going to side-eye a man who supports feminism ONLY BECAUSE it helps men way harder than I’d side-eye an anti-racist POC who fights against all racism because it’ll end their particular oppression. Sorry not fucking sorry.

          Again, though, I believe you’re eliding ‘supports feminism’ and ‘actively devotes time/dollars/energy to accomplishing specific feminist policies.’ The former is great and all, but the latter is what’s actually useful most of the time. I would side eye anyone who only supports feminism out of self interest, but that’s not really the goal. Since time/dollars/energy are limited resources, more so for some than others, I’m generally ok with people using them on things that they think will directly address their own oppressions.

        7. EG
          EG January 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm |

          In that case, it’s feminists making common cause with some men for something that would benefit all of us. It’s making a political alliance. But on the men’s part, it’s not feminism.

        8. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 5:38 pm |

          In that case, it’s feminists making common cause with some men for something that would benefit all of us. It’s making a political alliance. But on the men’s part, it’s not feminism.

          This is such a binary worldview. Men can’t be feminists who support feminist ideals, and who also are somewhat more likely to work actively on feminist projects when they’re convinced those projects also make their own lives better?

          That’s such a high standard for purity I’m frankly not sure I meet it for anything I’ve ever done. I mean, even when I’m doing something for a cause that doesn’t help me in the least, usually I at least meet some cool people or get doughnuts or something.

        9. DannyChameleon
          DannyChameleon January 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm |

          In that case, it’s feminists making common cause with some men for something that would benefit all of us. It’s making a political alliance. But on the men’s part, it’s not feminism.

          And you are against this?

        10. EG
          EG January 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm |

          I’m against calling it feminism on the men’s part.

        11. DannyChameleon
          DannyChameleon January 14, 2014 at 7:05 pm |

          I’m against calling it feminism on the men’s part.

          That is very fair. I don’t believe it is feminism.

          macavitykitsune,

          There is no burden to answer, but do you believe men can be feminists?

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 7:27 pm |

          @DC sure. I just don’t think that men who support women only when it’s convenient to men are feminists any more than I think people who do blackface are trying to destigmatise blackness.

        13. DannyChameleon
          DannyChameleon January 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm |

          macavitykitsune,

          Thank you for answering. The question was not, in any way, an indictment. I have interacted with many feminists who are adamant that men cannot be feminist.

      4. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll January 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm |

        Hey lawyer dude- exactly what the fuck stopped any of those men from typing feminism into a search engine, doing their own goddamn research and figuring this out on their own? Oh yes. Their own sexism. That says feminism is just for women or just beaches who hate men, that they joke about with other men in order to treat women as subhuman. This article is just another butt kissing article to reassure the bitty babies that they get something too. Had they bothered to pay attention or god forbid, reseach the topic, they’d already be aware. When your own sexism stops you from supporting feminism, then yeah. Fuck you too. Its your own damn fault.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm |

          Men can’t use the internet to look for information on feminism! That’s, like, work and stuff! You just want men to work all the time, don’t you, you horrible slave-driver woman.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm |

          Had they bothered to pay attention or god forbid, reseach the topic, they’d already be aware.

          *Looks around*

          Crap, that didn’t happen. Guess we should just give up then.

        3. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll January 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm |

          Or, raise your expectations. They aren’t stupid. They don’t need you to hand feed them little bites of thinky stuff, making airplane noises. Maybe stop making excuses for them and let them sink or swim on their own. Like grown adults do from time to time. It’s not like this is the very first ever article on the subject. So idouglas, when the fuck is it ever on them?

        4. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm |

          Maybe stop making excuses for them and let them sink or swim on their own.

          This seems like a really bizarre statement to me. If men don’t believe in feminism it’s not like they’re being inevitably punished for their wrongheadedness; the people who suffer when men don’t support feminist causes are women, not men. So sure, I get the whole “well if men aren’t already pro-choice pro-paid-parental leave feminist paragons then fuck ‘em, they suck anyways” sentiment, but that doesn’t really help us get, say, abortion rights. And as someone who wants abortion rights, yeah, I’m going to work to persuade more people to support them.

          And you know what? You don’t have to do that work, but it’s fucking obnoxious of you to snipe at the people who do.

        5. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm |

          Or, raise your expectations.

          Interesting strategic advice. Query: what would you say the act of you raising your expectations has accomplished, re: turning 150 million American men into feminists?

        6. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll January 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm |

          I’m saying they’re adults not infants. You can continue to treat them like infants if you want, but I have higher expectations. Men are not dumb children. They are capable of looking at what things help their situation as well as womens. They are capable of educating themselves in regards to human rights, and determining how it also affects them. Treating them like infants hasn’t accomplished anything aside from maintaining the status quo with women as their educational gate keepers. So knock yourself out if you want. Treat them like stupid babies, and when you spend the bulk of your time 101ing it, have fun with that.

        7. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm |

          They are capable of looking at what things help their situation as well as womens.

          Great, so then you believe articles like this do serve a valuable purpose. Why are we arguing?

          Treat them like stupid babies

          So in your world, trying to persuade anyone of anything is treating them like a stupid baby? That’s just… odd.

        8. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll January 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

          Also its not my job, duty, obligation or responsibility to turn men into feminists anymore than it is turn to racists into anti racists. 100% of that responsibility is on them. And not one single bit of blame is mine for not teaching them. Its all on them. They are responsible for their own education and enlightenment. There are books, classes and the entire internet at their disposal. So far, your tactic hasnt converted significant numbers either so don’t go thinking it has. Its not as if you’re making them read articles then forcing them to drop biases and learn during a thoughtful question and answer session. Lay the blame where it belongs. On THEM, not other women thanks. Blame the victims of sexism somewhere else. And police women somewhere else while you’re at it.

        9. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll January 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm |

          God you’re such a fucking troll.

        10. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm |

          Also its not my job, duty, obligation or responsibility to turn men into feminists

          Of course it’s not. Nobody is asking you to. I’m asking you to stop sniping at other people who chose to do so.

          100% of that responsibility is on them. And not one single bit of blame is mine for not teaching them. Its all on them.

          Duh? You’re doing an awesome job of taking down arguments nobody has made! Keep at it, champ.

          Lay the blame where it belongs. On THEM, not other women thanks.

          And more lies! Seriously, show me where I blamed a woman for anything at all, and I’ll quit Feministe and never post here again.

          You can’t, though, because you’re full of shit.

          And police women somewhere else while you’re at it.

          I’m sorry, asking you not to attack other women for trying to convince men to be more feminist is me (a woman, by the way) policing women?

          God you’re such a fucking troll.

          I honestly can’t tell if you’re malicious or just incompetent.

        11. Donna L
          Donna L January 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm |

          They don’t need you to hand feed them little bites of thinky stuff, making airplane noises.

          I love how that looks in my imagination!

        12. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll January 15, 2014 at 8:40 pm |

          I asked a lawyer, who is a man, the question idouglas. You came in and white knighted those poor menz who never would have been able to figure it out until the thousandth article was written , so if you dont like what I have to say- butt the fuck out of my posts to other people. And stop blaming feminists who think men can do their own heavy lifting for those men not doing their own heavy lifting. And that bs? Thats trolling. You do it a lot. Run along and do it to someone else. I, unlike you, CAN tell exactly what you are. Between this and your colonizer privilege, there’s no doubt. Go act bewildered about someone elses ” odd” statements you can’t manage to interpret correctly.

        13. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll January 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm |

          Oh and since you cant even figure out what your own words mean- go reread your post about turning 150 million men into feminists. That right there is you blaming feminists for the choices of men. Because we’re just not educating them enough, I suppose. Like you think we should. Yanno, because we’re not focused on results or accomplishing anything. Speaking of attacking women and being full of shit.

        14. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 16, 2014 at 10:29 am |

          I’m starting to realize that your only goal here is to win internet argument points, so I’m done.

    4. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve January 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm |

      I sort of don’t care. I realize that utilitarianist arguments have a long history in feminism activism (John Stuart Mill, for instance), but I’m fundamentally uninterested in advocating for my rights based on the idea that my getting them will benefit the people who have historically benefited from my oppression, and I’m suspicious of men who need to believe something like that to support feminism. My rights and needs aren’t good enough reasons? Fuck you, then.

      Probably just as well that there are other activists who don’t feel that way.

      Yes, the title itself seems to be fairly contentious. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfect for a piece aimed at ‘working men,’ but on a feminist blog, one could be be forgiven for wondering why the question isn’t ‘do feminists need working men?’

      1. ldouglas
        ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:23 pm |

        ‘do feminists need working men?’

        I mean, I guess they don’t, if they’re cool never winning any ballot initiative ever again.

        Again- I would rather a man vote for paid maternity leave because it’ll make his own life easier, than stay home or vote in opposition. Sure, you respond, but why can’t all the men just vote for, but for the reasons you want them to? I mean, that’d be great if you could magically make that happen everywhere instantly, but until you perfect your mind-control device, we have to operate in a world where self-interest drives most people. Sorry.

        I can’t imagine a more self-defeating political movement than one which rejects support if it’s not offered for reasons that are ideologically perfect.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm |

          I mean, I guess they don’t, if they’re cool never winning any ballot initiative ever again.

          Citation needed that absolutely no men would support the right thing for being the right thing.

          You seem to have an awfully low opinion of men. Why is that? Genuinely curious.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm |

          Citation needed that absolutely no men would support the right thing for being the right thing.

          Well, first of all, the question was ‘does feminism need working class men.’

          Second, I don’t know how to say this without sound snarky, so here goes; elections involve a lot of people voting, usually, not just a couple. Of course some- many even- men would support the right thing for being right. Many also think the right thing is something you and I think is wrong. Many are apathetic. This goes for men and women.

          You seem to have an awfully low opinion of men. Why is that? Genuinely curious.

          Are you fucking with me? Genuinely curious if you’re trolling me.

          Of course I don’t have a low opinion of men as a class. But look around. Wherever you live (Canada, I seem to recall for some reason?) I’m guessing it’s not a perfect feminist utopia where everyone supports all feminist policies, right? So maybe it stands to reason that it might be useful to persuade some people to support feminist policies, right? So maybe some people, both men and women, tend to respond to appeals to self-interest? So maybe convincing people feminist policies are in their self-interest is a good way to get said policies?

          If you’re just trolling me for fun, tell me now and I’ll stop responding. I honestly can’t tell what’s happening here. I’m not being snarky, I’m legitimately totally confused.

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 5:25 pm |

          You seem to have an awfully low opinion of men.

          Still reeling over having that thrown at me by a non-MRA. First time for everything, I guess.

        4. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 5:25 pm |

          Oooh wait, maybe I’m just being hysterical.

        5. Este
          Este January 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm |

          I agree with the points you’re making, ldouglas. I also think that there’s a difference between these two statements:

          (1) A lot of people who are perfectly decent human beings will be more actively supportive of feminism if they feel it also benefits men. Therefore, feminists should point out the fact that it does, because it will help the cause. (I think this is correct).

          (2) Feminism is more justified if it helps men. It becomes less justified if it “only” helps women. Freeing women is not a sufficient good in and of itself. It needs to be justified with reference to some other good.

          Statement (2) is horribly wrong. It’s abominable. And I think, when people are arguing in favor of Statement (1), they often let a bit of Statement (2) creep into their argument. Which justifiably makes feminists furious.

        6. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm |

          100% agreed.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm |

          -_- I really should stop posting late in the night, I never seem to convey things right. My points are these:

          1) I agree completely that it is expedient to tell people the ways in which feminism helps them, in order to have them agree with (or stop opposing) feminist causes.

          2) I did not conflate “support” wtih “actively provide money and time”; that was you. As far as I’m concerned, even if all nonfeminist-men-just-in-it-for-themselves do is sit on their ass and not oppose feminism, it’ll be fine.

          3) I don’t consider men who are ONLY supporting feminist causes for their own angles – the ONLY is really important – to be feminist.

          4) I expect that men are quite capable of being feminist on moral grounds – not actively wanting a group to be subjugated is a basic moral step I think – and I”m really bothered by this idea that men will only ever do anything remotely feminist if they know what their share of the pie will be. It’s pretty generalising and demeaning IMO.

        8. ldouglas
          ldouglas January 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm |

          OK, I think we agree- I just didn’t see anyone making the argument you responded to in part 4 (at least, I wasn’t).

    5. DannyChameleon
      DannyChameleon January 16, 2014 at 11:49 am |

      TMI time (and I’m sorry about that).

      When I was a woman, or rather, when I blindly accepted what others saw me as, I found feminism. I believe it is true that any moral person should support liberation from oppression, but feminism did have the hope of a better world to offer me, personally.

      I still support liberation from oppression, and I still believe that feminism has something to offer, to me, personally. I do not self ID as a woman, and so my support of this cause could be viewed as self-serving, and non-feminist, but I don’t think an individual can separate what is being done for the good of the whole with what is being done for the good of self.

      I could be wrong about this, all-that-is knows I have been before, but it seems that feminism continues to have a lot to offer me, as well as a lot to teach me.

      So… do working (non-women) need feminism? This one certainly does.

  3. SomeOne
    SomeOne January 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm |

    EG,

    “the people who have historically benefited from my oppression,”

    See that’s what’s wrong with the whole group based arguments: Some men have historically benefitted from oppressing women. Some women have. Those men who are losing their jobs now very likely haven’t. They probably have a harder time conforming to hegemonial masculinity than a lot of women, if they wanted to. Coontz unintentional argument actually isn’t that insecure and economically worse off men need feminism – in fact, her point is pretty self-serving: ok, I see there’s a problem, now I need to reframe it so I can still say what I want to say – pretty much what some people call “derailing” ;) – it’s that feminism is a consequence of changes in the production realm and not much else.

    1. Ally S
      Ally S January 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm |

      Those men who are losing their jobs now very likely haven’t.

      Yes, they do. Even men who are the most socioeconomically disadvantaged have privilege over women because of being men.

      And while I’m apathetic about Coontz’ article for various reasons, nowhere does she attempt to derail; she is just talking about how feminism can help socioeconomically disadvantaged men.

      1. Random
        Random January 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm |

        Love your enemy and all that. Though, strictly speaking, individual men are not your enemy tout court. Whatever benefit they may get, knowingly or unknowingly, a chance to alleviate the suffering and oppression of others is a good thing.

    2. Asia
      Asia January 14, 2014 at 12:49 am |

      A person can be both hurt by patriarchal gender roles and privileged by virtue of being a man.

      The Coontz articles focuses on the ways said gender roles hurt low income households. Low income men have received jobs without the benefits their fathers and grandfathers received for providing for a family.

      That said they can still reap other privileges for being men at the same time, socially in particular.

    3. EG
      EG January 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm |

      Some men have historically benefitted from oppressing women. Some women have.

      I don’t think you understand the concept of oppression.

      Those men who are losing their jobs now very likely haven’t.

      This is literally as stupid as saying that wealthy women haven’t benefitted from capitalism’s exploitative class structure because they’re women.

  4. Zae
    Zae January 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm |

    If someone wants to support or be a feminist, shouldn’t be for the benefit of themselves, but because it would help someone else?

    And what would be wrong with saying, “Hey men, here’s something to keep you out of the coal mines!”

    I sorta don’t get these round about articles “it can help you.” For one, it seems to insist that poor men shouldn’t advocate or help themselves, which I think is wrong. And that the only reason men should support feminist policies is for their own benefit, which is perverse.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm |

      If someone wants to support or be a feminist, shouldn’t be for the benefit of themselves, but because it would help someone else?

      Yes. Also, Congress should immediately pass full paid maternity leave laws, legalize universal abortion, and stop spying on us. Now, shall we return to the subject of actually making progress here in the real world?

      1. Zae
        Zae January 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm |

        I see your point actually. Move a mountain with small stones. If you wanna go the route of growing empathy and what not, I believe that the same is true with the script is flipped completely. That, when fathers are given leave as well, it allows mothers to keep ‘their foot in the door’ and allow mothers to return to the professional world much much faster AND in a more healthy fashion. (as opposed to shoving her in when she isn’t ready).

        So if you wanna talk practical, then if congress was presented with a bill that supported both men and women as far as parental leave goes, I don’t see how that WOULDN’T pass.

    2. Este
      Este January 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm |

      I’d say most social change is made because people see a link between their own desires and those of others, because they understand that their liberation is bound up with those of others (this is from an Aboriginal proverb, I’m told). I’m not entirely in agreement with the idea that perfect altruism is either necessary or nobler.

  5. Athenia
    Athenia January 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm |

    I would love for dudes to realize that family leave and paid sick days helps everyone, but I’m not sure if dudes particularly care (cuz that’s the woman’s burden!) or it’s just really a function of low wage work. I mean, when women are disproportionately having to do caregiving, I don’t see how dudes or companies will care.

    1. smrnda
      smrnda January 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm |

      I think some dudes might care, if only because you have more families where 2 incomes are needed, so even if the burden for care falls on the woman, the man in the relationship notices how workplace policies can make this easier or harder.

      1. Athenia
        Athenia January 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm |

        Right, but when companies who thrive on low wage work are pitching a fit? And more women are being hired for low wage work?

        I mean, it just seems like an area where the government is going to have to force them to adopt those policies for the common good.

        1. smrnda
          smrnda January 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm |

          Totally agree that that’s the only solution. There’s no floor on how bad your life can become but, as long as you need a job, you’ll keep going to work. Employers have powerful lobbies, and workers have few. Organizing workplaces through unions and collective bargaining could help, but I feel that the natural extension of that process is putting the reforms workers want into laws.

  6. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm |

    The man-tears on this post are delicious.

    Actually, man-tears in general are delicious. I might have to add that to my Tequila-Shot-Supply list.

  7. ldouglas
    ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm |

    I wanted to start a new post to put my thoughts in one place, because the conversation above is getting tangled. The big argument I’m responding to, that I think is- well, not wrong, but incomplete- is this:

    Men should support feminist because it’s the right thing to do.

    I agree. However, there are two problems with leaving at that.

    1. Not everyone does what you and I consider the right thing.
    I mean, just look around at where you live. Chances are, not all the policies in place are feminist, right? Clearly, a good chunk of people- probably including both men and women- disagree with us about what policies to support. So yes, we could simply say “well, you suck, we’re taking out toys and going home,” but that doesn’t actually get us anywhere.

    It’s not necessary to compromise one’s own principles to accept that sometimes, you’ll only accomplish your goals by appealing to something other than people’s pure, enlightened nobility.

    2. Supporting feminism isn’t enough.
    I support social justice movements of basically all kinds (transracial-type crap aside). I believe in their principles, I attempt to vote for people that I believe will be better, or at least less-terrible, at dealing with -isms, and so on. But the fact is, I have limited money, a job, a family, and 24 hours in my day. I don’t actually have the ability to fight for abortion rights and a ban on stop and frisk and anti-bullying laws and an end to fatphobic media and everything else all at the same time. Neither does anyone else. In the entire world.

    And here’s the other piece; I put more personal energy into the fights that touch my own life more directly. I realize that by a perfect utilitarian calculation I should figure out which social justice fight creates the most good and devote myself to that, but, like nearly every other human being, a percentage of my actions are dictated by self interest. Not all, and I try to avoid putting said self-interest ahead of the rights or needs of other people, but it’s there. And I’m OK with that.

    And so if you believe certain feminist policies should be a high priority, it’s not enough to say ‘men should believe in feminism because it’s morally right.’ Of course that’s true. But even men who believe in feminism might be more likely to throw themselves into accomplishing a specific feminist goal- like paid maternity leave- if it could be shown to make their own lives a little easier. And that’s a totally fine, totally morally upstanding reality, and I think you agree with me unless you think it’s a moral requirement to devote yourself to literally every socially just political battle ever.

    Ok, that’s what I think. If you still disagree, fine, I’m happy to listen to why; I’m just hoping this puts to bed non-sequitors like “well, clearly you just hate men.”

  8. Jeff
    Jeff January 14, 2014 at 7:29 pm |

    The woman-tears on this post are delicious.

    Actually, woman-tears in general are delicious. I might have to add that to my Tequila-Shot-Supply list.
    ____

    See how gross that sounds? Jill your followers do all the work for me!

    1. Ldouglas
      Ldouglas January 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm |

      Right but she’s funny and you just sound like an ass.

      Also, Jill didn’t write this post, and I don’t exactly detect a surfeit of mindless agreement here…

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve January 14, 2014 at 7:36 pm |

      The woman-tears on this post are delicious.

      Actually, woman-tears in general are delicious. I might have to add that to my Tequila-Shot-Supply list.

      Not my favorite bodily fluid, if I’m honest.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 14, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
      1. DannyChameleon
        DannyChameleon January 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm |

        Awww…

        That troll is almost, kind of, sort of… cute? (In the picture, not the one posting above).

    4. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue January 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm |

      But what if we change it to:

      The Hitler-tears on this post are delicious.

      Actually, Hitler-tears in general are delicious. I might have to add that to my Tequila-Shot-Supply list.
      ____

      I mean, surely you’re not saying you don’t want Hitler to cry, are you Jeff?

    5. DannyChameleon
      DannyChameleon January 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm |

      It doesn’t sound gross. It sounds business-as-usual, and it sounds like something that you are very resistant to changing.

    6. Ally S
      Ally S January 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm |

      I don’t think you understood mac’s joke at all.

  9. Simon
    Simon January 14, 2014 at 9:29 pm |

    As a male I agree with the gcrux of the article by Ms. Coonts. Since the economy took a negative downturn in 2008, both men and women were affected, and men can be benefitted by Feminism which has fought for equality for all people in the corporate world. However although I have perused feminist blogs such as this one which has been enlightening to me as a male. I will say that this is a female space. While men could be supportive, give women their own space. For too long men have in control of many aspects of our society. Let Feminism be for women only. While I have read comments on this blog over the years that have been supportive of mens issues, some women believe that men have no place in Feminism. At first I was a bit taken aback at those type of comments, over time I have realized that men should not intrude into a womens space. A male being involved in Feminism is offensive to many women and I respect that. Men have enough groups/organizations and movements that they lead -give women their own space. I just happened to comment on this particular thread, but usually I am reticent to comment on a Feminist blog for the aforementioned reasons. But I do enjoy reading at times Feminist for another perspective on things. I am involved with mens groups that help me deal with issues men face both in my personal life and collectively as men. Thank you Jill for posting the article by Ms. Coonts.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.