Archive for April, 2005

30
Apr
05

Such a Shame about HugoBoy

Hugo Schwyzer is spouting off again. In a recent blog entry, he calls Amanda Marcotte’s scathing review of Men’s Rights Activists a “terrific job.” Amanda’s piece is most certainly a “job,” but I deny it is terrific. It is little more than a hysterical screed directed against people who care about male issues, accusing them of being right-wing, religious nuts who want to keep women underfoot. As one acquainted with Men’s Rights Activists who are actually critical of the religious and/or political right, I find Amanda’s overall premise laughable and pathetic. Like a typical feminist, she just doesn’t “get it” and chooses to vilify men rather than try to understand them.

Anyway, it’s such a shame about Hugo. There are times when Hugo makes for an interesting read, but when he ventures into a discussion about women and men, I am left to wonder just what could have been slipped into his coffee. As it is, I plan to say no more on this point. Kevin Biomech has adjured me to not waste my time on Hugo. Hugo, after all, is small fry in the ocean of what is commonly known as “gender politics.” So, I’ll let Pete Jensen (aka “Gonzo”) have the last word on the ontology of Hugoness by directing you to his essay Lies, Damned Lies, and Hugo Schwyzer.

27
Apr
05

Is Men’s Rights Activism a Joke?

From time to time, I come across a statement by some individual declaring that Men’s Rights Activism is a joke. Often, the person in question either thinks that men are too individualistic to effect change or that the sociopolitical hurdles male activists face are insuperable. What is my reaction? Complete indifference at best, but usually I just roll my eyes, shake my head, and crack a smile.

If anyone thinks male activism won’t go anywhere, that person is certainly entitled to say as much. However, one who voices such an opinion misses the point by a country mile. No self-proclaimed expert has a crystal ball lucid enough to prognosticate on what men will do. Why? Because the population of Men’s Right Activists is neither static nor monolithic; therefore, no one can fully assess what gains individuals will make in the future. Just because one group fails in its endeavor does not mean those who come along later will likewise fail. Indeed, feminists have not organized themselves under one formal umbrella of governance, and yet they have made greats gains politically and culturally.

The question is not: “Will male activists succeed?” Rather, the question is: “Can men continually afford to be apathetic about their inalienable rights as human beings?” I answer resoundingly in the negative. Therefore, I invite all those who think Men’s Rights Activism won’t go anywhere to find another corner of the playground to blow their soap bubbles. The rest of us have our work cut out for us. Let’s keep educating, informing, organizing, challenging, and fighting for what we know is right.

22
Apr
05

A Topography of Gynocentrism

Anyone who has read more than a handful of posts at the Faith and Society blog has, no doubt, come across the term “gynocentrism.” Perhaps you are not certain just what “gynocentrism” means. You may be tempted to search the Internet and refer to a place like Dictionary.com. Unfortunately, Dictionary.com will not be helpful because, to date, it does not include “gynocentrism” among its entries. Ironically, it does include a rather ignorant and myopic definition of “sexism” from Princeton University’s WordNet: “a man with a chauvinistic belief in the inferiority of women [syn: male chauvinist]” (as if women cannot be sexists). At any rate, as far as the word “gynocentrism” is concerned, Wiktionary.org has a definition that I think is appropriate: “An ideological focus on females and women, and issues affecting them, possibly to the detriment of non-females. Contrast with androcentrism.” In short, it’s all about “herstory,” not history.

Feminism vis-à-vis Gynocentrism

You may be wondering why I don’t just use the word “feminism” instead of “gynocentrism,” since you may think that both words basically mean the same thing. The reason I don’t is because I have a definition of feminism that differs from that used by some other people. Perhaps I should explain up front that the word “feminism” has, over time, accrued to itself a set of connotations, and thus is undergoing a change in its meaning. Other words have done the same. Consider the word “fundamentalist.” Originally, it meant a Protestant who adhered to a set of principles (i.e. “fundamentals”) that separated one who believed in the plenary inspiration of the Bible, miracles, etc. from a religious modernist who did not. Now, it is often used as a blanket term for any religious extremist regardless of faith.

With that in mind, I find the standard definition of feminism, the one that feminists themselves ostensibly embrace, unsatisfactory. It supposedly denotes a belief in equality between the sexes, but in actuality this is not the case. I submit that increasingly in the minds of many, feminism denotes a zealous desire to see heterosexual men marginalized or eliminated from all important spheres of human enterprise. In my opinion, feminists want to economically disenfranchise men through affirmative action; destroy a man’s home through punitive family laws; and criminalize male identity by dosing boys up on Ritalin and loosely interpreting all sexual interest in women as harassment or worse, rape. A feminist’s revulsion to all things masculine is captured in the statement: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” In the minds of the feminists, men are disposable. Apart from this, it should be also noted that the political philosophy of the feminists is leftist in orientation and statist in execution.

Feminists will complain loudly that I have painted with too broad a brush stroke. I do not concern myself with exceptions, however. It is a moot point. A negligible amount of feminist apologists may bristle and demur, but they have not done much to counter the stereotype. Instead, they either sit by silently or tacitly support the mainstreaming of radicals in their midst. Thus the stereotype calcifies into a valid definition. I have said all this to make the following point: I concede all feminism is essentially gynocentrist, yet not all gynocentrism is feministic.

Quasi-Traditionalism (New Chivalry)

There is another form of gynocentrism. I call it quasi-traditionalism, or if you will, the New Chivalry. Who are the adherents of the New Chivalry? Most likely they are individuals who are more socially conservative than feminists. They frequently state: “I’m not a feminist but …” They wish to distance themselves from the current leftist connotations of feminism, and perhaps they even nominally oppose feminism. Indeed, quasi-traditionalists show an affinity for old-fashioned notions about how the sexes ought to relate to each other, but it is only in those circumstances where women are benefitted. A quasi-traditionalist would probably take little or no exception to the following statements:

1. Men should learn to cook for their girlfriends because it is romantic, but they should also show their leadership by picking up the tab for their dates.

2. A woman should have a right to compete with men in the workplace, but a man should still bear most, if not all, the responsibility for his family’s financial well-being.

3. A woman should have the right to stay at home while her husband works to support the family, but such a husband should still be considerate enough to help his wife with her domestic responsibilities.

4. A religious woman has a right to reinterpret the traditions of her faith community which stress the headship of men in the home and in the church, but also have a right to demand that men live up to those traditional teachings that stress the sacrificial love men must show their wives, etc.

5. A woman should be praised for being strong and independent when she displays traits usually regarded as masculine, but men should be condemned for showing emotional vulnerability or displaying other traits regarded as feminine.

Men have the misfortune of running into women of the quasi-traditionalist stripe all the time – the “riot grrls” who pine for the “knight in shining armor.” At school, church, and the workplace these ladies can be found. Unfortunately, there are also some men who claim to be opposed to feminism, who nonetheless fall for the quasi-traditionalist nonsense (usually in the name of “respecting women,” “chivalry,” being a “real man,” etc.).

Conclusion

Basically, I have shown that there are two kinds of gynocentrism: feminism (with all its leftist connotations) and the more mainstream quasi-traditionalism (the New Chivalry). Both kinds of gynocentrism are not mutually exclusive; rather, they form a continuum on which individuals and groups may be widely distributed. Undergirding the continuum are double-standards. Undergirding the double-standards is misandry. Even though gynocentrists may not be aware of how their standards and beliefs are misandrist, it is their conduct, not intentions, where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.”

The following is an illustration of what I have discussed thus far …

In closing, let me advise you to not take this matter as a mere academic exercise in semantical play. Men need to be aware of where the battle lines are drawn. Old left/right dichotomies will not serve men well. The problems they face are much more systemic. Therefore, it behooves men to have a broader understanding of their struggle, well beyond that of the politicized tunnel-vision to which they have often fallen prey in the past.

19
Apr
05

On Politics (Verbum Ipsum Is Not Far from the Truth)

Well, someone may have beaten me to the punch in putting forth a summary of a sound political philosophy with a theological bent. I found a thought-provoking post over at the Verbum Ipsum blog. The author of the post is, I take it, not as anti-statist as I am, but one zinger jumped out at me:

“Against postmillennialists of the Right and liberationists of the Left I take it as axiomatic that nothing we can do will bring in God’s Kingdom. Politics is not a means by which we build the Kingdom of God on earth. It is a strictly this-worldly affair whose aim is to secure the conditions of tolerable earthly existence during this age.

“For Christians at least, politics can never be the locus of one’s final allegiance or the bearer of one’s identity. They are first and foremost citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, and their commitment to any earthly kingdom will be penultimate at best. This results in the ‘desacralization’ of politics and a sober realism about what it can and can’t achieve. No regime, political system, cause, or candidate is above criticism or immune to the effects of sin. As Solzhenitsyn pointed out, the line between good and evil runs through every human heart.”

Bingo. I gave one golden star to Verbum Ipsum for posting this and a silver star for linking to the Mutualist Blog. And, um, I will overlook the link on the blog’s page to Hugo Schwyzer. Now, now, hold on my dear fans. I know you are shocked, but I must concede that Hugo has treated me rather cordially in comparison to some of his followers. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, click here. For now, I will hold my peace, and perhaps skewer one of Hugo’s feministic posts another day. 😀

17
Apr
05

Andrea Dworkin – Here’s My 15 Minutes for Her

Last week, Andrea Dworkin died. Anyone who has even the slightest inkling of what radical feminism is knows about this woman and what she represents. Needless to say, the blogs on the Internet have been abuzz. The feminists are, of course, eulogizing the lady. Others are celebrating her demise. I feel a modicum of pity for this woman, but I do not praise her. She was a sick individual and I believe her hatred and fear of men is what killed her in the end. It was a slow assisted suicide with plenty of man-hating companions to help her sink deeper into the pit.

The best commentary I’ve seen in the media thus far is a piece from Salon. Give it a read.

10
Apr
05

Spain’s Assault on Men and Marriage

Day by day, it becomes increasingly difficult to parody feminists and the politicians who cater to them. Just when I think I can furnish some outrageous caricature of their beliefs that no sane person would uphold, they surprise me by embracing it. The demented wax worse and worse in the absence of checks on their power.

A case in point? The Guardian and other news outlets are reporting that Spain will pass a law requiring married men to assume a greater share of domestic responsibilities. The requirement will be codified into the marriage contract for civil wedding ceremonies. Failure of men to comply with the new law will be taken into account by judges considering visitation rights in divorce cases. Yes, I wish I was kidding.

In response to this news item, the Manpower Blog posted a stinging parody of the Guardian article. I think it’s worth a read. At first, I thought it was an actual article, given the degree of inanity to which bureaucrats can sink. No. In the modern world, the stupidity of our elected politicians only works in favor of women.

The Spanish people ought to thank their leaders. We are often led to believe that European governments respect the human rights of their citizens. Indeed, what better way to honor the dignity of human beings than to micromanage and regulate the most intimate aspects of their lives? Feminists and other liberals bellyache about how conservatives like to legislate what goes on in the bedroom, but I suppose the monogamous relationships of heterosexual couples are now fair game for politicians of all stripes.

The Guardian quotes one Spanish politician as saying, “This will be a good way of reminding people what their duties are. It is something feminists have been wanting for a long time.” Never mind the feminists. Is this what all women want? Are we to assume that government knows what is best for each marriage regardless of the personal arrangements that both parties have made? Suppose a woman embraces the traditional role of staying at home and assumes all domestic duties full-time. Does that mean her husband must help her with the chores when he gets home from work, even though he already assumes sole responsibility for the family’s financial welfare? How is that equal? Strange that the news coverage in the Guardian doesn’t address that question.

Or, suppose both spouses indeed work outside the home. How does one nonetheless determine that there has been an equal division of domestic labor? Do we install a punch clock with cards in the kitchen? Do we make certain that women perform their fair share of traditionally male tasks such as cleaning out the roof gutters; taking out the trash; repairing lawn mower equipment; fixing the electric circuitry in the bathroom; changing the oil on the car; cleaning up the hard drive on the computer; or killing the roaches and rats?

What’s the end to this nonsense? Passing laws regulating how many times a month you take your wife on vacation? Really, if there is some resentment on the part of one spouse towards another regarding marital expectations, that is best handled by the spouses themselves, pastors, counselors, etc. Government should stay out of the picture, period.

What is truly appalling is that even the most politically conservative parties in Spain have supported this miscarriage of justice, even those with a traditionally Catholic bent. Yep, I’m certain a law that “feminists have been wanting for a long time” will strengthen the bonds between husbands and wives. I can just imagine the kind of trust and intimacy between spouses this law will engender. Men, how would you like to be involved with a women that will divorce you, seize half of your assets, and take away your children simply because she felt you didn’t do enough around the house? Do you want that Sword of Damocles hanging over your head? Spain’s new law is nothing but a full-scale assault against marriage. The intimate bond between husband and wife is reduced to a commercial transaction, regulated by the state just like a business. Do not be surprised if the state soon interferes at the behest of feminists in trying to quantify the degree of conjugal affection owned by a husband to his wife, or vice versa. It will make legalized prostitution look dignified in comparison.

If the men of Spain have any sense at all, they will realize this new law for what it is. It is demeaning to men. Sorry ladies, but no women is endangered or physically harmed by a husband whose only crime is being lazy at home. No government should have the power to encroach upon that man’s basic right to privacy in his family affairs. As far as I’m concerned, that point is not up for debate or discussion. The new law in question is morally wrong, and the Spanish people should make certian their politicians appreciate this fact in the next election cycle.

09
Apr
05

John Mayer – Guitar Pickin’ Sexist?

Ever since pop icon John Mayer released the hit single “Daughters,” there have been mixed reactions to his song. Many have praised Mayer for addressing the vital role men play in their daughters’ lives. And when one considers the plight of the female protagonist in the song, it’s easy to see how such a tear-jerker would be a smash hit for a pop culture mired in gynocentrism. In other words, it’s more of the same “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice” and “boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails” (so let’s kick Junior to the curb and see if he wails).

But there are some women who apparently do not appreciate “Daughters.” One example that comes to mind is Meghan Hunter, whose open letter to John Mayer has been floating around on the Internet. In Ms. Hunter’s opinion, Mayer is a sexist for portraying women as weak creatures unable to cope without men. Perhaps Ms. Hunter takes umbrage at the verse: “On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl/You are the god and the weight of her world.” An objection to this sentiment is understandable, given the degree of self-worship among many contemporary women.

Anyway, Ms. Hunter would have us to be believe that women are self-reliant. I would like to believe that, too. Or at least I would like to see women put up or shut up. I am tired of incessant bromides about how “independent” and “self-reliant” women are, when they are the beneficiaries of myriad legal and cultural privileges that men do not enjoy. If Ms. Hunter and her sympathizers think John Mayer is condescending to women, then they ought to direct a generous portion of their ire at leftists. Why? Because for many a woman, Joe Taxpayer is most certainly the “weight of her world.” But no, the feminist chatter-heads do a collective one-eighty when the welfare state is considered.

Self-reliance, indeed. What about the double-standards concerning how each sex is supposed to deal with their emotional pain? From talking to other men, I got the feeling that we, as males, are expected to just repress our past experiences when dating or getting married. Go to any online matchmaking board and you’ll find plenty of women whining about how they don’t want any man who is “bitter,” “has issues,” or is “negative.” Yet men are expected to be patient and understanding with a woman still “healing” from some “trauma” in her life due to some “insensitive man” in her past (whether it be her father, former boyfriend, or ex-husband). In short, when a man enters into a relationship with a contemporary female, he is expected to stop the car, get out, drop his baggage in the middle of the road, and suddenly lug all six pieces of hers on his back. So much for female self-reliance, or equality for that matter.

Now let us address the greater sexism in John Mayer’s song that Ms. Hunter, of course, ignores:

Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart

What a reassuring thought for our society. We don’t have to worry about men. They have no particular needs, feel no pain, and therefore cannot be seen as innocent victims with regard to any social issues that involve them. It’s a comforting message for many women, since they don’t have to reflect on their own behavior and how insensitive and demeaning they may be towards the men in their lives. But the pièce de la résistance is the final two lines, a leg of mutton thrown to the female ego: “But boys would be gone without warmth from/A woman’s good, good heart.” It plays to the conventional wisdom of how independent women can be apart from men and yet how, at the same time, women are God’s gift to men everywhere. Apparently, the idea of a man being responsible for his own happiness and sense of self-worth is too radical a notion for our society to handle at this moment.

In closing, it is clear that John Mayer is not a “sexist” of the male chauvinist stripe as some commentators claim. Rather, he serves as a foot soldier for the new “chivalry.” He reaffirms the values of a culture that has a disturbing habit of belaboring the problems of women while marginalizing men. Frankly, I don’t see why feminists would object to John Mayer’s song. It adds fuel to the victimology so central to their worldview. Perhaps it is because he denies them the luxury of maintaining, at the same time, the contrary notion that women are strong and independent. Who knows? The fact remains that the song “Daughters” won two Grammy Awards this last February. I’m certain that was in no small part due to the lavish adulation heaped upon Mr. Mayer by thousands of his young female fans worldwide. I guess when it comes to feminism, another song by John Mayer puts it aptly: “I found out there’s no such thing as the real world.”