Sunday, 10 June 2012

Men's Rights Activisits: Should I Hate Them?

I'm a man. Brought up by two strong, independent women. I've never really seen women as anything other than equal to men. In fact I find gender politics confusing. Why anyone would expect all women to be the same is beyond me (i.e. expect them to "stay in the kitchen" etc.) but conversely I don't appreciate certain people acting as if all men are sexual perverts and violent monsters. I find this "us vs. them" approach crazy. Some men are bad people. Some women are bad people. When will we just accept this?

And yet the idea that there is some vast chasm of difference between the genders is deeply ingrained into our society. Our advertising plays this up hugely, often casting women only as mothers who have to look after their men who are portrayed as helpless child-like creatures or there's the other side of the coin is that women are overly emotional, confusing people as shown in the advert below:


And this Mitchell and Webb piece is amusingly spot on.


Or how about how this piece on male stripping which suffers from a great deal of cognitive dissonance.
Why do men strip? Why the hell not? Not for them the ominous low-lit venues and sexual vulnerability of female stripping; when it comes to men taking their clothes off, they're the ones in charge.
Because all women who choose to do this are all victims, forced into stripping as they have no option and are completely at the mercy of drunken men? Is that what this piece is trying to say, that no self-respecting woman would do this sort of thing but men knock yourselves out?
But do the boys ever feel exploited? "Definitely not," he insists. "Physically speaking, they're stronger than their audience, which creates a different power dynamic than with female strippers. These guys like showing off and frankly, I don't think they mind being objectified. That's precisely what they enjoy." It's hard to imagine that male stripping, though seemingly far less demeaning than its female counterpart, doesn't involve some kind of Faustian pact. Surely anything that requires you to 'drop trou' for a living must have consequences. What, for example, do the boys do when their looks go?
Less demeaning than female stripping because the male strippers can beat people up? That seems to be the argument here. Men finding women getting naked attractive = disgusting, women finding men getting naked attractive (and being "rowdy") = all in the name of fun. That's the message I'm getting from this article. 

Maybe it's because I'm gay and have little vested interest in this sort of sexual politics but I just don't get it. It's just like the cognitive dissonance in debates over porn

I have a major problem with some forms of feminism for just the reasons above, that they seek to paint all men as potential aggressors and all women as potential victims. So sometimes I read stuff from Men's Rights Activists pointing out the excesses of some feminists and I find myself agreeing with them. Some times pieces on blogs like A Voice For Men have a core that I can agree with.

But then the problems start. They do the thing which they accuse some radical feminists of doing, they take things to the extremes. They moan about how awful it is that women aren't back in the home or insult women using slurs. Often the answer to a serious question (such as why there is hardly a groundswell of demands for equality on the front line where men are still mostly expected to risk their lives [thankfully the Senior Service is a little more enlightened than the army]) descends into misogyny of the first order. As someone who wants true equality, it is very uncomfortable reading some of the stuff put out by some MRAs.

Where is the Voice for Sane People blog? I don't want this "us vs. them" debate any more. It serves only to keep society trapped in some backwards abyss. Men and women who believe in equality need to start speaking to each other. Women's rights still have a long way to go and a lot of minds still need to be changed to ensure the safety and well-being of women in this country. But the dismissive way men who ask pertinent, sensible questions are treated by well-meaning women's rights activists cause a great deal of resentment. We need to work together, to fight for true equality for all.

So I think I do hate most MRAs. I hate them just the way I hate most radical feminists, they are divisive and unhelpful. Can we have some sanity please?

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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