Friday, June 18, 2010

Which Is the Legitimate Men's Movement?

http://emergencyliterature.wikispaces.com/file/view/matrix04.jpg/74307129/matrix04.jpg
The Matrix

There are several websites out that claim to be pro-men and who support the new male studies movement (rather than men's studies, which admittedly developed within the feminist gender studies departments). Most notable (maybe loudest?) of these is Men's News Daily and The Spearhead, two sites that seem to share some writers.

There others, as well, billing themselves as men's rights activists/anti-feminist blogs, such as Male Awareness, Men's Activism News, Fathers For Justice, Fathers and Husbands, National Coalition of Free men (NCFM), Yes, Other Men Do Think and Feel Like You, Falsely Accused, etc.

An example of the fine writing/thinking you will find on these sites comes from Zachary Trey Morris at Men's News Daily - this is the beginning of an article called "The Mommy Matrix":
Domestic civilization is a sophisticated hierarchy of the feminine and an engine of multileveled feminization. Out of the past into the present humanity has been exemplifying further levels of feminization.

Nowadays the human social enterprise driven maintained and aspiring to the strategic accumulation of wealth or resources, bonds humanity into materialism. While the value of resources and materials is in their use, within a materialistic society the hoarding of unused resources is in itself the purpose. Materialism, the philosophy of handing over well-being, happiness, personal power and freedom to objects and establishing them as essential, (perhaps strategically) is the centerpiece of modern humanity. Based on the well-being or maladies of these commodities, the individual or group’s invested well-being is defined and established.

Breaking off the prefix of the word materialism we get “mat” the prefix that originates from the latin word: mater which means “mother”. This is signification that a materialistic humanity is a feminine or mother centered humanity. The word matter is a close relative as well as, maternal, matriarchy and matrix. Simply looking at the roots of the language we get a profound wisdom insight into culture.

Everything in western or modern culture is a product: cars, toys, houses, land, clothing, computers, airplane tickets, make-up bags, iPods, multicolor-striped toothpaste, barbie dolls, software, etc. with the ultimate: money. While these things are possessions they are also possessing humanity, for in society they are a necessity and authority to lives of human beings. These possessions are definitive to the limits of human freedom, pastimes, respectability, and even the drive to human becoming.

Materialism is domination: of the inanimate over the animate, the lifeless over the living, the lesser over the greater, in essence the animus power of weakness (see power of weakness entry). The ultimate notoriety of materialism is coincidentally is the ultimate value: money. With money (even gold based) in and of itself there is no use therein, but is useless lifeless and vain. Nonetheless this useless weight stands as the meaning of value itself – a potent representation of the materialistic modality. Money as the center piece of domestic civilization is both the sought and the means to seeking, it is the end and beginning, it is the alpha and the omega of a materialistic humanity.

The focus on the material, on wealth, on resources, on property, is perhaps a derivative of the concern for the well being of the flesh arising from the instinct for survival by the human animal consciousness; for these are all realms of the feminine. With these present central concerns domestic civilization is centered on the accumulation of the feminine and is driven by the feminine. This is the state of immaturity.

Presiding over the majority of the accumulation of the feminine are institutions. All that is officially done in present day civilization is through the organs of institutions. Institutions, like the moon and menstruation are rooted in cycles of predictability, and embody and these feminine cyclical modalities. Domestic civilization cannot function without predicability, institutions once established like menstrual cycles do their business in monthly predicable habits. The unconscious dominates the mind of the myriad lives as they flow rigidly through the patterns of habitual routines. Once established, the institution preserves, feminizes and standardizes the multitude reducing individuality novelty etc. Any purpose, pastime or existence that is separate from these institutions is in passive conflict with society. Society is made of of these institutions: capitalism, democracy, communism, socialism, universities, corporations, government, businesses, etc. All that is officially done in civilization happens through the organs of these institutions. People are encouraged to become robotic for the connivence of institutions, not the other way around.

This latter day myriad of institutions becomes a network that makes up society meeting the demands and needs of feminine ontologies: products, technologies, materials and other institutions which results in a synergistic criss-crossing lattice of interconnected patterns forming into a network – the Matrix.
It goes on from there. See, that's what we didn't get - The Matrix is Women! Follow the link above if you want to read the rest.

When I first saw this next headline in my feeds, I was nearly sure it was from one of these sites. But it isn't - it prefigures the current "perspective" by more than a decade. I guess the site recycled it, suspecting (accurately) that it might be relevant again.

Housewife Charged In Sex-For-Security Scam

September 23, 1997 | ISSUE 32•08

AKRON, OH—Area resident Helen Crandall, 44, was arrested by Akron police Sunday, charged with conducting an elaborate "sex-for-security" scam in which she allegedly defrauded husband Russell Crandall out of nearly $230,000 in cash, food, clothing and housing over the past 19 years using periodic offers of sexual intercourse.

A 1993 photo of alleged "sex-for-security" scam artist Helen Crandall.
Police suspect the groceries she is holding were paid for by her victim,
husband David Crandall (right).

"It's the biggest scam of its kind I've ever seen," Akron police chief Thomas Agee said. "We're talking coats, dishwashers, jewelry, sewing machines, bathroom cleansers—you name it."

According to Agee, undercover agents spotted Crandall's husband handing her $50 in cash at approximately 4 p.m., just 30 minutes after the two had sex. Crandall then drove off in her car, returning home two hours later with five bags of groceries.

"That's when we made the arrest," Agee said. "After tracking her for years, we finally had proof that she was buying all those goods with dirty money."

During the arrest, Akron police officials entered the Crandall household and seized more than 150 items Mrs. Crandall had received from her husband over the last 19 years, including a four-speed adjustable food processor, 12 pairs of earrings, a matching sofa and loveseat, a box of two-ply kitchen garbage bags, and a portable radio.

In exchange for these items, Agee said, Crandall's husband received sex an estimated 950 times—most frequently in the master bedroom, but also in the downstairs den three times, and once on the floor of the sewing room.

In addition to physical evidence, Akron police have collected considerable eyewitness testimony. More than 250 Akron residents have come forward to report seeing Helen and Russell Crandall together, and several said they witnessed Mr. Crandall flagrantly purchasing items for his wife.

"Sure, they'd come in here," said Ray Greene of Greene's House and Home. "I think the last time they got one of those box fans with the three settings."

Perhaps the most damaging testimony has come from Mr. Crandall himself, who on Tuesday told police that while the couple was dating in 1977, Mrs. Crandall—then known as Helen Steuben—demanded that he buy her a ring worth over $1,000 before he could have sex with her. The first sexual liaison took place some six months later at Bob's Honeymooner Hotel during an all-expenses-paid trip to Niagara Falls.

It was also in 1977, Mr. Crandall said, that his wife quit her job at Shippee Shoes in downtown Akron.

"Clearly," Summit County prosecutor Andrew Dravecky said, "after quitting her job, the accused began receiving money under the table from some other source: How else could she have afforded to not work? It's now pretty apparent that at that point she began supporting herself by providing a certain service to Mr. Crandall."

Crandall's mother, Bernice Steuben, a resident of the Valley View Senior Home in Yuma, AZ, is being sought for questioning in connection to the case: Police suspect that Steuben may have introduced her daughter to the sex-for-security scam after having used it herself from 1932 to 1971.

But for all the evidence collected against Crandall, Dravecky said the case will likely be difficult to prosecute. "Helen was very careful to cover her tracks," he said. "She even got her husband to put her name on the bank accounts and credit cards."

The Crandall case is not an isolated incident, said criminologist John Ohlmeyer, who said there are "literally millions" of such cases across the U.S. each year that never come to court.

"This kind of thing isn't as uncommon as we'd all like to think," Ohlmeyer said. "A woman finds herself in a situation where she isn't employable. Or maybe she has interests like child-rearing, cooking and home-maintenance that keep her from getting a job. So what does she do? She cooks up a scheme to entrap a man using her body as the bait. It's frightening, but it happens every day in this country."

If you recognize the symbol at the end of this piece, then you know it's from The Onion - America's Finest News Source.

The problem, however, is that this isn't really funny.

The guys at those sites above (not all of them, but many) think this way. Many of them recognize Warren Farrell as the "father" of their agenda - and like Farrell, they see feminism as a force to be feared, a force that is making them victims - The Myth of Male Power is likely their Bible.

I find it painfully ironic when they rant about feminists using the "victim card" so often - which is exactly what they have been doing for years - and will probably continue to do. As they have so well noted, claiming victim status is the absolute weakest position from which to argue.

These guys (who use appropriate aliases like "knuckledragger") - like the mythopoetic men's debacle before them - are giving those men who are really trying to help men find their way through the changing cultural landscape a bad image, making that job even more difficult.

They are also decidedly conservative - one of today's posts: 2010 Will (Again) be the Year of the White Male Voter:

When white men went to the polls in 2000 and 2004, six out of 10 of them voted for George W. Bush, handing him the big V in a pair of closely-fought elections.

Four years later, 2 million of these men defected from the Republican fold, casting their votes for Barack Obama. But these men quickly came to realize they had been taken for the fool.

Here’s proof that Barack Obama is America’s first openly Feminist-in-Chief: His creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls; his Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor (“I would hope that a wise Latina woman…would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male”); a bloated stimulus plan that stiffed laid-off construction and manufacturing workers; and his senseless remarks aimed at men who “need to be knocked across the head every once in a while.”

Posts like these and others would lead one to believe that masculinity is only for white, conservative/libertarian guys - all others are in league with the hated feminists. These guys are not interesting in a healthy, evolving masculinity - they are invested in maintaining white male privilege, what the feminists might term hegemonic masculinity.

If you would rather see men grow up, maintain all that is great about being male and masculine - strength, courage, integrity, loyalty, fierceness - and at the same time learn how to access and respect their feelings, their compassion, their vulnerability, and their tenderness, there are better sites.

Check out The Revolutionary Man, The New Man podcast, The Good Man Project, Dad-O-Matic, Shawn Phillips, and The Spiraling Universe, among many others.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You don't see the irony in calling yourself "knuckledragger" in a culture that has spent the last fifty years vilifying men as evil Neanderthal idiots?

Or, and I think it is sufficiently fair to ask here, are you one of the ones heralding the stereotype?

I ask that because your less than slight condescension at that seems ill informed and insensitive.

Seriously, while I am sure your attempt at analysis of the mentality of the men in the MRM is well intended, it boils down to little more than a neopatriarchal admonishment that "big boys don't cry."

Whether you want to admit it or not, disenfranchised men, their loss of civil rights in family courts, a VAWA paradigm that ignores both male victims and female perpetrators of domestic violence, and a cultural gag order (that you are furthering here) designed to make men shut up about all of it is, in fact, victimization. Targeted and well orchestrated victimization at that.

And so now these (MND and TS) and the other "loudest" of electronic media forums are thumbing their noses at the idea of being shamed, by anyone into continued silence.

And if you look around, even just in cursory fashion, you will see it gaining traction.

There are reasons for this that far exceed your prejudice against men and your off target commentary on their motives.

But still, in the honest spirit of open communication, I will make you an offer that I have made to others of your ilk. If you want to present to the larger, more visible and growing world of the men's rights movement, your perceptions and rationales about those you are criticizing, I will be happy to make it happen.

You're a skilled enough writer, and if you are prepared to assert your points with something more than singular anecdotes, I would love nothing more than to give your views a platform at Men's News Daily, provided they are a detailed expansion of this piece with further support for your arguments.

I have made this offer before to others with little effect. Usually ideology that eschews scrutiny loves an insular vacuum.

Here's to hoping you may be more sincere than the rest.

Paul Elam
Editor-in-Chief
Men's News Daily

WH said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Paul.

Please allow me to address a couple of your points:

I am not enforcing "a cultural gag order" on men who want to be good fathers and be involved with their kids in an equal guardianship arrangement. I simply do not agree with bashing women as the way to achieve that aim. You want to change the way the culture views men? Be loving, loyal husbands; be good fathers who are active in their kids' lives; be tolerant of diversity and differences in how men express their masculinity; and be supportive of those elements of women's rights efforts that are not demeaning to men.

Further, I am not ever suggesting that "big boys don't cry." But as all of you have so well noted for the feminists, claiming victim status is pointless and simply makes you weaker.

Men should cry whenever they need to - but that would actually require a demonstration of emotions other than anger.

You want things to change for men so that we get more equal rights in family law? Then generate change through legal and political actions - after all, most judges and politicians are men, so you should have a receptive audience. Hating on women and feminists generates animosity and resentment, not productive change.

The sites I mentioned seem to document every possible example of women treating men badly - yet the numbers do not compare to the numbers of women who are sexually abused by male family members, who are intimidated and silenced on a daily basis, who are denigrated and objectified as objects and not treated as human beings.

I am DEFINITELY NOT saying ALL men do these things, and no one else is either (excluding perhaps the deranged radical feminists), but you seem to be saying that women in general, and all feminists in particular, are victimizing men. It's simply not true.

I've read Farrell's books - he generates large scale, often faulty assumptions/conclusions from a small collection of facts. He may have the facts right, although they are cherry-picked to support his agenda, but his conclusions are often questionable - moreover, they deny men their evolutionarily generated role as risk takers and pursuers.

We come into this world loaded up with testosterone - so we like to climb mountains, drive fast cars, play competitive sports, watch boxing/MMA on tv (or do it ourselves), and by nature we WANT to physically protect the ones we love. Farrell makes it sound like we are really all estrogenic eunuchs being forced to do things we don't want to do.

Although my post may not make it obvious, I do think you guys add a valuable voice to the efforts to help men be better men, but building a politics of fear and resentment is counter-productive to me. We need to get men equal rights in family court, the same way we need to get women equal rights in the workplace. The Swedish model of family leave actually demonstrates that when women make as much as men, then men are not penalized for taking family leave (http://xrl.in/5nn3).

Anyway, thanks for the offer to write an article for your site, but there is little likelihood that your readers would actually hear anything I have to say. I suspect there is nothing to gain for in me writing an article for your site, but you'll get a target to throw more darts of criticism toward.

I guess you can try to shame me into taking your offer by mentioning the others of my "ilk" who apparently chose not to become a human dart board on your site (suggesting they, and I, are afraid of what you call scrutiny, but what smells to em more like ridicule) - that's cool - I get that this is part of how masculinism works. Still, I'll think about your offer.

Anonymous said...

"You want to change the way the culture views men? Be loving, loyal husbands; be good fathers who are active in their kids' lives; be tolerant of diversity and differences in how men express their masculinity; and be supportive of those elements of women's rights efforts that are not demeaning to men."

Aye, there's the rub. First, almost all men are those things, you just don't want to recognize it.

Second, your message here is corrupt. Just be a man in your model and we'll quit bashing you. This is just another thinly disguised postmodern lie.

While I understand there is an element in the MRM that is hostile towards women (there are plenty of wounded, screwed over men there), you won't find that hostility in any of the better known commentators.

There is, however, a need for the sake of intellectual honesty to fairly examine the darker side of the feminine, just as there was the same for the masculine.

Or is that off limits?

Your entire blog here is predicated on being a reaction to unhealthy masculinity. You think the same does not exist for women? Or do you define unhealthy femininity as women who love their husbands, respect them, and choose to be mothers before stock brokers?

But that is just one of the many places where your type of men's activism simply becomes misandric activism, which in reality harms the great majority of the male population, including our boys.

There are others who have a voice that deserves to be heard, and that voice need not pass muster with misandric ideologues.

"Men should cry whenever they need to - but that would actually require a demonstration of emotions other than anger."

And that is a purely sexist and condescending thing to say. Not to mention a patently disingenuous implication.

I worked with groups of men for two decades in clinical settings. They express emotions other than anger, especially when in the company of people not looking down their nose at them.

But they handle those feelings when not subjected to being evaluated by people who want them to display feminine traits. Men process feelings differently than women, as a rule. Shaming them for it, as you have here, is absolutely wrong.

Let's take a look at another place where you clearly have the information, but cannot connect it into a cogent conclusion.

Fist you say,

"and by nature we WANT to physically protect the ones we love."

That of course, primarily means women and children.

then

"after all, most judges and politicians are men, so you should have a receptive audience."

Your first statement is the defining obstacle to achieving the second. No one, at least not me, is blaming women or feminism for this, but chivalry and the protect and provide gender shackles you are tying to keep men chained to, all while I am sure bemoaning any attempt to constrain women to any such role.

It's abusive hypocrisy. And it is transparent to any thinking individual.

Your constant reliance on "help men be better men" is bullshit social engineering by people who hate men. What about women needing to be better women? How does that sound? Can you even address that honestly?

I doubt it. It is fitting with your view of testosterone as a contagion. The whole mentality reeks of sexism, and what you are seeing in the MRM is more and more men who are not putting up with that hatred being inflicted on their sons any more.

The invitation stands open, though I knew you would not take it. But a hint here, how much value can any belief be if you will not stand behind it and take some darts?

Paul

WH said...

Just because I do not play on your terms does not mean there is no value to my beliefs.

In no particular order:

1. "Your first statement is the defining obstacle to achieving the second." - Can you hold more than one idea in awareness at a time? Two things can be true and contradictory.

2. "What about women needing to be better women? How does that sound? Can you even address that honestly?" - There is no doubt much truth to that, women can be more accepting that men are different and process things differently - if you have read more of my site you would know I make that argument. But it is not my mission to change women. You can try that all you want - good luck.

3. And that is a purely sexist and condescending thing to say. Not to mention a patently disingenuous implication. I'm not saying that of all men - just the ones I have read on the sites I mention. I participate in men's therapy groups - I KNOW men have complex emotional lives. The culture at large, however, ignores that fact, and the sites I mention only serve to confirm the cultural stereotype.

4. "Aye, there's the rub. First, almost all men are those things, you just don't want to recognize it. Second, your message here is corrupt. Just be a man in your model and we'll quit bashing you. This is just another thinly disguised postmodern lie." First, there are enough men who are not those things that it is an issue - an issue needing to be addressed, an issue large enough that the culture seems to accept that it is true of all men. Second, there are multiple ways to be a man - again, if you had read anything here you would know that. Men can have access to all their emotions without being feminine, and asking men to be more emotionally expressive is not asking them to be women, it's asking them to examine the culturally constructed rules of masculinity.

5. "It is fitting with your view of testosterone as a contagion." I do not think testosterone is a contagion - I love my testosterone and do everything I can to enhance it - I love being a man. But I do not fear women, feminists, or embracing my inner feminine. Doing so does not reduce my testosterone at all.

Anonymous said...

1. "Your first statement is the defining obstacle to achieving the second." - Can you hold more than one idea in awareness at a time? Two things can be true and contradictory.

Not only can I hold more than one idea in awareness at a time, I can evaluate each idea independently, and in association with the other idea, and determine where they are conflicted, and where they only appear to be.

I don’t however, just fall back on some “life is a paradox,” mentality prior to honest investigation and healthy scrutiny. I consider it intellectually lazy to do so.

The fact is that any reasonable study of law and history lends demonstrates that male dominated family courts are governed under the male “protect and provide” mandate, and do so in draconian fashion, especially given women’s release from their gender expectations and the complete hegemony they enjoy over the deadly combination of divorce and reproduction.

As family courts have made a massive industry in alienating fathers against their will, we have moved past the time we need to admonish men along those lines and start charging women with the responsibility and humility needed to execute their authority over the lives of children without doing so abusively.

2. "What about women needing to be better women? How does that sound? Can you even address that honestly?" - There is no doubt much truth to that, women can be more accepting that men are different and process things differently - if you have read more of my site you would know I make that argument. But it is not my mission to change women. You can try that all you want - good luck.

My mission is not to change women, but to help open some doors that encourage men to change. Not to become the feminized ideal of gender ideologues, but to redefine their own masculinity in a way of their own choosing, and hopefully in way that protects them from a society that now eschews sex based expectations of women, but openly attempts to shame men into the same gender role that used to work for them and for families, but now only leaves them open to state enslavement at the hands of vindictive women who feel entitled to own the fruits of their labor.

When men collectively react to that in appropriate fashion, women will change. They will have to.


contined.

Anonymous said...

3. And that is a purely sexist and condescending thing to say. Not to mention a patently disingenuous implication. I'm not saying that of all men - just the ones I have read on the sites I mention.

Sorry, but that is not, in my opinion, a very forthcoming response. It is clear throughout your site that that you believe men in general need to be ‘reconditioned’ to be better men and fathers.

I participate in men's therapy groups - I KNOW men have complex emotional lives. The culture at large, however, ignores that fact, and the sites I mention only serve to confirm the cultural stereotype.

Again, I don’t think you have read very much of these sites. In fact, I am quite sure you are doing what you allege that Farrell did in his work. Cherry pick. I could point you to a number of articles that are rich in the world of men’s feelings, including some that I have written myself. Here is one I wrote posted for Father’s Day, btw.

http://mensnewsdaily.com/2010/06/16/a-miracle-in-february/

I think even you would find it sufficiently emotive. But please don't call it my feminine side. It is the pure masculine voice in me.

But where you become the most unfair in you assessment is that you don’t even account for the fact that the writers on these sites are largely activists. They are a voice of, oh lord forbid, men’s anger about injustices, not the least of which is being stereotyped as knuckle draggers by feminists, and supposedly sensitive men who have found their feminine side, and then use it to go on the offensive with other men who feel differently.

4. "Aye, there's the rub. First, almost all men are those things, you just don't want to recognize it. Second, your message here is corrupt. Just be a man in your model and we'll quit bashing you. This is just another thinly disguised postmodern lie." First, there are enough men who are not those things that it is an issue - an issue needing to be addressed,

I am fascinated to know why exactly you think this could be true. Sincerely brother, why should these men change, and by whose edict? What do you imagine will make them better than they are, and why?

an issue large enough that the culture seems to accept that it is true of all men. Second, there are multiple ways to be a man - again, if you had read anything here you would know that. Men can have access to all their emotions without being feminine, and asking men to be more emotionally expressive is not asking them to be women, it's asking them to examine the culturally constructed rules of masculinity.

Does that include the culturally constructed rule that their worth is measured in mere utility to women? Sorry, had to ask.

continued

Anonymous said...

But again, this is the rub. We call social constructionism a theory because that is what It is, a theory. Putting men in Oprahesque circles and telling them they must perform emotionally in order to satisfy a clinician that is more ideologue than helping professional is abuse!!

I watched it happen for a long time. Men that need to openly emote, will and without pressure or deconstructing their masculinity into a feminine mold. Men that choose not to are not defective. I strongly suggest that you read “Swallowed by a Snake: The gift of the masculine side of healing.” By Thomas R. Golden, LCSW

5. "It is fitting with your view of testosterone as a contagion." I do not think testosterone is a contagion - I love my testosterone and do everything I can to enhance it - I love being a man. But I do not fear women, feminists, or embracing my inner feminine. Doing so does not reduce my testosterone at all.

I tell you what. Please visit any of the major men’s sites, e.g. Men’s News Daily, The Spearhead, A Voice for Men, etc, and find the “fear of women” I don’t see it. I see fear of what the state now empowers women to do against men, and contempt for many of the women that embrace such corruption, eg. Family courts, false allegations, rape shield laws, etc..

I see anger over social injustice (a common theme in the MRM and it’s followers) I see a lot of things, but I never saw a single line in twenty years of activism that implied, even loosely, that expressing feelings would reduce testosterone.

The problem here brother, is that philosophically, we have some real similarities, but one major difference that is a deal breaker. I can point you to almost countless sources that demonstrate quite clearly that the feminist agenda is driven by hatred and vengeance against men.

I can point to just as many sources to demonstrate where that misandry has become social policy and law, as well as other places where it is men as a class at fault for the misandry.

I don’t fear feminism, I reject it. And rejecting it does not mean I hate women or want them back in the kitchen. I support equal rights for all human beings, but I am not stupid enough to think that puts me on the same page with feminists.

Your problem here is that at heart, you support the liberation of women from antiquated roles, but the continued servitude of men to the same. Or as the feminist motto really goes, equality for me but not for thee.

It is hypocrisy and it is misandric. And it is so transparent that it explains why, despite some pretty fine writing skills on your part, and a highly topical subject, that you are not drawing much of an audience.

Men’s rights websites are doing gangbusters and growing almost exponentially. It is not for the reasons that I am sure you assume, e.g. whiny, victim men, but because of a righteous indignation of growing numbers of men and women that are tiring of the hateful feminist rhetoric and the misandry that brainwashed men are helping to spread.

It is not that we don’t have the hateful in our ranks. We do. As editor of MND I have had to ban men for generalizing in our comments that women were innately inferior to men. And I have done it more than once.

I did so without hesitation, but sadly, since I know how much pain is in the community of disenfranchised men that leads to such thinking. But we are not feminist’s, we don’t look the other way at the hatred in our own midst, or find ways to justify it.