Don’t Laugh, but T&T needs a Men’s Movement

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Recently, I’ve been making the mistake of mentioning the men’s rights movement to people. Generally the response is “eh?”, “cyah cyah!” or “you mad or what?” It’s to be expected.

The idea of men somehow being denied their rights, or facing some sort of oppression goes against nearly everything we believe.

Who leads most of the governments? Who makes up most of the Avengers?

Look at the world. Who runs most of the corporations? Who leads most of the governments? Who makes up most of the Avengers?

Look at our society – saga boys and patriarchs. How are men being oppressed? Forced to steer the grocery cart at TruValu? What do the protests look like, a throng of burly men burning their jock straps and chanting, “Equality now”? It’s kind of hard to take seriously.

There is, however, a world of men that most of us don’t see. I certainly didn’t see it for a long time.

Men run most of the corporations, but they also hold most of the grimy, backbreaking, life-shortening jobs as well. They head governments, but they also make up the majority of armed forces, do the vast majority of dying in those forces, and, in most nations, are the only ones required to do so.

Men, on average, die several years before women. They make up the bulk of workplace deaths.

Men, on average, die several years before women. They make up the bulk of workplace deaths. They are the vast majority of homeless. Here’s the really interesting part though –many of us already either know or suspect most of this to be true. It just doesn’t matter to us.

By “us” I mean women AND men. Men are as likely to laugh at the idea of a men’s movement as women.

A big part of being a man is (or used to be) a willingness to endure pain, hardship and danger. Ever watch a rugby, or American football match? MVP should stand for most violent pulverization. As men’s rights activist Warren Farrell states: “Every culture that has survived has survived by training its men to be willing to die. Every culture has an unconscious investment in disconnecting men from their feelings.”

Women often ridicule men for their machismo, and emotional remoteness, but in the same breath disdain men who don’t have these qualities, when they are needed. In fact, men without these qualities (and there are increasingly more and more of them) are like those male pandas raised in captivity, and then released into the wild – they won’t survive past a fortnight.

Women often ridicule men for their machismo, and emotional remoteness, but in the same breath disdain men who don’t have these qualities…

This schizophrenia of perceptions about men and maleness is part of the problem. In society’s eyes, men have made a near seamless transition from aggressively competitive to ambitionless. They need the urge to rape, horn and beat their mates trained out of them, yet a lack of sexual aggression, when required clearly means they are gay. Men have gone from enslaving women in that despotic, patriarchal institution called marriage to not “manning up”, and becoming husbands and fathers.

It is in this space, created by shifting societal norms that men’s activists came to be. It first started, as a backlash to second-wave feminism, in the late 1970s, as men saw women relinquishing their traditional roles. Then they began to deal with what it even means to be a man.

Some of the most incisive men’s rights activists are now asking deeper questions about their roles and relationships. Many, quite frankly, are tired of society’s persistent demonization of men and maleness.

A couple months ago, while surfing the Internet, I came upon a YouTube video called “Feminism and the Disposable Male” by a woman with the handle “GirlWritesWhat”. Sounds daunting. And with her butch haircut and ‘wife beater’ vest, I was expecting a rant about what scum men – all men – are. It was instead a video by a member of the men’s movement.

I soon discovered oceans of digital ink on men movements. It’s not a massive movement by any means, but it is exploding in popularity in the US and UK. That’s something to consider, when looking at our culture in Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider Caribbean, and wondering if we need some kind of men’s movement. Many of our dynamics are different to theirs – but some are the same. After all “man is man.”

There are several factions of activists – from pick-up artists, who are essentially anarchical relationship coaches, to traditionalists, who want to return to the days of man as breadwinner and woman as homemaker (many female men’s movement activists fall into this category), and activists who focus on imbalances in the legal system in areas like divorce and parental rights. Then there’s MGTOW (men going their own way), who disavow any role that society has for men – especially husband. However, they all agree that men and boys are in crisis, and are looking for solutions created by men for the benefit of men.

Many will agree that men are not doing well. In work and school, women are outpacing the hell out of them. There are disturbing little factoids like every year men lose an estimated 1% of testosterone. In Japan, the “grass eaters” (young, low-ambition, metrosexual men who prefer decorating their apartment to having sex) are frightening the nation with the spectre of baby-less populations.

What happened to the cowboys? I regularly encounter attractive, successful women, who are just about ready to settle down, and start a family, but can’t find a man to do it with.

In the media, puzzled women are asking where all the men are. What happened to the cowboys? I regularly encounter attractive, successful women, who are just about ready to settle down, and start a family, but can’t find a man to do it with. “What happened to all the tigers?” one recently asked, as it is rapidly beginning to dawn on society that tigers have their place in the natural order.

If so many people see the problem, why does the men’s movement stress finding its own solutions? Well, look at how the problems are framed.

Men are in crisis because they are not meeting the needs of others – women and society. They aren’t properly filling the roles of husbands, fathers and producers.

What about what men actually want? Remember those things I mentioned early on – the workplace death gap and so on – those are examples of men fulfilling their roles.

The revolutionary idea behind the movement is the belief that it should figure out what men want to do with their lives, instead of what society needs them to do. That, after all, is what feminism did for women. Feminism wasn’t about making women better wives and mothers. It was about giving women the freedom to choose the kind of life they’d like to live.

So does T&T need a men’s rights movement? It’s a hard sell, even for someone like me who has been reading and researching this stuff for months. As Dr. Farrell states: “The myths that we have about men are so imbedded into our belief systems that when we confront them they invite disbelief, anger and ridicule.”

But this is a healthy discussion. And in a society where young men are measuring their manhood by the price of their smartphone and the crispness of their Barcelona t-shirt, at-risk boys, four generations deep in fatherlessness, are choosing “gangster” as a career, and the ambition of some adult males is to get their death knight to level 85, it’s way past time for men (not just men indoctrinated in the teachings of feminism) to be part of the discussion about themselves.

 

Image credit: 123rf.com

Joel Henry

Joel Henry is a fiction writer, essayist and critical thinker with roots in both T&T and the USA. He earns his livelihood in the advertising industry as a corporate writer and editor. His goal is to confront any and all orthodoxy through his writing - including his own.

38 Comments

  1. Jaime Lee Loy

    Jaime Lee Loy

    May 28, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Interesting read. Every group needs a movement that legitimately deals with their own concerns and that is headed by that very group. Men and women need to work together with things like this actually, to stop the divisions that they think are inherently natural but that are actually learnt through ideas on gender. When we realize we are all pigeonholed and oppressed in different ways and work together to actively and maturely move away from it….well that’s the direction to go.

  2. Cate

    May 28, 2012 at 10:49 am

    We don’t need an MRA. We need to normalize feminism.

    Contrary to popular belief, feminism isn’t about women. It’s about equality for ALL people, of all races and all genders. The Straw feminist trope is overplayed and inaccurate.

    Feminism supports things like gender neutral adoption, justice in cases of paternity fraud and equality in family law. MRA’s are determined to demonize all women for the mistakes of a few. MRA’s essentially blame feminism for all the problems that men face, when in fact they remain at the top of the social food chain simply by virtue of being men.

    The issue has never been that women were taking over and putting men at a disadvantage.The issue is that for the first time in history, women are closing the achievement gap and outperforming men, and some men can’t handle that. (notice that I did not say all)

    True Feminists (who can be of any gender) do not think that women are better than men. They believe women are EQUAL to men, but MRA’s don’t see that. Until we can eliminate the perception of the “butch lesbian man-hating feminist”, we’re never gonna get anywhere.

    MRA’s complain that men are doing most of the dying in our wars. This is true. What they won’t say, is that this is often because women are BARRED from the front lines. Women who are ready, willing and capable are NOT ALLOWED to engage in combat. Because you know, emotions…. (says Rick Santorum)

    It’s not that some self-identified MRA’s don’t have good points. False rape accusations are serious and carry a stigma that can ruin a reputation. That’s something that needs to be addressed. Instances of custody arrangements that favour a clearly unfit mother also need to be addressed. Paternity fraud needs to be addressed. But there is a place for ALL of that in feminism. The feminist movement isn’t about bringing men down. It’s about elevating (social) minority factions so that everyone gets a fair chance. True feminism holds “butch lesbian man-hating” women accountable for their irrational misandry.

    Background Reading:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnJxqRLg9x0
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men's_rights
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/02/28/why-are-men-angry-manning-up-author-kay-hymowitz-explains.html
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/rick-santorum-women-military-combat-roles_n_1267851.html

  3. Keita Demming

    May 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Boom!!! I agree 100%. Recently I have been getting email about an Agents of Change summer camp that I am running, which focuses on boys 15-20. The argument has been that I am implying women are not Agents of Change, which is far from what I am saying. Men are in crises and we need to start fostering men. Well done outlish, well done.

    Check this out Luwani Cayetano

  4. Stefan

    May 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    You’re too lenient about the role of feminism in these perceptions that persist about men. Men’s rights movements started in response to the gross biases toward women in family courts, and to some extent education in the US and UK, that were largely institutionalised through the lobbying of women’s groups. The beginning of the story is important.

  5. Kevin Campbell

    Kevin

    May 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Listen to meh!

    You wrote the absolute truth! A powerful debut!
    I identified with a LOT of what you said here….I almost need time to process it properly before commenting officially.

    Fantastic job!

  6. Semoy Piggott

    May 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Joel Hennry, do you have a regular blog on another site? I enjoyed your article and your writing style is at once down to earth and intellectually stimulating. I’m greedy…need more of your writing….bring it on!

  7. Taran Rampersad

    May 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Glad to see Outlish has this. Told you from the start I felt it was missing. 😉

  8. Lisa Allen-Agostini

    May 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Here’s my response to the piece in today’s Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.tt/columnist/2012-05-28/man-and-woman-thing

  9. Joel Henry

    HH

    May 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for all the positive feedback. I just started a blog and will begin to populate it shortly.

  10. CODE RED

    May 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    What was missing from this article is the recognition that men are often the main gatekeepers for the institutions which keep some men “at the bottom”. In other words, men stand to benefit from gender equality too.

  11. Gab Souldeya Hosein

    May 30, 2012 at 12:44 am

    i liked parts of joels piece but didn’t appreciate the unneccessary and under the belt swipe at feminist ‘indoctrination’…i don’t feel indocrinated and i don’t think feminist men that i know do either. plus its just a way of misrepresenting a complex body of thoughtful analyses….in other news, lise…you nailed some great points on the head…

  12. Lisa Allen-Agostini

    May 30, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Thanks. Looks like a part two is in the offing, judging from the thread on my page.

  13. Anton Francis

    May 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    hahah funnily enough i was thinking about this as well

  14. Denith McNicolls

    May 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t want to be a tiger.

    I have issues.

    • Joel Henry

      HH

      May 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Great comment. Why do you think you have issues? Is it because you never met societies expectations of you to be a tiger or because the tiger was socialized out of you?

  15. Shanna Carpenter

    May 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    steups.

  16. OUTLISH Magazine

    May 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Hahahaha. Shanna Carpenter you read it? What you thought?

  17. Corey Gilkes

    June 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    On “wondering if we need some kind of men’s movement. Many of our dynamics are different to theirs…………”

    Very good article but I do think that those “dynamics” need to be examined for they may very well hold the key to addressing the problems and challenges you outlined.

    In my humble opinion part of the problem stems from our profound lack of understanding the cultural differences that distinguish us in the Caribbean from Europe and Euro-American influenced society.

    That, by the way, is also the same problem I have had with the feminist movement and why I dismiss much of it. It’s not that I am anti-feminist/womanist, quite the opposite, it’s that like the ideas of masculinity that were imposed on us, it had more to do with what pertains to Euro-centred situations, not ours.

    Now I admit that I have a lot more info pertaining to Africa than I do for India — largely because I find it very difficult to obtain adequate research material on women and men in precolonial India. Also, the fact is that much of early Caribbean societies were shaped by precolonial African culture. And if we truly examined and understood the cultural ideas of masculinity and femininity of precolonial Africa, we would probably not be bemoaning the fate of men and certainly not parroting theories that have more to do with European/euro-American institution.

    Studying scholars like Ifi Amadiume and Cheikh Anta Diop, or our own Gloria Emeagwali, one would realise that certain roles now believed to be “new” and taken over by women were very much part of their roles in Africa and diffused across to the colonised Caribbean as well. Women WERE functioning as providers, independent of or interdependent with men who had their own roles as well. These roles were understood to be complementary, not conflicting. This was NOT the reality of Europe from as far back as ancient Greece and even before that. In fact, in the Caribbean, there was very little conflict until the Western schooling and churching systems with their cultural infusions erased our knowledge of what we had brought with us. Most of us don’t know that because our understanding of men’s roles were tainted by what was and still is taught in school and places of worship.

    So no, I do not particularly see any need for a man’s movement, I see the need to re-examine what WE understand and understood it meant to be a man based on our reality, not that of Western evangelists, sociologists and the like.

    • Joel Henry

      HH

      June 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      I’m going to look at the scholars you mentioned. I tried to avoid a lot of the conflict between the men’s movement and feminism precisely because it is really specific to advanced western societies. However, I do see a crisis and a crisis needs solutions. Maybe they aren’t the same solutions that men’s activists in the US and Europe would adopt but a men’s movement can take many forms. Also, T&T has such an amalgam of cultures – African, Indian and European in particular, – with differing gender roles, that I can’t see a one-fits-all cultural solution.

  18. Corey Gilkes

    June 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    There is indeed no one-fits-all solution; in fact, I’ll argue that the reason why we in such a mess is precisely because Euro-centred ideology imposed the mindset that one model is suitable for all (I think there’s even a term for it: universalism)

    Note, however, that although many in the Western feminist movement are loath to acknowledge it, in looking for models from which they could take pattern, many feminists of the 1960s and 70s actually studied ancient and medieval African societies including Egypt. So perhaps even now one can look at ancient Africa for ideas that can be used to advance contemporary challenges.

    You might also want to keep at hand certain works by such scholars and researchers as:

    – Marilyn French (Beyond Power: On Women, Men and Morals)
    – Barbara G Walker (The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets)
    – Gerda Lerner (The Creation of Patriarchy)
    – Merlin Stone (When God was a Woman)
    – Evelyn Reed (Women’s Evolution From Matriarchal Clan to Patriarchal Family)

  19. Joel Henry

    HH

    June 7, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Great article, Jaime. I think because we tend to be introspective, writers have a problem with the quick verbal comeback to insults. We end up storing it and getting vex after the fact. I think the key is responding but maintaining composure when you come back at them. 

  20. S Leitch

    June 28, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I think your reference to GirlWritesWhat’s “Feminism and the Disposable Male” was very telling as most of your claims were just as erroneous as hers were and you are in fact describing yourself when you talk about the ”
    schizophrenia of perceptions about men and maleness [being a]  part of the problem.” So let’s deal with larger theoretical debates first … the reason why some/most (not sure which one you are claiming) people think that a male rights movement is a joke is because even the most illiterate woman knows that we live in a man’s world, what the scholars call patriarchy. Added to that it was the feminist movement that enabled men and women to deconstruct and resist constricting notions of gender (including maleness), through discourse around hegemony, economic globalization and a whole slew of intersecting factors, including the domestic sphere  and i add that in response to your claim that, “Feminism wasn’t about making women better wives and mothers. It was about giving women the freedom to choose the kind of life they’d like to live.” – These two sentences are in fact in direct contradiction with each other.  You read anything on feminism and domestic labour: work, value, theorising, unionising, mothering etc.  Masculine studies, Queer theory, Critical studies, Linguistics, Law, Biology all owe a lot to feminism as it was in fact the one of the final epistemologies (ways to know) to shape our intellectual/social paradigm in the post modern. You used many identifiers to validate your claim of ‘male marginalization’   – a term that was highly popularized by Errol Miller (Jamaican scholar)  but i will come back to later and they include, ” back breaking, life shortening jobs” Where exactly are you getting your information? Men do in fact usually have a shorter life expectancy but trying to speculate any cause and effect relationship is a bad idea.What we do know is that women cluster at low level manual labour positions, especially in industrialized settings where men dominate the mechanized processes. You can read anything on field work and factory work … the back breaking stuff. Also to say that men make up the “vast majority of homeless” is also mis leading when you consider that most homeless women have children and that women’s negotiations around housing  is understandably more difficult; many of whom choose to remain in abusive relationships to protect their children. Girls outperforming boys at school or ‘male crisis’ has been critiqued by many scholars who contend that despite women’s superior academic performance they still experience higher levels of unemployment, poverty, differential pay for equal work, sexual harassment on the job, more likely to be looked over for promotion due to child rearing capacity etc.  Finally just to address your and GirlWritesWhat’s comments about men having to protect their countries … men are the ones who create and fund wars. Arms and the trafficking of women are the two most lucrative businesses in the world and you yourself admitted that men run business. You might be more successful if you tackle the root of the problem.  A male’s movement is most definitely part of the solution, whereby men can acknowledge privilege or in other words identify when they are not being treated equally even when its in their favour or not and be committed to women’s empowerment and their own. After all the centuries of oppression women are no longer suffering from Poor Me syndrome. Men should quit while they’re ahead.

    • Joel

      June 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      Rather hostile aren’t we? But I’ll still address your points. Firstly, saying GWW is erroneous without saying why is equivalent to saying nothing. Be my guest and dissect her arguments. Secondly, you know zero about me so that point about “schizophrenia of male perceptions” was just a petty ad hominem attack. Thirdly, while I agree that many people – men and women perceive it to be a “man’s world” that doesn;t necessarily make it so and even if it is so, perhaps that analysis of the relationship between men and women isn’t as simplistic as dogmatic ideologues think it is. GWW actually talks about this in her video about disposability but you chose not to address it other than to say it is erroneous.

      Fourthly, there is no contradiction about the statment “feminism wasn’t about making women better wives and mothers…” Remember, according to feminist theory women were trapped by the patriarchy in their traditional wife and mother roles. Feminism wasn’t about getting better in those roles it was about opening new opportunities for women and breaking down barriers. I compare this to the current discourse about men. Its not about breaking down any barriers. Its about getting them to adhere to obligations and of course “acknowledging their privilege” (a statement so bereft of human empathy for men that it is astounding – but expected).

      As to back breaking, life shortening work, there is ample evidence for this. Men work in the most physically demanding jobs and the most dangerous jobs. They comprise the vast majority of workplace injuries and deaths. As to your point about homelessness, I don’t get it. Are you saying its a zero sum game in which because women are abused the fact that men make up the vast majority of homeless doesn’t matter? Again, zero empathy for men.

      As to your point that women get unequal pay for the same work. BOGUS. Several studies have come forward and showed that men and women make several lifestyle choices that determine how much they are paid – like working overtime, working in adverse conditions, etc.

      As to your point on war. It always fascinates me the way feminists disassociate women from anything unattractive in society. Men do it so women aren’t involved? Wars are waged by societies both in aggression and defense. And women enjoy the spoils of aggressive wars in the same way they enjoy the safety provided by defensive wars. Women are also quite often cheerleaders of war. Google the white feather campaign, where women in Europe were giving out white feathers of cowardice to men who were not enlisted to fight in World War 1, an utterly senseless conflict. But even so, so what? The average man who goes and fights and dies in war has very little control over it. He’s a pawn and a tool. He doesn’t deserve compassion?

      Finally and most importantly, I want you to understand one thing. I don’t care what you think a men’s movement should be. I don’t recall you asking me what feminism should be. A men’s movement will be whatever men see fit for it to be. And if you don’t like it, tough.

      • S Leitch

        July 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

        I acknowledge that many of the things you’ve said here you believe (lest you would not have written them) as may perhaps a large cross section of the male population. i hope however that apart from taking what i’ve said into consideration, you can think critically on the assumptions you have made and perhaps rise to the challenge of re thinking male privilege and envision what a men’s movement could look like, if fashioned by the feminist principles of equality and justice.  I look forward to more work from you that reflects this kind of consciousness. 

        • Joel

          July 12, 2012 at 1:33 am

          Ok, I’d like you to understand something. I did not reply to your comment in a much more scathing and comprehensive manner for two reasons. The first is that with your aggressiveness and condescension I didn’t deem you worthy of a response. The second reason is that I don’t want to pollute the Outlish forum with flame wars. But I feel prompted to respond now.

          Lisa Allen-Agostini is a good friend of mine and a feminist, and while we may disagree on certain points, we do so respectfully. Whenever I point to the misandric aspects within feminism she tells me feminists are not like that. It’s people like you, exhibiting such overwhelming arrogance, such dogmatic certainty in what is essentially one of several theories on human existence and such an appalling lack of empathy for men that contradict her.

          Every point you made, backed up by “scholars” (read feminist academics) essentially boils down to men suffer? So what? Women suffer more. And plus its men’s fault they suffering. That’s understandable I suppose because you’ve managed to reduce the male of the species to cartoon-like villains like the Decepticons or the orcs of Mordor. Fine, knock yourself out.

          But for you to have the gall to tell any man what solutions they “need” to deal with issues affecting them (step one acknowledging their privilege!) is just hilariously absurd to me. I wouldn’t think of telling women what feminism should be about and I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t allow it either.

          What men need is to stop being either passive or oblivious to ideas related to gender. We need to start thinking about it collectively. Whatever form it takes – whether it be feminist influenced or not – is entirely up to us. So do us both a favour and take your condescension elsewhere. 

          • womenspeakmoderator

            July 12, 2012 at 10:43 am

            Feminists are free to give their opinion as long as they do it in gentle and conciliatory tones, right? Are aggressiveness, arrogance, condescension and dogma exclusive to the male domain? I think men just get angry that women have the gall to actually stand up for themselves, and do so forcefully and unapologetically. Deal with it.

          • Joel

            July 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

             Thanks for the comment.

          • S Leitch

            July 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

            bahahahaha … u are funny

          • S Leitch

            July 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

            Joel, I acknowledge that my response indeed scathing but when you produce work that is shared in a public forum, you must be prepared for that. I am a writer, just as you are and I know that it takes courage to put yourself out there and critique is not always welcomed, especially when it doesn’t come wrapped up  in a red bow. But that is life and sometimes we need a wake up call. When I saw your initial response I was pleasantly surprised, of course hoping for an expansion but at least grateful that you were not defensive or an a*hole. I shared your article in various forums and specifically sought the opinion of two men who also write for Outlish, Brandon and Brendon O’Brien on different occasions about the article and my response. One of them thought it was helpful, the other said it was harsh. It has been on my mind for days to respond again, to fly a white flag and let you know that I am not your enemy but rather an ally who is looking forward to your continued work. I acknowledged (when I was in a more calm state) that your feelings/ thoughts were legitimate and that you represented the thoughts and feelings of other men and I hoped that there could be a shift. I also included my picture to personalize that msg. instead of taking comfort in anonymity. When I recommended that you read the work of feminist scholars on specific topics it was not meant to condescending, though I see how you may have felt that way based on my opening remarks. When you do not know about something, have a limited understanding or a mis construed one YOU MUST READ. I read all the time and I am constantly trying to broaden my knowledge and as a critical thinker (as outlined in your profile description) I assume that knowledge is something you are also passionate about. You are right … I should have dealt with you more respectfully but I felt that your work was highly disrespectful to the feminist movement and misinformed and even though you say you wouldn’t have the gall to tell me what feminism should be, you were quite successful in painting an inaccurate picture. I hope now that we can proceed in dialogue, respectfully.

          • Joel

            July 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

            I mentioned the word “feminism” perhaps three times in the article. Not once did I insult feminism. The most I said was that men need to enter the discussion on gender and find their own solutions that may or may not conform to feminist theories. If you think that is disrespectful of feminism then it shows you to be extremely intolerant of alternative ideas.

            I am aware that the US/UK men’s rights people are in battle with feminists but this is Trinidad and Tobago. I intentionally left most of that out because I don’t believe it is really relevent to our situation and I don’t want to take up all their baggage. Having said that, I do agree with some of their ideas – like male utility and disposability.

            And yes you are condescending. In fact you are still being condescending. How do you know what I have or haven’t read? How do you know what research I have done? You know nothing about me. Outlish is not an academic forum and if I am introducing ideas – especially new ideas – then I have to make them accessible and entertaining to the reader (truthfully all writing should be like that but many social scientists love to dress their language up in academic jargon to give it the aura of seriousness).

            Just because I don’t accept feminist frames it doesn’t mean I’m ignorant or uninformed. It is precisely because I am a critical thinker that I am questioning feminist frames – which dominate the study of gender. A critical thinker doesn’t react with anger when his/her theories are challenged.

            I always welcome healthy, respectful debate. You don’t have to be someone’s enemy because you have different ideas. And I appreciate the spirit of this post. But if you are going to approach debate with the idea that I am “uninformed” and my picture needs to be made accurate it won’t work.

          • S Leitch

            July 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

            Joel, knowledge and enlightenment is a life long process and we are all ignorant of something (if not most) until the day we die. You are too making assumptions that feminists do not question feminist frames and nothing is farther from the truth. Feminism is constantly evolving and deconstructing the frames that preceded based on the knowledge and understanding of that time.  If you are not open to criticism .. it also won’t work. I was not implying that you be more academic in your writing but perhaps more critical in your thinking.

          • Joel

            July 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

            Where did I say feminists don’t question feminists frames? There are some huge disputes going on in feminism right now (yep, I READ ABOUT IT). But its obvious from your initial response that you are accustomed to a very limited range of perspectives on gender. And I understand that. I think there may be one male studies programme in the US, which incorporates men’s movement-type ideas, evolutionary psychology, etc. Gender studies has been almost totally dominated by feminist perspectives for decades. So I imagine what I wrote was alien and infuriating to you, even though I really didn’t insult feminism in any way.

            I am very open to criticism. I enjoy discussing these things. Before I even wrote this piece I spoke with Lisa Allen-Agostini at length. We were liming and drinking on the avenue and talking about gender issues. I enjoyed it tremendously. Not only is she highly critical of me, she called my name up in her column in the Guardian. Didn’t bother me at all. 

            But I’m not going to accept being talked down to or insulted (that crack about schizophrenia, I mean come on S Leitch do better than that). 

            That line about academic writing wasn’t directed at you personally, I’m a writer from a family of social scientists so I’ve seen words like “dialectic” and “hegemonic” thrown around far too often and far too deliberately. 

            And I know knowledge and enlightenment is a life-long pursuit. That’s what attracted me to some of the men’s movement ideas, they are a fresh perspective that deal with some of the contradictions that I have noticed in how we perceive gender. 

            Honestly I have to throw that right back at you. Why don’t you make an honest attempt to listen with an open mind to what I have to say? I’m not a sexist, I’m not a homophobe, I’m not a conservative, I’m not a patriarchal overlord and I enjoy dialogue and debate. Why don’t you open yourself to hear what I have to say?

  21. Nichola Dinnoo

    July 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I need to add a disclaimer before I add my two cents: I am not a man-hating lesbian.  With that in mind…
    The feminist movement was put in place to empower women, not to disenfranchise men.  It seems though that men have had it too good for too long with women doing both ‘traditional roles’ and holding down the career and education.  Now they dont know what to do with themselves.  If they want to have a movement, go right ahead and have one. But I will be laughing, because the only people who emasculated men were the men.

    • Joel

      July 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      “The only people who emasculated men were the men.”
      Are you sure about that? I would like for you to elaborate on how men emasculated each other. I see it differently. I think several factors have contributed to the emasculation of men – including things like urbanization, industrialization, wealth, security, changing gender roles, the absence of fathers from the household, in our particular Caribbean context, slavery, and the demonization of maleness and traditional forms of masculine expression. I haven’t said and I don’t believe that feminism is responsible for the emasculation of men.

      But there is another piece to this that I mentioned. Why does the fact that men are emasculated matter? If there are no inherent gender obligations or requirements and if gender obligations were a one-sided form of oppression placed on women then why would men suffer because they are emasculated? Yet they do suffer, badly. Men AND women punish the shit out of men who are emasculated or who don’t conform to traditional notions of masculinity. In the same way there is “slut shaming” there are a whole host of behaviours etched in our brains about what men’s conduct should be and they will be ridiculed and marginalised if they don’t conform. I’m thinking about writing a piece about this actually. 

      As to your final statement, this is the same type of cartoon characterisation of men (Decepticons attack!) that IS in fact man-hating. Even if you believe that men are being beaten up by a system designed solely to benefit them (which I don’t)  does that really men they deserve ridicule for trying to find their own alternatives to bettering the system? Its your way or “cyah cyah!”?  

      • S Leitch

        July 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

         both women and men have internalized patriarchal notions of masculinity. both need to pause and re think of what and how we value. And of course patriarchy  affects men negatively, it affects everyone negatively whether they choose to admit it or not. hegemony and/or white supremacy cannot be divorced from these constructions and how other kinds of men have been marginalized.

      • Nichola Dinnoo

        July 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        To be fair to you, you said “don’t laugh”. Why would you say that if you were not in fact aware of the apparent ridiculousness of the concept?  I have actually discussed this with real men and they laughed at the concept of a men;s movement. It cuts into their manly time

        • Joel

          July 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm

          Yeah, I didn’t choose the headline. Laziness on my part that has come back to bite me now. Plenty of my pardnas laugh at the notion. Two or three drinks in however when they really think about it they recognise that they agree with quite a few of the concepts. And I have all types of friends so this is across the bard. One pardna of mine, happily married with five sons has even taken to getting solemn with me these days, “I worry for my sons.” Another one, a quintessential bad boy, told “boy, I’ve been a men’s movement of one since the 90’s.”

          But yeah, most men will reflexively laugh at the notion. Is that proof of the ideas absurdity or maybe something else? On another note, what’s a “real man” Nichola?

          • Nichola Dinnoo

            July 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

            If the men don’t know, wouldn’t it be counterproductive for a woman to decide what makes a real man? I guess that forward-thinking men and women want the same thing: respect for their efforts.

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