Friday, July 08, 2005
Feminism and Masculism
One of the men who commented on the post seemed quite adamant about the "sexism" of some of the feminists. He used a word I vaguely remembered but couldn't quite place: masculism. While I could see a little validity to some of his critiques, I was disturbed by his generally aggressive and blaming tone toward feminism. After seeing the Wikipedia entry on masculism, I understood why I found it disturbing.
There's a certain strong strain in the "men's movement" toward asserting men are at a disadvantage to women in a number of respects legally, socially and healthwise. My observation is this is used as a platform to attack women and feminism. The language appears to take quite a bit from feminist perspective and analysis but the goal is, essentially, a renewed vision of a patriarchal dominion.
While I think the elimination of sexism and equality of treatment for men and women is something we should generally strive for, I don't see the so-called men's rights movement as being at all equivalent to feminism. The masculist rhetoric seems focused on two main points. First, the victim status of men is accentuated. In situations where women are traditionally discriminated against and remedies or correctives are attempted, masculists seem to see only a diminishing of their status and privilege. Though couched in terms of rights, the litany of men's "oppression" strikes me as more a search for symptoms rather than a significant broad spectrum of grievances.
The second point is the attempt to find explanations, research, and rationale for "natural" gender role divisions (i.e., "traditional" US male/female roles). (Crap, can't I explain this without using "quotes"?) Conveniently, this can also excuse males acting in aggressive and dominating ways. Funny how it works out that way.
I know there are men who are attempting to redefine what it means to be masculine, particularly while trying to be supportive of feminism. Much (but not all) masculism seems to me to be an intellectually retro justification for what used to be called male chauvinism. That don't fly with me.