Through Men’s Eyes (Link and mirror)

I was on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to talk about Elliot Rodger and the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

The first video is the AJ one, watch that if you can. If it’s blocked in your country I mirrored the video in the second link, though I’m not sure how long it will stay up.

I didn’t get to cover everything I prepared, so I may add to this blog later.

Things I didn’t get to cover in the panel:

The Rodger Shootings

Lest we forget, besides Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss, Rodger also killed James Hong, George Chen, David Wang and Christopher Michaels-Martinez. He also killed himself, his final victim.

His ‘manifesto’ was not political, it was an autobiography as a rambling justification for his hatred. It was a narcissistic hate-bubble.

Calling what he did ‘terrorism‘ is utterly irresponsible and unforgivably inaccurate. His agenda was personal revenge. Not political change. Calling it terrorism legitimises it, fixating upon his genuine, mentally ill misogyny and calling it something broader is also irresponsible. People like to blame things, but it’s not that easy.

Rodger was not a men’s rights activist, he was not a MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) nor was he even a Pick Up Artist. He was a member of an anti-Pick Up Artist group. The manner in which people have conflated all these things and then tried to associate them with Rodger is unethical opportunism.

The bad reporting appears to have directly contributed to actual terrorist threats of violence and disruption being made against AVFMs conference.

Blaming Rodger’s actions on Men’s Issues is like blaming Valerie Solinas’ or Aileen Wuornos’ actions on feminism – which I feel would be dishonest. Unlike these two I have not seen anyone seriously raise Rodger’s actions as laudable and I doubt his manifesto will become a standard ‘masculinist’ text in the way SCUM has.

Violence

Men are the majority victims of violence. Men are far more likely to be attacked, randomly, in the street than women are – yet are less afraid. Men are 40% of the victims of domestic violence (according to Parity). Men are the majority victims of rape – if you include prison rape and ‘made to penetrate’. Men get equal abuse to women online and the peak target of online abuse and cyberbullying is the 19 year old male – according to Know the Net and Ditch the Label.

Genuine Men’s Issues

The Men’s Movement raises genuine issues, amongst them criticism of the dominant feminist narrative in media and academia and the problems it creates. Outside of that, other genuine men’s issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Education
  • Work safety.
  • Medical funding.
  • The justice system.
  • University courts.
  • Alimony.
  • Child custody bias.
  • Censorship.
  • Military service & the draft.
  • Mental health issues.
  • Suicide.

My fellow panellists on Al Jazeera included Jackson Katz, Ravi Chandra, and Eduardo Garcia, they’re all worth checking out too.

I hope I’ve shown that a more reasonable approach can be more effective and that my desire for conversation and dialogue will be reciprocated by reasonable people on the other side of the divide.

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Oppressed Minority

This well-made short film has been doing the rounds and while it makes a few good points the interpretation is very one sided in a lot of ways. Simply reversing the genders doesn’t entirely work and the film also underlines prejudices and preconceptions about men as much as it does about women. These comments are not meant to undermine anyone’s personal experience but to comment on this ‘funhouse mirror’ version of reality from a man’s perspective.

00:47: A man pushing a pushchair is likely to be pitied and harassed by other men, or at least looked down on. Men are not seen as caregivers and it is seen as unmanning to do so. While some young mothers might coo over the baby and the man pushing the pushchair other men are likely to see it as negative. Not being seen as caregivers men are often denied the possibility of even playing the role a lot of the time, something that I know hurts a lot of men and sees them playing the role of ‘distant breadwinner’ instead.. This comes up a lot through this film, this theme.

01:10: “Oh, I should really be talking to your wife,” is not much different to the way things currently are. Women are seen as the guardians of the home so things relating to the home and serious business around it are seen as the woman’s task. It is the man’s place to get nagged, bullied and tormented into doing the work and the woman’s place to tell him what needs doing. Men are seen as forgetful, stupid and not to be trusted to get things done. This outlook is now being reinforced by ‘Sitcom Dad’ stereotyping.

01:23: Bare chests on women are a much stronger sexual signal – at least in our culture – than bare chests on men. This is why the exposure/modesty laws differ (in part). The comparison is false. This little sequence with the jogger also illustrates, via the point of view of the film maker, how men are seemingly also perceived as sexually threatening. Which is an unfair stereotype. We are to take these pleasantries and compliments as somehow threatening but, as a men, starved of any such attentions, it might be nice to be on the receiving end of such.

01:52: In our world, rather than this parallel, men are severely under-represented in childcare and in teaching overall, until secondary/post secondary education. There are very few male role models and very little exposure to grown men for children until they have already reached their teen years but this under-representation does not get the same attention as the lack of women in STEM education etc. In the UK only 12% of primary school teachers are male and only 38% of secondary school teachers. In the last survey I could find only 48 men were to be found working in state nursery education in the entire United Kingdom. Education as a whole appears to be ill-serving boys with university admissions down, scores and grades lower and it has been suggested that part of this may be down to the feminine workspace to be found in schools. Why are less men doing these jobs? Poorer prospects, pressure to succeed and – at primary and nursery level – implicit and sometimes explicit suspicion of being a paedophile leading to much more invasive checks and suspicion of men who want to work with kids.

03:10: Shouted abuse by the severely mentally ill is not something faced by women alone and while it may be uncomfortable, men are far more likely to face violence (3-4 times as likely to be murdered for example) and have much more reason to be wary – yet aren’t. In a lot of areas men’s mental health issues are far worse than womens. Men are much more likely to end up homeless (76% male in a recent US survey) and while homeless are much more likely to end up on the street. Men are 3-4 more times more likely to take their own lives and there are stigmas attached to seeking help or admitting weakness. Meanwhile there is a lot more help and money available to help women, especially women with children. Being aggressively propositioned by junkies in need of money is also more of a male problem than a female problem. You don’t want to be hanging around King’s Cross late at night! Nor are men immune to having their appearance criticised or even having women cross the road to avoid them if they’re dressed a certain way.

03:50: Pissing in the street? Now you’re just jealous. More of the presumed sexual aggression.

04:40: And again with the presumed sexual aggression. I’ll refer you above. Men are far more likely to get into a violent altercation than women, often because of women if chucking out time in town centres is anything to go by. Violence against women is societally deemed unacceptable. Violence against men, especially by women, is not seen as serious.

05:20: Imagine a man trying to report that he was raped and, bad as things are for women, you’ll see a problem. Rape of men isn’t even defined as rape, it’s redefined as ‘made to penetrate’. Men’s reporting of sexual assault and rape is even lower than that of women – which some feminists estimate to be 90% under-reported (though this is disputed). It is even thought by many that men can’t be raped. Drunken sex of women can be considered coercive or rape while if the man is drunk it is not considered in the same light. For more information, this is informative.

06:00: A point here is trying to be made about office harassment, mixed in with the assault part of the film. However, again, in a ‘grass is always greener’ examination it would be nice to receive positive reinforcement about one’s looks. While I am sure it gets annoying and intrusive after a time men rarely, if ever, get this positive reinforcement day in, day out.

06:20: While the questions are intrusive it is always the job of law enforcement, and the courts, to ensure that there is a case to answer and that time and public money is not being spent frivolously. The truth is that we have absolutely no idea how many accusations of sexual assault and rape are false or how many claims are genuine. It is fantastically difficult to get decent statistics on sexual crime because it is so contentious and challenging accepted statistics from feminist sources is seen not as good science but as dismissal. The video linked above goes a little into this as well. The criminal justice system is not especially gentle with alleged victims of sexual assault, no, but then it is concerned with truth more than comfort. There are dangerous drives in some quarters to change the legal culture, but only around allegations of sexual assault against women. The presumption of innocence is threatened and the standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ has been lessened in some US campuses to ‘preponderance of evidence’. That is, the necessary threshold for expulsion (legal wrangles being separate) is greater than 50% now, rather than greater than 75%. This campus activism may yet leak out into the wider world and meanwhile makes campus life very dangerous for men.

07:00: His wife is meant to illustrate male insensitivity and wrongful priorities but what it does illustrate is the pressure men feel to be breadwinners, to not risk their careers for anything. Something which adds a huge amount of stress to a lot of men’s lives when they would rather have a better work/life balance than they do. In an economy stripped of many traditional male occupations this is an increasingly tender spot with a lot of men, unable to work in the kind of arenas they would prefer and within a male atmosphere, unable to feel worthy of their partners. She’s also meant to seem selfish, turning the conversation about herself, but this too reflects problems that men have expressing emotion and wanting to fix things for their partners, to distract them from pain and hurt, to make them feel better. The guy here is also being looked after, taken care of. Something that a lot of men have to abandon once they leave childhood, being expected to be a lot more self reliant and not to show the weakness of needing others.

08:55: The man in the piece turns, he blames society for the actions of a very few. It is an emotional lashing out that – outside this film – need not be present in the wider society. This alienates his wife who is doing her best and trying to look after him. This part, at least, feels more accurate as a direct gender swap.