The misguided, embarrassing war against feminism rages on
[via Broadsheet] There’s something that makes me really uncomfortable about people who get nervous and defensive about feminism. It’s embarrassing in its unwarrantedness, the same way its embarrassing when people are violently homophobic. To disagree is one thing, but to wage a war against something as tolerant as feminism with such vehemence just screams insecurity. The same way that people who wage wars against homosexuals are often insecure about their own sexuality.
That’s how I felt when I learned about the group of intellectuals (?) who came together to finally fight back against the faceless, all-powerful monster known as feminism– which, I guess, was getting too big for its lady-britches and needed to be taken down a peg. As described in an article in Inside HigherEd, these “scholars of boys and men” decided to fight back by creating a discipline called Male Studies. Tracy Clark-Flory provides an excellent explanation of men’s studies, which already exists, which is I guess too pansy and feminism-loving for the “scholars of boys and men.” So they created male studies, with the explicit purpose of excluding existing feminist and gender theory. Feminism, as described by ManBoy scholar Lionel Tiger (roar!), is:
“a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force, as a phenomenon.”
I am so tired of people’s willful misunderstanding of feminism as a war against men. I’ve written about this before, and Chloe Angyal has a wonderful piece in the Guardian that talks about the systematic misrepresentation of feminist ideals and the resulting reluctance of young women to identify as an f-word. And while, thankfully, gender equality has improved over the years, to call the feminist movement “highly successful” is a misrepresentation, given the powerful stigma against it that still remains strong. And to call it a “denigration of maleness” is just willfully and demonstrably false.
In addition to seeing women’s studies as an “institutionalization of misandry,” the Motherboy scholars also believe that the whole power thing long associated with maleness and masculinity isn’t fair.
“today’s discourse on individual men is not a discourse of power — men do not feel powerful in today’s society.”
Fair enough. But how is it logical to then, in turn, attack a movement whose aim is to empower all individuals, regardless of gender, race, class, sexuality, or ability? Again, there seems to be a lot of willful misunderstanding here:
Primary and secondary schools, as well as higher education, have been so heavily influenced by feminism, Tiger said, “that the academic lives of males are systematically discriminated against.”
I don’t know what primary and secondary schools these Boyz II Men went to, but I wish I had known about them when I was a child. I cannot recall hearing the word “feminism” used in a non-derogatory way ONCE until I went to college. And again, I can’t emphasize this enough: feminism is not about disempowering males. To talk about the changing roles and representations of maleness in society is an important discussion to have. But these BoyMan scholars are so obviously threatened by women that they feel the need to create their own discipline, rather than to operate in the tolerant, already existant institution of men’s studies, just because those men’s studies pussies don’t exist in an exclusive dichotomy against women’s studies.
The final paragraph of the Inside HigherEd article is hilarious:
Edward Stevens, chair of the On Step Institute for Mental Health Research, said he wants to see male studies search for ways to improve male academic performance. “What are the ethical concerns of devoting 90 percent of resources to one gender?” he asked (though without explaining exactly what he meant). “What are the unintended consequences of the failure of our academic institutions to consider the 21st century needs of males?” (emphasis added)
I’m not even going to go into an explanation of how, historically, the “needs of males” have been the default needs of everyone, and that much of education is already male studies due to the, you know, historic and institutionalized marginalization of women. I don’t want to be a ball buster or anything.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this talk about the “scholars of boys and men” has left me with a powerful urge to watch the Arrested Development episode “Motherboy XXX,” or listen to some Boys II Men songs, or maybe that Beyonce song “If I were a boy.” And if I were a boy, I hope I would be happy to have women’s studies and men’s studies and a tolerant, interdisciplinary system of talking about gender and difference, without feeling the need to wave my dick around and make my own No-Girls-Allowed club.