Men do need a better men’s rights movement, but not the kind envisioned by feminists, or A Voice for Men.
Nancy Kaffer at The Daily Beast wrote an article envisioning a men’s rights movement which basically mirrors that of the feminist movement. According to Nancy, men just aren’t keeping up with society. Forget the fact that we’re half of the society, and according to Nancy, running society, we’re still just plain failing to keep up despite all this privilege. You know, especially us white heterosexual men. All that was missing, really, was “die cis scum”.
According to Nancy, the MRM is nothing but misogyny. A typical complaint by feminists who have never for a moment attempted to read or even link to an example of this at any notable men’s rights publication. Ask them for an example, and you might get some vague response like “Dude, go look at reddit”.
She dismisses our concerns about being 90+% of the prison population, nearly 100% of war casualties, being responsible for thousands of years to feed, clothe, and shelter women, and getting screwed over in family and divorce court, as conspiracy theories. So Nancy thinks that men do need a movement, but you know, one that’s more concerned about getting higher wages for women regardless of their performance or time spent at work.
In contrast, Amartya Talukdar writes in his response at A Voice for Men, that the MRM is the true movement of gender equality.
I would like to remind Kaffer that advocacy for men’s rights is not negation of women’s rights. If feminism was all about equality, then feminists would not have become alarmed about the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM). In fact, anyone fighting for an equal world would be glad if half of humanity rises up to speak for equality.
This is certainly true enough. Feminism is not now, nor has it ever been about equality. Feminism fears gender equality, because it has sought out, obtained, and now seeks to maintain and expand gender superiority for women in the legal system.
But I’m not writing today to bash feminism, that’s sort of old hat. Today I would like to address the MRM, and AVfM in particular. This equality garbage has to go. The liberal influence at A Voice for Men is just turning this into the male version of what feminism claims to be, and that’s just absolutely nauseating.
We are not, cannot, and should not be equals
I have two male roommates. One slightly older than me, the other slightly younger, but for our purposes we could just as easily assume we’re the same age. One is slightly taller, one is slightly shorter, but again, we could just as easily say we were the same height. I’m from New York, one roommate is from Nevada, the other from Wisconsin, but again for our purposes we may as well have been raised in the same house.
Screw it, let’s just pretend the three of us are identical triplets. We’re still not equals.
Through whatever series of choices and circumstances, we each have our own aptitudes, and interests. One of us may be more skilled at writing, another more physically fit, another more suited to research perhaps. One spent more time studying computers, another studying business, another studying health. One of us has struggled with alcoholism, another smokes weed pretty much every day, the other a social drinker.
Pointing out these differences and similarities could go on as long as one chose to write them. Point being, give three men all the similarities in the world, and they will still ultimately be suited to a particular purpose as an individual. They are not equals, and trying to treat them as such will go contrary to reality, thus leading to negative outcomes.
I am an overweight alcoholic writer. My roommate is a physically fit researcher of dietary supplements. Pretending we can just be interchangeably swapped in and out of different roles in society, particularly at identical compensation levels, is just plain ridiculous. I haven’t seen much in the way of writing from either of my roommates, perhaps they could do my job, perhaps not, but we can be certain that I am in no position to give you health advice outside of “don’t be like me”.
We are not, cannot, and should not be equals, and that’s just fine for society because of a thing we economists refer to as division of labor. If I am more suited to tapping out my musings on a keyboard, one roommate is more apt to complex research, and the other a shrewd negotiator, we might well all perform different functions at the same company. The researcher might come to me with a set of data that I would write a story about, and the negotiator might sell advertisements, or pitch the story to larger publications. This helps all of us benefit, by putting out a lucrative well researched publication instead of a poorly researched one that makes no money. Having three salesmen with nothing to sell, three writers with no revenue, or three researchers with no creativity, would help none of us. It is our inequality that makes us a good team.
If three men of similar height and age and intelligence levels are not, cannot, and should not be equals, if it is their inequality that makes them a whole, then how can, or why should, society attempt to say that two entire genders are equals? Two people with substantially different physical structures, hormonal influences, and upbringings, are going to have substantially greater differences in interests and aptitudes than three men who might as well be identical triplets.
Again, that’s just fine for society. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial. Were men and women the same, there would be no men or women, as we could not reproduce. Putting aside that it is outside the realm of possibility, to make us equals would literally be the demise of our species. So to hear women or men speak of equality, does not bring to mind positive imagery for those of us who have any fondness for humanity. For the sake of our very survival, we are not, cannot, and should not be equals.
Aside from the obvious necessity of a man impregnating a woman, and the woman carrying the child to term and giving birth, a woman is uniquely capable of breast feeding a child. Breast feeding has consistently been shown to be very important in a child’s development both physically and emotionally. It builds on an already unique bond between mother and child which is worlds apart from the just as important, but also unequal, bond between father and child.
Our species may well survive if men take on a greater role in early childhood, dropping out of the workforce and freeing women to spend more time in it. I suspect many men would take great joy in being able to spend more time with their children and less time at work, having someone else pay the bills, and all that sort of thing. I also know that people who drop out of the workforce for a period of time, and then return, suffer considerable setbacks in their careers compared to people who stay in the workforce. Combine this with the fact that children who are breast fed tend to do better in life, and that breast feeding children at work is terribly impractical in most circumstances, and it would seem natural and positive that women be the primary caregivers of children, while men serve as protectors and providers. It is simple division of labor not dissimilar to the aforementioned writer, researcher, salesman relationship.
I do not admire any movement that makes women more apt to work in coal mines or fight in wars. I have no desire to make women an equal portion of the prison population. I seek not to eliminate the traditional male gender role of protector and provider. I hold a door open for a lady. I am more likely to pick up a hitchhiker, assist with a broken down vehicle, or even intervene in a case of harassment or assault, if the person I’m assisting is a woman.
Generally speaking, men are physically stronger than women, more mechanically inclined, and better suited for combat, so it makes sense for us to fill these roles. I also agree with much of society that chivalrous gestures like holding open doors, are kind and honorable things that highlight our respect for women, rather than some negative inequality.
If I’m going to fill these roles, I don’t think it entirely insulting that I expect women to generally fill other roles. For the sake of time, let’s skip concern for offending people and jump right to the stereotypes of cooking and cleaning. I’m more than capable of doing these things for myself. In fact, I’m better in the kitchen than most women I’ve dated. Women aren’t really any better suited to them than I am, but they are gestures that women can do for men that show their appreciation for the often difficult and dangerous things we are uniquely suited to do for them. If I’m willing to climb ladders and labor and risk my safety for 40+ hours a week, to pay for all the resources a household requires, I don’t think asking for a sandwich when I get home makes me a woman hater.
Again, it is a simple division of labor, and it is not to say that we can’t switch it up from time to time. Using the writer, researcher, salesman analogy from earlier, it isn’t as though the writer couldn’t sell an ad or do some research. Likewise, it’s not as though a man can’t do some laundry or a woman can’t change a tire. We’re just talking about reasonable expectations and generalities here. Those generalities and expectations are what feminists might refer to as “the patriarchy”. Claiming that these expectations shape the economic opportunities of women, are thus oppressive, and require government intervention. This of course is no less insane than forcing writers to be ad salesmen, or researchers to write fiction.
I spend my time doing things I’m more apt doing, you spend your time doing things that you’re more apt to doing, and together we accomplish the tasks of life. Any single adult can tell you it is no small task to maintain a home and work a full time job. Any single parent can tell you a child added to the mix makes things exponentially more difficult. Sure we can do it, but it does not lead to the best of outcomes. Men and women are best off when working together.
We are not, cannot, and should not be equals, but rather, we are pieces of a puzzle. One is no less important than the other, but we have different shapes and images and thus make up different portions of the puzzle. Gender equality would be like a bunch of square puzzle pieces making up a grey block. That’s not just terribly boring, it’s completely incompatible with the world we live in. So let us not be surprised when we get negative outcomes from people trying to make it so.
The Only Equality
The only place where we are all ultimately equal, is in our lack of authority to initiate force or fraud against each other’s person or property. This is almost universally understood. A man has no right to force a woman into sex. A woman has no right to steal money from a man. Nor do either of these things become acceptable in any combination of gender roles. Seems simple enough.
Yet, human history, and indeed everything we would recognize as modernity, is absolutely jammed packed with victimization. From petty thefts, to oppressive taxation. From simple assault, to global warfare. To turn on a television or pick up a newspaper, one might get the impression that humanity’s willingness to victimize one another is without limit, particularly when it comes to government.
We all recognize that we cannot steal, yet many of us are happy to hand the State authority to tax. We all recognize that we cannot kill, yet many of us are happy to hand the State authority to wage war. Over 260 million people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century, not including war. There are over 2.25 million people in prison in the United States right now, yet nearly all of us realize we have no right to kidnap.
So my advice for the men’s right’s movement, to feminists, and to all of humanity is very simple. Stop forcing one another. Stop lying. Stop trying to use the State against one another, especially over issues as ridiculous as gender.
Because you’re screwing up the puzzle.
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