No, Seriously, What About The Men?

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Feminism, Male Impersonators, Masculinities
Tags: , , ,

My latest article at Good Men Project is entitled: No, Seriously, What About The Men? This is how it begins:

‘Tom Martin is becoming quite well known in the feminist and anti-feminist blogosphere. He has taken the unprecedented action of suing a Gender Studies department—the renowned LSE Gender Institute in London, UK—for discrimination against men. As Martin has said:

When “women’s studies” became “gender studies” departments, it signalled a new era of inclusion for men’s issues—a rejection of this now is a betrayal of men and equality.

In America, the situation is even worse for men, potentially, as many universities and colleges retain the subject of “women’s studies” on their curricula. I have a Ph.D in gender studies, from the UK, and my view is that no matter what the subject is called, it will always be based on extreme feminist dogma and on a misandrist view of the world. Again, as Martin has pointed out:

Patriarchy theory—the idea that men typically “dominate” women—is omnipresent, when research shows that women tend to boss men interpersonally. Texts highlight misogyny but never misandry, its anti-male equivalent.

It is in light of this bias in gender studies that I came to read Mark Simpson’s 1994 classic, Male Impersonators, and examine how and why it has been omitted from the reading lists of gender studies courses, including modules on “masculinity.”

In Male Impersonators, Simpson undresses the idea of the “natural man” and shows us how men perform masculinity, in popular culture in particular. Male strippers and drag artists, “macho” body builders, pornography, sports, the War Movie, reality television, the “men’s movement,” rock and roll. They all reveal, as examined by Simpson, the complexities and subtexts of modern masculinities. One of the many striking things about reading this book in 2011, 17 years after it was first published, is that it seemed as “fresh” and new as it must have in 1994. It’s because the subject it focuses on—men, and their representation in culture—is one that has been ignored and distorted by subsequent gender theory and by some misandrist strands of feminism.’

To read the rest, about how feminist academia has erased men from its curriculum, go


  1. Jake says:

    What? Academia is all about men. Any humanities course that doesn’t specify will be at least 90% male focused and male centric. Womens studies enables us to at least try and carve out a space to talk about women in.

    • I dont think that is true, Jake. I studied art history and film and there were plenty of women in those subjects. I also studied sociology and yes, historically a lot of theorists have been men, but women still crop up quite a lot there.

      ‘women’s studies’ just seems so ‘special interest’ as if women need to be ‘studied’ separately from men. I don’t like it at all.But the main point of my article is that feminist gender studies actually tells *lies* about men and women.

    • Jim says:

      “Academia is all about men.”

      Which academia woudl that be, Jake?

      Literature – there are no women in literature? Englsih literature does not have female characters? There are no female authors?

      Lingusitics – wopmen don’t speak languages, the languages they speak aren’t studied? There are no female linguisits? Women aren’t prominent in linguistics, don’t make up half the field?

      Math, chemistry, biology, astronomy – those aren’t about humans, Jake. Do women feel excluded when they choose to study other subjects, and were they excluded when they were AWOL while those subjects were ebing established? yes of course they face socialization that turns them away; are you claiming that women are programmable automatons in permanent thrall to their upbringing?

      History – the overwhelming mass of EVERYONE is ignored by tradtitional history, so which women is it that are being ignored that you find to be so unjust? Why are you so concerned about the female hlaf of the ruling class, a bunch of social parasites, getting ignored?

    • typhonblue says:

      History isn’t about men, it’s about what men *do*.

      There is a huge fucking difference.

    • Paul says:

      Actually, I seem to recall that subjects like Sociology, Psychology, and the like are now mostly female.

      Might be wrong though

    • My problem with your statement, Jake, isn’t that it’s untrue: it’s technically very true. The problem lies in the way that you presume that there’s a cohesive “men” which said courses are “about”.

      Most male experience is as far off the radar for the academy as female experience. We don’t talk much about men viewed as “non-white”, nor about men who work for a living. In the U.S. academy, you don’t even talk much about non-English-speaking men.

      So the “male” which is discussed by the academy is an artificial and very limited construct. Postulating that as some sort of authentic position which courses are “about” is intellectually naive at best and dishonest at worst.

      And while I agree that Women’s Studies courses should mainly talk about women, there are two points you don’t seem to consider:

      1) The sex/gender system is a SYSTEM and the relationship between the two poles it defines (male and female) is properly dialectic. There is thus no logical way to talk about one sex/gender in isolation from the other.

      2) As far as I understand her article, QRG is not complaining about “women’s studies” so much as she’s complaining about the fact that “gender studies” exclude the study of the various types of maleness.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Yes, I agree; ‘Male Impersonators’ is a very important book (discounting the Freudian twaddle anyway), and should certainly be included with Judith Halberstam’s ‘Female Masculinity’ – or don’t gender studies courses bother with that one either?

    • I don’t discount the ‘Freudian twaddle’! I concede Freud may have been slightly over-used in some of the chapters but none of it is ‘twaddle’. Simpson is very influenced by Freud that’s what makes him who he is.

  3. First of all, great post. Second of all, I can’t believe GMP published that.

    Thirdly, and the reason for my comment:

    QRG, you quote Rapping here:

    Everywhere you look there are books, movies, discussions and news reports about male violence … faced with the deadly serious question: “why are men such creeps?”

    And you proceed to explain (quite rightly) that people have been asking this question for a long time, hence the examination.

    But to me, something sticks out that I’d like you to address – why in the world didn’t society ask “why AREN’T women creeps?”

    Now that I’ve thought of it – I’d kinda like to ask that to gynocentric feminists “You’ve explained that the patriarchy makes men evil – is the patriarchy also responsible for making women ‘good’?”

    • typhonblue says:

      Re: Men being creepy

      I dunno, I find women just as creepy.

      “You’ve explained that the patriarchy makes men evil – is the patriarchy also responsible for making women ‘good’?”

      Thus responsible for giving feminists their moral weight?

    • AOBAG says:

      Indeed, I’m seriously amazed at the publishing of the piece. In fact, it looks like the winds might be starting to blow a different way with what we’ve seen around lately, such as the Granuid allowing Tom Martin’s reply piece (although that’s not considering the editorial dishonesty with it)!

      Now the topic of patriarchy- it gets more interesting when we take a little different look on it- such as a few examples of what are commonly taken to be oppression of women in the past… for example, men had a right to work and earn money, women did not; women were generally held as domestic slaves, and men expected women to have a clean house and hot dinner on the table every night.

      But looking at it another way… men had an obligation to earn money, while women did not. Although a woman could not own her own property, a man had an obligation to provide and make available half of his estate and ownings to her, to float the family, and to administer any assets that were formerly hers into the marriage- if any of these crashed, disappeared or flopped, he was responsible and it was his fault. Men were entitled to domestic comfort provided by their wives, but they were also obligated to provide shelter, food, clothing, protection and any other necessities to them, out of their own earnings and possessions.

      An interesting thought, I think! Of course, the feminist reaction to this, other than just “bullshit!”, would be that the patriarchy is MAN-made…

    • EE,

      That seems to be where conservatives and feminists are similar. It is men who need redeeming and to work on themselves. Look how men are constantly given longer jail sentences for similar crimes? Where’s the privilege in that?

    • redpesto says:

      Now that I’ve thought of it – I’d kinda like to ask that to gynocentric feminists “You’ve explained that the patriarchy makes men evil – is the patriarchy also responsible for making women ‘good’?”

      That is such an evil question, and must never, ever be asked – someone’s head might explode. Think about it: all those anti-porn feminists, for example – what if they were simply a by-product of that part of the patriarchy that said ‘Nice Girls Don’t’? I think Wendy Harris examines this very point in States of Injury – she dissects feminist hostility to postmodernism in relation to exactly the type of question you’re asking.

  4. G.L. Piggy says:


    you have more testicular fortitude than Hugo Schwyzer and Tom Matlack put together. great piece.

  5. Simon says:

    A lovely post from Kiran, full of empathy and social intelligence. That will definitely get teh menz onside.

  6. Simon says:

    I notice in recent months that there’s a strong movement amongst fems to ridicule the emerging meme of misandry by using the same old shaming language.

    They must be worried, and my empathy decreases daily.

  7. Great point from STONER on the GMP Post:

    ‘that sounds allot like this Hillary Rodham Clinton quote:

    “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat. Women often have to flee from the only homes they have ever known. Women are often the refugees from conflict and sometimes, more frequently in today’s warfare, victims. Women are often left with the responsibility, alone, of raising the children. ”

    Somehow, the price men pay with their lives seems to get forgotten in The Feminist Critique. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not stating that women don’t suffer at all. I have gotten into arguments with Feminists in regards to the Selective Service and they say that it is benevolent sexism that women are not allowed in combat roles (which very well may be a legitimate point.) But they seem not to see that sending men who don’t want to die in a war such as during Vietnam IS MISANDRY. –Interesting point, BTW, my spellchecker doesn’t recognize misandry but sure recognizes misogyny– Now, I know that some Feminists will say that it is men who sent these men to die. We could get into other discussions about class or even that there are many sources of misandry/undervaluing the life of men. At the very least, The Feminist Critique is not telling the whole story, and to present it as something that is is dishonest/disingenuous.’

    • Simon says:

      “Hillary Rodham Clinton ““ Women have always been the primary victims of war

      At the very least, no US serviceman should vote for views like that. You’d be letting your side down. Families of US serviceman shouldn’t be voting for that either.

      • Jim says:

        “At the very least, no US serviceman should vote for views like that.”

        No they shouldn’t, but that doesn’t keep them from doing it. (Although not HC specifically, God knows, she”s a hate figure.) The flip side of male disposability is pedestalization of women. It’s the pay-oof – you may be expendable but at least hearth and home will survive, and who is the steward of that?

        “You’d be letting your side down.”

        Yeah, well, see also the whole history of old men sending young men off.

    • Regarding the whole “men sending men to die” thing, look into the “white feather” phnomenon in WWI England. Very interesting stuff to include in your next argument with a feminist who thinks women play no part in encouraging men to fight.

      • Jim says:

        Thaddeus the White Feather Society was just an extreme manifestation. Women sending men off to war, and hounding them to war, has been a recurring theme. There is a reason the Celts had war *goddesses* and not war gods. Remember how Gorgo, Leonidas’ wife, hounds him to take an impossibly small force to Therompylae? And I have heard her praised as brave.

        There is a great little passage in Njalssaga where Njal’s wife hounds him to go kick ass on some local enemies who really need killing. This kind of thing wasn’t always some selfish plot to have the men do al the killing and dying, a lot of tiems it comes across as women beingthe voice of conscience(how common is that trope!) in getting their men to provide for the family or protect it. Their stay-behind behavior was more about family survival and continuity than selfishness.

        But then when women come along and deny their part and condemen men for listening to thier war-mongering, it’s obnoxious hypocrisy.

  8. Yup, all men 18-26 must register.

    With the way the US is outsourcing everything, even wars-contractors like Blackwater/XE make it unlikely the draft will come back but—

    It is still on the law books, I think all it needs is an executive order from the President and a vote from Congress.

  9. Also, the old advertising for this was “Men You Can Handle This.”

    seems like another way of saying “man up.”

  10. What’s strange, or maybe just interesting, is your GMP commenters seem much less- mmmm-I’m gonna go with “horrible” than your Spearhead commenters were.

    • elissa says:

      The environment matters to be sure. Although there were a couple of off the wall posts on GMP, most were supportive and/or additive in some way. The Spearhead is a classic case of in-breeding gone far too far; the mirror image of Shakesville, without the cute dogs and cats.

      In breeding forces a heavy reliance on historicism and a tragic vision of the future. They couch their approach around safe spaces for the wrongly damaged to assemble and commiserate. And that they do. No inherent mechanism to stop and say – “hey, snap out of it!”

      The GMP is in its infancy still and struggling with direction. There is a new post by Gary and Marnia of the famed “Porn on the Brain” series, and it looks like a vocal opponent by the name of Blanchette has had his postings censored / removed.

      Question to QRG: when you submit on GMP, do they provide you with moderator access to remove posts on your submission thread?

  11. redpesto says:

    Re. Stoner’s comment: Now, I know that some Feminists will say that it is men who sent these men to die. I love the way that such an argument renders women either absent from any kind of ideology re. war, or merely the victims of it (see the Clinton quote). It’s a variation on the old (radical) feminist trope of men wanting war and women wanting peace (because they give birth, etc.). Biology trumps ideology, in direct contradiction of de Beauvoir and any non-essentialist feminist analysis. So the women who sent white feathers to conscientious objectors during WW1 were just useful idiots of the patriarchy? Or women who believed in ‘bashing the Hun’ as much as some men did, only they didn’t have the same access to power to make it happen?

    In short: A future President Hilary Clinton would be happy to invade Iran, given the chance.

  12. Oh, and the comments over at TGMP are either getting more interesting or more convoluted depending on your viewpoint.

    Moishe and MorgainePendragon are not happy with my use of the word MISANDRY.

    Finally Morgaine brought Patriarchy into the discussion….

    That is good in my opinion, because then people will have to ask themselves weather they even believe it exists and upon potentially rejecting the theory, won’t even engage the arguments that come from such a skewed viewpoint later on.

    They also seem to have an “imperialistic” attitude. They seem to think that since Feminism framed allot of conversations about gender and sociology that I have to stay within that framework. I never told them they couldn’t continue with their “Feminist Scholarship,” I am saying that I don’t have to accept their “dogma” as the ultimate truth and I think we will be closer to having an honest dialogue about gender, sexuality, sociology when we get Feminism out of the dominant position of controlling the conversation.

    Actually surprised that I haven’t been called a misogynist yet 😉

    • Jim says:

      SWB, go on some Fundie sites and try commenting and then compare the two experiences. On second thought, you probably won’t be surprised.

  13. PM says:

    This is a rambly 2:30 AM post, so bear with me.

    I’ve always found feminists who deny the existence of misandry to be kind of strange. I started critically examining gender roles, power, and expectations in society through feminism. It is through sites like Sociological Images, Feministe, and Feministing that I started thinking about gender. And the more I thought about gender, the more I’ve recognized both misogyny and misandry when I see them. And they are everywhere.

    After reading several sites regularly (and I won’t name them here), I’ve come to the conclusion that women who are overwhelmed by misogyny find feminism and don’t bother to dig any further. They’ve found their tribe, and found their scapegoat for their pain. Misandry, for them, is laughable, if it can even be said to exist. I think that can be said about many men who flock to the MRA movement, too. Misandry has hurt them so much that they don’t feel the need to worry about misogyny. While I haven’t found men’s separatists who deny that misogyny exists, I admit that I haven’t looked. I doubt I’d have to look very hard to find these men.

    People like these have little or no desire to find common ground. I feel bad for them more than anything. They’re missing out.

  14. […] was tantamount to a “What About the Menz?” response… or perilously close to what the feminist movement itself has dubbed […]

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