When I search the Guardian website using the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ separately, invariably all that comes up for ‘men’ is stories about sport, violence, and crime.
The main message of the Guardian about men has been summed up by Suzanne Moore: ‘men do horrible, horrible things’.
So I was not surprised when today, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, two established feminist academics decided to tell us about the ‘cost of masculinity culture’.
Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley wrote:
‘The fact that men are mainly responsible for violent and health-harming behaviours, not only against women and children but also against each other, is so taken for granted that it slips beneath the radar of commentators and policymakers.’
Take the riots of August this year. ..92% of the first 466 defendants were male. Something yet more significant went unremarked: of the 124 individuals charged with offences involving violence, all were male.’
As our trusty tweeter @How_Upsetting remarked, this kind of categorising of people who cause violence and crime can only really be tolerated by the liberal intelligentsia when the ‘culprits’ are seen to be men:
@HowUpsetting: @Notorious_QRG I’d like to see them dare write a similar article about ‘black culture’ causing crime. They’d be crucified.
The two feminists went on to justify their men-bashing using quotes from feminist history:
‘In 1959 the social scientist and policy activist Barbara Wootton looked at the crime statistics and remarked that “if men behaved like women, the courts would be idle and the prisons empty”. Half a century later theBritish Crime Survey and police crime figures bear her out.’
As you should all know by now, Mark Simpson has been telling us how metrosexual masculinity has blurred the lines of the ’gender divide’ to the point of almost dissolution.
In the introduction to his latest book, Metrosexy, he wrote:
‘Metrosexuality and whatever comes after it, when all is said and done, isn’t really about men becoming “gay” or “girly.” Nor is it about visiting spas and wearing flip flops or carrying manbags. Rather, metrosexuality is about men becoming everything. To themselves. In much the same way that women have been for some time…It’s the end of the sexual division of bathroom and bedroom labour. It’s the end of sexuality as we’ve known it.’ (Simpson, 2011: 8).
So the whole premise of this article, that there is a ‘culture of masculinity’ that is distinctly different from the ‘culture of femininity’ is wrong.
The writers go on, despite their use of the word ‘culture’ to produce a very biological determinist view of men’s situations in society:
‘Some of the costs of masculinity are paid individually. Boys are “permanently excluded” from school at a rate four times higher than for girls and attain fewer GCSE and A-levels than girls. But what of the overall costs to society?
Testosterone, the male hormone, the “metaphor of manhood”, is portrayed as driving men inexorably towards aggressive behaviour. Yet studies show that testosterone is related to status-seeking but not directly to aggression. Many other factors are influential. Testosterone levels are increased or diminished in both males and females by diet, activity and circumstance. The opportunity to interact with guns, for instance, appears to increase testosterone, while men’s testosterone levels fall when they are involved with the care of children.’
These women are very experienced feminist academics. So they know what they are doing when they are combining in a rather obfuscating manner, the discourses of ‘gender essentialism’ with those of ‘social constructionism’. They tell us that we should not reduce men and women to that nursery rhyme about boys being made of ‘snips and snails’ and girls of ‘sugar and spice’ but that is exactly what they are doing.
As I, and Mark Simpson have written about before, this is yet another example of female columnists posing as ‘a defender of [their sex]. Dressed in cliches’.
And they get away with it because misandry is ‘the acceptable prejudice’ and because the erasure of men is institutionalised in feminist gender studies. This is ironic as the two authors here claim to be suggesting we should all study men and masculinities more closely, when they, the feminist academics have been deliberately not doing that for years.