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Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in 2012 Elections, Guest Contributor, Politics, Society | 14 comments

Grading Obama On Men’s and Boys’ Issues

The deplorable sexism of the Obama administration is one of the many reasons I will be shuddering as I reluctantly vote for Obama this year. This report card explains my reluctance very well:

(Subscribe to Men Are Good’s channel here.)

As disheartening as that is, however, there is no reason to believe that anything will be different under a theoretical Romney Administration. Sexist laws on domestic violence and sexual violence based on the man-hating, woman-infantalizing, and just plain wrong notion that violence and sexual assault are things men to do women, rather than something people do to each other, probably cause the most suffering. But there’s also:

    * The lack of reproductive freedom for men and boys

    * The debtor’s prisons now swelling with men who can’t (I didn’t say wouldn’t, I said can’t) pay their alimony and child support and can’t get it modified to something humane

    * Our widespread cultural acceptance of genital mutilation (warning: Not Safe For Work, but subscribe to Typhonblue’s channel here, she’s funny and thoughtful and incredibly well-informed)

    * Our lack of action by the law against that insidious form of child abuse called parental alienation (which, like most forms of child abuse, is more frequently committed by women than men)

    * The unconscionable arrest, prosecution, and sentencing discount for women at the expense of men in criminal matters

…and more. It is all driven by our widespread cultural tendency to treat women as perpetual victims (and, often, as perpetual children not responsible for their own choices). Programs and set-asides and special protections for women abound, all while underplaying, ignoring, or outright ridiculing the plight of males who are sick, poverty stricken, undereducated, unemployed, homeless, imprisoned, and the victims of violence–even though males are in the majority in all those areas of need and suffering in our nation. But it is our culture, where females are privileged over males in countless measurable and unmeasurable ways people will rarely acknowledge, that most needs changing. It starts with asking women, particularly white women, to learn how to check their privilege and modify their behavior accordingly.

It often appears as of women in America, especially middle class white women, are totally blind to their privileged status. This gynocentrism favoring white women in particular is what appears to be at the root of much of it, so neither Democrats nor Republicans are likely to change it. Change has to begin at the grass roots, by changing people’s attitudes, and by local action.

Those of us who advocate for men and boys have our work cut out for us in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Fortunately, we are a growing movement, and despite all the hate-based lies that we are racist, hate women, hate gay people, are violent, or are surly straight middle aged straight guys who are just “angry” because we’ve lost our cookies, the reality is that what we come in all races creeds colors nationalities sexes and sexual orientations, and what we care about most is marginalized and ignored men and boys, period. The claims to the contrary are rooted in ignorance, and ignorance is the root of all bigotry. So the fight for equal rights and equal responsibilities shall continue, through advocacy, political action, and refusing to be shamed into silence.

It starts, I think, with recognizing both the historical and modern-day reality of Female Privilege. Here’s my friend Karen, writing to a young man who, after arguing with man-hating bigots who claimed to be “feminists” on what she thinks the real lowdown is:

Letter to a young man on privilege-blindness.

She even better lays out some (hardly all) of the historical realities of Female Privilege here.

She simply states the truth, and the truth hurts for a lot of people: in this society, today, it is not men who are the privileged class. It is women. And in reality, females have been privileged in multiple ways for thousands of years; the feminism of the 1970s, whatever righteous claims it had, still started out with a flawed premise: that men as a class oppress women as a class, and have for thousands of years. Which is a hateful thing to say: hateful toward men, and demeaning toward women. And it’s also just plain not true. It was always a balance between privilege and responsibilities, perks and burdens, that both sexes always had to live with, and that we should no longer have to.

In recognizing this reality, and rejecting the false theory that we live in a “PatriarchY” (and the grossly insulting “Patriarchy hurts men too” thinking that goes with it), we can begin to hope for change, and hope to see men’s and boys’ issues receive greater prominence in the next election cycle, no matter who wins the election today.

In brighter news, we have November 19 to look forward to!

(Subscribe to Kristina Hansen’s delightful channel here.)

So guys, and those of you who care about guys, get out there and vote. Obama is no friend to men and boys, but neither is Romney. Make your choice, and otherwise, keep working to make this a better world.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • ShannonLeee

    yeah…go hang out in Saudi Arabia and tell me about the equality between men and women. Why SA? because that is how most of the planet treated woman 100s of years ago.

  • That wouldn’t actually be true either, Shannon. Although even today, in the warped and oppressive culture that is Saudi Arabia, which looks almost nothing like the culture there just a hundred years ago, when we gynocentrically focus on only the plight of women there and ignore the horrible state of existence most men there are forced to endure, we still create an imbalance in our thinking. The overwhelming majority of Saudi men are horrendously oppressed, with a set of perks that go with a set of burdens that are crushing.

    We will not see equality even in Saudi Arabia if we focus only on women’s suffering.

  • By the way, you might want to subscribe to my friend Typhonblue’s channel, she lived in Saudi Arabia for many years and can tell you a lot about it.

    She’s one of the best men’s advocates, and humanists, I’ve ever met in my life.

  • ShannonLeee

    I worked in the middle east… I have seen my fair share of oppression and fear.
    While the entire population is oppressed, women are oppressed by both the government and men. In Afghanistan…some women never leave the inside of a home. They are born and live indoors until they are married and passed to another man’s home.

    You have some valid arguments, but you go overboard when you talk about 1000 years of equality. I think this is yet another post where you bury a good idea and concern with a bunch of, well, crap. (sorry, was searching for a better word but that is all I got)

  • Well, the problem is that it’s not crap, it’s just that (to my eye) you’re looking at this through a gynocentric lens.

    In Afghanistan, some women never leave the inside of a home. Know why? Because the home is where they’re safe and protected, and they both teach and expect their sons and brothers and husbands to go out where it’s hideously dangerous and they could be killed at any time. Even the burka which serves to “oppress” them is something most of them willingly choose because, amongst other things, it marks them as noncombatants who aren’t to be killed.

    The notion that women have been oppressed for thousands of years while men lorded it over them–I’m sorry, that view isn’t just misandrist, it’s misogynist as well. It denies the realities and the complexities of privilege and burden that have always been the yin and yang of human experience between the sexes. It’s demeaning to women as well as men. And so when we talk of women’s rights without the responsibilities that go with those rights, we are still not really working towards equality or mutual respect.

  • Billy Clement, from Scotland, has lots of good thoughts worth listening to as well:

  • ShannonLeee

    Dean, keeping women trapped in their homes is not about protecting them…it is about controlling them and keeping them away from other men. We dont throw people in jail because we want to protect them from the outside world. Choosing to wear a burka is a learned behavior, in the same way that my dog is happy to put on a leash so he can go for a walk.

    I think you have valid arguments for some of the things happening today, but you have to be careful with your arguments.

  • keeping women trapped in their homes is not about protecting them…it is about controlling them and keeping them away from other men.

    Shannon, I know we’re disagreeing with each other hard here, but please know that I’m trying to respect your point of view.

    But I think it’s stunningly obvious what the reality is in Afghanistan: Men Are Disposable. Women are protected sheltered and provided for, at the expense of the men who give life and limb for it or are thrown away like useless trash if they fail. And the women are an integral part of teaching their sons and brothers and daughters and sisters to expect these sacrifices.

    I’ve actually talked to Afghans and had Afghan friends. I believe the women there expect their men to provide them safety and give up life and limb for them at a moment’s notice. Do some asking among them, removing your own cultural assumptions and looking at it through their eyes, and you’ll likely find that the women outright demand it. Treating these women as pitiful victims or trained dogs (did you really mean to use that metaphor?) rather than an integral part of a social structure both women and men there have created… to me it’s just not right.

    I sense that it’s possible for us to come to an understanding and some level of agreement (or agree to disagree on some things and move on to where we can agree), but it’s harder if we aren’t willing to try to see two sides to this coin. This isn’t a slave/master relationship, it’s something massively more complex. My great-grandmother was no slave and she’d likely slap you across the face if you called her an oppressed victim (everyone in the family, male and female alike, was afraid of her, and she was born around 1900).

  • Steph

    Thank you, Dean, for this article. I think it’s the nature of the culture that your article seems inflammatory, but this is something my husband and I have been working on since we met: trying to be truly equal. And that means me stepping up and taking responsibility as much as he does and for all the things that need done in a life that may or may not have a history in gender stereotypes. I have at times noticed myself feeling entitled to security even during a hard six-month period of money troubles where I was the main earner. The truth is, being ‘out there’ and your own bottom line is unpleasant, and in terms of a family safety net, I have to expect to be as much his back-up plan as he is mine.

    I appreciate your acknowledging how this entitlement adversely affects everybody, including women who are seen as perpetual victims, which is a feature of society I resent. No easy answers here, but thanks for starting a discussion. I hadn’t found the words to describe this before, probably because it’s still taboo.

  • ShannonLeee

    I will end with this then….

    In an equal society, an afghan woman would have the freedom to take more responsibility. Those women are not free and that is the greatest inequality of them all.

  • sheknows

    Dean, I get your point, but this is not the widespread problem you claim. Not within our own government and certainly not worldwide. You have taken examples of what may very well be sexism, and created an entire conspiracy that needs to be rooted out. Do courts favor women in custody cases? Generally, yes but not always anymore. Are there dads in jail who can’t afford child support? Probably but many more there because they DON’T pay it. Are men and women given equal pay for work? No, not often enough. You say it’s a hateful thing that men have always supressed women and that it’s untrue? Well, not looking at other countries for the moment ( not a nice picture), then why did it take until the 1920″s before women could vote? And you don’t even want to explore how rape cases are handled in the US courts…to this day. Yes, men ARE sometimes treated unfairly, but women have the market cornered on that.

  • sheknows

    As far as Obama’s administration? Well one of the very first bills he signed was the Lily Ledbetter Act. Why do you think that was? I would bet that if you just stayed within THIS country, and wrote a list of all the supposed injustices you think men are suffering, I could write a list regarding women that would beat yours by a literal mile.

  • Carl

    Bigger fish to fry IMO. Please submit a demographics survey accompanied with counted certified public signatures on the matter. It’ll be collated into a numbered file according to priority. Appropriate status will be assigned. I wouldn’t expect imeadiate action, but good luck.

    speaking of weird.

  • sheknows

    LOL..too funny Carl

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