Today marks International Men’s Day, a day for societal introspection regarding the current state of the welfare of men and boys. Needless to say, there are a lot of pressing concerns, from high rates of suicide among men to lower lifespans in general to a growing gender gap in academic performance. But as to be expected, plenty of screeching can be found about how in order to tackle these problems, the “patriarchy” must be dismantled first.
As I’ve noted before, feminists have trouble recognizing when double standards hurt men more than women. Perhaps the narrative with which they’re familiar causes them to see things through such a distorted lens. All differences in which the genders are treated by life society are due to a vast patriarchy designed to oppress women; any evidence of men having it worse off is due to unintended consequences of the patriarchy’s actions.
For those of you fortunate enough never to have heard of a blog called “Shakesville,” here is a rather revealing piece about an ugly incident. A man was murdered by another man who was recently hit by a woman. His assailant refused to strike a woman, even the one who struck him first, so he vowed to attack the next man he saw instead. The column is titled “Today in Misogyny.”
A woman hits a man. Said man does not retaliate against her, as he was raised never to hit a woman. A man is attacked, and killed, in her stead. According to Shakesville, this serves as an example of sexism… against women. And this is the same site that has mocked the idea of a men’s rights movement. How exactly can one’s personal mindset become so hideously warped?
Their insistence that a men’s rights movement is unnecessary seems to be this: The goal of feminism is gender equality. If the goal of the MRAs were really gender equality as well, they would simply become feminists. Their refusal to do so is proof that their goal is not gender equality at all, and must be something else — presumably a patriarchal society.
So what sort of campaigns for equality can masculists look forward to by being welcomed into the folds of feminism? How about something such as the incredibly high rate of incarceration of men when compared to women? Surely the feminists are up in arms over such a gender gap?
Not really. I’ve never heard of any self-professed feminist declare that the discrepancy in male and female incarceration rates are a problem.
Well, perhaps that’s understandable. Surely it’s self-evident that men are different than women in ways that mean they are more likely to break the law. Men take bigger risks, are more prone to violent behavior. So it’s understandable that their greater rate of imprisonment is due to natural differences in gender rather than any issue that can be solved with a change of policy, right?
So let’s look at something that does raise the ire of the mainstream feminist movement: The gender gap in regards to salary. Conventional wisdom holds that for every dollar a man earns, his female counterpart only earns about 75 to 80 cents.
Well, “counterpart” may not be the right word. The statistic doesn’t take into account the fact that women and men tend to work different jobs. Men work more hours in higher-paying jobs, and women tend to favor careers that are less demanding with a salary that reflects that.
Not that feminists are assuaged by such an explanation, however. Why are men and women drawn to different careers in the first place? One theory holds that the omnipresent patriarchy has instilled a set of gender roles in people. Women are not as ambitious in seeking high-paid jobs because they’ve been conditioned to think of themselves as the homemakers and men as the breadwinners. Therefore, say the feminists, the gender pay gap is a problem, even if it doesn’t take such factors as different career paths among the genders into account.
And so, one of the main current goals of the feminist movement is to force companies to hire women through mandatory quotas. As a majority male board of executives in a company must be an indicator of sexist hiring practices rather than a majority of men seeking and qualifying for such positions, the only fair thing to do is to force the companies to hire more women.
(It’s interesting to note, however, that when feminists speak of hiring quotas, they’re always referring to quotas for positions in boardrooms, rather than, say, sewers or oil rigs. They seem to lack any interest in changing the workplace fatality gap, which is far more glaring than the pay gap. But I digress…)
There seems to be a conflict in this line of thinking. We’ve already dismissed the incarceration gap as rooted in biological differences between men and women. So why can’t sexual dimorphism explain the pay gap as well? What if whatever drives men to commit more crime also drives them to earn more money? Why is the feminist movement demanding that laws be passed to force the closing of one gap but not the other?
(It’s worth noting, though, that even aside from men committing more crime, women still receive more lenient sentences when committing the same crime as men. Unlike the pay gap, the imprisonment gap doesn’t significantly diminish when accounting for other variables… And the pay gap is still regarded as a more pressing problem. But again, I digress…)
It would seem that the feminist movement isn’t as steadfastly determined to fight for men’s rights as those insisting that MRAs should be feminists would have us believe.
But I am reasonable. I am perfectly willing to accept this modern feminism as legitimate. All I ask is that feminists do at least one of the following:
• Lead a campaign to instill quotas for the percentage of female prisoners, urging stricter sentences for female offenders and even demanding that male prisoners be released if necessary;
• Abandon their calls for gender quotas and efforts to close the “gender pay gap,” instead letting the chips fall where they may in terms of who is hired for which job and how much salary they receive, and give equal attention to the issues facing men;
• Cease all claims that their brand of feminism is also beneficial to men, and allow separate men’s rights movements to continue unabated with no further hindrance on their part;
• Provide a logically sound, highly compelling explanation as to why they will not do any of the above.
I think that’s more than fair. Until that happens, I will proudly call myself a men’s rights advocate and refuse to apologize for being one.