idiothole: (chillin')
idiothole ([personal profile] idiothole) wrote2010-12-17 03:11 am

Some things that are deeply warped about the current Finnish so called "men's rights movement".

For those blissfully unaware, there are two strands of "men's movement" as I see it in Finland today. There is the academic strand of Critical Men/Masculinity Studies, essentially a strand of Gender Studies that takes after the critical understanding of gender and how gender forms socially and applies these theories specifically to men, men's relationships (with women, children, other men), men & violence against women and other men. This is the one that parses how patriarchal society and its expectations not only harms women but also men, forcing them to adapt to ideas of dominant masculinity in the same way as women are trying to fit feminine ideals that exist in society. Patriarchy makes distant fathers and can rob a man from closeness to his own family, the very family patriarchy dictates he ought to work for.

Like Betty Friedan noted as she dissected the (white suburban American middle-class) housewife institution, nobody benefits from the arrangement. Not the man, not the woman, and not the children.

So that's one strand.

Then there's another strand, who hasn't as much as seen the vast literature of feminist classics, both old and new, at the library, hasn't read a single essay online, and probably hasn't even consulted a woman on her feelings on gender politics/ideals/roles/norms.

This men's movement simply sees feminism as an affront to gender equality because feminism has that pesky history of looking at, ugh, dare I say it, women. What about teh menz???? What about teh menzzz?????

Look here, feminists will say. Ours is a varied tradition that encompasses a vast amount of differing views and viewpoints throughout its history. Look at first wave feminism, look at the second way. Look at black feminism, post-colonial feminism, lesbian feminism, transfeminism, look at the critique that feminism does onto itself, look at the deconstruction of biological sex and social gender, look at the way that post-modern feminist theory has taken these concepts apart and found new ways of looking at it, completely taking out the idea of a simple gender binary. Look at equality efforts to make legislation catch up to the times with regards to LGBTQ individuals' rights.

But primarily feminism is a reaction to a phenomenon that is older than feminism - whether you want to call it patriarchy or whatever. It's a reaction to a concept that hasn't allowed women a voice. It's a reaction made by women because men didn't think the issue of women not being able to work certain jobs or earn or vote or own property or inherit money or go out on their own an important task to tackle.

So while modern feminist issues aren't necessarily as simple as some old-school feminists might make them appear - there's this little thing called male privilege that seemed to permeate society back in the day, and still does, though in different ways. It was that male privilege that made women's concerns secondary and therefore totally unworthy of paying attention to. This is why feminism had to come as a reaction in its form -- this is why women had to fight their own fight. This is why women had to demand equality for themselves *first*, before taking apart the concept of gender and looking at what ideas on gender might mean for men.

But here's the thing -- these guys are not interested. They simply see feminism as a women's movement, which it has long ago ceased to be, but still is in some ways because, yo dudes, guess what? Sexism still fucking exists. It still fucking happens.

And yes, you can engage about men's issues which have a credible footing. We can talk about gaps in education in progressive social democratic welfare states such as Finland. We can discuss these fucking issues.

But what I absolutely outright refuse to label a problem with gender equality is any guy NOT getting their dick wet.

You see, these guys started thinking about inequality but it didn't occur to them that as white, straight Western males they kind of had all kinds of privilege so they didn't really have that many problems that had to do with their gender. Except that they subscribed to the age old, and partly biology-backed (though feminism has also discussed how much biology is actually affected by society - so gender roles may actually affect our biology, hence biology is not always the sole determining factor) belief that men are more sexually active and promiscuous and adventurous than women. Spreading the seed! Cliché! Cliché! Cliché!

Women, on the other hand, don't seem to want sex as much. What gives?

(You see, a feminist would parse this differently - and that's obviously a problem, because these feminist theories that have actually been discussed and circled in the academic community for ages and ages, and have been studied since the fucking 1960's, don't talk about MEN'S PROBLEMS enough - because they would look at the gender roles for women and how female sexuality has been policed and is policed by culture, throughout ages with the female body considered impure, our sexual desires unnatural, our bodies vulgar and off-putting and dirty, and the fact that women in motherhood has the potential to give birth as being dangerous and threatening. Oh and there's that little thing called slut-shaming which dictates that even in our so called progressive and liberal societies, women who have tons of sex are bad and men who do are anything from okay to awesome.)

But looking at these feminist theories about why it might be that women want to have less sex than men, on average, in certain cultures, would mean that the guys would have to read theories by, ugh, dare I say it, women. Look, they'll fuck a chick but listening to her yammer on about slut-shaming? It's got the word "slut" in there but it's not hot, I'm just saying.

So our Finnish pro-men activists put their heads together and decided that the fact that some women don't put out to some men (who aren't - oh and this is terminology they love because it's not by gross feminists! - alpha males but omega males) is the most grave gender inequality issue of the day. How come? Because unlike a lot of other issues of inequality, theorized by female/gay/lesbian/trans/etc and activists, this is something that affects a lot of people, and by people they mean men. (Incidentally, feminist theory has had a lot to say about that, as well! Who knew! Why won't those bitches stfu already?)

The solution? "Females with lower IQ should be encouraged in education to go into sex industry as prostitutes. The legalization/increasing of prostitution would solve the problem."

Paraphrased and translated actual opinion of somebody running for Finnish parliament next year. Oh the brave new world we live in.

I've run out of steam for this rant and it's 4 AM anyway but I just wanted to add, I feel bad for both myself and these guys. I feel bad for them because they are discovering something that could really, really be beneficial to society as a whole if they took the time to listen and find their own place in the feminist conversation. When the guys and girls working on Critical Men/Masculinity Studies have, why can't they?

But that brings me to why I feel bad for myself and all other Finnish women. The fact that in this progressive, quite equal society, where women can and do become presidents, become prime ministers, hold 60% of government seats and actively change public policy, the fact that in this country, still, there is such a horrible misogynist stream running within some men who would dismiss the efforts and achievements and the worth of women.

Dismiss the people who gave us the kind of language and conversations to talk and learn about these issues, to get to the bottom of these things and think about what gender, sexuality, power, whatever, mean in our societies, and continue the conversation into new fields.

It's just ...fuck. Depressing.

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