ONTD Political

The Mythical "War On Men" by Michael Kimmel

10:11 am - 12/03/2012
(CNN) -- Some years ago, I appeared on a well-known television talk show opposite four "angry white men": four men who believed they had been discriminated against in the workplace by affirmative action programs initiated, they argued, by feminist women.

Each man told his story of how he was qualified for a job or qualified for a promotion that he did not get because of this putative reverse discrimination against white men. One ended his remarks with a line that served as the title for this show: "A black woman stole my job," he declared.

Asked to respond, I had but one question for these guys, a question about the title of the show. Actually, my question was about one word in the title of the show. I wanted to know about the word "my." Why did the men think it was their job? Why wasn't the title of the show "A black woman got a job" or "A black woman got the job"? The answer, I argued, was that these men felt entitled to the position, and that any effort to make the workplace more equal was perceived, by those men, as a loss.

I thought of those men recently while reading Suzanne Venker's addled rant against feminist women as the source of the unhappiness that saturates male-female relationships. I thought of how painful it is when you are used to having everything to now have only 80%. What a loss! Poor us! Equality sucks when you've been on top -- and men have been on top for so long that we think it's a level playing field.

In her screed against women, she argues that women are their own worst enemy, and that the rise of women has caused the "end of men," that men are wilting into angry, resentful bachelorhood because women are demanding so much from men. They're emasculating men, confounding their DNA, which seeks only to provide and protect. Women aren't letting men be men.

Women, Venker writes, have been seduced by feminists into pushing men off their pedestal to "take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs." As a result, Venker continues, women have come to believe the adage "women good/men bad" -- an equation that has "destroyed the relationship between the sexes." Men, she tells us, are "tired of being told that if women aren't happy, it's men's fault."

But she is actually arguing that if men aren't happy, it's women's fault -- for seeking the very same exhilarating sense of autonomy and selfhood that men claim as our natural entitled birthright. How dare they?

OK, so what's wrong with this picture? This unhinged argument fuses dreadful history with empirically baseless contemporary analysis. The result cannot help but be bad politics.

This notion of good women/bad men has been the foundation not of feminism but of anti-feminism since the 19th century. Those innocent "angels in the house" were supposed to soothe the savage beast, as men were prone to bouts of rage, drunkenness and other depravities. If women didn't tame men, the anti-feminists argued, all hell would break loose.

Pop psychologists joined the pundits to argue, as does Venker, that if women are unhappy, it's their own damned fault. How many advice columns about "the rules," admonitions about the man shortage or effusive media prostration before three or four upper-class white female Yale grads who "opted out" (only to rejoin the workforce when their children were 5 years old) must we endure? Countless. One needn't be original to be wrong.

In fact, feminism reversed the equation Venker offers. It encouraged women to be bad girls -- to seek their own pleasures, to go for it, autonomously, to leave unhappy marriages, and to control their own bodies. And it encouraged men to be good -- demanded it, in fact -- insisting that men can and should step up as equal parents, colleagues and coworkers, that we stop the rape and violence that so compromised women's equality.

And the empirical evidence suggests that men are quietly adapting to a very new landscape. Most of the 400 young men (aged 16-26) who I interviewed for my book "Guyland" assume, without resentment, that their wives will be as fully committed to their careers as they are. Why? Because they'll need the income. And they assume, with no resentment, that they will be involved fathers, spending far more time with their families than their parents or grandparents ever did. Why? Because they actually want to be involved dads.

They all have friends of the opposite sex ("When Harry Met Sally's" dictum to the contrary), which bodes well for their ability to be more equal coworkers and colleagues with women they consider their peers.

Stop the madness. There's no war between the sexes. Men and women can, and should, be allies. And they are becoming more equal, and happier, every single day.

Men aren't nearly as unhappy or resentful as Venker suggests -- because she only talks to those who feel themselves so entitled that they lament, as did Rush Limbaugh, that the re-election of President Obama was the loss of "our country."

Truth is, in her efforts to exalt men, she actually insults us. Who says we can't be happy with fully equal female colleagues and coworkers? Who says we can't enjoy the joys of shared parenthood? Who says that we are biologically programmed to be both rapacious testosterone-driven animals and lazy remote-hogging couch potatoes unable to lift a finger in the kitchen?

Venker paints a most unyieldlingly awful portrait of men, one that is happily belied by actual, real, American men. And we won't stand for the sort of male-bashing Venker offers. We want it all also -- and the only way we can have it all is to halve it all.

Source:  http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/29/living/war-on-men/index.html?hpt=hp_bn11

Prof. Kimmel... you are the bomb.  The point in bold is, I think, the crux of the whole matter.  Dear Whiners:  Why do you feel you are entitled to whatever it is the big bad Feminist Women have taken?  Did the person interviewing you for the job go over that evil black woman's qualifications and show you that, although she was less qualified than you, she was getting the job based on race?  Somehow, I doubt it.  You ASSUMED that  because the other candidate was female and/or minority, she couldn't possibly have your level of education/experience/charisma/other job qualifications.
recorded 3rd-Dec-2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
I always get that vibe of entitlement coming from people who cry about affirmative action. It was painful trying to explain to a moronic fb friend that the supreme court case with the young woman suing about the ~black ppl stealing her spot at the school1!1~ was just flat out racism, because she couldn't believe the POC she knew that got in were better than her in any way and was trying to blame holistic review processes for giving POC an ~unfair~ leg up (based on her prejudice assumptions).

I'm embarrassed to say that I was one of them at one point. Glad my brain developed past that idiocy & grossness.
pleasure_past 3rd-Dec-2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
If you're talking about that University of Texas case, fuck that so hard. She had every advantage in the admissions process. She was an in-state student. She didn't "lose her spot" to PoC. She "lost her spot" to people who outperformed her, but owning that you might not be the best out there is hard. D':

I go to a university with a blatantly unfair admissions policy. You went to a Catholic high school? You'll get in. Your family is working-class? You'll get in. You're Jewish? You'll get in. Yet, somehow, it's always the Black students who get attacked for "Getting in because of Affirmative Action," and not, you know, the rich white kids who openly laugh about how they're horribly unqualified to be here but their [grand]parents are alums who donated $1,000,000 to get them in.
bananainpyjamas 3rd-Dec-2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
Ugh, yes. There are so many ways to get admitted to college based on non-academic factors, like athletics, legacy status, and what my undergrad deemed "development admits" (i.e. their parents donated a shitton of money). Yet somehow race-based affirmative action (and gender-based for tech schools) is the go-to when people want to complain about being unfairly denied a spot.
luminescnece 3rd-Dec-2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
"Stop the madness. There's no war between the sexes. Men and women can, and should, be allies. And they are becoming more equal, and happier, every single day."

I know too many people that need to hear this said over and over and over again.

jenny_jenkins 3rd-Dec-2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
And the empirical evidence suggests that men are quietly adapting to a very new landscape. Most of the 400 young men (aged 16-26) who I interviewed for my book "Guyland" assume, without resentment, that their wives will be as fully committed to their careers as they are. Why? Because they'll need the income. And they assume, with no resentment, that they will be involved fathers, spending far more time with their families than their parents or grandparents ever did. Why? Because they actually want to be involved dads.

This is something I have observed myself in men that are about 10-15 years younger than I am and that I always hoped was true and not skewed by a sort of wish-fulfillment on my part. I hope that I (and the writer) have observed something that is actually happening.

And that was the problem with Venker, of course (weirdly hetero-normative gender stereotyping in her bizarro article aside). It was those pesky Wimminz who had to change. Because men were sad - poor babies. They're sad, so we have to change.

That's a lack of creative thinking right there, of course. With the world changing around them, young men should get a move on and start adapting and make their own happiness and stop relying on women as emotional crutches.
skellington1 3rd-Dec-2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
The next paragraph is telling, too. "They all have friends of the opposite sex" is very accurate with my experience of my generation; the idea that men and women can't be 'just' friends is laughable to most of the people my age I've ever discussed it with, and that's a very good sign, I think.

I've noticed the generational differences in a few other places, too, but as you say, it's hard to tell whether it's sample bias (the people I choose to hang out with) or wishful thinking. Anecdotally, I remember explaining to a few different guys about a controversy in the atheist community involving a girl calling a guy out for being creepy. My housemate and a few other guys are age immediately saw that the behavior in the story was creepy; My BF, who's 13 years older than me (and usually pretty good about these things) didn't get it -- at least not without a lot of unpacking and explanation.
hammersxstrings 3rd-Dec-2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
i can't wait to share this will all my friends
idemandjustice 3rd-Dec-2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
I've always wondered how people "know" they only didn't get a job because of affirmative action. All the times I've interviewed for jobs I never got, I have never been told, "We wanted to hire you, but affirmative action is forcing us to hire this other person." No. They went with someone more qualified. Who are these mythical employers who tell people they passed up exactly who they hired instead and why? I think this is just a way people like to comfort themselves, rather than trying to move on with their lives and improve.

Great article.
kitanabychoice 3rd-Dec-2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, this, basically. I have also seen the flipside of this with people I know -- "I didn't get hired for the job because I'm black! racism!!" when I know that really, these acquaintances of mine are just underqualified for the jobs they're applying for. I know for certain they needed better reading and comprehension skills, better grammar and writing skills, etc. That's not to say that racism has never played a role in whether you get or don't get a job opportunity, but most of the people who claim it was some kind of racism are often people who also happen to be incapable of critically assessing their own limitations/skill set.

I've been turned down for a position I interviewed for several times, and I was pretty convinced it was because I jumbled up words or talked too fast/nervously, which just happens to be an extension of my anxiety issues. Being black hasn't ever stopped me from being employed before, in predominantly white areas even like where I live now, so yeah.
skellington1 3rd-Dec-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
No kidding. When I didn't get a place in grad school I just assume I wasn't good enough -- that my portfolio wasn't impressive, that I needed to write a better letter, that they wanted me to get 'real world' experience first. It never would've occurred to me to blame it on a PoC! I assume some got into the programs I applied for because unlike me they were actually qualified. :P Ditto for job interviews -- I can't quite grok the kind of person who immediately leaps to "it was because of race!" when "my personality didn't click/someone had better quals/I flubbed the interview" are such ready and realistic reasons.
rhysande 3rd-Dec-2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
I've known enough bosses who have thrown their arm over the shoulder of their "good ol' boy' friend whom they told was a shoe-in for the job and blamed affirmative action for the hiring of someone better qualified just to deflect any anger or negative consequence that might comeback at them to NOT wonder about this.
tallycola 3rd-Dec-2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
My sister, a Canadian ex-pat in a European country, applied to a position at a UN office there. Her colleague at the English-language paper where she worked, an American ex-pat, who was usually very friendly to her, also applied. The job had an extensive pre-interview online module that had to be completed before face to face interviews. The man forwent the online module and went straight to the office, and then acted angry and belligerent when they told him to go home and do the online work.

My sister got the job. When the man found out, he wrote an angry email to the hiring officer, accusing him of only hiring "pretty young girls". When he next bumped into my sister in public he accused her of sleeping her way into the job.

I have no idea how he got the impression that he was entitled to that job - and that he didn't even have to do the necessary pre-testing - and if any woman got it that meant she slept her way in. But it's fucking disgusting that it's such a widespread belief. I can't even imagine what it would be like if a WOC got the job instead of him. (My sister is biracial but passes as white, and even if she identified herself as biracial to the UN I don't think this guy would've known, or else he would've thrown racial slurs at her too.)

Ugh privileged people.
harumi 3rd-Dec-2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
All the white men who didn't bother reading the article are now in the comment sections over there whining.

God damn I hate men.
nikoel 3rd-Dec-2012 07:43 pm (UTC)

By the way, all of those stats are true of black people vs. white people -- in other words, male stats are equivalent to that of black people vs. women to that of white people -- placed through the lens of how we'd view a similar situation were race the variable, feminism would be tantamount to a pro-white people movement in this day and age, a movement which we would find absurd.
miss_makiba 3rd-Dec-2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
...What does that even mean? Are they seriously making men out to be a marginalized group that is harassed and a victim of things comparable to racism? Really?
kitanabychoice 3rd-Dec-2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
oh my god what. I have a hard time understanding people who think that feminism is just anti-man hatred or something. I'm not a feminist because I hate men -- I happily date and live with one, for starters. I'm a feminist because I'd like to work in my field of choice (technical support) without every guy calling in and asking me if I'm REALLY the technician they'll be working with. I have lost count of the times I have been condescended to or otherwise talked to as if I have no knowledge of my job because I'm a woman. And as the only woman in my department with a predominantly male customer base (I work with engineers and system administrators from other companies), it happens a fucking lot. Just this morning with my first call of the day, even.

I'm also a feminist because I'd like to see rape culture die a horrible flame-fueled death; I'd like to see women represented in media as something other than a sexy prop in a car ad, etc ad nauseum. I know I'm preaching to the choir here probably but I had to say all that anyway.
celtic_thistle 3rd-Dec-2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
...what the fucking fuck.
keeperofthekeys 3rd-Dec-2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
male stats are equivalent to that of black people vs. women to that of white people

I cannot parse this no matter how many times I read it.
ebay313 4th-Dec-2012 12:15 am (UTC)
What stats is this person talking about?
fragbert 3rd-Dec-2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
Here's the part that sang to me:
"...men have been on top for so long that we think it's a level playing field."
Yes, we do. Some of us, however, are fortunate enough to have had something happen that wakes us up and shows us what a lie we've been force-fed our lives; how society and the media have been shoving this bullshit down our throats since we were kids.
celtic_thistle 3rd-Dec-2012 08:54 pm (UTC)

Fuck yeah. That's the other side to all this "omg feminism is so meeeeean to men" crap: it's insulting to men themselves, implying they're wild beasts who need women to soothe and pet them to ensure they don't fly off the handle.

Edited at 2012-12-03 08:55 pm (UTC)
romp 4th-Dec-2012 06:49 am (UTC)
My father used to claim my mother civilized him, that he wouldn't have gotten a degree or done much of anything. I thought it was just a weird hang-up coming from the fact that she dealt with the aftermath of his childhood abuse and then post-war PTSD...until I saw him deal with my nephews. My mother had said she was glad they only had girls but I didn't appreciate until I saw it for myself that he really thought boys were feral unless kept on a tight leash. I guess it was what his father had done. In short, yeah, it was messed up for everyone involved.
danger0usbeans 3rd-Dec-2012 10:19 pm (UTC)
YES. I used to work as a test proctor/admin assistant in the HR department of a large telecom company. Never once, in the entire time I worked there, did we make a single hiring decision based on race or gender. I still took multiple calls a week from irate white dudes who wanted to yell at me about how they "knew" they'd been passed over for some woman or minority because of quotas they were positive existed. It was entirely ridiculous.
the_gabih 4th-Dec-2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
I will never be over how angry white men get about the idea that maybe the playing field should be levelled slightly so they don't have a horrendously unfair advantage over every other person. Some people seriously need to get the fuck over themselves, and grow the fuck up.
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