General Question

Paradox25's avatar

Does a patriarchal society itself help to oppress men more than the feminist movement?

Asked by Paradox25 (9981 points ) June 7th, 2012

There are many men’s rights (MR) organizations out there, and many of these MR advocates tend to place the blame of their problems on progressive and/or feminist agenda. Just to mention a few of these concerns that MRA bring up include child custody issues, violence/rape against men receiving less attention, males being expected to hold their feelings/emotions in, males not being able to express their feelings or concerns as easily as women, dating issues, etc.

Critics of the men’s rights advocates say that it is other men within the patriarchal structure of our society that oppresses other men. Here is a breif critique of men’s rights advocates, which I think brings up some decent counterarguments to their (MRA) claims.

Some people may counter some of the pro-feminist arguments by claiming that many women themselves expect many gender related things of men to be adhered to, so this issue goes deeper than just patriarchal gender standards. Also, there are different types of men’s rights movements, of which some may have different goals than others. The most major examples of these are the different agendas of liberal masculists vs conservative masculists.

What I’m really asking here is whether men are the blame for their own concerns or not, relating to social gender roles, along with the expectations of men that come with these.

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19 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

Honestly whenever I hear issues raised by men’s rights people I hear people who are unbelievably blind to their own privilege. That’s probably an unfair generalization and they may have some valid points, but they’re drowned out by the unreasonable ones.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t really buy that there is one feminist movement (Sarah Palin calls herself one, fergawdsasake), but I tend to blame oppression on oppressors. These might sometimes be women, like Michelle Bachmann, but usually the women are lapdogs for what happen to be patriarchal interests dominated by right-wing males. Oppressive types love hierarchy, modern western hierarchy is patriarchal, and people like Bachmann tend to occupy the second wrung here right up there with a lot of white males and orange-skinned lizards.

I do think “men’s rights” advocates tend to be reactionary, but in a sense, they are right that they’re the targets of unfair gender bias (e.g., why should a father have less right than a mother to custody?) but they don’t relate this back to the traditional view that women are supposed be the caregiver by design – or find much common ground with oppressed women.

serenade's avatar

I’m shooting from the hip on this one, but “probably” would be my response. The “patriarchal society” is the (cultural/ideological) hegemon. The feminist movement is an “other” response to the hegemon, and is not in and of itself a hegemon. Obviously, feminism is an easy target to demonize, and it may circumstantially create a flip-flopping of power, but that is not the sustained norm by any means.

I don’t understand this scholar’s work very well, but a woman named Spivak has a concept of “unlearning one’s privilege as one’s loss,” which I think basically says that privelege is a form of deprivation as well, and it is deprivation from certain aspects of human experience. I don’t know whether this is in line with her reasoning, but let’s say being a privileged male deprives one of “taboo” emotional experience (e.g. sadness/crying). I also think about the story of the Buddha, who was “trapped” in privilege, until he became aware of suffering and demanded to be allowed to experience it and many other things he would not have had he stayed in his bubble.

We think of privilege as a golden ticket, but perhaps a better orientation is to see it as something that can get in the way of experiencing a fuller spectrum of human-ness.

thesparrow's avatar

@bolwerk Right.. why are these men complaining that women get custody when they seem to be in favor of traditional roles, where women are the caregivers for children?

I am totally fine with the idea that the legal system should equally consider men and women for childcare, but when will such a progressive agenda ACTUALLY come into play? When will the entire baggage of social and gender stereotypes—which is large and heavy—be unpacked? I’m assuming that nowhere in the near future will men be considered on par with women as caregivers (just as women won’t be considered as seriously in the work place).

@serenade Talk to many men who would give up their triple figure salaries to be stay at home dads. The problem? Most women wouldn’t dream of letting them. (And hence the problem with hegemonic masculinity—look it up)

dabbler's avatar

I don’t know of any way the feminist movement has oppressed me (I’m a dude).

But I can think of plenty of ways our (currently patriarchal) hierarchical society oppresses all of us with a mandate to get with the program and follow orders behind the very few (generally male) at the top.
Some of that seems necessary, though, because I can’t think of another way for Big Things to get done besides a hierarchical structure.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I earnestly believe women today are way better off than they think they are. They graduate more often, have more management jobs, and mentor each other far more than men do. While they currently are paid less than men, I expect that to reverse in the next decade.

On the other hand, any man who joins a group to whine about about men’s rights I feel is kinda a wussy. So maybe I am part of the problem.

tinyfaery's avatar

The feminist movement does not seek to oppress men. Patriarchy limits the choices and actions of all sexes.

wundayatta's avatar

I also don’t think the feminist movement oppresses men. Quite the opposite. I think feminism fights on behalf of men as much as it does women.

It is patriarchal values that hurt men as well as women. I’m not equipped to compare the pain caused by patriarchy. I don’t think that is relevant really. The point is that it hurts us all and is something we should work to reduce the power and effect of in our society. Or in all societies.

But the perks of power are manifold and that is very seductive. Both men and women seek status, but I think men are willing to be more aggressive in that search. Men are also willing to accept more “collateral damage” than women are, on average, I think. I.e., a man might be more willing to sacrifice his children in his efforts to find power than a woman might be, and that might help explain why women are more often the caretakers of children when a couple separates.

Of course, this sacrifice of a relationship with children is usually something that men decide, later on in life, wasn’t worth it. But at the time, what did they know? How stupid are we? A high paying job? Spending nights up late with a sick child? Is this a choice any man of a certain age would think twice about? Bright lights. Big city! Here we come!

And our feelings? Are you serious? How many men are interested in feelings? For who? For what? (Dunno if anyone remembers Ricky Watters, a running back who refused to play hard for the Philadelphia Eagles, thus becoming an enduring symbol of macho wimpdom). But it’s the truth. If you don’t stand for anything except the search for status, feelings don’t amount to shit.

ANd who would want to share feelings with a competitor, anyway? All the other men out there are competitors, unless you are on the same team, and even then, like Ricky Watters made so clear, there’s always another team to jump to, so there’s no point in sacrificing your body for this one, even if the superbowl is the potential spoil.

But that’s what guys are about. And no amount of MRAs are going to change that. It’s in our genes. We are born scumballs. If we’re going to be sensitive, we better not show it to any other guy, unless we can somehow make the case that it takes more strength to be sensitive than to be an asshole. The proof, I’m afraid, though, is in the pudding. Who gets the girls? Who gets to reproduce?

I think most men have decided that there’s little percentage in being sensitive. It’s too hard a way to get the girls. That’s fine for those who are willing to take that challenge though. Because if you can figure out how to be sensitive guy, you can probably win yourself some of the best possible mates out there.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There are many kinds of feminisms. None of them are oppressive to men the systemic way men are oppressive to women. Some feminists aren’t fond of men but they’re rare.

DominicX's avatar

Yes, especially in regard to men not being able to express their emotions and violence/rape against men. Men are not pressured to “man up” by feminists; I’ve never heard a feminist endorse that kind of thinking. That comes, for the most part, from other men, especially men who support a patriarchal society. Those issues are all valid, but they’re not due to feminism.

thesparrow's avatar

Being tough and manly and not expressing emotions isn’t actually that ‘natural’. Studies show that men are actually more emotionally and physically fragile than women from birth, and that not allowing them to form close bonds ( @Imadethisupwithnoforethought ) damages their self-esteem and their sense of belonging in the world.

Women don’t actually have it that bad nowadays. The housework issue is beginning to resolve itself with men taking more active roles in childcare and housework. Alimony, child support.. that’s still virtually all ours. We can choose to work or stay home (if we have that luxury, some don’t) whereas by default it’s pretty standard that most men are expected to work.

bookish1's avatar

@thesparrow: People are not born men or women. And it is feminism that allows me to say this.

thesparrow's avatar

@bookish1 I really do believe that, too

bookish1's avatar

@thesparrow : Gotcha. Language gets in the way sometimes !

wundayatta's avatar

@bookish1 So when and how to they become men or women? Or should I ask a separate question for you to answer that?

thesparrow's avatar

There are marked biological differences between men and women. Women produce less testosterone, which makes them less aggressive, while producing more estrogen. However, an interesting study shows that when couples have children, men experience a drastic drop in testosterone and a rise in another hormone which ‘mellows’ them out and makes them more caring and sweet rather. Both men and women produce oxytocin, the bonding hormone, but women are said to generally produce more of it throughout their lives especially upon the arrival of children.

bookish1's avatar

@thesparrow: Trans people exist.

nikipedia's avatar

@bookish1, trans people don’t undermine the existence of men and women.

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