Thursday, January 11, 2007


Patriarcy Hurts Men, Too. A sentence I often saw used in various feminist net discussions. It is true, by the way. Patriarchy does hurt many men. It is a hierarchical system where a small group of men end up at the top of the ladder, using their legs to kick other men down, and some women get to climb up higher on the ladder than some men, though not as high as the men who are of the same sociological group.

Even the sex roles of patriarchy can hurt not only women but also men. The most obvious example has to do with what happens to physical child custody in the case of divorces: It tends to go the parent who had more to do with the children. In a patriarchal society this is usually the mother, not the father, because it is the mothers who are expected to stay at home with children and to perform most of the hands-on care of them. One of the consequences of this gendered division of labor is that fathers are less likely to get custody of their children, though they are also a lot less likely to ask for it.

Other rules of patriarchy can hurt men, too. For instance, a deeply patriarchal country will insist that its young men go to war, not its young women. But note that this insistence is not something women have created.

The reason for my musings on this (which really deserve a better series of posts later on) is this blog post on a blog called Violent Acres:

Nowhere in my past lurks a sleazy uncle with wandering hands who begged me to sit on his lap just a little bit longer. When I murmured, "This isn't right" while making out with my date, he stopped instantly; I've never left an apartment with tear stained cheeks while some douche screamed from his doorway, "Baby, you wanted it!" In the workplace, I've never felt particularly discriminated against and my pay was competitive with my male counterparts. There is no 'incident' lurking in my background where I realized, once and for all, that men were evil beings intent on dominating and controlling me.

I guess that's why I can't get on board with all this male bashing that's becoming quite popular nowadays.

Normally, I would never recommend this, but turn on your TV for a minute.

Everybody Loves Raymond
The Simpsons
Family Guy
Still Standing
The King of Queens
Home Improvement

What do all these televisions shows have in common? The Father figure in every one is a dolt, a hopeless baboon, a selfish jerk and a moron. If not for their fiscally responsible, shining examples of exemplary parenting, and brilliantly balanced wives, the family would certainty implode.

Oh, give me a fucking break.

To put things into some perspective, read the FAQ of this blog, where the writer tells us that breast enhancement and such is proof of women wanting to be objectified (and thus we know that women in burqas don't want to be objectified?). This is not a neutral commentator writing but an anti-feminist one.

Nevertheless, the point about these television shows might be a good one. Might be, because I don't watch any of them, and so I have more questions than answers. Here are my questions:

Are the writers of these shows men or women? Is the way these roles are written caused by feminism? Is it really true that the men are portrayed as dolts when it comes to fathering? And if so, why would this be the case?

Is it because of misandry, the hatred of men? Or because of the idea that if men are dolts in parenting they don't have to participate, and that this proves the traditional gendered division of labor is the right one? Or because the plum roles in comedy tend to be the silly ones?

Do the wives in these shows have outside jobs? Or are they expected to be full-time parents, in which case the idea of the father not participating might be intended to give a deeper message? Are these families which the shows portray egalitarian ones or patriarchal ones?

What do those who find such portrayals upsetting do? Do they protest and demand better fathering roles shown? And what do these better roles look like? Do they look like a Promise Keeper's family, with the father always knowing best? Or do they show shared parenting by mothers and fathers who are also individuals?

The blog post I linked to has an odd view of feminism. All feminists hate men. Sigh. Also, the writer's views on the group "women" are not exactly neutral or evidence-based:

Men might be a little insecure about their parenting techniques, but I'm willing to bet that's only because women are always watching them with critical eyes quick to judge. If my brother-in-law makes one false move with his infant son, my Sea Donkey of a sister-in-law is quick to snap, "Just give him to me!" Then she'll look at me, shake her head, and sigh. How is it possible that men can be so stupid?

Well, bitch, if you gave the guy half a fucking chance, maybe he'd get the hang of this whole parenting thing.

And fiscal responsibility? Go look up the price of a Coach purse and then tell me which sex is more likely to blow large quantities of money on stupid shit.

I have a proposal: I'll give up any Coach purse in the whole world for one chance on that bright red Jaguar the local dealer has, the one that only women desire.

The whole Violent Acres post is an odd one. It's a trumpet blast in the Grand Battle Of The Sexes where the two armies of Good Men and Evil Women face each other across a field, with spears raised and helmets lowered, and the writer is rooting for the army of the guys. But then the conclusion of the post suggests that the women should just be nice and there would be no war:

Most of all, I wonder if my experiences with men have been mainly positive because I don't treat them with disgust, suspicion or disdain. True equality cannot exist when one party is constantly being portrayed at superior to the other party. Men will quit being the enemy when you start treating them like friends.