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One Man's World:

Men Questioning Feminism are Bitter Woman-Haters

This article appears in Vol. 1 #2 (Spring 1998) of Men's Voices journal.
 Men's Voices: So men can find their voices and speak their truths


NOW and Workplace Homicides of Women

Men "Blaming" Feminism

Implicit misandry

Breaking Ranks with Feminism: Dangerous to Your Health?

Jonesboro and Montreal: Symbols of Men's Oppression of Women?

Programs for girls in math and science: "equality" or "special privilege" feminism?

 

This quarter's column, like last quarter's, is based on my experiences as Forum Manager of the Men's Forum on MSN. Sometimes it seems as if some of my most thoughtful writing is in posts to the newsgroups on MSN. I thought I'd share a few of these with you.

It seems ironic in a way, since my heart is still in Men's Work, or the mythopoetic side, the exploration of male spirit, soul and shadow. The personal journey, the inner journey. But as I respond to posts on the MSN newsgroups, I find myself challenged for raising questions about whether feminism has gone too far. To pick one example, after the boys killed the girls and teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas a feminist philosophy newsgroup was filled with posts about this being another example of men's violence against women. Boys are taught that it's OK to kill girls if they jilt them, and this is the seed of the domestic violence that plagues us.

Frequently, when I and other men from the Men's Forum raise questions about feminism, we are described as "bitter men" who hate strong women. There is no discussion of the issues in these replies to our posts, just personal attacks against us as men.

I don't want to give the wrong impression of the Men's Forum. There are deep and thoughtful posts about men and relationships, how men deal with anger, men and feelings, and men's experiences in the world. Only a portion of the posts are on these "political" issues about feminism.

At any rate, this sampling of some of my posts on the Men's Forum and on a newsgroup devoted to discussing feminist philosophy gives you a flavor of some of the discussions.

NOW and Workplace Homicides of Women

In 1995 (latest figures available), there were 1,024 workplace homicides. 780 (76%) were of men, and 244 (24%) were of women. (Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1996, Table )

Of these, 727 were due to robberies and workplace crime. Work associates accounted for 113 (88 by present or former co-workers, and 25 by customers or clients.) Police (81) and security officers (59) accounted for some. Personal acquaintances accounted for 44. Of these, 25 (2% of workplace homicides) were due to husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.

Of the 244 women killed in the workplace, only 25 (10%) were killed by present or former husbands or boyfriends.

NOW and feminists are outraged at this workplace violence. The Violence Against Women Act of 1998, VAWA II, introduced at the behest of NOW and strongly supported by many members of feminist newsgroups (who maintain feminism is about "equality" and not "special privileges") calls for strong, new measures to prevent the 2% of workplace homicides attributable to domestic violence against women. This is in TITLE VII-VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

The NOW bill contains a 50% exaggeration, a mis-statement of fact, husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners commit 15 percent of workplace homicides against women; (lines 7-8).

But even if we take their figures, the bill specifically won't do anything for the 85% of women's deaths in the workplace that are not related to domestic violence.

What is NOW's support for the 244 women slaughtered in the workplace? To write off all but the 25 killed because of domestic violence, and call for new programs to protect those whose deaths are in line with the VAWA II political agenda. Here's their statement, from "Pressing for a Second Violence Against Women Law" by Jan Erickson, Government Relations Director:
 

Studies show that a place of employment is one of the most dangerous places for women. Former partners track them down there, stalk, harass and abuse them on the job.

 

Of course, only 25 of the 244 women were killed by present or former husbands or boyfriends. The rest were in robberies or other crimes, by work associates, or in the line of duty as police or security guards.

The balance of NOW's concern for women and men killed in the workplace is as follows:
 

One innovative approach in the bill offers tax incentives to encourage employers to establish programs to assist survivors of domestic violence. Another amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act to require employers to take steps to maintain workplaces safe from violence.

A key item in the bill requires that workers compensation plans include coverage for physical and psychiatric injuries resulting from domestic violence. Employers are also encouraged to provide time off for survivors to attend court hearings and receive medical care.

 

(This info is from: http://www.now.org/nnt/01-98/pressin.html)

NOW President Patricia Ireland showed her compassion for the 219 women killed in the workplace for reasons other than domestic violence in her March 19, 1998 testimony in support of the bill. (http://www.now.org/issues/violence/vawa/need.html )
 

Over a quarter-million women are victims of violent crime in the workplace each year and homicide is the leading cause of death for women on the job. [U.S. Department of Justice]

Most importantly, the Violence Against Women Act of 1998 proposes a host of workplace initiatives that reflect the reality of women in danger where they are employed. Many of the proposals are designed to encourage employers to take steps to reduce that danger through heightened security measures and flexible job policies. The influx of women moving from welfare to work means that some will face threats on the job; we can help assure these women safety and success by better protecting them. And we want to make sure that other benefits available to workers -- such as unemployment insurance and life or health insurance coverage -- are not denied them because of experiences with battering. The bill provides tax credits and grants to develop and disseminate model programs to provide education and training for employers.

 

These programs, of course, are only to benefit of the 10% of workplace slaughter of women that are attributable to domestic violence against women.

The encouragement offered to employers includes:
 

SEC. 724. ENFORCEMENT. (a) CIVIL ACTION BY EMPLOYEES-

(1) LIABILITY.-Any employer who violates ...

(A) damages

(B) any punitive damages, up to three times the amount of actual damages sustained,

(C) equitable relief as the court may deem appropriate,

(b) ACTION BY DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.-The Department of Justice may bring a civil action in any court

(c) REMEDIES.-The powers, remedies, and procedures set forth in title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shall be the powers, remedies and procedures to enforce this subtitle,

SEC. 725. ATTORNEY'S FEES. Section 722(b) of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C. 988(b)) is amended in the last sentence by inserting ''title VII of the Violence Against Women Prevention Act of 1988,'' after ''title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,''.

 

The program also includes:

  In our bill a National Resource Center on Sexual Assault to collect and disseminate information to frontline providers is proposed; also, a National Workplace Clearinghouse on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault would be established to aid businesses and employees in danger; and, a National Summit on Sports and Violence is urged to bring together sports figures, media leaders and anti-violence experts.  

Again, the workplace initiative is limited to helping only women victims of violence whose victimization fits with NOW priorities.

The bill has a price tag. This is in addition to the $1 billion a year sought for shelters for battered women (a 33.3% increase over the current federal funding level of $750,000,000 a year.
 

The National Clearinghouse on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the Workplace Grant

(f) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.-There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $500,000 for each of fiscal years 1999 through 2003.

 

Thoughts, anyone?

Men "Blaming" Feminism

One recurrent theme on MSN is that men who are bitter about events in their own personal lives "blame" feminism for their problems. In this post the issue is where a man is attacked by his wife, calls the police, and is, himself, arrested. An isolated event, or an impact of "gender feminism" or "victim feminism?"

There is so much clear and convincing evidence that this is the effect of systematic efforts by feminists over the past decade or more, that I hardly know where to begin. It's clear that this is not just a rare example, or just a weird judge, or just an isolated injustice. It's the direct result of the lobbying and other efforts of feminism, through NOW and its many local chapters, through rape crisis centers and battered women centers, and many other forms of feminist activism. I think it's "burying our heads in the sand" to say otherwise. One of our members talks of "convenience feminism," or whatever term he uses. This area, to me, is a prime example. We often hear, "Of course there are a few weird feminists, and I don't agree with them. But it's unfair to blame the feminist influence for these rare examples of injustices."

Through the efforts of NOW and feminists, the federal government now spends well over a billion dollars a year under the Violence Against Women Act. This is not enough. NOW is vigorously campaigning to increase the funding for battered-women shelters by 33.3% in the bill it's promoting, VAWA II, or renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act.

One element of this is what NOW calls "training for recalcitrant judges." They're not talking about neutral, professional training programs about the dynamics of the "dance of anger" that leads to domestic violence. The position is clear, that women are innocent victims and men the perpetrators. The training is offered by domestic violence centers and rape crisis centers, by staff that fully buy into this scenario and brook no opposition. So much so, that it's a Seattle Police Department policy that if there's any dispute or cross-allegations, it is the man who will be arrested. NOW has also called on local chapters to institute "court watch" programs, to attempt the removal of judges who disagree with their viewpoint. As Paul Goetz writes in "Monkey See, Monkey Do," published in M.E.N. Magazine a while back, he wasn't even able to file a complaint against a battering wife who'd sent him to the hospital, because the court was dominated by the Minneapolis domestic violence programs.

Judges are elected officials. They know full well the consequences of "bucking the trend."

What happens to people who have opposed this view that women are always the innocent victims and men the batterers? They're threatened with physical violence (e.g. Erin Pizzey, author of Prone to Violence, the book's publisher, and Suzanne Steinmetz, a researcher who found women about as likely to initiate violence, all of whom received bomb threats), slanderous attacks (as by the head of the Canadian commission on domestic violence, who was forced to apologize for repeated slandering of researcher Murray Straus as being abusive to his wife -- Straus also found women likely to initiate violence) or ruining of their professional reputation (as where feminists forced the university to pull researcher Gellis' access to the Internet to promulgate his research findings and promote further research).

The social climate? Let me give you the example of Army Specialist Anthony Riggs, an African-American who lived in the heart of downtown Detroit, who served in the Gulf War and was jubilant to have survived. His wife and her grandmother were inside grandma's Detroit home and Anthony was unloading the car when gunfire rang out. The wife looked out to see the car driving away, and Anthony dead on the street. Within 24 hours, Detroit City Council president described it as "the great American tragedy." Detroit Mayor Coleman Young spoke out against this ironic and senseless violence on the street. Congresspersons Barbara Rose-Collins and John Conyers flew in to attend, and the Reverend Jessie Jackson delivered a moving eulogy to "any soldier," with an appeal to "Stop the violence." Aretha Franklin led the congregation in a hymn. His wife lamented, "I can't believe I've waited all this time for him to come back and he does, and then I lose him again."

Turns out, she got her kid brother to kill him, so they could split the insurance money. The public reaction to this scenario, which goes against everything in the NOW and feminist platform about women as innocent victims and men the batterers, the violent ones? Silence. Utter silence.

(This information is from Patricia Pearson's book When She Was Bad: Violent Women & the Myth of Innocence.) Order on-line

Guys are getting restraining orders put out against them, based on the flimsiest of evidence or, in all too many cases, lies. The women who file are assisted by domestic violence shelters. The political climate is such that if a woman has second thoughts and wants to withdraw the allegations, in many jurisdictions the prosecutor won't let her. And serial killer Aileen Wournos, who shot and robbed a lot of guys, is proclaimed to be the victim of male oppression.

In this climate, I fail to see how someone can deny that men being attacked by their wives, then arrested for domestic violence end up there because of the influence of feminism.

I think the pervasiveness of this feminist view "women are innocent victims, men the perpetrators" has been harmful to women, and children, as well as to men.

  • Batterers also perpetrate violent child abuse. Many of the women who batter husbands threaten the lives and safety of their children as well. I have many examples of this.
  • Women who batter need help, to handle their anger in appropriate ways. They can't get it, because of the pervasive feminist ideology. To quote from Becky Beaupre's article in the Detroit News, "For 13 years, Karen Gillhespy was the abuser. She says she broke her husband's ribs, ripped entire patches of his hair out, scratched him, bit him, beat him with a baseball bat and kicked him. He never hit back -- and he never filed charges. But more shocking to Gillhepsy are the reactions she encountered telling her story. 'They told me I was the victim,' said Gillhespy, 34, of Marquette. 'There's no way any of this was his fault. ... I knew the difference between being the victim and being the perpetrator. I am ashamed for what I did.' "
  • Women who have been battered or harassed may be less believed.

My opinion, anyway.

Implicit misandry

In one post I gave reasons why I felt there was a lot of misandry in a feminist philosophy newsgroup.

The misandry that I see on that particular femiist philosophy newsgroup is not the blatant "all men are scum" point of view. It's implicit, unstated, not explicit. It reminds me of earlier dialogs on race relations. "Why, I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body! Some of my best friends are ..." The challenge there was to demonstrate that there was racism (or misandry) implicit in the dialog. Unstated and unchallenged assumptions.

I see several examples, currently. One is in regard to serial killers. There are many explanations for serial killers, including childhood abuse, severe mental health pathology and other factors. The thread, however, reduces it down to one factor - what is it about the male gender that makes it prone to serial killing. Aside from the fact that it's only a minute portion of the "male gender" that engages in serial murder, the thread implies, wrongly, that women do not engage in serial murder. My point, I guess, is that the implicit assumptions passed without much comment.

I see the misandry as tied to a "victim" stance. The example I found amusing, or sad, was the discussion about women controlling most of the country's wealth. A point was made that the wealth that these women owned was, in fact, controlled by the male financial advisors and attorneys the women retained to manage their wealth. Saying that it was these men who actually "controlled" the wealth, when the women retained advisors to manage it, is tantamount to saying that these women are "victims" of the males. Helpless creatures being duped or controlled by their advisors, rather than fully-able women who tell their advisors what to do with the wealth the women own.

I also saw almost-unchallenged misandry in the thread, about women being more "green" than men. I'm glad that someone did point out that the mythopoetic men's movement has focused on that. In 1992 the former M.E.N. Magazine ran a full-page spread on "Men For the Earth," an environmental call-to-action supported and signed by many men (visible "notables" and less-visible ones). One of my first articles for M.E.N. Magazine was "Earth, Spirit and Sex," calling for a passionate engagement (as in Sam Keen, The Passionate Life, Stages of Loving). Yet I fear that an account I read in one book (perhaps Rick Field's The Warrior's Code-Fields is a former New Age Journal editor and author of Chop Wood, Carry Water) may be closer to the mark. There was an overnight demonstration against a nuclear plant in California. At night, they lit a bonfire, and bare-breasted women burned an effigy of a man while decrying the patriarchy. Most men became uncomfortable, and many left. I see the same sentiment when I see a post that says, simply, that "men rape the earth." To me, all the talk about "men rape the earth" and "women are greener" are gender-polarizing and counter-productive to the work we need to do--together. They invite a response of "women participate in raping the earth, too," not "what can we do?-together". It doesn't seem "humanist" or "earth-friendly."

There's also the issue about feminism being about "equality" or "special privileges." My prime example, I guess, is the strong words of encouragement and support that participants in that newsgroup give to the NOW-sponsored Violence Against Women II initiative, which would expand on the 3/4-billion in Federal funds for battered-women's shelters, strengthen the national policy regarding arrests in domestic violence cases under the Safe Homes for Women Act, educate "recalcitrant" judges, and mandate or encourage employer programs to protect women from domestic violence in the workplace. (Some 95% of the workplace deaths happen to men, including the domestic-violence-in-the-workplace about which NOW and VAWA II are so concerned, and there are several Congressional staff assigned full-time to "violence against women" and nobody full-time looking at what we can do about work-related deaths.)

At any rate, those are some thoughts along the lines of the "spirit of openness" to examining whether "feminism has gone too far." I don't intend to single out any individual, but to simply discuss the ideas, the reasons why I see both misandry and "special privileges" for women being promoted or tolerated. I invite women to discuss the ideas and points of view I raise, and to elaborate on why you might disagree with the views I express.

(There were no takers to this invitation to dialog.)

Breaking Ranks with Feminism: Dangerous to Your Health?

After someone posted an article by Fay Weldon suggesting that, perhaps, feminism has gone too far, some members speculated on what would happen to her for "breaking ranks."

My thoughts about "breaking ranks" come from what I've seen over the years. Erin Pizzey is one example. Yes, her article (even the title "ardent anti-feminist") does seem bitter, but there are some reasons that make that understandable. When she published Prone to Violence it was greeted with extraordinary hostility. The publisher got a phone call saying that if he put the book out, they'd smash the windows at the publisher's offices and they'd kill him. Her London hotel was picketed by 300 screaming, banner-waving protesters. "I went downstairs and said to one of the policemen, 'Why don't you just get rid of them?' And he said 'Because we're scared of them.' " As she traveled around America, she reports, "I had to have a police escort everywhere I went because there were threats on my life and bomb scares at my house."

Three researchers are noted for their studies that show that women commit domestic violence at, perhaps, a similar rate to men. Murray Straus, Richard Gellis and Suzanne Steinmetz. All have suffered professionally. Gellis operated a listserv providing research and other info on domestic violence. Under feminist pressure, his university closed it down as an "inappropriate use of university resources." In 1991 the chairwoman of a Canadian panel on violence against wonen, Pat Marshall, was asked if she was familiar with the Straus/Gellis studies. She replied that she knew Straus as a man and insinuated that he abused his wife. She repeated this so constantly that Straus had to write the Canadian minister responsible for the status of women to request a public apology. He received one, but his wife, the pawn is this game, did not. Suzanne Steinmetz was asked by the ACLU to give a talk after she proposed the "battered husband" syndrome. The speech had to be canceled because of a bomb threat.

Camille Paglia has also found it necessary to travel with a bodyguard.

Feminist women's studies professors Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge document in Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies many cases of retaliation for "breaking ranks."

The pattern that I see when an alternative viewpoint is raised is stony silence (as when Gloria Steinem walked off the show when Camille Paglia appeared), ad hominem personal attacks like Straus was subjected to (or a view about "bitter men" or a statement that a point was "twisted," without the courtesy of explaining how or why it was), or threats of personal or professional harm.

It's not a climate that fosters people hearing each other.

Jonesboro, Arkansas: and Mass Murder in Montreal: Symbols of Men's Oppression of Women?

The Jonesboro, Arkansas tragedy, where boys shot and killed a number of girl students and a teacher, was seen by many feminists as yet another attack on women by "woman-haters." One woman posted that Marc Lepine, the man who shot who shot and killed so many women at the Ecole Polytechique in Montreal (thereby giving rise to the White Ribbon Campaign) shouted that he hated women, and that women had ruined his life. As David Shakleton, editor and Publisher of Everyman, pointed out in an article in that magazine, what Lepine had shouted and wrote in his suicide note was that he hated feminists, and that feminists had ruined his life. I posted a post to correct this, and received a lot of very heated responses to my simple effort to set the record straight.

Post 1:

Actually, Marc Lepine, who murdered 14 female engineering students at Montreal's École Polytechnique, wasn't trying to kill women. He was trying to kill feminists. Before he opened fire, he said to the female engineering students, "You're all feminists. I hate feminists!" And in his suicide note, Lepine wrote, "Feminists have wrecked my life."

The response to this was overwhelming. Was I saying it was OK if he was shooting feminists, not women? One woman suggested that men who opposed the excesses of feminism were mostly men who hated women, hiding behid "I hate feminists" rhetoric. She said that responses to my post were an "a ha!" experience for her, as to how many "woman-haters" hid behind anti-feminist rhetoric.

Post 2:

This thread has been "a ha!" experience for me, as well.

I had been puzzling for a while why there was such an adamant reaction when I simply pointed out that the Montreal mass murderer said that he hated "feminists" rather than hated "women." Then it dawned on me that there might be two good reasons why feminists could gain by mis-stating his words as being that he hated women.

First, it perpetrates the "victim feminism" position, that women are the oppressed, and men the oppressors.

Second, it serves as a giant ad hominem. As can be seen in this thread. There is no doubt but that the Polytechnique massacre, like the Jonesboro slaying, are sickening, heinous acts of weirdly demented people. Characterizing Lepine's act as that of a "woman-hater" rather than a sick, demented act of a person who hates "feminists" neatly avoids all discussion of whether there are excesses of a "gender feminism" that seeks "special privileges" rather than equality for women, "special privileges" such as NOW seeks in many of the provisions of the Violence Against Women II Act they are currently promoting.

Yes, there are some "women haters" out there, on this service and in real life. I think we disagree sharply as to the proportion of men who are "woman-haters." Judging from the reactions of so many women, who dismiss all critique of the excess of "gender feminism" and "victim feminism" as "woman-hating" and who shut down any dialog on this, it would appear that virtually all critique of feminism by men is by "woman-haters," who are engaged in a "backlash;" men who are Rush Limbaugh right-wing incarnates. Sarcastic comments are made, like "yeah, women should never have been given the right to vote." Any critique of the excesses of feminism is seen as an effort to roll back all the heard-earned and well-deserved gains of women in obtaining equality. Somehow women's equality will disappear if they do not continue and add to the "special privileges" such as help for girls in math and science (scores 2-5% below that of boys, even though boys' reading scores are 20% below that of girls). And virtually every man who questions these special privileges is a "woman hater" who seeks to continue the oppression of women.

It's much, much easier to simply accuse a man of spewing hatred across the Boards, than to actually substantiate such a claim or call him on it when it occurs.

Feminist support for girls in math and science: "equality" or "special privilege" feminism?

In one post, I had criticized feminists' call for special programs for girls in math and science, when their scores were 2-3% below boys' in math and sciences and boys' scores were 20% gelow girls' in reading. Feminists in this newsgroup asserted that feminism was about "equality," and I used this as an example of a call for "special privileges" for girls more than a call for "equality" for kids.

As I was saying, every critique of the "special privileges" sought by non-equity feminists is viewed as an "attack."

Tobacco farmers, defense contractors, corporate interests, feminists and every special interest group that has been able to garner Federal funds for themselves all say the same thing, "Heavens, no! Don't take away our hard-fought gains!" They urge, instead, that the ones not so effective or fortunate to rush to get theirs, too. So the answer to 95% of gender-specific medical research funding in the Department of Defense (80% male) going to breast cancer research, on top of the recent large gains on the non-military side, is that other groups should also shout, "Me! Me! Me! I'm a victim, too!"

And in education, not only are boys' reading scores 20% below girls, but there are more women than men in college, and men drop out at almost twice the rate of women. The answer, of course, is to provide additional Federal funding for women in math and sciences because they are the "oppressed class."

Wouldn't you agree that it would be more fair and equitable to focus on "kids," not "girls," and look at all gender disparities, allocating scarce Federal dollars to meet the needs of all groups, not just the group for which NOW advocates?

And this advocacy and lobbying is clearly not for "women." In 1995, the most current statistics, there were 1,024 workplace homicides. 244 were women. NOW's response is to walk away from 90% of the women slaughtered in the workplace, and seek a new program for the 24 killed by a husband, boyfriend, ex-husband or ex-boyfriend. Here's their statement, from "Pressing for a Second Violence Against Women Law" by Jan Erickson, Government Relations Director:

  Studies show that a place of employment is one of the most dangerous places for women. Former partners track them down there, stalk, harass and abuse them on the job.  

For this, "VAWA II," the NOW-sponsored renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act proposes a 5-year, $27.5 million program that focuses only on domestic violence in the workplace. It proposes civil penalties and treble punitive damages against non-complying employers, and the U.S. Department of Justice may intervene on employees' behalf - but only if the violence in the workplace is domestic violence against women. It offers a 40$ tax credit -- refund from us taxpayers to the company -- to implement programs to prevent violence against the 10% of the women slaughtered because of DV. If employers spend $10 million, nationwide, to implement such programs, the Federal government pays out $4 million. The tax credits to prevent women slaughtered in the workplace not because of domestic violence, under NOW's program to support women? Zip. Nada. The same amount of tax credit given to prevent the far larger number of non-homicidal workplace deaths.

And, of course, to speak out against VAWA II mans that one condones violence against women, and is a woman-hater.

Bert

P.S. By far the largest form of death is shooting (754, or 74%), and the most common event is robbery or other crimes (727, or 71%). So, of course, we usually have men, not women, man the convenience stores in the nighttime hours, because we don't want to expose women to this danger. (Physical size or strength, of course, play no part if it's a shooting death.) A man's death is so much less important than a woman's death.

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