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
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
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
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
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
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
The encouragement offered to employers includes:
SEC. 724. ENFORCEMENT. (a) CIVIL ACTION BY EMPLOYEES-
(1) LIABILITY.-Any employer who violates ...
(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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
And, of course, to speak out against VAWA II mans that one condones
violence against women, and is a woman-hater.
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.