June 15, 2015

Against Men or Reason?

Marc Esadrian

An article mentioned recently in our community discussion was quite timely. It allowed me to comment on some thoughts I’ve had after having engaged in a debate (loosely termed) with a self-described radical feminist who unequivocally agreed with Taylor Swift’s recent smugly produced pot stir—in a lad magazine no less—that “misogyny is ingrained in people from birth.” The gratuitous count of young, blinkered heads bobbing in agreement over that pearl of wisdom is by no means a surprise to me, but it’s always far more curious to engage the dealers of extreme rhetoric rather than its buyers, and so I inevitably ended up turning my attention to someone in the discussion with fiery feminist convictions that went far above and beyond Ms. Swift’s inane social commentary.

This person, who identified as a feminist, painted a pretty terrible foregone conclusion of men, if not a conspiratorial depiction of reality, to boot. Along with much of her angry and condescending argument, she brought out the laws protect rapists canard, too (which she could never quite adequately defend, of course). Weighing her ripostes after I cited failing marriages and declining male attendance in college, I saw vindictive, if not apathetic dismissal of men—a sort of callous, mean-spirited pleasure in hearing accounts of their disenfranchisement. I inevitably concluded, based upon this person’s willful bias and absolute contempt for anything male, that no, she wasn’t a liberal at all. Liberalism is supposed to consider the viewpoints and criticisms of all with rationality and compassion, not just favor a particular group. In the sickly light of her gross caricatures and hateful rants, I realized that I, the malevolent founder of Humbled Females, was more liberal in theory and practice than she could ever possibly be.

So it was with some considerable pleasure that I read Brendan O’Neil’s commentary entitled Feminism and the Turn Against Enlightenment, for I saw it concluded something similar, among its many points: feminism today, though it stands beside and interweaves itself throughout liberal politics like a pernicious weed, isn’t so liberal in theory or practice. I know that I have, time and time again, encountered incredibly close-minded people engaging in feminist apologia who insist that they are liberal, but it was not until recently that I realized this glaring contradiction. I’m sure the irony of that observation has dawned on others long before either O’Neil or myself, but it is a bit of a moment when, after having kept your mind open to hear out the views of the other side, you realize the crumby hypocrisy of it all.

But here is where O’Neil and I part ways a little: he claims that feminism isn’t really anti-male so much as a depart from reason. He goes on quite impressively to explain this point of view, and while I often do see feminism as anti-intellectual for all its verbose logical pretzelism and political correctness, I’m not certain how one making a critical commentary of modern feminism could not acknowledge its inherent anti-maleness. Its rhetorically negative slant on men, in fact, is one of the larger reasons why I don’t think feminism is often of the liberal mind, though it may window dress as such. Despite the best of intentions that some of its constituents have, feminism so often feels like an over-glorified hate group advocating for women, and I do feel it should be called out as such. This is not to say that what O’Neil says about feminism being anti-intellectual and thus effectively misanthropic is incorrect, but it is to put a finger on observations he himself makes about how the institutions of education are attacking maleness with plenty of straw:

“The new feminism is strikingly concerned with exposing what it—and the political and cultural elites more broadly—views as the folly of ‘male ideas.’”

If we recognize how feminism is shading something to be attacked because it involves male ownership, even something so unassailable as the sound arts of reason and the disciplines of the sciences, it’s really just one step removed from the premise of demonizing men in general, all the while conveniently tearing down the very ways in which we can call it out on its folly. While feminism railing against the supposed evils of structuralism is accurately described by O’Neil, the vehicle by which this attack on reason is justified cannot and should not, ever, be ignored. Attacking what is perceived to be male (whether it really is or not) is already a foregone conclusion as being good in the halls of higher education. How is this not a misandrous accomplishment of feminism, which claims to stand for the dignity and compassion of both sexes?

Demonizing men has gone beyond propaganda in education, however: it is a practice notably employed by feminist advocacy research, like the preposterous “1 in 5” rape myth produced by a poorly constructed telephone survey with overly broad definitions of rape by the CDC (which was later used, by the way, to justify federal funding for colleges in their fight against “rape culture,” a term RAINN itself denounced). The gender pay gap myth is another often reinforced and repeated lie, as O’Neil also points out, long after it has been pointed out that any perceived gap is a result of lifestyle and career choices between men and women. As I mentioned earlier, we just had one of the most popular female pop singers in the world declare that society is steeped in misogyny, despite the fact that it’s increasingly quite the opposite in developed nations.

And that is the crux of what I see as terribly subversive and erosive about feminism today. In debating feminists and their paranoid views about patriarchy and the ever-evaporating unicorn that is “male entitlement,” it seems, increasingly, that it doesn’t even matter if you bring good countering facts to the table, or a reasoned argument, for that matter. They will skip past the facts and instead of debating, engage in indignant deflection, ad hominem, or many, many political speeches. Speak about subjects like rape, equal pay, or the supposed scourge of the objectification of women with people randomly on the streets, in the neighborhood, or in your own family, and you’ll likely hear feminist myths regurgitated unthinkingly, to much head nodding of agreement. It’s for this reason that modern feminism is more akin to a belief movement (or a psychological disorder) that, as O’Neil points out, views all of humanity through a lens of distrust and a motherly need to control it. We shouldn’t discount how much of that mistrust has been directed at men, however, as well as feminist apologists attributing anything to males as corrupt and evil by default. If we can recognize the effigy that is “all things male” in feminist theory, we can certainly see how misandry is being spread, particularly when under the insidious rhetoric that it’s all “for a good cause.”

I understand that avoiding the fall into the typical anti-male argument is a reasonable attempt to move critical commentary of feminism away from its association with the train wreck that is the men’s rights movement. That men’s rights activists have lost their brand and have often become caricatures unto themselves does not mean they also don’t have some good points about feminism’s double-standards, biases, and outright lies. Of course, most who identify as feminists are not hardened lesbians who wake up each morning with intense conscious hatred of men first thing on their minds. Many well-meaning feminists, young and old and male and female alike, will recite the mantra that they are advocating for the rights of men as well as women, but in reality, the larger gestalt of the politics they support does, in fact, perpetuate an ongoing anti-male bias, to lesser or greater degrees, no matter how much the political machine that is feminism attempts to rebrand itself away from the ugliness of it’s deeper, albeit “hidden” extremism. For those who actually believe feminism stands for equal consideration of the sexes, I would offer a simple thought exercise. Outside of pointing to examples of how both sexes are clearly not equally honored or advocated for by feminism, I’d ask anyone to consider how, if the genders were swapped out in the “ism,” it wouldn’t sound quite right. If masculinism doesn’t feel like it would be entirely sympathetic to women and girls, you’d probably be right. Why is it we can’t see this with feminism in the modern age, where men and women are, without a doubt, equal in their rights?

There is a movement unhappy with many of the current dispensations and inequities throughout the world today—a movement that desires equality not just for women, but for men, too, and for people of all colors and creeds. It’s not a deeply entrenched and divisive sociopolitical movement that manifests itself through biased research and corrupt philosophy, hiding behind a shield of political correctness. It’s not engaged in antagonistic information and media warfare, or angry polemics against crumbling vestiges of classical patriarchy. This force is as open-source as it gets and as humanitarian as any personal modus operandi could possibly be, though it’s not something up for lazy grabs by lazy minds that would rather regurgitate tired if not politically expedient platitudes. You could call it egalitarianism. You could call it secular humanism. You could simply label it the equal rights movement. I prefer to call it something else, and the sum of its goodness proves feminism has no exclusive rights to ideas like compassion and humanism, or modern thought on the sexes. That thing is, simply, reason.


September 20, 2013

Men On Strike

By Marc Esadrian

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or willful state of ignorance for the past several decades, you’ve probably noticed that modern society doesn’t think particularly much of men—when it remembers to think about them at all, that is. Feminist intellectuals, despite tremendous strides in education and job opportunities in which they are equal to (or in some cases, even outperforming) men, still eagerly jump on NPR talk shows and bicker ad nauseum about how much more work needs to be done for women in the areas of special programs, grants, corporate policies, and activist legislation. Researchers and health professionals don’t seem to be any more aware of the paucity of attention paid to men, either. When they do afford some leftover resources toward researching men, terms such as criminals, abusers, rapists, and delinquent fathers are often common in the language and focus. Ask anyone on the street if they know what the word misogyny means. Chances are, they’ll know it well, if not by the activism drilled into their heads while attending university, then by the collective osmosis from any number of books, radio programs, or cable talk shows perma-blathering about the supposed ongoing plight of women in every nook and cranny of human experience. Ask them if they know what misandry means, and you’ll likely get some quizzical, empty stares. Not that I necessarily fault them; some spell checkers today don’t even recognize “misandry” as a word. Imagine that.

Be that as it may, the spirit of contempt for men is alive and well in Western society. One need only look to the all-too-common male bashing of men by the media or consider the near ubiquitous multi-institutional collusion with feminist agenda (going right up to the programs of government itself) to see common examples of this. I assume the reader will at least intuitively understand what I’m getting at here; I will not drone on over examples of these things, as they are fairly obvious to anyone with eyes, ears, nominally functioning brains, and a pinch of objectivity. The unspoken problem is all around us and that silence has become fairly detrimental for the advocacy of male interests and rights. That problem, in a nutshell, is the fact that women and all concerns having to do with them—both real and utterly imaginary—are being overexposed while sneering at men has become quite acceptable…even fashionable.

Every now and then, however, a body of work comes along that puts its finger squarely on this phenomenon, and the latest to do this is Men on Strike, by Helen Smith, Ph D. From the book’s description:

American society has become anti-male. Men are sensing the backlash and are consciously and unconsciously going “on strike.” They are dropping out of college, leaving the workforce and avoiding marriage and fatherhood at alarming rates. The trend is so pronounced that a number of books have been written about this “man-child” phenomenon, concluding that men have taken a vacation from responsibility simply because they can. But why should men participate in a system that seems to be increasingly stacked against them?

As Men on Strike demonstrates, men aren’t dropping out because they are stuck in arrested development. They are instead acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers. In addition, men are going on strike, either consciously or unconsciously, because they do not want to be injured by the myriad of laws, attitudes and hostility against them for the crime of happening to be male in the twenty-first century. Men are starting to fight back against the backlash. Men on Strike explains their battle cry.

Indeed, one could see this very site, started in 2005, as some part of the backlash. We have long been discussing some of the observations Ms. Smith makes in her book within our community as blogs and other communities across the web have. What’s refreshing about this book is how it approaches the male discussion from what could be thought of as a “new” angle, at least for mainstream culture: not making men out to be overgrown children with Peter Pan complexes and condescendingly offering some “tough love” advice to all the degenerate penis-bearers who might be reading.  Instead, Smith holds that men aren’t removing themselves from responsibility or interest in women because they’re stuck in childhood, but responding rationally to the lack of incentive they see in society for being male, overall. They are shutting down and removing themselves from a society that punishes them, essentially, for having masculine traits. Punishing them for being male, in fact.

This is fresh and new for mainstream publishing and it took some degree of courage to publish something like this. It’s not the same old tired misandrist tripe repackaged by a patronizing feminist intellectual “concerned for men.” In her book, Smith goes on to speak descriptively and directly about many of the injustices facing men today (things you hardly hear a whisper about), like male paternity fraud, the inequity of marriage for men, the lack of men’s reproductive rights, college bias, declining male wages and eduction, and the harmful double-standards resulting from polarizing feminist interests. Smith also speaks unambiguously, if not pejoratively, about “Uncle Tims” and “White Knights,” the bleeding heart men who opportunistically lend a hand in bashing their own sex by joining the ranks of modern feminism and its culturally hip contempt of XY.

This book is not without flaws, however. Much of what is discussed in its pages is anecdotal and smacks slightly of right-wing (or at least “libertarian”) politics, mind you, and if there is one primary gripe I were to have about Smith’s work, it would be this, if not how many times she plugs PJ Media, where she is a columnist and blogger. This is not to say the material in this book is without good points or sources, however. One terrible statistic made available in this work is the alarming suicide rate of males. In 2010, Smith notes that 38,364 suicides were committed nationally, and that 30,277 of those were of men. That alone should tell us something about the hidden social poisons in culture today, should it not? Frankly, I find the contrast in that number quite staggering.

Another nit would be in regard to the rather casual sounding voice in Men on Strike, which borders on sometimes “bloggish” to, dare I say, crude sounding. The lack of a balanced and scholarly tone in the body is a bit off-putting. I’m sure others will agree. And that’s unfortunate, for the subject matter Smith seizes upon is critical and I fear the points she has to make in the book will be overlooked due to the lack of objective discipline afforded in her writing.

Overall, however, Men on Strike is definitely worth a read. It’s not a scholarly masterpiece, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does strike to the heart of many issues facing the male sex today and offers a scalding criticism of the subversive religion of neofeminism we have all too easily grown accustomed to tolerating in our schools, our entertainment, and our legal activism. If anything, it helps to offer those who have never stepped outside of feminism’s intellectual wind tunnel a chance to look at things from a different perspective: what it means to live in the modern Western world today as a man. Smith’s work is a great introduction to some very real and serious problems within a society that has become, more or less, anti-male.

 


July 1, 2013

Feminism in the Media: Does it Protest Too Much?

By Marc Esadrian

While I’m not the type of person who watches much cable, I have taken a liking to the Starz show channel from time to time. I admit, Spartacus, the half serious, half soft adult porn series was one of my guilty pleasures. What’s not to love about gratuitous sex and violence in the ancient Roman world? These days, I’ve taken a particular liking to Magic City, a smooth and sexy hotel/casino mob story set back in the 1950’s. Between catching up on reruns of that show, however, I was subjected to the repeated teasers of an upcoming series entitled The White Queen, a story that, in its own part cheesey, part historical fictionish sort of way, tells the tale of the “War of the Roses,” a dynastic struggle among rival houses for the throne of England—the facts of which historians still quibble and argue about today.

But I’m not going to go too far into scholarly conflict about actual facts relating to these episodes in history and I’m quite sure, given the reality that cable programming is meant more to entertain than enlighten, The White Queen won’t either. What struck me as particularly eye rolling about the trailer for this series is its service to the usual girl power propaganda. While treated to flashes of hyper-stylized bits and pieces of scenery related to the series, we’re informed in heavy gold letters across the screen that “Men go to battle…Women wage war.”

It’s particularly irksome, how entertainment media today gushes, drools, and fawns over women in a conspiratorial circle-jerk to stroke the increasingly inflating egos of (particularly) young women. I suppose the marketing powers that be know now that if you want to sell anything, you really need to appeal more to notions of female supremacy than just equality. For how much more obvious must the repeated propaganda of female primacy hidden in plain view be, I ask? What particularly amused me about the men go to battle, women wage war line is how banal it insinuates the role of men to be. Men, who have been over thousands of centuries the primary agents of action—the warriors, despots, messiahs, tyrants, prophets, kings, and emperors—are reduced to brainless wooden figures in a medieval game of table hockey between scheming female nobles. The gist is, “men are petty and do the stupid fighting, but women are the real movers and shakers…high five!” What a wonderful thing to insinuate to young male and female minds. And come on, who cares if this marketing line lends to bogus history or overlooks some important details in the least; it makes a great punch line and gets across, for the umpteenth time, that chicks rule and dudes drool (in case you weren’t aware, by now).

This show is but one of many in a long line of movies and cable programs that are increasingly making female characters the polestar powers of the script in a politicized sort of way. In Oz the Great and Powerful, the bumbling buffoon that is Oz is surrounded by three witches, the truly great forces in the story who are in a war for control of their world. In Snow White and the Huntsman, the male characters are fairly incidental to the most powerful characters in the story: the wicked Queen who is evil incarnate (and I must admit, played wonderfully by Charlize Theron) and Snow White, who, we’re told, represents the essence of all life. Of course. For upcoming movies, try the charming title of Girls Against Boys, where “misandrist overtone” is more of an understatement.

Movies aren’t nearly where the silliness ends, however. Cable shows like American Dad, Everybody Loves Raymond, or The Simpsons tend to portray men as generally goofy, stupid, and inept. Much of children’s programming today isn’t free from such meta messages, either. In the very least, they are guilty of inspiring young girls to be as sassy, conceited, and as cutely arrogant as possible. Remembering Hannah Montana, a show that was and still is avidly consumed by the young female cable viewing population, we may find ourselves noting what type of girl the veritable pissant Miley Cyrus, who regularly snarls at the camera in her videos and threatens her father publicly on Twitter, has grown up to be. Some food for thought, perhaps, about the personalities that are raising our kids when we’re not?

This may seem like a petty gripe. In some ways it is, I suppose, but in some ways it’s really not. Our entertainment, as much as we may like to think so, isn’t just a harmless diversion that ends when we turn off the screen or amble out of the theater. Movies, just like music and the arts, help to inspire and influence the sentiments of the masses. The mythology these stories create conspire to tell us what is true and right, as stories throughout the centuries always have. Books, plays, and orations, which were once the primary media for this story telling, have simply stepped aside for the medium of cinema, roughly 40 years of which have been increasingly devoted to dissing men and boys in commercials, talk shows, cable programs, and the silver screen.

I think it’s about time, if you haven’t done so already as a parent, to guard your young minds against this new sexist media onslaught when at all possible. In the very least, I think it’s vital to balance out the increasingly hostile attitude writers and directors show toward the male sex by having conversations with your children and teens about what they are digesting on a daily basis. Teach them how to spot misandry (you’ll likely need to define what that word even means) and dysfunctional feminine glorification in the media today, if only to balance their perceptions.

Yes, I know…this commentary is coming to you from a site entitled “Humbled Females.” Who are we, exactly, to be complaining about sexism, of all things? A casual visit to our about page will reveal, however, that our way of life is consensual and that, societally speaking, we are not advocating revoking women’s rights to have a job or to vote. The message in this entry today doesn’t have to reside only here, but, perhaps in a space like this, what needs to be said can be said without fear of reprisal or rebuke from sponsors or employers, who are ever on the look-out for anything they perceive as anti-feminist—the new Satan, apparently. I say this not to advocate female submission so much as to put a sober sticky note on the forehead of this agenda called “anti-sexism”—an agenda that modern society, so we’re told, is supposed to support and uphold. And I think it’s time we all, male and female, black and white, liberal or conservative, god fearing or not, recognize that feminism today is often not so much about ending sexism as it is about fashionably asserting a new form of sexism. So please join me in saying that the male bashing has to stop. We can have female equality in society without lowering the perceived value of men and boys. I encourage all who are reading this to boycott films and shows that cater to this increasing cultural disease and counteract the effects of its rhetoric in your children, if you have them. Make an effort to raise awareness about misandry in the media and speak out against it when you can.

You may not subscribe to the message and attitude of our site. After all, we do believe women, generally, have a place in loving service to their men—a place of loving submission. We aren’t afraid of articulating our opinions on the female sex, which certainly aren’t always politically correct. This all is beside the point, however, that the future of real harmony and equality between the sexes in society, if you really value that sort of thing, partially depends on rejecting these condescending attitudes and messages about men.


October 10, 2012

D/s and the Digital Cult Of Personality

By Marc Esadrian

The Internet: it’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Especially for those who practice dominant-submissive relationships, the creation of the Internet was a watershed moment for anonymous and remote communication. Pre-Internet, the fear of being stigmatized for one’s prurient interests were walls that kept social exploration of such interests effectively hammered down among all but the most daring. But when the Internet did arrive, it became a means of connecting to others by shared interests without the risk of personal exposure. If you had long been haunted/blessed by strongly submissive or dominant motives and unable to practice these things for lack of finding a willing partner to take the opposite role, the “information superhighway” and all its wonderful anonymity tore down those barriers for minds across the globe that, until the advent of such communication, would have never have had the chance to make union before.

So here we are, all together online in a big melting pot of collective consciousness, all sharing our ideas, all learning and evolving from all the experiences and perceptions we have to share. We’re so much more well-rounded now because of the Internet. Or are we?

As anyone who has even the slightest notion of how news blogs react to scandal before having any solid facts, how libelous mere Tweets can become, or how much anger and argument drives the larger proportion of Internet message boards, one will inevitably concede there’s more to the Internet than merely a superhighway for information. The Internet has a dark side: it’s just as easily a misinformation superhighway, too.

This is the digital age in a content-rich medium of countless sources and opinions. Today, we can easily “choose our news” and preset the spin that suits us best. On the Internet, we can all too easily elect association with personalities and ideas that stroke our world-views and perpetuate comforting half-truths without verifying anything grounded in reality. This monster has a tentacle in the “BDSM” community as well, on message boards and groups that associate with terms such as master and slave, owner and property, or total power exchange. Within these groups the phenomenon of politics and popularity is alive and well and it’s not long before visitors begin learning who the celebrities are. In the virtual world of M/s chat, the cool kids are those who identify as having “a lot of experience.” After all, they’re in relationships that have lasted X amount of years. Their profiles say so. But beyond that, they may seem popular, well-liked, and tend to garner applause from whatever group in which they have their roots firmly settled. This network of users quite often chats behind the scenes, forming alliances and intimate dyads with other users. Beneath the floorboards of public discourse, another current of communication is always buzzing through PM and a network of remote relationships begins to develop. Before long, the group is marbled with these alliances. Suddenly, critical discourse isn’t so much about being critical over the heart of things discussed: it’s about influence, affirmations, and communal back patting. It’s about backing up your buddy at the expense of intellectual honesty. In such places, the fate of group discussions becomes a smarmy strength in numbers game, no matter how ignorant or creatively dishonest those who make up those numbers are.

Ironically, it’s “submissive females” I see doing this quite often online (which reflects, no doubt, the indirect aggression of female cliques in real life). How many times, for instance, have we seen an individual who identifies as a dominant male make an open statement, only to have the “submissive female mafia” descend upon him and tell him how wrong he is in a dog pile that grows increasingly belittling and mocking? Within the course of a few replies, this hapless visitor has somehow managed to personally insult dozens of users who find it perfectly justified to pitch ugly jabs his (or her) way and take his (or her) words completely out of rational context for the sake of snark. Just what exactly is going on in these scenarios? Is it that the newcomer’s ideas are universally abhorrent or is it that such ideas have not properly genuflected and observed the delicate feelings of a tight-knit cyber support group? Things to contemplate, I think.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with liking the personalities people present online and forming friendships that occasionally migrate to the real world. There’s nothing wrong with friends list building and finding yourself among said groups online. But is wanting to be liked and accepted (and continue being accepted) by a group reason enough to forgo critical discourse or keeping a truly open, fair, and balanced discussion? Is it reason enough to ignore basic courtesy? Is it reason enough for a submissive female to forget that no matter wherever she goes in the world, she is a reflection of her master and should thus demonstrate the better angels of her nature? Perhaps for some, it is.

I feel a little differently, however. I like to keep politics and the cult of personality out of good debate and discussion. I think that when we make the discourse at hand about the subject and not about the person and his/her popularity or ability to tow the politically correct line in a group, a chance for the expansion of good discussion (and freedom from from groupthink) comes into play.

Where online discussion board celebrities are concerned, I’d warn to be vigilant of their sociable influence while they quietly murder rational thinking in the other room. Liking someone is not a good enough reason to ignore the validity of their opponent’s points and to do so is tantamount to being an enemy of truth. And while we’re on the subject of truth, I’d like to remind everyone to take what they see and read online with a certain grain of salt. There is no defacto arrangement of words, phrases, or story telling that guarantees someone can be verified as “sincere” in what they’re showing or expressing online, but this often doesn’t keep people from assigning certain online characters more clout in a discussion group, due to their charisma and bold claims of experience.  Online, we can dress up in words in any way we wish with impunity. That is the virtual nature of the Internet. One really needs to keep that in mind when considering expressions of “experience” online and how much we invest in them.

Ultimately, I look at the thought or argument or idea expressed, not the person’s credentials formed of a self-styled resume, their number of years lived “in the lifestyle,” or their popularity level in a group. What I care about is the thread count of their ideas, described experiences, visions, and what can be gleaned from them. And I trust they care about what I have to contribute, in turn. That is the atmosphere I hope Humbled Females continues to contain and project well into the future as our reader membership increases.