Richard Alex Holton Masculism
An argumentative look at the need for a masculist movement to counter the
feminist movement, in the name of Gender Equality
Any discussion of men's rights, in this day and age, seems to be pointless. As many would, with justification, argue: men control almost every aspect of today's society. When one looks at the supposed elites of society, whether it be government, businesses, or any sort of institution, it is almost always the case that men hold many of the top positions. The majority of the wealthiest people in the country are men, and most, if not all, studies on the subject of income show that men earn more on average than women in comparable jobs.
So, at least on the surface, any discussion on the rights of men seems to be an effort in futility, and one that can be summed up very quickly. There seems to be no need for a “Men's Rights” movement because there seems to be no shortage of rights that men hold. However, such a movement is not only a good idea, but necessary, in order to secure the true equality of men and women in today's society.
Just as a clarification; when I talk about the term 'feminism' in this paper, I am not talking about the overarching notion of gender inequality. The term 'gender inequality', for all intents and purposes in this paper, refers dually to the notion that women have been oppressed and kept down by men through institutional and legal forces, as well as the notion that men are affected in much the same ways by women, though more through social and extralegal means. When the term 'feminism' is used in this paper, I am referring to the social and political movement that advocates on behalf of women's rights and women's interests. The term, “masculist”, like feminist, refers a proposed social and political movement that advocates on behalf of men's rights and men's interests, one that is unfortunately lacking in validity in the eyes of many people.
Now I, like many feminists, believe in the truthfulness of the Sapir-Worf Hypothesis, which, roughly summed up, postulates that language affects thought. Feminists have, for years, attempted to change the language of the day, under the assumption that if society calls all police officers, 'policemen', then what is gathered from this is that only men are allowed to be police. The same goes for the words, “waiter, waitress, stewardess”, and a slew of other words that refer, in a backwards and often innocent way, to the gender of the person doing the job. The reason I tell you this is to explain my use of the terms, 'masculism' and 'masculist'. In my opinion, feminists have hijacked the whole issue of gender inequality, and made it so that the word 'feminist' means 'people who fight for equal rights of men and women'. Under the Sapir-Worf Hypothesis, this word is implying, through backward and probably innocent means, that the only real inequality in the world of gender lies solely in the court of the women, and thus only the feminine among us deserve to be fought for. My use of the term 'masculist' is only my feeble attempt to counter those undertones to the word 'feminist'.
Many would argue that men are in control of society and thus use societal forces to keep women from gaining those top positions. However, what many fail to realize is that, though men populate the majority of the highest and most powerful positions in society, men also make up the majority of the lowest rungs of society. 68% of the single homeless population are males (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009), and a large portion of them are veterans. It seems that though the upper tiers of society are controlled by males, they mostly use their power to prevent other males from taking their spots, not to prevent women from climbing the same ladder.
Feminist movements have claimed for years that women are an oppressed group that is unable to fully take part in society. And yet, according to the 2004 United States Census Bureau, women are directly responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases. The Marketing to Women Conference states that women in America spend about $5 trillion dollars annually, accounting for over half of the U.S. gross domestic product, and American women start 70% of new businesses. In 2003, women earned 60% of all bachelors and masters degrees, as well as 47% of doctorates.
Despite statistics that show women have just as much, if not more, power in economics as men, the Feminist movement in America is still running strong. Women now have the right to vote, get abortions (in some places), work in all positions open to men (with the notable exception of front-line troops), and hold government office. However, some would argue that women are still viewed as inferior to men in many regards, including the workplace. I frequently see posters claiming that women earn 75¢ to every dollar that men earn in comparable jobs.
This statistic is supported by the General Accounting Office (GAO) of the US Government, who released a report in 2001 that compiled the earnings history of around 9000 Americans over the last eighteen years. In that report, women earned about three-fourths the amount men did in comparable industries and jobs. In an attempt to account for this earnings divide, the GAO stated:
Women in the workforce are also less likely to work a full-time schedule and are more likely to leave the labor force for longer periods of time than men, further suppressing women's wages. These differing work patterns lead to an even larger earnings gap between men and women - suggesting that working women are penalized for their dual roles as wage earners and those who disproportionately care for home and family.
Therefore, what the GAO is saying is that because women tend to be both workers and expected to be at home taking care of chores, they get discriminated against in the workplace. Sounds like a very fair, non-biased statement, doesn't it? In my personal opinion, the 'gender wage gap' myth is a good measure not of sexism, but of ignorance. Someone who truly believes in the myth that, somehow, every man in power is out to make sure that women earn less than men, is simply ignorant of the way that income and the wage system works.
Point in case: high-risk jobs. Most high-risk jobs are done by men, with almost no exceptions. Any job that requires dealing with live electric wires, high-altitude repair, construction, logging, combat, or anything that could cause the one doing the job to die, is done by a man. These jobs, obviously, have higher pay than the safer jobs that women are more inclined to occupy. In Canada, almost 95% of all occupational-related deaths are men, and those men were paid a premium for the risk related to their job; a premium that women are not likely to receive.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor,
[In 2007] women accounted for 51 percent of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations. They outnumbered men in such occupations as public relations managers; financial managers; human resource managers; education administrators; medical and health services managers; accountants and auditors; budget analysts; biological scientists; preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers; physical therapists; writers and authors; and registered nurses.
It seems rather ignorant to say that there is systematic, institution-wide discrimination against women, when it seems like the majority of human-resource managers and management positions are, in fact, held by women. In other words, the majority of people who are actually making the hiring decisions are women! So much for the glass ceiling!
Household chores, according to the GAO study, are apparently considered the job of the women, even if they are wage-earners. This duty to chores is cited as one of the reasons that women earn less than men in the workplace, because they do not have as much time to devote to furthering their careers. However, it is unfair to assume not only that men are not responsible for chores around the house, but also to assume that women are somehow slacking off at work to take care of chores. If we are to assume that women and men are unequal, with men superior wage earners and women inferior wage earners, as this study seems to claim, then we should be able to show that women are responsible for more than the man, and do more work than men, and receive less credit for this work.
One way that people attempt to show this is by doing studies on the amount of time in the day each member of a family spends on chores. These studies will inevitably show that women do far more housework than men, for the simple reason that, in our culture for hundreds of years, the housework has traditionally been done by the women. That is, the daily housework. Most of these studies tend to forget completely the work that done sporadically by men. When the roof leaks, for instance, no one expects the woman to go up and re-shingle it; that is the job of the man. However, there is no way that this labor-intensive and difficult job, which falls squarely on the shoulders of the man, will be covered by the question, “How many hours per week do you spend on household chores?”
There is also an inherent unfairness in the way the totals are counted. For example, if a wife gets off work at 5, goes home and makes dinner for her children and husband, she gets 'credit' for that amount of time spent on household chores. However, if a husband works a few hours overtime to take his wife and kids out for dinner and a movie, not only is he 'penalized' for earning more than his wife and spending less time on household chores, but he is not 'credited' for the amount of time he saved his wife by not requiring her to cook dinner and do the dishes for that night.
How do these studies account for hobbies that also contribute to the household? If the wife quilts in her spare time, and does this for pleasure, is it counted in the total for chores, since it contributes to the household, or is it counted in the leisure time? If the husband is a woodworker that sells some furniture that he makes in his spare time, but doesn't do it for the money, is it counted in his leisure time, the chores, or his job? The simple fact of the matter is that these studies are inherently flawed in that they are trying to measure something that is not easily quantifiable. It is my belief that these factors negate any inequality shown in these studies.
It is just as easy to look at these studies and assume, “Men discriminate against women in the workplace”, as it is to look at these studies and assume, “Women would prefer to sit around at home, watching soap operas and pushing around a feather duster, than put actual time and effort into their careers”. In all honesty, the real thing we should get from studies like this must be somewhere in the middle, neither the Feminist point of view nor the Masculist point of view.
Another issue that is at the forefront of the Feminist movement is that of abortion. The right to control one's own body is a right that is believed, by some, that everyone should have. When a woman becomes pregnant, the child is hers to decide to keep or abort. It is my personal point of view that, regardless of my views on the evil that is abortion, it is wrong to force a woman to go through nine months of traumatic and painful pregnancy, followed by an incredibly painful involuntary childbirth. In this instance I am vehemently pro-choice. However, I take issue with the fact that, with abortion and the woman's right to terminate her pregnancy, we also have completely alienated the father from any rights over the unborn child.
Keith Wiley, a writer famous for his views on male reproductive rights, explains the situation best:
In the case of a pregnancy, there are four possible scenarios: both parents want the child, neither parent wants the child, the man wants the child and the woman doesn't, or the woman wants the child and the man doesn't. Of these four scenarios, two of them are immediately moot. If both parents are in agreement, whether for or against having the child, there is no dilemma and therefore no issue to be resolved. That's easy enough. Of the remaining two scenarios, one of those is also quite clearly moot. If the man wants to keep the child and the woman doesn't, then I say tough luck for the man. He will just have to sow his oats elsewhere. He has absolutely no right to force the woman to undergo pregnancy and childbirth just so he can have a child.
Though I personally do not like admitting this, I can absolutely see his point. The only way I can be consistent with my views on abortion, and my reasons for supporting a woman's right to an abortion, is if I concede that if a woman wants to abort the child and a man wants to keep it, the man is out of luck. In the overall scheme of things, after the initial act of getting the woman pregnant, the man bears no responsibility for carrying and eventually birthing the child, and thus the responsibility for the child's well being, or the child's termination, lies solely with the woman.
The real issue here, though, is if the woman wants to keep the child and the man wants nothing to do with it. In the current system of child support, the man would be told the same thing that I told him in the previous case; tough luck. He has no choice in the matter. If he 'gets a woman pregnant', then he is responsible for supporting the ensuing child financially. In essence, his life and his money are now the woman's.
This is, in my opinion, a complete travesty of individual choice. The women hold all of the rights when it comes to paternity and fatherhood, and the men have absolutely no say at all. In my opinion, no one has the right to force such a humongous burden, and such a huge responsibility, on some other person. The woman has all the choice in the world as to whether or not she will accept the burden; she can choose to get an abortion and then be completely done with the matter. No more money spent on the child, no more painful pregnancy and no more responsibility for the next 18 years of your life spent raising the child. (This is, of course, a vast oversimplification of the matter that does not take into account all of the issues surrounding abortion in the first place, but the purpose of this paper is not to argue abortion.)
But the father has no such way out. The current system tells him that if the woman decides to keep the child, his money will be forfeit for the nest 18 years of his life, in supporting the child. He has no way out of supporting this child, he has no way of saying “No” to this responsibility, even if he feels that he cannot handle it. In this case, the woman has all of the control, all of the power.
I will not come out and say that in such a situation, the man has the choice to make the woman get an abortion. That would be completely inconsistent with my views on abortion, mainly that the woman has absolute control over her own body, and thus over the child that is inside of her body. However, there needs to be a way out for the man. There needs to be a way for the man to say, “No, I will not support this child. I want nothing to do with this child, and I hereby give all rights concerning paternity over to the woman”. In this way it becomes completely fair to both the man and the woman; both retain all rights over their own body, their own finances, and their own future.
These rights for the man, however, must be exercised very quickly after the discovery of pregnancy is made. It would be entirely unfair for a woman to get pregnant, tell the father in week 3, and then the day before the baby is due have the father that he refuses to support the child. At the same time, there is no way that it would be fair to the father if the mother kept the pregnancy a secret until after the child is born, or even until it is too late for the baby to be legally aborted. No, there would need to be some sort of time period, some legal documents signed, and a process that each would need to go through certifying their acknowledgment of the situation.
This seems fine; now both father and mother have rights over their own body and over the eventual well being of the child. However, these rights do not extend into another area of the feminist-masculist battle; child custody. Jodi Kasten, from Salon Magazine, provides a great example of the issue;
Bob and Jane are a middle class couple. They have two children. They get an amicable divorce. There is a custody hearing. Both of them are good parents. Both of them want to be the primary custody holder. Who gets the children? Seriously, every single time, unless Jane lights up a crack pipe in the courtroom she will get physical custody. Bob is expected by society to be happy with every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. Don’t believe me? What would you think if you heard that a woman only saw her children every other weekend and a few holidays? I PROMISE you would think, “What did she do to lose her kids?” But, with men, that’s just the way it goes, right?
Women, in today's society, have the benefit of years of tradition and history when it comes to raising children. Women are viewed by nearly all as the primary caretakers of children, whether or not they actually are the primary caretakers. Though instances of abuse against children by their mothers are downplayed in the media, the majority of cases of child abuse are actually perpetuated by women (56.5%, according to the Department of Health and Human Services). Children from fatherless homes account for 71% of pregnant teenagers (DHHS), 63% of youth suicides (DHHS), and 71% of all high school dropouts (National Principals Association). And yet; "Ninety percent of divorced fathers have less than full custody of their children,” says Jonathan M. Honeycutt, the Director of Research for the National Institute for Divorce Research. Almost 40% of fathers in America have absolutely no custody rights over their children (1991 US Census Bureau), and yet there is no public outcry over the disenfranchising of fathers. If the situation was reversed, and it was women who were alienated from their children after a divorce, there would be riots in the streets and politicians demanding a complete reworking of the whole divorce system. But it isn't women who are being alienated from their children, despite the fact that the majority of child abuse is actually perpetuated by women.
No, instead it is fathers who are being cut off from their children, and then forced to pay child support for the child they are only allowed to see at certain, regulated times. According to the US Census Bureau, “Only 10% of all noncustodial fathers fit the "deadbeat dad" category: 90% of the fathers with joint custody paid the support due. Fathers with visitation rights pay 79.1%; and 44.5% of those with NO visitation rights still financially support their children”.
It seems to me as though fathers are viewed as mere accessories to mothers, simply the people that are counted upon to bring home the bacon and keep a roof over the heads of the mothers and her children. Males in general aren't even allowed near children in public areas without suspicion being placed upon them. As Boris Johnson, current Mayor of London, writes for the Telegraph,
There are all sorts of reasons why the numbers of male school teachers are down 50 per cent in the period 1981 to 2001, and why the ratio of female to male teachers in primary schools is now seven to one. There are problems of pay, and the catastrophic failure of the state to ensure that they are treated as figures of authority and respect...
But it is also, surely, a huge deterrent to any public-spirited man contemplating a career in education that society apparently regards all adult male contact with young people as being potentially a bit dodgy, a bit rum, a bit you know…
There must be a reason for this, and it needs to be recent. Why are men being vilified as criminals and threats to children? We have already discussed the fact that the majority of perpetrators of child abuse are, in fact, women. The only conclusion I can come to regarding this decline in the trust of men is the same one I came to regarding the alienation of fathers from their children. Society, and women in general, have been told that men suck, that men exist to make money and nothing more, and that men have a sex drive that rules their lives. This is, to use a phrase that feminists coined, sexist.
I have not even come close to touching on all of the issues surrounding Masculism and Feminism, nor have I adequately discussed the issues that I pointed out in this paper. I have not even touched on the topics of the unfair incarceration of men who cannot pay their child support payments, the fact that men bleed and die on the front lines while women stay at home building them more weapons to kill themselves with, the fact that men are incarcerated at staggeringly higher rates than women in much harsher conditions, the fact that the government spends millions each year on women’s health but absolutely nothing on men’s health, the double standard that exists in the workplace regarding sexual harassment, male circumcision, or the biased rape laws that assume that men retain the capability to form intent to rape under the influence of alcohol while women lose the ability to consent under the same influence.
However, it is in no way my goal in writing this paper to adequately cover all of these points. If that were my goal, I would probably end up writing a book. No, my goal was to point out to you, the reader, that there are topics that need to be discussed, that there are two sides to this 'gender war' that seems to be raging in America, not just the Feminist side, and that males have need of a rights movement just as much as females do. We need a Masculist movement, just as much as we need a Feminist movement. Only when both sides of the issue are equally represented will we ever come close to something resembling equality.
"If a young man gets married, starts a family, and spends the rest of his life working at a soul-destroying job, he is held up as an example of virtue and responsibility. The other type of man, living only for himself, working only for himself, doing first one thing and then another simply because he enjoys it and because he has to keep only himself, sleeping where and when he wants, and facing woman when he meets her, on equal terms and not as one of a million slaves, is rejected by society. The free, unshackled man has no place in its midst." --- Esther Vilar, The Manipulated Man
We will only have equal rights as women when we FULLY recognize that each person is a human being, regardless of sex, with the same wants, needs and feelings as everyone else. Sure, we’re hooked up differently. But, how can we expect to be treated equally as women when every man is characterized as Homer Simpson?
I suppose all I really want to say here is that it is wrong to judge any sex as a whole. Men and women are individuals. We all begin as children and children do what is expected of them. If we expect men to be stupid, sex-crazed frat boys, many will comply. If we expect girls to think “Boys Suck,” they will comply.
We do NOT have to stand on the backs of men to get ahead.
We can go forward together.
--- Jodi Kasten, Salon Magazine
US Department of Health and Human Services – Perpetrators, Child Maltreatment, 2007
Telegraph.co.uk – Come off it, folks: how many paedophiles can there be? Boris Johnson, 2006
Center for Children's Justice – Child Custody Statistics
Feminist.com – What is Feminism? Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, 2000
KeithWiley.com – Abortion and Men's Reproductive Rights, Keith Wiley, 2001
United States Department of Labor – Quick Stats on Women Workers, 2008
Marketing to Women Conference – Fast Facts, 2009
Fathers and Families – Alito and the Rights of Men, Glenn Sacks, 2009
Salon Magazine – Equal Rights for Men, Jodi Kasten, 2009
Feckblog – Facts about the “purse power” of Women, 2009