The Paradox of the “Men’s Rights Movement”

All the problems that *certain men* complain about — male suicide, mothers gaining custody of children more often following a divorce, men dying from hazardous occupations, men going to war, and so on — are problems directly caused by patriarchy.

Men raised without the weight of toxic masculinity from their fathers, their brothers, their male friends, and their male coworkers, who felt encouraged to express emotion in the relatively uninhibited manner typically associated with femininity, and who felt like they could be open with their partners, seek therapy when needed, and ask people for help, would be less likely to commit suicide.

If half of all time spent on childcare was done by fathers, then the idea of granting custody to a father would bear no connotations different from those of granting custody to a mother.

If men did not harass women in male-dominated occupations, then more women would work in them. This includes the trades. This includes physically dangerous occupations that some women would take, both because college is expensive and because these jobs pay more than the retail and other service industry jobs that women with no college education are relegated to. That would make more women, and fewer men, *die at work*.

I oppose the draft. I oppose the Selective Service. It is unconstitutional. But if, for the sake of argument, the draft/Selective Service were allowed to remain, then I would support female inclusion. For every man who can serve on the ground, there is a woman who can serve in the air or at sea.

Maybe some men get sucked into believing that the aforementioned problems are WOMEN’S fault, and feminists’ fault, because most among this group have no concept of how millennia of legal, institutionalized, structural, systemic, and totalitarian oppression compounds and completely overtakes a society. They have no concept of the magnitude of the power of oppression based on innate, and easily identifiable, traits to erase the oppressed group. They do not understand the concept of supremacy. They don’t understand that “causing all problems” is a corollary of “controlling everything.”

They do not understand how the oppressive group — in this case, men — could possibly cause the majority of the world’s problems. It sounds pejorative. And yet, that is exactly what one would expect to happen when the other group (i.e., women) are not allowed to vote, work anywhere, buy anything, own anything, learn anything in school, even learn to read or go outside the house without a man. If women are all in the house watching children, cooking, and cleaning all the time, then how could they cause more than a minuscule fraction of the world’s problems?

The 21st century is no longer entirely like this, but mothers are STILL five times more likely than fathers to stay at home to raise children. Mothers are still SEVEN TIMES more likely than fathers to be absent from the workforce to raise children under 6. So yes, if there are more men working at companies, then there are more men behind the various problems wrought by these companies. Every American president has been a man. Those who blame presidents for the country’s problems, then and now, are blaming only men. 80 percent of Congress is male. This means men are disproportionately behind the problems that laws and government policies have wrought.

In this context, the idea of “blaming men” is merely a mathematical, logical conclusion. Some men then argue the flip side, that if men caused most of the world’s problems, then they also created most of the world’s solutions. But this argument is invalid, because women were categorically prohibited from creating the world’s solutions. The idea that we never could have if we had had the same freedom as men all along, and will never be able to, is nothing more than pure unadulterated bioessentialist misogyny.

Bioessentialist pseudoscience was just a relatively fancy, nineteenth-century way of saying that BIPOC and women were innately inferior, a *more modern* update to the old adage that their innate inferiority was proven by scripture. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries show a pattern of oppressive pseudoscientific claims being debunked. Because there is a greater genetic difference between different sexes versus different races, the debunking of sex-based pseudoscience has lagged behind the debunking of race-based pseudoscience, but the limit is approaching 0 practical difference in terms of who can do which jobs or tasks. Consider, among other things, the Flynn effect and the fact that greater *cognitive differences* between men and women *magically appear* in countries where women are more oppressed.

Now that we have taken out the bioessentialist trash, we can recognize that, as with every group project you have ever done, or every new person who has ever joined your group of friends, the equal participation of women in society will cause both new problems and new solutions. Because no person is perfect, and therefore no group of people is perfect. And yet, the more ideas there are in a meeting, or a company, or a country, or the world, the higher the quality of those ideas that rise to the top. The equal participation of EVERY group also would provide a sorely needed checks and balances mechanism to the biggest problems that we face today because they have run rampant, unchecked and unregulated, for so long. If two heads are better than one, then 7.9 billion heads are better than 3.95 billion.

In a male supremacist society, virtually all problems disproportionately faced by women versus men, AND virtually all problems disproportionately faced by men versus women, are the fault of men as a group. Because male supremacy isn’t some metaphysical force, it is only still around because individual men keep enforcing it (think of each man who contributes to the problem as one atom from an enormous form).

The goal of feminism is for there to be no problems — other than relatively trivial things like menstruation and nocturnal emissions, and the less than two years out of her entire life that the average woman desires to spend pregnant — that disproprtionately affect women OR men. This means we both go to war and we both die at work. And also that we both raise the children and we both do the cooking, grocery shopping, and housework. That we split the bill at restaurants, and that the concept of marital community property is irrelevant because we both make the same amount of money. No need to worry about gold diggers or hypergamy if men and women, on average, make the same!

Some people really need to stop perpetuating the very problems that they complain about.

No, Women Don’t Have Better Social Skills

Woman And Man Talking Over Cup Of Tea. Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty  Free Image. Image 32505106.
Woman and Man Talking Over Cup of Tea. Copyright: Iakov Filimonov

We all know the stereotypes. But where do they come from?

“Women have better social skills.”

Until about fifty years ago, the vast majority of women were relegated to the roles of wife and mother. Watch Pride and Prejudice. Parents pressured their daughters to be as charming as possible to catch the interest of a man and win his parents’ approval as well. To be a “good wife” was a woman’s JOB. Being a good spouse, a good partner, a good catch requires social skills. To do 100% of the raising of children also requires complex social skills. Think about the teachers you had in elementary school. Which ones the kids “liked,” which ones they didn’t. That was based on social skills. Raising or working with young children –> social skills. Men have always been taught that their aim in life should be to go for what they want, but women have been taught that their aim in life should be to please others. While going for what you want usually requires some social skills, pleasing others is, by definition, social skills.

This is more controversial, but it’s also not a stretch to imagine that a person barred from economic independence, who has to live with a physically bigger and stronger person to survive, might break out some *social skills* to make him less likely to batter her. For legal, economic, cultural, and physical reasons, women have always had to *understand* men to a greater extent than men had to understand women.

If we had a time machine and could go back and socialize with women from different eras, I think the women would have better social skills the farther back you go.

The transmission of social skills from mother to daughter is not hereditary, it is cultural. Mothers pass on to their daughters all the things that they personally deployed as women. Some of these lessons help, others keep the stereotypes going.

Think about young girls’ toys, movies, and books. They promote the cultivation of social skills. Being nice to each other. Getting along. Compromising. Apologizing and reconciling. (All of which are good things when men and women do them equally.)

I’m a girl who was a kid in the 90s and 00s. When I was a newborn, my dad’s friend asked him if he was going to “try for a boy.” My dad said, “What difference does it make?” Both my parents were egalitarian regarding gender, immigration, LGBT, race, everything. They raised me to do “boy stuff” and “girl stuff.” I was in organized sports every year ages 6-17. I grew up with no difference in my mind between being female and being male.

I also was a socially awkward child. I liked people and I wasn’t mean, I just didn’t really understand social interaction. What I really wanted was a manual with all the rules. In elementary school and middle school, before starting a conversation, I would write a list of things I could say to open it. From each thing I could say, I would do a flow chart of things the other person might say. I was trying to account for all the edge cases in advance and make sure that the conversation could not possibly fail.

Social skills are something I have worked on over time, because it’s important for everyone. I really enjoy spending time with other people and find them fascinating to get to know. I didn’t want to learn less about people I liked just because I was awkward and scared. This merely serves as just one example of a woman who was raised with a premise of gender equality from day one, whose social skills were not any better than the average boy or man. We all know men with great social skills and women whose social skills could improve.

So, this is where the stereotype comes from. History and culture. Not biology. So, let’s stop condoning these myths already! If you hear someone say women “naturally” have better emotional intelligence or social skills, call them out. Respectfully but firmly. If you hear someone say women have better emotional intelligence or social skills, but they don’t specify a biological component, they still might intend what they say to imply biology. Unless it is very clear that they are not implying any kind of biological component, it is important to clarify that any observable differences are due to socialization and not biology.

The proposition of women being biologically suited for different things entails that men are biologically suited for other things. Therefore, raving about all the things that women are supposedly “better at” actually hurts women. And whenever a trait is claimed to be biologically associated with women, there are men at the ready to pervert this notion and use it to disadvantage women. “I can’t be nice to women, because I’m a man and men biologically can’t be nice!” “I can’t listen to women, because I’m a man, men have naturally bad social skills, and therefore men just can’t listen!” “I can’t tell what’s offensive and what isn’t because I’m a man, and men biologically can’t pick up on these things!” “Male software engineers sexually harass women because we’re nerds, and nerds don’t have enough social skills to know what’s sexual harassment and what isn’t!” “It’s better for the mother to raise the children than the father. Fathers are just too insensitive. Guess that means women should drop out of the workforce to raise kids, and never come back!” There have been so many times when some guy told me that he wasn’t rude, he was just being a guy. The idea of a person taking PRIDE in their INABILITY to do something, or their own rudeness, sounds very strange on the surface, and yet men often loudly and proudly tout their inability to do skills coded as “girl stuff” or “woman stuff.” The idea that any man would take pride in his inability to parent sounds heartbreaking, and yet, Elon Musk referred to his son as an “eating, pooping machine” and proudly proclaimed that, “There’s really not much I can do about it.” So the man engineering electric cars can’t work out a diaper? And is willing to ADMIT it? There’s clearly more to that story, the “more” being that he thinks changing diapers is beneath him, but not beneath a woman. Slating some traits with men and other traits with women is never good when so many misogynistic men believe the most ignoble “guy thing” is better than the very best “girl thing.”

Patriarchy as a social system has differed across time and place. There is archaeological evidence that prehistoric humans (gatherer-hunters) respected women equally. Patriarchy is not biological. It’s not caused by testosterone. Yet men have always used bioessentialism — the idea that everything men and women can do, and should be allowed to do, is determined by our biology — to justify patriarchy. Their bioessentialism has been debunked. So if someone, female or male, uses a bioessentialist argument to support the idea that women are worthy of rights, workplace inclusion, and respect, it’s not a compliment and it’s not okay. Women deserve rights, workplace inclusion, and respect because we’re people. We don’t have to be innately better than men at anything to earn our keep.