In keeping with my philosophy of reading things that I don't just already agree with, I've been poring over the Dump Your Wife
blog with great fascination.
Actually, I should probably expand that philosophy to include not just things I don't already agree with, but perspectives I hadn't previously considered.
I found this blog via the Wikipedia entry on the Men's Rights Movement
, which I found via this article
from Men's News Daily. From which I learned that a main point of the Men's Rights Movement has to do with preserving marriage:"the men’s movement opposes same sex marriage, because it represents the final end of men’s role in family and society."
I'm not sure I understand this argument, if for the simple reason that I don't see how same-sex marriage prevents men from serving in the military, earning money, or being President, which they often do to great success.
The main reason why I hold the abovementioned philosophy has to do with the tediousness of posing societal ills as a "war" which one side must "win." [Now, I indexed an encyclopedia of actual wars once, so I have a pretty good handle on why most actual wars are fought: because somebody has something (land, control of a particular commodity) that somebody else wants. I digress, though I'm going to file this topic away for future discussion.]
So it dismays me to see an entire group of people - any
group of people - get characterized a certain way: "men", "the feminists", "conservatives", "liberals", when what the characterizer means to say is "some women I have know or heard about", "the liberals Rush Limbaugh talks about but whom I have never met", "the Christian Right who I see on TV and who must populate the rest of the country in scary Bible-thumping droves so is it any wonder why I never leave New York City."
It strikes me that the us-them
dichotomy does absolutely nothing but fracture society further. It's why, though I am so freaking liberal I drove around with a Kucinich for President
bumper sticker until October 2005, reading Alternet often makes me wanna puke.
So back to the Men's Rights Movement. At first, it struck me as odd that a movement that's so pro-marriage would also produce this blog advocating men to ditch their wives. It might lead one to believe it's a hypocritical movement that's talking out of both sides of its mouth, just like "the feminists" want both the right to equal pay and the right to drain their ex-husbands bank accounts through alimony.
Here's the folly of falling for that belief, though: these are two different dialogues created by two different individual men
. Just like every article written by every feminist
has been written by an individual woman
. I know there's something to be said for collective experiences, but there's also something to be said against
overgeneralizing and assuming that because a certain person takes on a certain label ("feminist", "conservative") that they take on all the bad things that you, right or wrong, associate with that label. (For example, "all feminists hate men," "all conservatives are backwards and uneducated.")
While reading through Dump Your Wife, I noticed a common theme: that women are often gold-diggers who will reject a man if he doesn't make enough money as readily as a man might reject a woman if she doesn't have big enough boobs.
I can see the grievance here. Has feminist literature addressed this much? I don't know. Not that I recall having read, at least. How would I answer to this, since because I am a feminist woman, I (of course!) speak for all women?
The best answer I could give is that in my version of feminism, there's nothing that states that "all women are of superior moral character to all men." If that
were the case, then it would've been me
for cheating at the corn maze we went to last fall, not the other way around. (I was very humbled.)
I've also thought quite a bit about how many men that I know personally who would fit "man" as defined by a) radical man-hating feminists and b) men who think all feminists are radical man-hating feminists.
The answer is zero, but two in particular come close.
The first one is a friend-of-a-friend, the type who, before he was "bullied" into getting married by a woman he doesn't seem to have much respect for, would make the kind of generalized statements like "men are better at business" and "all feminists are ugly." I've actually never met his wife, so I can't speak to her character, but when I heard about their marriage it seemed to me that he was making a mistake, because he didn't seem to like her much, but also that he wanted a wife so that he could have someone to take care of him. He strikes me as one of the unhappiest people I've ever met.
The other is my friend's husband, whose resentment of my friend's education level and success in the working world has morphed into a deep disrespect of her personally
, despite the fact that he has repeatedly refused to get himself educated, or, often, to even work at all. (He knew about all this before they got married, so it's not like she's "emasculated" him.) It might be different if he had any inclination at all to be a stay at home dad, but he doesn't, even though he pretty much just stays at home
. Here is an excerpt from one of their arguments I overheard:She
: I just would like to be treated as a person in this relationship.He:
You're not a person, you're my wife.
The rest of the men I know are pretty great, and "their women" appreciate them as much as they, in turn, appreciate "their women." So I, as an individual woman, don't seem to have much reason to hate men as an institution (and surprise! I don't - I love 'em, I can't get enough of 'em, and, when it comes to sheer numbers, I have to concede that most people I've been friends with now and in the past are actually men).
It would seem, then, that women who hate men and men who hate women have perhaps never been around men or women who aren't worth hating.
Can't speak it as absolute truth, but it's one of those observations you can't come up with if you don't examine all sides of the argument.
Labels: read something you don't agree with