This weekend the International Conference on Men’s Issues was held in a VFW hall in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. It was originally going to be at the DoubleTree Hilton in Detroit, but some feminist groups protested and the terrorized He-Men chose to move the venue, adding that they had sold too many tickets to remain at the DoubleTree. The surplus of ticket-buyers apparently couldn’t find the VFW hall, however, because by all accounts only about 100 guys showed up.
I direct your attention to what TBogg wrote about it. He nails them pretty darn well. But I have a little more to say.
Like BooMan, I am prepared to acknowledge and address systemic bias wherever it might be found. However, as BooMan says, the He-Men seem less interested in actually doing something about these alleged systemic biases than in expressing hatred for women, particularly feminists. I’ve run into this with these guys many times before. Whatever their cause du jour, they are incapable of rational, productive discussion about it because within seconds they will turn the conversation around to how those evil women hate them because they are men and how feminists are destroying manhood and America and western civilization generally. It’s all they really want to talk about.
I do think there are factors in our society and culture that impact men in harmful ways and which need to be addressed. But these trends had been written about long before second-wave feminism emerged in the 1960s. Back in the late 1940s, for example, Joseph Campbell wrote some interesting stuff about how industrial-age culture had alienated men from their families and made them more emotionally infantile and brutish.
The post-World War II era really did lock both men and women in tightly confined gender-role boxes that restricted their emotional and personal growth and perpetrated a weirdly adolescent view of sex, as exemplified by Playboy magazine and the auxiliary clubs and bunnies. In the 1960s women rebelled, but men, on the whole, did not. Individual men grew out of it, but men collectively never had the cathartic consciousness-raising moment when they perceived the confinements of the box they’d been shoved into.
I see the He-Men as guys locked tightly inside a conceptual box — the box of who they think they are and how they think life should be — that is out of sync with what’s going on in our culture generally. And they feel great unease about this, no doubt. But instead of confronting what’s really wrong they hunker down and scapegoat “feminism” as the source of their unease. Most “men’s movements” that have emerged in the 50 years since Betty Friedan wrote The Feminist Mystique have been reactionary attempts to reinforce the box, when what they really need to do to be happy is break out of the damn thing.
And I don’t know of any way to reach them; they’re too invested in their collective fantasy to accept help. I only ask that the majority of men who have outgrown the box to more frequently stand up to the He-Men and say, no. This is not who we are. This is not what manhood is. Maybe fewer younger men will get sucked into it.
I also want to address the women speakers at the conference. TBogg wrote of one:
Surprisingly, many of the speakers at Manstock, were women who were there to validate the attendees worst fearsâ€¦. for a modest speaking fee:
Dr. Tara Palmatier, a menâ€™s rights activist who advertises herself as a â€œshrink for men,â€ explained that â€œfeminism has evolved from the radical notion that women are people, to the radical notion that women are superior.â€
She diagnosed some women with what she called â€œgolden uterus syndrome,â€ which she explained as what happens when a mother will â€œfleece your ex-husband in divorce court and take assets you didnâ€™t earn, you deserve it, take that bastard to the cleaners, force a man into fatherhood with an accidental pregnancy, hey, if he wouldnâ€™t commit, sometimes you gotta push him into it.â€
So, instead of fleecing â€œyour ex-husband in divorce court and take assets you didnâ€™t earn,â€ Palmatier fleeces men by telling them that their problem is not their own shortcomings. Nope, it all on their ex-wives. Thatâ€™ll be $220 please, same time next week?
Yeah, there always will be people who will exploit the pain of others to make money. But women do occasionally exhibit what I call the “Daddy’s Good Girl” syndrome. It’s basically a strategy to gain the approval of men by giving them whatever they want and being whomever men want them to be. Show me a “Daddy’s Good Girl” and I will show you someone who is desperately and neurotically needy. Tara Palmatier sounds like one, although she may be just an old-fashioned grifter, of course.