Men’s Rights?

[UPDATE: I no longer hold with most of the opinions expressed on this page, although I won’t entirely disown it. So this post is still here merely to serve as a record. After all, that’s what most of the posts here are for.]

Via Bryan Caplan who quotes from Tyler’s book. The article is aptly titled, “Men’s Rights? Stop Laughing!!!”

A Dr. Rangel, a well-known blogger and MD, offered this recipe for impressing a woman:

Wine her, Dine her, Call her, Hug her, Support her, Hold her, Surprise her, Compliment her, Smile at her, Listen to her, Laugh with her, Cry with her, Romance her, Encourage her, Believe in her, Pray with her, Pray for her, Cuddle with her, Shop with her, Give her jewelry, Buy her flowers, Hold her hand, Write love letters to her, Go to the end of the Earth and back again for her.

Just imagine substituting “him” for “her” in this passage, and telling women to do it.  “I want to be his girlfriend, not his slave” would be a reasonable response.

What is Robin’s lesson?  Men take a lot of abuse in our society, but rarely complain about it.  Why not?  Because when men complain, they look weak and get mocked.

Paranoid?  Consider:  You hear that a woman’s husband is cheating on her.  Your likely reaction: Sympathy.  OK, what if you hear that a man’s wife is cheating on him?  Your likely reaction: Poorly suppressed laughter.

Similarly, how do you react when you hear that a man’s wife “won’t let him” do something?  “Ha ha, he’s whipped.”  What if you heard that a woman’s husband “won’t let her” do something?  “How awful – how can she live like that?”

We usually think that people who complain have a raw deal.  What Robin points out, though, is that the people with the rawest deals don’t complain because the world won’t listen.

Any thoughts? I completely agree, for the record, except for the fact that I don’t think MOST of my friends would laugh at the man who’s wife is cheating on him. *I do suspect-hell, am pretty sure- that some would, though, whereas nobody does anything but sympathize with the woman who is being cheated on. You can point out that this is a relatively new development, and that the flip side is far worse for women in societies where they ARE discriminated against, but that doesn’t change the facts here, or the conclusion it suggests about most of the developed world.

PS: I was looking for a better title for this post and (on a tangential path) I was wondering, whats the latin root for men? I ask, because misogynists hate women, but misanthropes hate mankind in general i.e. all humans…ok, latent sexism there, but is that the only reason, or is there a better equivalent? I’m pretty sure I saw something a while back, but I can’t seem to remember it now.

*Apparently not. See the comments. Yet another reminder that we need to be careful about possible selection biases, points of view and emotional attachments when trying to decide a logical question.

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10 thoughts on “Men’s Rights?

  1. [WARNING: Massive comment]
    The word you’re looking for is misandry.

    Okay, honestly, that you agree with this article made me cringe a little. Mostly, because Men’s Rights is a rather problematic term for me – see http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/10/explainer-whats-mra.html as an explanation for that.

    But also the article itself, I just don’t see the truth.
    First, Dr. Rangel’s recipe is really sexist as it draws on a stereotypical view of what women want – as if every woman was the same and had the same wishes and needs. I can only say from my own experience that the last guy I really, really loved never wined me, never dined me, never romanced me [what the hell is that supposed to me anyway], never prayed with me [maybe he prayed for me but I couldn’t care less], never shopped with me, never gave me jewelry, never bought me flowers and never wrote me love letters. [The rest of the things, in my opinion, are things you should do in any relationship. Be it with a man, a woman, your family or friends, whatever.] And I was mind-boggingly happy with him. And I didn’t miss a thing.
    And no, I wouldn’t scream slavery if I was asked to do that for the person I love. Because I would want to do everything for them.
    The key-word here is equality. If one partner – no matter of which sex – always has to buy dinner, it sucks. Unless both partners want to have it like that.

    “Men take a lot of abuse in our society, but rarely complain about it. Why not? Because when men complain, they look weak and get mocked.”
    Men complaining about abuse is problematic [especially rich, white men]. I’m not saying that it never happens, but I am convinced that men are more privileged than women, still. The nature of privilege is that the privileged usually don’t see that they are, in fact, better off than other people. And when some of the privileges are taken away, they think it’s their basic rights taken. [If that makes any sense.]
    I do agree though, that men are often mocked when they appear weak, which is again rooted in the stereotypical view of the sexes and one of the reasons, why men need feminism, too.

    “Consider: You hear that a woman’s husband is cheating on her. Your likely reaction: Sympathy.”
    Not true. Usually the reaction is, “apparently she couldn’t satisfy him, wasn’t enough, let herself go, wasn’t pretty and prim all the time and failed her husband in general. No wonder the poor guy had to go and find another woman to take care of his needs!” Often in combination with, “well, why did she talk at all about it? This is a private matter and the wife should just have silently endured it. The husband is ensuring her livelihood after all. So what, if he has a little affair on the side? Boys will be boys.”

    “OK, what if you hear that a man’s wife is cheating on him? Your likely reaction: Poorly suppressed laughter.”
    Maybe I’m an especially nice person, but I wouldn’t laugh at a man if he gets cheated on, as little as I would laugh at a woman for the same reason. When relationships break apart, and cheating is usually a sign for that, that’s always sad and hurtful and difficult. And very rarely is it funny. [Despite what RomComs want to make you believe.]
    And if my friends would laugh at me because I got cheated on, they wouldn’t be my friends any longer. If they ever were.
    I admit that a wife cheating on her husband is usually perceived as a threat to his manhood and his honour, which again has more to do with the stereotypical gender roles than with men being more abused than women and is one of the things feminism aims to change.

    Add to that the traditional “guys sleeping around are studs, girls sleeping around are sluts” mentality, plus the old “it’s the mistress’ fault! Men just can’t say no, when a sexy woman makes advances. [also rape excuse #1] Never mind that the husband cheated and not the mistress, as the husband made the commitment to the wife and not the mistress, it’s her fault! Completely! What a bitch! What a homewrecker! Stone her!”, whereas the mister [what is the male equivalent of mistress?] never even gets in the picture, I don’t think that men are worse off when it comes to cheating on somebody or being cheated on. I really don’t.

    “Similarly, how do you react when you hear that a man’s wife “won’t let him” do something? “Ha ha, he’s whipped.” What if you heard that a woman’s husband “won’t let her” do something? “How awful – how can she live like that?” ”
    In an equal, healthy partnership, nobody should tell the partner what he can or can not do. They should consent. I know, it doesn’t happen that way mostly, unfortunately. But for me, that’s an abusive partnership. And men and women suffer equally if that’s the case. [But I’m convinced that more women are in a partnership, where the man tells them what to do than vice versa.]
    While it is true that women usually get the pity [but honestly, who actually wants the pity?], it is usually mixed with reproach: Why isn’t she doing something about that? Why does she let him surpress her? Why doesn’t she leave?

    “that the flip side is far worse for women in societies where they’re discrimated against, but that doesn’t change the facts here”
    I’m wondering: Where’s the here you’re talking about? Because I don’t know one single society, where women are NOT discriminated against. There definitely were developments in the right direction, but nowhere is there equality or no discrimination anymore. Not that I know of, at least. But if you can tell me, where I can find this place, I’ll be happy to learn. 🙂

    Okay, I think that’s about all I have to say to your post right now.

    @bitterQ:
    “Bros before Hoes” is as offensive as a title can get. Because it suggests that a man can never have as deep and meaningful a relationship with a woman as he can have with a man. Why would that be the case? Because women are inferior, not to be trusted and they do anything for money, even sell their bodies. Right?

  2. @kalafudra
    Offensive? Hmm, I was going in more for the male-urinal-humour-meets-irony-meets-pop-cultural-reference.

    But you have to admit, it also succinctly summarizes Mr. Caplan’s thesis; which I assure you, I find most retarded and cringe-worthy myself.

  3. @bitterQ
    You’re right, it sums up Mr. Caplan’s thesis. Point taken.
    [Also, thank you for saying that you don’t agree. :)]

    Unfortunately it’s rather difficult to convey irony in writing, if you don’t have a lot of context. In future, I will look for it more. 🙂

  4. @kalafudra:
    That’s the word! I actually did a post on this nearly 2 years back, on the old blog…forgot if I imported it. The word, I mean, and surprise about how its not all that well known, not anything more detailed.

    And I read the article. They’ve set up a pretty obvious straw man, haven’t they? (Disclaimer: I don’t actually know anything about any larger men’s rights movements. So I could be entirely wrong. I’m simply assuming that nothing’s quite that one-sided.)

    Dr. Rangel’s recipe is certainly sexist, and I wasn’t commenting on it, at all. But “And no, I wouldn’t scream slavery if I was asked to do that for the person I love. Because I would want to do everything for them.” doesn’t quite reconcile with that view, does it? He was hardly talking about being FORCED to do it. 🙂


    “Consider: You hear that a woman’s husband is cheating on her. Your likely reaction: Sympathy.”
    Not true. Usually the reaction is, “apparently she couldn’t satisfy him, wasn’t enough, let herself go, wasn’t pretty and prim all the time and failed her husband in general. No wonder the poor guy had to go and find another woman to take care of his needs!”

    We must come from entirely different viewpoints, because that’s not usually what I see, even in horribly stereotype-enforcing malayalam soaps.( No, I don’t watch, but sometimes sit through the last bit to grab the remote when my grandma finishes 🙂 )

    Same goes for the next bit, women cheating on men. Presumably, both of us are coming from biased data pools. Possibly more me than you, because from what I can tell you’re far more interested in this whole question than I am. On the other hand, that might be one reason for your viewpoints as well 🙂 : try confirmation bias on wikipedia.

    “In an equal, healthy partnership, nobody should tell the partner what he can or can not do.” Of course. But like you admitted…not very realistic. Some form of emotional blackmail (at the very least) is present in ANY relationship. And I agree, more women are told what to do/not do than the other way around. Was part of my disclaimer. My point was that while this is viewed as a sin, women telling men what to do is viewed in a completely different, lighter, even hilarious sense.
    (split because this is turning out pretty huge,too)


  5. While it is true that women usually get the pity [but honestly, who actually wants the pity?], it is usually mixed with reproach: Why isn’t she doing something about that? Why does she let him surpress her? Why doesn’t she leave?

    Point conceded. Also conceded about the guy the wife is cheating with( I don’t have a name, either) not being as vilified as the mistress. Maybe “I completely agree’ was a little too strong, given that now that I’m thinking about it, I apparently don’t.

    “here” meaning, the kind of behaviour presented in the article, which is admittedly a cherry-picked sample, but of (I think; like I said, my data pool may be biased as well)usually consistent reactions.

    By the way, the article never talks about the sort of gender repression that most feminists quite rightly complain about. Possibly, that’s what the author intended to say, but it really talks about a shift in the viewpoint of society at large where the amount of pity,as u put it-and true, pity’s not really a big deal, but it’s a factor, and Bryan’s an economist who deals with these things- is rather asymmetrically distributed. That was pretty much the only point I was trying to highlight.

    To be honest, I’m not very into the whole battle of the sexes thing. The vast majority of women I know aren’t repressed( I know, I know…data sets. But that’s NOT my data set, I rely on statistics for that, I’m just explaining why I don’t care as much), and the vast majority of the men( again, that I know) WANT everything that B.C mentions to be true, because that’s how things are and that’s how guys should act. Or something. I don’t know the exact rationale.

  6. @bitterQ
    The irony of using that title for an article trying to argue against the irony ingrained in that statement is a little too self-referential, don’t you think? Not to mention, its been used often enough that the irony has pretty much disappeared and its just offensive now.

    OK, probably not what you meant. To elaborate: given the context, I thought it was pretty much the exact opposite of Caplan’s thesis. It’s either meant to be taken literally, in which case, as mentioned, its just offensive and far beyond the observations he noted, or it’s irony and basically scoffs at the entire concept of men’s rights. As opposed to, “Men’s Rights? Stop Laughing!”

  7. @ramblingperfectionist:
    A lot of input again, let me work through it bit by bit.

    The article refers to a phenomenon that’s pretty widespread, at least in certain circles. If you read Shakesville, for example, the MRAs keep popping up, screaming about how much harm is done to men.
    The article you quote isn’t that bad, but it’s not far off either. As a starting point, you’d have no difficulty to find your way towards MRAs.
    But as I said, it was more the term Men’s Rights that made me link to the article than the article itself.
    [And yes, the article is polarising, but it’s also true.]

    Dr. Rangel’s recipe is kind of “being forced to do it”. If you don’t, you won’t get sex. Because women just give away their bodies, if you pay in some form for them. Be it with actual money or with restaurant bills or with security.
    At least, that’s what I take away as the underlying notion when I read the recipe.

    As for the different viewpoints – never underestimate cultural factors! We do come from different cultures after all, which treat their women differently. But what I wrote above is certainly my experience.
    And not only mine, because I do read a lot about this kind of stuff and it seems to be pretty prevalent, at least in the “western” world.
    But of course I’m biased. Just like anybody else.

    Ugh… I don’t think that some kind of emotional blackmail is involved in every relationship. At least, not in the ones I experience. But there’s a lot of that going around and a lot of it is socially acceptable. Which I find worrying.

    But you’re right. Usually, men are made fun of when their women tell them what to do, while the other way round that’s not the case.
    Still, part of that equasion is that a lot of women don’t say that they’re being told what to do and often, this isn’t even noticed in society.

    You know, the thing with pity is that it’s an incredibly arrogant notion. The people pitied aren’t people, they’re “poor things” [exaggeratedly put]. Their situation may be sad and we can cluck condescendingly when we hear about it, but in the end all that’s left is the happiness that it’s them, not us and it’s quickly forgotten. Pity doesn’t help anybody, quite contrary, it hurts the people being pitied, stripping them of their self-regard.
    What is needed is compassion and that is quite hard to come by.
    But that would be a different discussion.
    The thing is, I don’t think that emotions can be distributed. Everybody has them. And they’re pretty infinite. How would you distribute something infinite?

    “To be honest, I’m not very into the whole battle of the sexes thing.”
    Ouch. Battle of the sexes was the last thing I was aiming at. I don’t think that the sexes are or should be battling, although that’s what Mr. Caplan is basically implying. It’s not a zero-sum-game.

    “The vast majority of women I know aren’t repressed”
    I guess it depends on your definition of repression. But if that sentence was really true, in the sense of repression I have, then you must be living in a feminist’s paradise.
    Repression is still a very common thing – that women are allowed to vote or to get education or make (partly) their own choices, limited the repression but didn’t erase it. There’s still unfair social notions, there’s still inequality. And saying that women aren’t repressed is a dangerous thing.
    Hell, I don’t know one woman who isn’t. I’m limited in my choices because I am a woman. And that counts as repression for me.

  8. “As for the different viewpoints – never underestimate cultural factors!”
    Actually, that was the reason I was particularly surprised. Indian culture in general isn’t very big on feminism. Kerala(my state) is a LOT better, but I didn’t think we would be as good as most places in the west.

    “I guess it depends on your definition of repression.” True, our definitions don’t seem to match. Probably my fault: whenever I hear that word, my mind flies to Monty Python (“Help,help, I’m being repressed!!!” 😀 ) By your definition, most people I know are quite certainly repressed. That’s people, not women. My friends are repressed because they can’t do a lot of things they want to because they’re women, and I’m repressed because there are a lot of things that I can’t do as a middle class, christian male. (Admittedly, not as many things. But my point is that it’s not a null set.)

    About pity… I think I have to disagree on how helpful it is. When a judge has to make a decision involving 2 parties where he “pities” one person but not the other, there are clearly advantages to being the pitied one. I agree that compassion would be much more helpful, but this isn’t completely useless, either.

    “Still, part of that equation is that a lot of women don’t say that they’re being told what to do and often, this isn’t even noticed in society.”
    …good point. Should have remembered that.

    “Ugh… I don’t think that some kind of emotional blackmail is involved in every relationship.At least, not in the ones I experience.”
    🙂 Good for you, then. I only really figured this out afterwards, but me and my ex(yes, both of us) apparently did this a LOT. Obviously not all the time, but I was really surprised by how often this happened when I was looking back on the relationship. It’s been present in pretty much every other relationship I’ve been able to observe closely enough, as well. Hopefully, next time around I’ll try and consciously avoid it.

    “The thing is, I don’t think that emotions can be distributed. Everybody has them. And they’re pretty infinite. How would you distribute something infinite?”
    Again, I guess I should’ve been more specific. I meant, when you study what people feel about other people, then given identical (or symmetrical, I suppose) “events” (like, somebody cheating on them), there are significantly different emotions that arise when the person involved is a man instead of a woman or vice versa. I believe that was the extent of Mr. Caplan’s thesis. No more, no less. In your first comment you said that these observed reactions aren’t correct. That’s possible, although most of what I’ve seen correlates with them.

  9. Pingback: Men’s Rights? « The Ego Chronicles | ozql.com

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