Reason One: Giving Up is Hard to Do
I’m a strong believer that men gain a huge amount from feminism. It’s been a theme of my writing and public speaking for thirty years (including in my new book, co-written with Michael Kimmel, The Guy’s Guide to Feminism.)
But, let’s face it, you don’t make omelets without cracking a few eggs. In this case, the eggs are the forms of power and privilege men have traditionally enjoyed:
- In the past, we men only had to compete with half of humanity for most jobs. Now, we have to compete with all of humanity.
- At night, men got to relax, go out with friends, or pursue our careers, sports or hobbies while our wives (even if they worked outside the home) did most childcare and domestic work. Now, we’re expected to do our fair share.
- Some workplaces were straight out of locker rooms. Now, with sexist behavior challenged, for some men, work just isn’t as much fun.
- No matter our personal abilities, society automatically valued us. Some religions said we were closer to God. We were automatically seen as stronger, more rational, and leaders.
- In relationships we got cooked for, shopped for, cleaned up after, and emotionally stroked.
- We could (if we so chose) have power in getting sex. Now, we can get put in jail for things that not long ago were seen as men’s rights.
- In some families and relationships, we were the ultimate decision-makers. Now, we have to share power and decision-making.
In other words, some men are afraid of feminism because it challenges forms of men’s power and privilege that one-half of our species foisted on the other about 8,000 years ago. Giving up is hard to do.
Reason Two: Being a Man is Hard to Do
Here’s the strange thing: many men also fear feminism because they fear they’re not “real men.” I’ve written a lot about this, what I call “men’s contradictory experiences of power.” What this means is that the ways we set up our male-dominated societies not only bring men power and privilege but, paradoxically, is the source of pain for men.
One source of this pain is that we set up impossible ideals of manhood: You know: always strong, fearless, in control, etc. etc. Of course no man can live up to these ideals. But so long as we had uncontested male-dominated societies, we could pretend to ourselves and each other that we did. Why? Because we could contrast ourselves to the other half that clearly did not.
Now that women are asserting their strength, power, smarts, and sexuality, now that women are saying that anything a man can do, they can do as well, it takes the air out of the sails of many men. If deep down they didn’t feel like real men before, now those feelings are unconsciously multiplied.
Reason Three: Changing Ideas is Hard to Do
In spite of amazing changes that are benefitting most women and most men, the ideas associated with male domination still cling hard:
- Religions and traditional beliefs have a life of their own and a deep staying power. Especially in a time of economic, political and social upheavals when the future seems tenuous, some men (and women) cling to old ideas.
- Old ideas continue to morph and adapt. You might think that right-wingers are against women’s equality. But actually, many of their current ideas would have been seen as crazy feminist ideas forty years ago: A woman can be president or prime minister? Women are as smart and capable as men? Women have as much right as men to pursue careers and education? … In other words, feminism has actually had a big impact even when it seems there is still huge opposition by some men and women to it.
- Parts of the media have continued to do a remarkable hatchet job on feminism. Ask people in many countries about the specific issues associated with gender equality or violence against women. Many (and in some countries, most) will take a feminist stance. But ask if they agree with feminism and they’ll bring out their stereotype of who or what a feminist is and say “No!”
- Finally, feminist women and pro-feminist men haven’t done a good enough job of transforming the mainstream. If we truly believe our ideas are just and are right, then everyone should subscribe to them! We should not be afraid of working in the mainstream. We should not be afraid of differences among us, but rather we should find ways to work with those who we don’t see as natural allies, and agree to disagree on specific issues. We should not be afraid to make mistakes or to not be perfect.
Guys Guide to Feminism…The Talk
Yes, you’ve heard the rumors: Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling are teaming up with Steven Spielberg to make the movie version of this year’s indie-hit book. Ah, rumors… Which brings us to the reason for
"Guy’s Guide to Feminism … The Talk" because this is exactly how you’ll get co-author Michael Kaufman to your campus or community for an incomparable night of humor, serious conversation, story-telling, and hard-hitting analysis. Get in touch: email@example.com
MICHAEL’S FACEBOOK PAGE
The Possibility of Dreaming on a Night Without Stars
First published by Viking/Penguin, now out as an eBook for Kindle, Apple iBook, Kobo, Nook, and other tablets. Click here to read reviews, download a free excerpt, or order today
- There’s no such thing as a ‘real man’
- White Ribbon: Taking Action Around the World to End Violence Against Women – Part 5, Africa
- White Ribbon: Taking Action Around the World to End Violence Against Women – Part 4, Asia, Middle East & Caucusas
- White Ribbon: Taking Action Around the World to End Violence Against Women – Part 3, Europe
- White Ribbon: Taking Action Around the World to End Violence Against Women – Part 2, the Americas
- White Ribbon: Taking Action Around the World to End Violence Against Women, Part 1: Australia, NZ, South Pacific
- International Men’s Day: When 365 Days Just Aren’t Enough!
- Appalling Words the World is Saying About Our Daughters
- Fathers and the International Day of the Girl Child
- Breakthrough Report from Asia-Pacific Shows Staggering Levels of Men’s Violence … and Hope for Change
- Happy Pride Day to One and All!
- In Australia on the Path to Greatness
- The Real Republican Strategy: Crazy Like Foxes?
- Do Men Hate Women? (Talking About Misogyny)
- Education after Steubenville: The 4 Rules of Sexual Consent
- International Women’s Day….A Letter of Love From Men
- Thousands Gathering at United Nations With One Message: End Violence Against Women & Girls!
- Feminism: Helping Men Be Free
- Valentine’s Day: Flowers Are Fine, But Here are 6 Keys to Good Relationships!
- Men: Which Side Will You Be On? Sexual Violence in India
- Eight Steps to Presidential Greatness
- Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart
- What is Healthy Masculinity?
- Rape & Women’s Voice
- Saudi Arabia: How About a Segregated City for Men?
- Olympic Dreams, Olympic Myths
- LOCKED-OUT SYNDROME STRIKES WOMEN & MEN!
- My Message in the British Parliament: Women Should No Longer Stand Alone
- International Women’s Day…A Letter of Love From Men
- Men for Women’s Choice
- The Five Reasons Why Men Should Control Women’s Reproduction
- APOLOGIES (To Anyone Who May Be Offended By This Blog)
- Killing in the Name of Honor
- Why Are (Some) Men Still Afraid of Feminism?
- The Astoundingly Simple Truth About Masculinity and Goodness
- Men and the Search for Love
- White Ribbon: 20 Years, 1000s of Campaigns to End Violence Against Women
- White Ribbon Campaign: 20 Years Working to End Violence Against Women
- Occupy Minds, Not Real Estate! (And Set Up a Much-Bigger Tent)
- The 0-0-0 Plan for Ending Sexual Harassment!
- In Norway, Gender Equality DOES Extend to the Bedroom
- Occupy the Future! (The 8 Keys to Being the 99%)
- The Guy’s Guide To Feminism
- Soften Up, Men!
- The Two September 11s
- A Man With The Greatest of Hearts: Jack Layton, 1950-2011
- London Burning, Governments Cutting, Wall Street Plunging
- Terror in Norway: An Extraordinary Letter from Oslo
- Summer Sports: Women Rock, Fathers Weep
- 9 Steps to a REAL Father’s Day
- SlutWalk: Anger, Celebration & the Conversation We Need to Have
- Letter from Scotland
- The Stupification of America . . . and Beyond
- An Open Letter from God to Sarah Palin
- The Top Ten List You Wouldn’t Want to Be On
- Nuclear Manhood
- Signs of Hope in Istanbul
- International Women’s Day…a Letter of Love From Men
- Julian Assange: Hero? Creep? Victim? Victimizer?
- Italian Men, Berlusconi, & the Forward March of Women
- Valentine’s Day: Flowers Are Nice, But Dish Out the Respect!
- Hear the Sound of Freedom!
- Why Protests Keep Spreading
- The End of Men
- People as Political Props: the Real State of the Union
- Amazing White Ribbon Campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific … and Antarctica
- December 6, 1989: The Day Canada Changed Forever
- Interview on engaging men to promote gender equality
- Watch Michael on “Men’s Room”
- Letter from Rio de Janeiro
- US Campus Men’s Conference
- The One Thing We Really Should Do This New Year
- Letter from Riga, Latvia
- Letter from Italy
- Letter from Istanbul, Turkey
- Letter from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
- New Approaches for Ending Sexual Harassment at Work
- Letter from India
- An Act of Collective Love: Why Men Are Working to End Violence Against Women
- Manhood and War
- Letter from China
- Free Book Download: “Cracking the Armour: Power, Pain and the Lives of Men”
- Better Fathering Will Help End Violence
- New Web Site With New Resources
- Building a Movement of Men Working to End Violence Against Women
- The White Ribbon Campaign – Breaking Men’s Silence To End Men’s Violence – Statement of Principles
- The 7 P’s of Men’s Violence
- Better Fathering Will Help End Violence
- Being a man doesn’t have to be a struggle
- Men must abandon notion they are violent by nature
- No public Twitter messages.