Posted on | August 3, 2014 | 63 Comments
“You can never please a feminist woman. And even feminist women despise men whom they can push around.”
— Charlotte Allen
“That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
— Rhett Butler, Gone With the Wind (1939)
Let’s begin by explaining something that should be obvious, but which is seldom stated explicitly. Feminism is a movement of women, by women, for women. Men may support feminism, but they cannot participate in feminism. It’s an exclusive all-girls club.
From this premise — which, as I say, should be obvious — several conclusions may be drawn. For example, we realize that there are financial rewards to be reaped by the female author or journalist who can gain recognition as a “feminist writer.” There is a ready-made market for her books, a readership for her columns, an audience for her lectures/book signings at colleges and conferences. To become that kind of Feminist Celebrity (e.g., Naomi Wolf) is the career objective of many college girls with literary ambitions, most of whom will fall far short of their goal. However, in the process of striving to achieve their Feminist Celebrity aspirations, many of those young wannabes will publish innumerable feminist blog posts, columns, articles and essays. Among these young feminist writers, there is a ferocious competition for that coveted reward, the book contract that will entitle them to call themselves “author,” no matter how small the advance payment, or whether their book actually sells.
This is all part of the Feminist-Industrial Complex, mostly parallel to but sometimes overlapping the campus Women’s Studies grievance factories, and the important thing to remember – returning to our premise — is that it is an exclusive all-girls club.
Knowing this, is it even necessary to explain why “male feminist” is a category that makes no sense whatsoever? Even if a man were willing and able to explain feminist ideology, to apply it to contemporary social problems in columns and blog posts and books, any success he had in this endeavor would be fiercely resented by the women writers whose aspirations were thwarted by his success. If you understand feminism as a career field exclusively for women, you see why there is no market for the male feminist’s work. The college girls majoring in Women’s Studies, who attend lectures and book signings for feminist authors who visit their campuses, are there not just to absorb the Feminist Celebrity’s wisdom, but to gaze in admiration at a role model who represents their own aspirations. The male feminist is never going to be invited to give such lectures, nor are his books going to be included in the syllabus of assigned readings in Women’s Studies classes, not merely because he lacks the requisite personal perspective — “the authority of experience” — to speak of women’s grievances, but also because any success he enjoyed would be viewed (and perhaps rightly so) as having been subtracted from the fixed-pie/zero-sum-game quantity of success available to women authors. A male’s success as a Feminist Celebrity would actually be oppressive to women.
Quod erat demonstrandum.
No matter how much he may sympathize with women’s plight, no matter how adept he is at articulating feminist ideology, no man can ever expect to be accepted in the all-girls club of feminism. John Stoltenberg, a gay man who was the male companion of radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, was one of the few men ever to write books — Refusing to Be a Man (1989) and The End of Manhood (1994) — that are occasionally included in Women’s Studies curricula. Yet even Stoltenberg (who also has the necessary radical feminist credential of being a very bad writer, incidentally) was never more than a peripheral sideshow to the Feminist-Industrial Complex, tolerated rather than celebrated by the movement, a sort of carnival freak-show exhibit: “Come one! Come all! See the Amazing Feminist Man, a bizarre one-of-a-kind creature with a penis, yet capable of cohabiting with the Dreaded Dworkin!”
Stoltenberg was deservedly viewed with contemptuous pity, by contrast to Jeffrey Masson, the millionaire womanizer who bedded radical feminist Catharine MacKinnon, tricking her into believing for a while that he actually wanted to marry her. Handsome, wealthy and brilliant, Masson briefly inspired mystification and envy as the ideal feminist Dream Man. The fact that there was no Happily Ever After ending to their engagement was little remarked by feminists, except to nod at each other and say, “See? I told you there is no such thing as a feminist man.”
‘Feminist’ Date Rapists and Porn Addicts
The Twitter hashtag #DearFeministMen arose as a spontaneous online expression of what Professor Glenn Reynolds calls “shrew culture,” i.e., feminism as a perverse and sadistic desire to humiliate males. Perhaps a psychology graduate student could write a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation on this phenomenon, were it not for the fact that anyone who expresses overt hostility to feminism would never be able to gain employment in 21st-century academia. But the #DearFeministMen hashtag was swiftly hijacked by conservatives — including the #WomenAgainstFeminism brigades, God bless ‘em — who used it to remind these would-be male “allies” of feminism that men are at best irrelevant to the women’s movement and generally viewed with contempt by the feminist rank-and-file.
— Kristal Garcia (@KristalDGarcia) August 2, 2014
— Alyssa Lafage (@AlyssaLafage) August 2, 2014
Amid this burst of hashtag activism, one anti-feminist woman quoted a 2006 blog post by feminist author Janice Erlbaum:
Lately, there’s been a spate of “male feminists” posting at the [Internet bulletin boards] where I lurk. At first I saw them and I thought, great! I mean, I like feminists, and I like men, so you’d think I’d love this purported hybrid of the two. And yet, no, not so much, not so much at all.
As a matter of fact, it’s caused me to realize that most of the men I’ve personally known who have made a huge hairy point of identifying as feminists have been either date rapists, mom fetishists, porn addicts, or bear daddies inflicting their frustrated pseudopaternal tendencies on women. They are some of the most passive-aggressive, patronizing, out-dishing without it-taking twerps on the planet, and they are poisoning the women’s movement from the inside by sapping the hell out of everyone’s goddamn energy.
Preach on, sister! Insofar as feminists want male “allies,” they want male allies who will shut their mouths and nod their heads in mute acquiescence while women get paid to proclaim to the world what wretched and despicable creatures men are. Erlbaum’s perception that many soi-disant “male feminists” are “date rapists” and “porn addicts” was amply vindicated by the 2013 meltdown of Professor Hugo Schwartz. The so-called “porn professor” was exposed as a dangerous psychotic and a compulsive womanizer who had more or less habitually engaged in sex with his female undergraduate students, some of them mere teenagers. Schwartz was emblematic of the kind of male “allies” feminism attracts. It is impossible to imagine any psychologically healthy man supporting a movement devoted to demonizing men, and so we automatically suspect the worst of men who claim to embrace feminism. High-profile “progressive” perverts like Bill Clinton, Elliott Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are by no means anomalous examples.
Why, then, does Janice Erlbaum call herself a feminist? She is heterosexual — describing her live-in boyfriend as her “domestic partner” — and we might therefore expect her to reject feminism’s anti-male ideology. But notice how she describes her boyfriend Bill Scurry:
Now, I’m not saying that every man who believes in the equality of the importance of women and men is secretly a douche; I’m not saying that at all. I’m lucky enough to be domestically partnered to a guy who does half the housework, yields 50 percent of the remote, rallies and marches with me, and writes the appropriate outraged emails to Congress when needed.
This is a huge clue. If control of the TV remote is such a source of strife in your relationship that you consider it a political necessity to achieve “equality” this way, you’ve got a problem that can never be solved through politics. And if having a man do half the housework is such an important issue for you, why not live by yourself? Sure, if you lived alone, you’d be doing 100% of your own housework, but at least you wouldn’t feel that you were being oppressed in the process. If what a woman most desires in a man is a servant to wash her dishes, mop her floors and fold her laundry, she could simply hire somebody to do the job. Maybe her domestic servant would even agree to join her at protest rallies, for an hourly fee, but such a commercial arrangement probably wouldn’t satisfy the feminist’s psychological needs, would it?
Janice Erlbaum and Bill Scurry in a 2009 YouTube video.
This is not to say that I dislike Janice Erlbaum. She is in fact a very funny and surprisingly sane person, especially when one considers the horrific background of her youth. Her mother was evidently the type of divorceé who just has to have a man around all the time, without regard to the consequences for her children:
Her mother’s string of abusive boyfriends and husbands had left her with no choice; after her mom kicked her last stepfather out, Erlbaum told her, If you take him back, then I’m leaving. When she was 15, she left her Manhattan home after her mother once again reunited with the man. She spent several weeks in a shelter and eventually ended up in a group home.
That’s from a review of Erlbaum’s 2006 memoir, Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir, and here’s an excerpt of another review:
Erlbaum . . . left her Manhattan home at 15 after her mother reunited with Erlbaum’s abusive stepfather. Landing first in a shelter and then a group home, Erlbaum — shattered by her mother’s choice — embarks on a treacherous course of self-destruction. Casual sex with a series of brutally uncaring boys coupled with daily drug and alcohol abuse become her antidote to the violence and racism in the child-welfare system housing her. Her isolation and loneliness threaten to swallow her whole. Yet when Erlbaum’s mother invites her home (the dreaded stepfather gone for good), things don’t improve. Erlbaum has more freedom, which allows more opportunity for trouble. At 17 she leaves again (this time to live with an older boyfriend), becomes addicted to the cocaine so plentiful in the 1980s New York club scene and nearly dies from an overdose.
There are many insights one could glean from this tale, although they are perhaps not the lessons Erlbaum herself learned. For example, the common liberal claim that the so-called “homeless epidemic” of the 1980s was a result of Ronald Reagan’s policies — which even at that time was recognized as a partisan falsehood by any honest person who examined the problem — clearly doesn’t describe Erlbaum’s plight. Bill Bennett or any other conservative analyst might cite Erlbaum’s story as Exhibit A in the case for how the breakdown of the traditional family has contributed to the problem of homelessness.
Janice Erlbaum with her book ‘Girlbomb’ in 2006.
One might further conclude from Erlbaum’s tale — just reacting to the reviews, without having read the book — that the nut doesn’t fall too far from the tree. That is to say, Janice Erlbaum seems to have spent her adolescence and young adulthood in “got to have a man” mode, which pattern continued long after her stint as a homeless teenager ended. She reproduces at her blog a journal entry from 1995, when she was 23 or 24, breaking up with one boyfriend and haphazardly hooking up with another male acquaintance:
The day after Richard and I broke up, I woke up at 8 and put on my clothes and went over to his house and crawled into his bed. “I’m almost ready to go,” I announced. “Just one more hug.” He pulled my arm over him and gave my hand a kiss.
I went home and called Nathaniel. My voice was about six octaves lower than usual.
“We broke up, of course.”
“Oh, kid,” he said, very sympathetically. “It’ll be okay.” . . .
“I’m going to meet my dealer. Tonight I’m going to Biblios, from where I’ll probably take home my friend Ward.”
“You’re so dramatic and tragic. I just love it.” . . .
Ward delivered the line, “You’re too beautiful to have to cry” . . . He is a lowercase poet. Really it was comic. The sex part was cursory, in the morning, idiotic grappling in the lowest sense. So why am I on my way to meet him now? Maybe this is just the perfect aversion therapy. . . . Ward is so obvious.
Nathaniel wonders why he spends so much time groping his female friends, and why we only put up with it to a point. It was wrong of me to refer to him at the party as my auxiliary boyfriend. I was showing off and it was mean.
There is a word for this condition: Psychologically damaged.
Of course, thinking back on myself at age 23 or 24, I realize that if anyone would pay me money to write a memoir of my reckless youth, I’d be exposing myself to the same kind of armchair analysis. But nobody pays male conservative writers for stories of their youthful misadventures, so my kids won’t have to endure the embarrassment of Dad’s tell-all memoir, All Girls Named Tonya: Strippers, Psilocybin and Other True Tales of My Life as a Teenage Democrat.
The Implausible Fictions of Liberalism
The publishing industry is liberal, so unless you’re a big-name professional athlete or some other bankable celebrity, your memoir is only of interest to the industry if it somehow dramatizes the liberal worldview. In fact, there have been a couple of examples of such morality-tale memoirs that were exposed as works of fiction; if you can write a story that makes an editor say, “Wow, Oprah’s gonna love this one,” they won’t even bother to fact-check your story.
We have no reason to doubt the veracity of Janice Erlbaum’s memoir, however, and its truth seems verified by the street-smart cynicism with which she sees through “male feminists” whose purported devotion to equality conceals an ulterior motive:
[L]et’s post a handy checklist for the symptoms of Male Feminism.
- Name drops bell hooks (making sure to drop the caps), or has sig quote by Rigoberta Menchu. Will suggest that you read such and such essay by such and such feminist before you discuss the topic at hand further, as it’s a “must read.”
- Feigns sympathy for the rigors of the menstrual cycle. “Oh, cramps, bummer; I getcha, sister. By the way, most men are really put off by talking about cramps, but not me, I’m used to your crazy gross moon blood vagina ritual, because I’m evolved.”
- Is smarter than you, and more “rational” (i.e., not ruled by terrifying and psychotic mood swings), but doesn’t hold that against you. Understands that women are more “emotional” than men, and therefore susceptible to “simple misinterpretation.” Smirks, smarms, provokes, and blathers until you go crazy, then calls you crazy.
- Loves porn, even if he pretends to hate it. As a matter of fact, the more he professes to hate it, the more hardcore and specific the porn is.
Like I said, Preach on, sister!
No self-respecting bullshit artist would ever dabble in that particular brand of bullshit. “Yeah, baby, after I went to the moon on Apollo 19, I was a covert operative for the CIA running arms to the Contras in Nicaragua — and also, a male feminist.”
Yet is it possible that some of these men are sincere, and under the delusion that they are feminists? Well, there are all kinds of crazies running around in the world — 9/11 Truthers, Commies for Hamas and so forth — as a result of the shortage of treatment facilities for the mentally ill, so we can’t lock up all the “male feminists” in the lunatic asylums where they belong. Nevertheless, we can try to persuade these deranged nutjobs that their worldview is unrealistic.
— Christian Chiasson (@xXToYeDXx) August 3, 2014
#DearFeministMen These women have joined here to tell you in this hashtag how you are a failure. Turn your back on this abuse.
— Kristal Garcia (@KristalDGarcia) August 2, 2014
Here’s a hint, guys: Women who like men are not feminists.
Oh, sure, there are heterosexual women who for one reason or another describe themselves as “feminist,” but the more she studies feminist theory and embraces feminist ideology, the more she is compelled to the belief that all men are violent predatory oppressors. Feminism is a journey to lesbianism and any woman who tries to reconcile this ideology with a normal female life — men, marriage and motherhood — is condemning herself to disappointment, while creating needless misery for those around her. It would be better for such a woman simply to avoid this exercise in futility; the minute she decides to major in Women’s Studies, a young woman could adopt radical lesbian separatism as her creed and avoid all the harms she would otherwise inevitably suffer herself or inflict on others in pursuit of an ideologically consistent “heterosexual feminism.” But some people are so profoundly unhappy that their only source of satisfaction in life is to make other people unhappy, and some heterosexual women embrace feminism as an excuse for taking out their resentments on the men in their lives, an ideological rationalization for their weird sadistic love/hate relationships with men.
Why do you think Hillary Clinton refuses to divorce Bill?
Feminism’s war against human nature means that, insofar as any man internalizes feminism’s critique of masculinity — abjuring those qualities of assertive confidence which feminists condemn as “male domination” — he thereby becomes less attractive to women, even those feminists who routinely complain that men are oppressing them.
No matter how hard you try to be a latter-day Ashley Wilkes, any woman worth having will always prefer Rhett Butler.
So please, guys, don’t embarrass yourselves by atttempting to appease feminists, becoming a Vichy collaborator with the feminist regime. Whatever you might hope to gain by being a “male feminist” can never compensate for your loss of dignity and self-respect.
- July 14: Radical Feminism and the Long Shadow of the ‘Lavender Menace’
- July 26: Feminists Worry That Disney Movies Are Making Girls Heterosexual
- July 28: Feminists Against ‘The Unnatural, Yet Universal Roles Patriarchy Has Assigned’
- Aug. 2: How to Become a Lesbian, Step One: Watch Cable TV While Depressed