I’ve posted before on how despite the best efforts of a lot of people on a lot of different sides there are barriers in place that really keep us from getting together on the same page and changing the system for the better for all people.

While I’m sure you can think of many barriers that are keeping you from getting along with other groups of people what I want to post about why some men have difficulty working with certain groups that are trying to achieve gender equality.

There is chance that as soon as you read that sentence above you went straight to the most selfish and hateful (and probably anti-woman) reason you can think of. That’s not always the case and you may want to pay attention if you did go there.

When I look at places like NOMAS, XY Online, Men Can Stop Rape, and so forth I find one pretty common thread.

They seem to hope to get men to open up to groups that pretty much center (and sometimes name) themselves around the bad things that men do to women. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to say that those groups need to change their names and I’m not trying to say they don’t have good intentions (well I’m suspicious of XY Online but that’s another story) but I have to say that if I had been abused or otherwise mistreated by women I would have a hard time embracing a group that posts material almost exclusively about the bad things men do to women.

When it comes to overcoming the ways in which the system oppresses a person I’m pretty sure most folks here would think it unfair to expect anyone that is marginalized in any way to just magically “get over” what’s happened to them. But when I look at places like that (and I also get this feeling from some feminist sites as well) I think sometimes I sense an air of contradiction. Its like they want men to be able to open up and and speak their minds…but only about certain things.

And in the end I really think that groups and programs that use this approach are not going to do as much good as they hope to. By going about their activism like this I think they run the very real danger of alienating and pushing away some of the very people they claim to want to help.

So how about you? Are there any barriers (regardless of whether or not other people may agree on them being real or imagined) that you think need to come down for the greater good of all people?

(I’m hoping to avoid a simple shouting match of “You wouldn’t think there were barriers there if you weren’t so goddamn _____!” vs “Well maybe if you weren’t so goddamn ______ there wouldn’t be any barriers!” arguments but I think this is a discussion that really needs to take place.)

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5 Responses to Barriers

  1. clarence says:

    Whenever people with closed minds dehumanize other people, that is a barrier.
    We all have closed minds and prejudices to some extent. The better of us try to set that aside and see common humanity. In exchange for that, we often get spit on and dismissed to such an extent that we figure it is not worth it.

    This blog and Clarisse Thorns blog, and arguably Feminist Critics (because two of the bloggers self identify as feminist) are the only 3 feminist blogs I’ve ever found where dissenting views are – at least from how the moderators deal with commenters- treated with respect and engaged and the moderators show human compassion for all people on a rather consistent basis. I find some of this on other blogs and MRA blogs as well, but all too often they too fall into the trap of dehumanizing and demonizing their intellectual enemies.

  2. April says:

    I think that groups like feminism, MRA organizations, Democrats, Republicans, NOW, etc. are part of the problem. Not the groups themselves, and not necessarily what they stand for, but the fact that they’ve grown from movements into organizations is the root of the problem.

    As soon as a worthwhile movement (like women’s rights, civil rights, GLBT rights, laborers/workers’ rights, etc) becomes an organization that is run by leaders and has an agenda, they develop rhetoric to quickly and concisely convince people that their movement is worthwhile. As soon as they create and spread the rhetoric, the members and the recruits stop using critical thinking skills to further help the movement achieve its goals, and the rhetoric becomes divisive, causing an otherwise necessary and trustworthy movement to become a controversial group of ideologues.

    It’s why I still try and defend Feminism, because I’m trying to convince people that it’s not the rhetoric, feminists are for men’s rights, we aren’t a bunch of humorless man-haters, most of us do want to have children, etc. But it’s pointless, because Feminism has stopped being a worthwhile movement, and become a monolithic organization with rhetoric and divisiveness and a lack of critical thinking and a groupthink tendency. And all of these groups end up having a sort of checklist of ideologies that every “member” must adhere to or defend before gaining “membership.” Of course, all of the people who would do well to work together, like the feminist-minded men and the feminist-identified women, or the women who are identical politically except for abortion, or the commenters on mainstream feminist blogs who think people should be kicked out of the Feminist Club for saying that you should not shop at stores who use sweatshops, they don’t, and the spend most of their time fighting each other and declaring how much they now hate feminism, instead of the real “enemy,” which is, quite simply, the end of gender role expectations for all genders. This encompasses quite a bit, but you really wouldn’t think it should be all that hard to get along for the sake of this goal, simple as it seems. But since it’s become some monolithic organization, it all fails.

    So yeah. Long comment made very short: organizations ruin everything.

    • Jim says:

      “organizations ruin everything.”

      Yeah, but nothing gets done without them either. The answer is to keep destroying organizations as they grow so that they don’t get a chance to become too comfortable and entrenched. You can eventually train everyone ion an organization to expect to have to change continually. It’s called a “learning organization.”

    • Danny says:

      Agreed. Similar to the banks in the States that have gotten “too big to fail” these organizations get out of hand and wrap their tentacles all throughout the system in an attempt to keep power and justify their existence under the guise of fighting the good fight.

      The banks don’t need to be eliminated but that need to be kept in check so that they don’t get so out of hand that they begin to damage the very economy they are supposed to working within.

      Same thing with human rights groups. They get so entrenched and gain so much influence they begin to do the very things they once claimed to be against all for the sake of staying alive.

  3. Sunset says:

    It’s an issue in part because we don’t separate the individual from the group. Which has its point, but isn’t the whole story. One of the messages of feminism is that women are *people.* Which means that any individual woman has all the virtues and flaws that you’d expect a normal person to have. And there’s going to be a few that are abusive, that hurt people, just like there are from men. The difference is the way society reacts to it.

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