In October 1969, an article in Psychology Today entitled "Women as Nigger" quickly led feminist activists to make parallels between the "oppression of women" and oppression of blacks. Men were characterized as the "master," or "slave holders" and this parallel allowed the hard-earned rights of the civil rights movement to be applied to feminist issues.
What few realized was that each gender was really the other's servant in different ways. This was the result of survival imperatives, and therefore neither gender was the other's "nigger" ("nigger" implies one-sided oppression). Men's current lack of certain choices is the same type of oppression.
We need to understand that the claim "men oppress women" is, at best, a half-truth, because men are also women's servants. Mutual servitude was (and still is) a sexual division of labour. The word "husband" is derived from a combination of the Germanic word for "house" and the Old Norse word for "bound" or "bondage" and also referred to "a male kept for breeding purposes".
Feminists compare marriage to slavery, but according to Romantic Times independent research 27.6 million North American women each read an average of twenty romance novels per month, with marriage fantasy being the most popular theme. Popular books and magazines tell them "How to Get Your Man to Commit." Is it reasonable to suggest that women fantasize about and study how to be enslaved? If this is an example of cultural programming, as suggested by many feminist writers, then a similar 'cultural programming' must exist for men regarding their protector/provider role.
Women's liberation was (and is) accomplished with the aid of men, yet few feminists acknowledge men's similar desire for liberation. For decades we have heard the feminist tales of woe while waiting patiently for them to acknowledge men's struggles on their behalf and reciprocate. Feminists who claim to have felt the sting of gender oppression are strangely silent about the following examples of oppression.
In Canada, men:
- routinely have their children taken from them in custody trials.
- are prevented from defending their children against abusers.
- are forced into paternity, with no legal equivalent to abortion.
- die seven years sooner than women. (In 1920 men lived one year less.)
- lead in the top 15 major causes of death; yet receive less medical funding.
- commit suicide at the rate of one every three hours, over 4 times women's rate.
- serve jail sentences twice as long as women, for same-category crimes.
- perform the most hazardous of jobs; the "Death Professions". Consequently, 727 men were killed on the job in 1993 vs. 31 women.
- have (on average) a lower net worth than female heads of households.
- constitute 85% of the homeless.
- lack a "Status of Men Ministry" in which to focus change in any of the areas mentioned.
Ms. Magazine profiled women "forced" to take "death profession" jobs for the higher pay. They portrayed these jobs as part of the "male power system". Men risk their lives daily for the extra pay to support their loved ones. Ms. reveals a double standard by portraying the death professions as privilege when men do them, and oppression when women do them.
It has always been the ruling classes who had servants toiling for them. Those who accept the mantra that women's oppression was as real as that of minorities, should consider that no oppressed group has ever grown up having their own member of an oppressor class toiling for them (their fathers).
Women are the only "minority" group that is actually a majority; the only group that calls itself "oppressed" that is also able to control who is elected to every office in virtually every community and every political party in the country. Power is not in holding office; power is in choosing the office-holders.
Depicting men as oppressors is a powerful weapon within feminist victimology. Attitudes are shaped and formed in the minds of children during the process of socialization. Without exception, it is women who have held the balance of power in shaping these young minds. By characterizing men as oppressors, they sow seeds of misandry (hatred of men) shaping present social policy.
A board game entitled "101 Uses for a Severed Penis" is considered amusing but Jack the Ripper's removal of women's uteri is not the stuff of comedy. The movie "It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy" is a comedy about a man being raped at gunpoint. Similar exploitation of deliberate violence against women would never be tolerated, and will attract the attention of various law-enforcement professionals. Even rude speech can be considered a hate-crime. Against this backdrop of serious efforts to protect women from even the most trivial offenses, violence against men is ignored, excused, trivialized, exploited, laughed at, and even advocated.
By viewing men as subhuman oppressors, we avoid guilt or remorse when men die prematurely or suffer at the hand of others. Joy MacPhail (BC's Health Minister) knows that men lead in the top fifteen causes of death, yet she has publicly stated that "Women's healthcare is top priority in BC." Isn't dead as oppressed as you can get?
Technological innovation creates choices about gender roles. Feminism educates women about those choices, but is narrowly focused on women and does not deal with men's lack of choices. Men must stop collaborating and capitulating to the blinkered views coming from such places as Women's Studies classrooms. Until both sexes are free, neither can truly be free. Progress on true equality and liberty begins when the caring and thinking majority of women reject one-sided politics of oppression, and assist those men now creating a similar liberating movement for themselves.
Dick Freeman and the wild bunch gang,
[Published in the Victoria Times-Colonist, February 28, 1998 Page A17]
Slide down to equality
Mike Jebbet et al urge women to "assist those men now creating a similar liberating movement for themselves" (Feb. 28). Like most people who live in a society in which men are the primary power brokers, I found this request a little puzzling. As the writers failed to include practical solutions as to how women could aid men's rights activists in becoming equal with women, I have a few suggestions:
Help men reduce our average income by 25 per cent (to bring it on par with women's).
Blame men who work outside the home for not fulfilling their natural place in the home raising children, and blame those who do for being financially dependent on their wives.
Lower boys' self esteem from early adolescence to late teens until it matches the pattern faced by girls.
Pervasively judge men solely on a body type that approximately one per cent of us can naturally attain.
Accuse men who achieve success in female dominated fields as "ovary busters" and/or accuse us of sleeping our way to the top.
Establish more emotionally and sexually unsafe workplaces and learning environments for men and systematical ly discount men's complaints about this as us having "no sense of humor" or being frigid. etc.
Until these conditions and others like them are met, we will never have the equality in our society that men's rights activists are bent on achieving.
But for those women and men who might want a movement that is less inspired by reactionary hate, I'd suggest looking at the humanitarian roots of feminism for solutions.
(Mr.) Chris Schmidt,