Updated: Jul 7, 2020
We present this controversial piece that explores the limits of metaphysical politics to having a real interaction with leftist ideology. It draws from and is in part inspired from pieces from two authors we have published who in different ways have provided a fusion of constructionism and positivism. The articles are below and are referenced throughout:
"You Can't Transcend The Bounds Of Lived Experience"
"Difference & Human Commonality"
Feminism is a range of movements and ideologies and there are different answers to the question “What does it mean to be a feminist?” that only people who have the identities that can lay claim to the term feminist (genderqueer, genderfluid, transgender and cisgender women and a multitude of other identities that are not cis male or demi guy non-binary and other identities who can't lay claim to being a feminist as I'm sure I'm not being exhaustive) can answer. To all of these identities feminism can look and be performed differently. Because of these range of movements and ideologies feminism may interact with issues that are rooted in leftism but at other times feminism interacts with issues that are not in any way leftist. As Roxane Gay suggests in Bad Feminist, like humans, feminism is flawed and imperfect but the issues that feminism interacts with that are not leftist are not what makes feminism imperfect.
Identities who have a stake to the identity of feminist have a stake to self interest separate from the concern of leftism (which is fundamentally rooted in systemic egalitarianism) and that is extremely understandable. But what is flawed is that some feminisms in both popular culture and leftist organizing spaces have attempted to define male experience through the language and strategy of equality. Of course, in spaces of systemic and institutional oppression like for example unequal rights, unequal pay and unequal court responses equality or rather everyone being treated the same is both leftist and is not problematic. But the abstract term of equality in its application in the material space of ideology technology and potentially institutional or systemic mechanisms and definitely phenomenological and social mechanisms that persuade or attempt to mandate socialization towards a balancing of traits and performances or limit or restructure one’s access to felt gender experience is problematic. And so, the purpose of this essay is to of course reiterate the importance of systemic and institutional equality but it is also to argue that the argument should not be social equality but rather social equity. Social equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful and it is an understanding that acknowledges that because of difference, which is real and material, people have different needs.
Before the examination of the problem of the notion of social equality rather than social equity commences it will be made clear that The GroundUp is a leftist publication and just as it argues that feminism is flawed and imperfect the men’s rights movement is also flawed and imperfect. Identities that have a stake to the men’s rights movement have a stake to self interest separate from the concern of leftism and that is extremely understandable. Now, a key departure from an equal treatment of the men’s rights movement to that of feminisms is that whereas a text like scum manifesto by valerie solanas is flawed and antithetical to leftism a text like my twisted world by elliot rogers is flawed and antithetical to leftism AND is oppressive. While solanas’ text reveals a vision that at best would establish a hegemonic matriarchy (and this certainly isn’t equity) and at worst would eliminate the male gender, Rogers’ androcentric and patriarchal views were crafted in a system that already provides him more economic power on the basis of his birth gender. And in capitalism the almighty dollar and those who possess more of it rule. Both rogers and solanas are prejudiced – only rogers is being oppressive.
And this is a material difference between prejudice and oppression that men’s rights activists don’t understand and it is in part because of a flawed understanding of the metaphysics of oppression. To provide this understanding in a clarified way it would be beneficial to provide an example that sheds light on the uniqueness of the metaphysics of gender politics (in this case gender politics at the intersection of sex) and to do so it is good to continue with the rogers example. It is important to note that rogers and thinkers like him occupy a space in men’s rights activism that is extreme and in no way exhaustive of the movement as a whole and it is politicked by males who describe themselves as involuntary celibate or incels. These men who do not have sex have a certain aggrieved entitlement and believe they are oppressed because women will not give them sex. To break this down further, these men resent women for not having sex with them and they hold the view that women owe men sex simply because of their existence (a personal or communal androcentrism) and the existence of their personal sexual wants (altogether this is a sort of extreme reductionist or positivist account of gender relations rooted in the idea of normative reification existing in a vacuum or occurring separately from the things that you would expect it to be connected with like desire and attraction and connection and persuasion and seduction). So, the incel claims oppression because their want for a particular interaction with other doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And this shows the atoms of what the incel ideology is. It is pain that veils the reality of problematic attachment and problematic relations with other as it relates to the incel being unable to see themselves as an object while simultaneously holding that women are objects. So, this pain to the incel is viewed as oppression but it really is the inability, whether because of ideology or psychology or a combination of both, to accept themselves as an object (or rather, incels are unable to accept that they are objects).
The flawed understanding of the metaphysics of oppression that men’s rights activists have (and I am speaking more broadly to the whole of which incels are an extreme and small part of) is that there is a blindness to the act of using the subject (I and We) to veil its existence as an object (You and They) in a system and how it (the I and We existing as You and They from the perspective of other) as an object is interpolated to that system. What this means is different for the whole (men’s rights activism) than for its extreme part (incels) because men’s rights activism is concerned with legitimate matters of systemic and institutional injustice like unequal child custody and alimony laws, which are structured to negatively impact men whereas incels are not concerned with matters beyond self interest. But what is undeniably similar between the whole and the part is that both have an issue in relation to their existence as an object. Some men’s rights activists might not wish to see their call out of "oppression" viewed differently than a feminist calling out oppression because the pain of the subject (personal pain and pain found in a community of sameness) brought upon by institutions and the system that materialize in the form of injustice against men is different than the pain of the subject (personal pain and pain found in a community of sameness) brought upon by institutions and the system that persons who have a stake to feminism can experience because the system and intuitions are as a whole more severe and harsher to persons who have a stake to feminism: an example is that the pain of the object is unique to women and a material example is coverture and analogous concepts that existed in the world commonly up to and including the 19th century (and in some states of the u.s. it remained in practice through the 60s).
When one returns to the rogers and solanas difference what becomes clear is that while they both have flawed and antithetical positions to leftism, roger’s position is oppressive as it is ideology technology that is in agreement to the reification of pain of the object or some complex form of sex coverture. All together what this means in relation to the flawed understanding of the metaphysics of oppression that some men’s rights activists have is that there can be a lack of acknowledgement that one’s personal thoughts and feelings (the subject) are not exhaustive of political reality and while men can and in some cases experience injustice it is necessary to recognize that the injustice is not oppression. And this realization can only occur when men simultaneously recognize their existence as both political subject and object.
And now it will be made clear that the male recognizing their existence as a social subject must not stop there. They must recognize their existence as a social object. Some readers might be shocked or taken aback at what I am suggesting but let it be clear that it is because of alienation from objectness that rogers and other incels believe that social relations rooted in the idea of normative reification existing in a vacuum or occurring separately from the things that one would expect it to be connected with like desire and attraction and connection and persuasion and seduction exists instead of reality. The belief of Rogers and incels is dark fantasy. But getting men out of this dark fantasy requires some particular moves – and some of them are not going to be particularly pleasant for many ideological palates. But in order to get men out of this dark fantasy, the explication of what these moves are needs to occur. And this explication is not exhaustive of the problem of the notion of social equality rather than social equity but it will help clarify the gravity of the problem.
To begin, attraction is real and it exists on a carnal level connected with instinct (and I do acknowledge that not everyone experiences the magnetic feeling of being attracted to people). Desire in this context is real and it is the degree of will directed toward action towards an object. Connection can exist with or without attraction and it can exist with or without desire and of course it can exist with both experienced at the same time. Connection is intersubjective relation (and it can be strictly platonic or sexual (and there are other types of intimacies as well like familial that while not sexual is more intimate than strictly platonic intimacy). Persuasion in the sexual sense is the mechanism of one person attempting to establish desire in another person for them. This is seduction. Persuasion in this domain can be unintentional or intentional and the language can be overt or covert. None the less – species reification via reproduction is rooted in attraction and desire: The atoms of sex. And so, there are qualities and traits and performances that are attractive and desirable and there are things that are not. And of course, what is attractive and desirable to one person might not be attractive and desirable to another person. But physical beauty and stable self-esteem while not necessarily attractive are universally qualities that do not repel. No one is responsible for their genotypes and phenotypes but people are responsible for their actions and the way in which they operate in the world. And incels through their actions and the way they operate in this world typically demonstrate an unstable self-esteem (evidenced by their inability to see themselves as an object). For an incel to see themselves as an object they have to develop a stable self-esteem and the reason it is important for them to see themselves as an object is because it is required in order to cultivate qualities WORTHY of being found attractive to others.
I have put WORTHY in capital letters because it is a "problematic" idea. Worthiness is an intersubjective situation. No one is exhausted by being worthy as an object. There are certain personal and memorial and quirky and distinct and ultra-different dimensions of every living person that are wholly separate from one’s existence as an object – they are completely of the subject (of the I). And while many of these subject qualia can inform how one becomes an object to others they are indeed separate and special. And I do think not only for caring for oneself but also appreciation of difference in leftism that it is important to appreciate the subjective I. And just as the group is not greater than the individual the object existence is not greater than the subject existence. But likewise, the individual is not greater than the group and the subject existence is not greater than the object existence. So, it is okay for people to be weird or crazy or difficult or not beautiful or not sexy or weak or any multitude of things that can result in their worth as an object being found insufficient to the desire of a subject. The judgement of others is additionally not conclusive for one’s total existence of objecthood because there is no grand collective at all times judging and being informed by one’s objecthood. What is conclusive is that if a person wants their conclusion about the objecthood of another to be final and they want to deny further intersubjective space to the other – that is the end of the story.
Rape is an existent oppressive culture because of reification of the oppression of the object with various ideology technologies of coverture. For example, the claims women make about abuse are sometimes not taken seriously by the public because male subjects who don’t see themselves as objects see women as objects. Now, to be clear EVERYONE is an object. But men who exist as reifiers of rape culture do not think of themselves as objects so they believe that their judgment of a woman as a particular type of object is sufficient to exhaust her and if she was doing drugs and drinking this just exacerbates his perception. This is wrong. This is alienation. Now, many feminists would argue that wrongness aside from the violent invading act is the psychology of power and control inherent in rape. That “psychology” that is “inherent” may or may not exist in the mind of the rapist. It often does. But rape is also about sex. And so it would be playing into the ideologies of those who attempt to define male experience through the language and strategy of equality to not acknowledge that.
Now, it is important to discuss the satisfaction of the subject, the I. The rapist creates a vacuum for the particular interaction with other. Which is wrong. The rapist is not the same of course as the incel but they both have in common either creation of a vacuum (rapist) or the desire of a social vacuum (incel). But the vacuum is always wrong! And much of the creation or desire for the vacuum exists because some modern boys and men are not cultivating themselves or being cultivated properly. And they exist in a stew of carte blanche constructionism (yes gender and sexual metaphysics exist and while positivism of course should in no way be embraced carte blanche there are norms because there are things that are reified and things that are not and that reification is data – of course norms are not inherently positive but they exist) where none the less low fitness remains undesirable and make no changes to make themselves worthy of attraction because “Be yourself” has become such a popular slogan of comfort and social complacency. Beyond this, additional ideology technology that impacts the social environment circulates. For example, the Gillette “We Believe” ad when considered with the central theme in the rhetoric of symbolic action that is identification ensures that the greatest response from the audience is from ideologically weak non-oppressive men (men who think almost all their actions can harbor the potential for problem (they conflate all potential negative impact they have with "problematic masculinity")). Further, this type of identification emerges as a consequence of the celebrity and political apparatuses with people like Bernie Sanders, Terry Crews and kobe bryant and how their vastly different behaviors (a potential statement about women not being able to win a presidential election in the wake of trump, contradicting a statement a co-star made about her treatment by America's Got Talent and rape) by left circles gets reduced to the entirely same terms (misogyny as one example). The common practice is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, .i.e., package harmful male traits and performances along with healthier traits and performances and then pathologize the lot.
The reduction is problematic because given that a perfect social equality does not exist (and it NEVER will) the ideology technology of these reductions is going to establish a permanent splitting of all social relations between men and women in leftist space. This means that because of reduction many boys and men will either think they are "good" for all non-normate performance or they will think they are "bad" for any sort of normative performance and many men will strive to always be "good." And it is going to affect boys and young men who already experience a “tough enough” reality because of male fear that they get interpolated to (fear of violent confrontations with other males) and develop learned helplessness because of fear of being on the negative side of the splitting. This learned helplessness is not going to stop actual material dangers that exist in acts like rape because there is no nuance in the ideology of splitting.
Larry Nance Jr. when he was a rookie for the Lakers retracted his Tweet from years prior calling more veteran player kobe bryant a rapist. The Gillette ad would seem to argue that problematic masculinity permeated the response because Nance Jr. was terrified of kobe’s response (i.e. potentially male fear). And I won’t argue against the possibility but Nance Jr. doesn’t have to be invested in debates in "problematic masculinity ideological space" to be impacted by the circulation of politics that disable male anti-oppression politics. The Gillette ad at that time was not even an existent ideology technology. There were hundreds of them in circulation that helped cultivate Nance Jr.’s learned helplessness (simply search "how the patriarchy hurts boys or men" on your favorite search engine). Male fear plus learned helplessness equals opportunity for rapists because good men (who are not perfect) are made meek and unable to act.
The point is that the majority of boys and men are good but the politics right now in the left are indeed instilling learned helplessness in a multitude of these people. So you have the rogers and the bryants and others who complete their wrong acts and not enough men destroying them. And I don’t mean destruction with feminist ideology. Problems perpetrated by men to women require male solutions and this is because while obviously women know their pain of the object – that doesn’t mean that they know the solution to the object that creates their pain because of the simple truth that there are DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN.
The male subject requires fellow males to guide him through sameness, which will enable self-esteem to flourish and then the ability to know other. Now, this idea of sameness guiding through sameness might seem positivistic but in Outlaw Culture bell hooks wrote “If I imagine myself as a boy watching the grown father hit the mother – well what “positionality” does the boy feel himself to be in? Clearly, he doesn’t think “I’m going to grow up to be a woman who will be hit.” So does he then have to fear: “I will grow up to be this person that hits – therefore I’d better live my life in such a way that I never grow up?” Like a lot of women, I feel that I’ve loved men who made that decision to never grow up “because then I’ll become that monstrous Other.” Now, the importance of this passage is to first give credit to hooks for acknowledging the importance of men dealing with the language of male reality but I’m going to say that her subject position as a non-male makes her analysis of male experience not helpful. It is the same reason a male can’t identity as a feminist despite all of his empathy for women and concern for the end of oppression – there is a metaphysical barrier if one exists solidly in a normate gender. And her binary of boys and men not growing up or growing up to be an abuser even in the frame of an abusive family is problematic because of the reality of reification that is being transported into binaries using figures of speech: For example, good man or bad man or abusive man or non-abusive man or not all men or certainly this one. And for all the theories that argue that feminism is for all – equality for all – we think it very important to come to terms with terms and the limits of language and their interaction with true metaphysics. On the levels of intellect and humanity and dreams men and women are very similar but for all the embrace of difference in leftism the denial of the differences of men and women is an extremely big problem in leftism and the call for social equality rather than social equity is part of that problem. Differences do exist in physiology and in neural activity (our "Difference & Human Commonality" article makes this clear). Men and women may (they don't necessarily do so) also normatively love differently and think of values in relation to those that they love differently.
Additionally, it becomes very dangerous when any gender and any identity gets essentlized. Feminist theorists like hooks extend this binary of the good man or bad man and men themselves either craft their own binaries that follow suit or accept the binary that feminists like hooks extend. Henry Rollins of Black Flag fame in an interview with Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast titled “Henry Rollins Opens Up About Toxic Masculinity and Abuse: ‘I Hate Men’” stated (while discussing his abuse when he was a child):
“What happened to me in my life has given me that almost canine – you know the dog that’s nice to your friends but barks at anything in a uniform and hates the mailman? And they’re like, “We can’t figure him out!” And the dog can’t figure it out but he’ll bite any delivery person? I have that with men. I hate men. I go case-by-case but by and large… and including me. I am part of the reason why the world sucks at times.”
Sentences that demonize an entire gender are problematic because they are blind to the complexity of the social mechanism. The patriarchy exists but at the phenomenological and social levels in modernity it is not this limitless power. Because of the metaphysics of sex and reification, phenomenological and social reality is rooted in a matriarchal imperative (phenomenological in this sense meaning moment to moment occurrences and social being the norms that those occurrences establish through acceptance); though, a matriarchal imperative of phenomenological and social reality is only a truly 21st century reality but examples from the likes of Eleanor of Aquitaine who brought ideals of courtly love (but DID NOT HAVE A COURT OF LOVE AS IT COMMONLY AND INCORRECTLY BELIEVED) from Aquitaine during the Middle Ages first to the court of France, then to England as she became queen-consort in each of these two realms in succession and then an actual court of love, which encouraged males to devote themselves to platonic love, by Henrietta Maria during the Renaissance). The same of course can't be said at the systemic and institutional level as it relates to most measures of equality (as noted earlier) but it is the case that women are in control of the phenomenological and social terrains and this is evidenced by ideology technology I noted and the codes I noted that enforce matriarchal control (custody and alimony and child support) and also the very social mechanism that makes it the case that men can't be legitimate participants in #METOO (as noted earlier Terry Crews received backlash after not defending Gabrielle Union for workplace discrimination (or as @qsteph writes "Terry Crews received so much love and support from Black women. It's bullshit the way he is tap dancing and throwing Gabrielle Union under the bus." This means "Because he was defended during #METOO he MUST defend others in all sorts of struggle!") and another example will be noted later)). But is this the treatment that a #METOO woman would receive after noting her abuse? Would she be expected to come to to the aid of every injustice or would she be allowed to breath?
And this is exactly the point of why Henry, while a valid and important member of the male community, exists in a part of the complicated phenomenological and social territory that I believe is a type of extreme that is not productive for boys and men navigating the social and phenomenological landscape of maleness. This is because – Henry responded to the problematic response of 50 Cent laughing at Terry Crews revelations of abuse as being an exhaustive example of males hurting males – but it is is not exhaustive of the situation. Yes, it is a fact that men are capable of hurting other men but on the phenomenological and social levels men and women have both extended imperatives of performance to the other and reject when those demands are not: Women hurt men too.
It isn't covered in the press but there are women who believe a #METOO man is weak. And this really gets to the atom of reification: Because if there are men and women who think Terry Crews is weak for #METOO what does that mean for a young boy who experienced trauma from a male in Iowa who watches the news? Maybe he will confide in mom or maybe he is a little older and the idea of a girlfriend is on his mind and he believes that girl will understand him but see boys like him (like Henry when he was a child) understandably don't see the big picture: In normative dynamics there is a man and there is woman. And this means a number of things. For starters, boys when they see their mother being lets say, physically abused, are not going to think: "Wait a second, I've listened to the conversations mom has with her boyfriend and she seems to like these shocking and sometimes aggressive things he says to her. I've also heard her friends warn her about her boyfriend. Maybe mom is being unpredictable and not practicing the best judgment of who she brings around me." Boys are going to think: "That is my mom you are hurting! She is the first woman in my life. How DARE you hurt her!" And that is only natural and it is sweet for the child to think this. It is not okay for a mother to do this to her child though. This example is far too common and it is an example that makes clear that women do often enable the abuse of their partners upon their children. Of course, women are abused by their partners and at an unquestioningly higher rate than men – but as with the Terry Crews situation there is a negative impact for men who report abuse in relationships (especially in normative relationships). And the negative impact is likewise not merely created by men – there are social consequences for men with women.
Going back to the big picture that boys like a younger version of Henry might miss is say this boy grows up experiencing mom not putting a stop to his abuse as abuse he did to me because "Mom is so hurt by him that she couldn't help me." So, say he decides to confide in a girl he would like to connect with these details. Now, it is not a girl or woman's responsibility (or anyone's responsibility) to function as a therapist if that is not one's profession and one is not in a clinical setting for the purpose of providing therapy but because these boys (who become) men internalize the pain of their mother (meaning in part the failure of this young person's mom and his natural belief that his mom was unable to help him because she also was abused) that creates a situation where boys are looking for girls and women to do what their mother did not: Defend, protect and care. And women in normative relationships are in optimal cases capable of providing these labors but that isn't typically how romantic relationships are formed and it certainly is not high on a list of desires to provide these labors from the beginning of a relationship in an extreme way (often in the terrain of codependency). In fact, it is low on a list of desires to have to do this type of labor and it impacts the fitness of boys and men as objects when they display such need. And things get uncomfortable when boys and men cease to remember the reification imperative of normative humanity and how like it or not we all are objects.
And one consequence of this discomfort – visible to the extreme with public figures – is that men must be champions of of all social injustice when they allow women to come to their defense because that is the exchange for men having a need of being protected (Terry Crews faced the #Cancel hashtag because he didn't want to be this universal champion (he is not actually being "cancelled" as a celebrity but he receives people's frustrations)) and at the levels under elite or upper class economic status with all of its social privileges, men showing need impacts their desirability as men are viewed as weak by women and not fit when they show need. This might seem barbaric and also a major generalization and I will of course note there are exceptions but The GroundUp writers have seen in various environments this type of phenomenological occurrence. The occurrence that is men either passing or failing fitness tests in social space. And a few examples will be provided:
At a punk show years ago we were in attendance and witnessed a dynamic of a young high school aged group wherein a taller, bigger young man went into a pit and when another young man was about to follow, the young women he was with advised that he not do so because he was not as big as the other young man. This sizing up of the young man is as noted part of how we are all objectified but see in that instance alone we see a physical quality of someone not being satisfactory (and therefore not desirable).
A more personal example as the previous example did not involve us beyond witnessing the exchange is that this writer has heard women talk negatively about the fitness of other potential suitors (whether it be emotionally or physically or mentally) while on dates as some sort of affirmation of this writer's social efficacy. And these comments occur very early in dating (first date) and they were in no way encouraged by this writer.
This writer certainly isn't perfect and while I have a muscular physique that would guarantee that if I were in the same age group as the youth that were at the show no one would bat an eye at me going into the pit but who knows what has been said about me in this manner of object talk. I certainly don't wish it upon anyone :(!
And so what all does this mean? It means first of all that some times the little moments in life suck regardless of gender (meaning both men and women make life suck at times). Of course, there are moments of life that can be great but sometimes they suck and are awkward. And that is ok. There was nothing abusive about either of those instances I noted (although the critiques of other suitors during dates is certainly something that women need to address amongst themselves). Second of all, it means the ideological map is not the lived territory (meaning sometimes things get complicated). It also means – and I will return to the young man who listened to the young women (as he did not go into the pit) – that there is a serious issue with learned helplessness. That young man listened to the women but on a secondary level he might have thought "You know what I'm a strong person and I can take care of myself" but he listened to the primary level and therefore introjected a projection and did not oppose the directions of the young woman because he is interpolated to learned helplessness because of fear of being on the negative side of the splitting. The young women are not truly wrong in any instance: In one way they are looking out for someone and in another the instinct to objectify is human but it is the very phenomenological and semiotic dimension of objectification and instinct that is problem area.
Now, male violence and the phenomenological and semiotic dimension of objectification that pertains to it can – AND MUST! – be eliminated and that comes with the destruction of rape culture but in terms of many other instances of the phenomenological and semiotic dimension of objectification it is simply subjective experience of life sucking but not abuse and so neither should people police nor are they capable of policing the minutia of the social mechanism. Because to end that level of life sucking is what it would entail. But we do believe the protection of young people requires more political investment so that an adult like Rollins does not grow up to hate his own gender. It would have been great if his mom's abusive ex-boyfriend got beaten up or killed by some sort of community watch. And it would be great if as an adult Rollins accepted that his mom failed him; meaning, men AND women can contribute to life sucking. That didn't happen but it could in the future. Of course, this community watch would have to be on the lookout for prevention more so than response because prevention is more profound than serving justice. Because the alternative to that would be saying to mothers "Protect your children" and it is the case that the response to that is "Women are in a complicated situation with men that abuse and there are a lot of circumstances that can make interference dangerous or the woman's material circumstances might be jeopardized by a staunch resistance." And I think its probably best to not wash our hands with a simple imperative; of course, all parents and guardians when able should protect their children.
It also wouldn't be best to say "Make better dating choices" because most people don't consciously enter into relationships where the abuse of children is a possibility. But just as rape culture is an existent phenomenon perpetrated by the patriarchy there is a reality of the tangling of the wires of instinct in relation to desire and fitness. It isn't always easy to tell who makes a good partner and as many of us know there is no way to know who someone truly is (and of course, it is impossible to know exhaustively) and so often dark qualities can bypass psychological alert systems that would otherwise alert someone to danger because it is hard sometimes to differentiate the severity of traits. For example is it narcissism or is it self respect? Is it Machiavellianism or is it emotional intelligence? Is it psychopathy or is it stoicism? And because it is hard to tell sometimes until things become dangerous the idea of having one's cake and eating it too in relation to dating and partnerships and family dynamics is risky. And with that being noted just as it might be the case that some readers might argue my offering of men might be too sympathetic, I'd argue hardly because I'm suggesting give us a break with the Bernies and and the Crews and we will kill the kobes – which seems very much not sympathetic (and in this way I agree with Rollins about being an attack dog). And also those readers who might think I'm being sympathetic, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater in relation to relationships, .i.e., don't package harmful traits and performances along with healthier traits and performances and then pathologize the lot. Male stoicism is not dangerous. What is dangerous are some people using traits as destructive tools. One must be responsible for using their traits as tools and another is responsible for being careful with the choice of selecting a partner (not with demanding that a certain gender not display a certain trait because it can be confusing).
With that being said, while I'm not simplifying and not attempting to exhaust the idea of bad feminist – I would say to any feminist who advocated for carte blanche bad feminism while finding fault with the idea of men handling men under the framework suggested in this piece that they are people who are not only trying to have their cake and eat it too but also are existing in bad faith when they reify with risk with a child (and yes, it is complicated but so now will the child's psyche be unnecessarily complicated). To make it clear, abuse in any way, shape or form is unacceptable and no one is asking for it nor is a culture that suggests that people are asking for it acceptable but any ideology that enables bad faith and can enable people to risk with other people is a bad faith ideology if it is case that the ideology is believed in an alienated way to have an impact on others simply because one believes the ideology (and others unfortunately make decisions that not only confuse or bewilder others but can in some instances outright harm others and the people who make these decisions don't care about ideology).
To further drive my point home that ultimately this piece is intended to establish a less oppressive system I will reiterate that systemic and institutional patriarchy should be eradicated and in that open space equality should flourish (similarly the codes that are unequal to men like alimony and child support and visitation should be made equal). Likewise men must amongst men destroy rape culture and end violence against women. But women do truly have to accept this and they have to accept that men handling men isn't going to be done in the way women might do it. Especially, it can't be the case that there is a sustainable solution with a male widespread learned helplessness and with no breaks given to men and reduction of all male action and traits to violence. And women likewise have their personal matters to deal with and some of that work might pertain to bad faith ideology.
Male leftists need to start constructing their own ideology and indeed address their own experience in the language of male phenomenology. There are pains that men alone experience and struggles that men alone experience. AND there are problems that we have amongst ourselves and amongst others that need to be engaged. Some of this pertains to leftism and some of it does not but the start exists in being able to understand oneself as an object not just as a subject. Just as there are numerous feminisms there are numerous male perspectives – the ones that are invested in the vacuum of being a subject are problematic at best and outright oppressive at worst and men must punish men like rapists and incels who are consumed by such entitlement if reform is not possible within their psyches or if it is not sustainable for the community at large. The GroundUp will not function as the wheelhouse of problems that pertain to one gender as opposed to another that are not effectively leftist so this will not be the publication to see those types of articles but we might publish about equal pay for women or better custody laws for men but we won't write articles specifically about what each gender has to address amongst itself.
We will illuminate the importance of male leftists pursuing this practice. In the Jessica Rosenberg and Gitana Garofalo article "Riot Grrrl: Revolutions from within" published in Signs a woman named Erin says "I wouldn't be comfortable with boys at workshops. Boys are suppressed in other ways. They can't cry and show emotion. Riot Grrrl is about screaming, crying, and getting it out." Erin establishes exclusionary spaces for women, which is a common leftist practice not just of women but of different identities and they are important – a community of non-oppressive sameness can work on their shared goals. But there is a problem with her writing of "Boys are suppressed in other ways" and then she repeats a common misconception about men not being able to express emotions – men can express emotions and there are very little social ramifications with other men for their expression in modernity.
For example in his article "In Defense of Male Stoicism" Ben Sixsmith writes:
"Our culture is biased towards the assumption that our attitudes are the [sole] products of our environments, and that character traits we have deemed harmful have been implanted into us by harmful influences. In the past, it was often assumed that any weakness on the part of men was an unnatural betrayal of our real selves. In our time, I fear that we risk doing the opposite. You don’t want to cry? What is wrong with you?"
Most men because of their qualia as men (our "You Can't Transcend The Bounds Of Lived Experience" article makes this clear) do not want to cry. Or, they learn that it has a secondary negative impact with women who will in many cases state that expressing emotions is acceptable but just like how men don't have true access to the #METOO movement for many (not all) women a man appears weak when he cries and it impacts his fitness. (This writer cries because of grief (formerly because of sorrow) and has done so publicly. Various men of various ideological dispositions have seen me cry and all have been understanding. To be honest I don't want to cry but my grief is very severe)). Well something very critical for all of this is first of all just as women want to be loved men want to be loved (pretty obvious most everyone wants love) but a lot of this language and strategy of equality is an instance of women speaking and telling men what male issues are. This writer has never once talked with another male and said or heard something along the lines of "I wish I could express more emotions." So when this writer hears or reads something like "Boys are suppressed in other ways. They can't cry and show emotion. Riot Grrrl is about screaming, crying, and getting it out" I worry for young boys and men who might identify with what Rollins feels because of their abuse. They identify in opposition to men because men hurt them and therefore they listen only to women. But Henry's mom hurt him too. It is a fact: His mom was not there or not able to protect him.
Without a boy or man being healed in their own identity (one's subject and object existence) and learning to love themselves, spaces like feminism (meaning meetings and the like), given that it is a space of other, can hurt boys and even men in a different way. Because if everything is framed in the way of "Boys are suppressed in other ways. They can't cry and show emotion. Riot Grrrl is about screaming, crying, and getting it out" I think of that young man who those young women encouraged to not go into the pit. Is there an assumption that a male interested in connection with feminists is some hurt bird? If that is an assumption its unconscious imperative needs to be examined and there needs to be a conversation within feminist space about this. And see, men don't project weakness onto a boy or man interested in uniting with male issue like equal visitation. So whereas Jamie in the same piece about Riott Grrrl piece states "Most of the Riot Grrrls have been abused in some way. Society has hurt them; when they see someone society has hurt, they want to help them." Well this needs to be made absolutely clear: A hurt boy is not going to be helped by feminists. Likewise a hurt man is not going to be helped by feminists. This becomes clear when the reverse is offered: A hurt girl is not going to be helped by a group of men. A hurt woman is not going to be helped by a group of men. It seems absurd when you read the reverse. And the only reason it hasn't been revealed to be absurd is because no one has acknowledged it until now.
Obviously, this isn't to say that feminists and men working towards non-oppresive goals can't work together but there really, truly and so deeply is a problem if a boy or a man is hurt enough that he rejects his own identity and sees other as this safe harbor. And the sad truth is that such a person while not necessarily destructive is not going to contribute to the struggle of the other because they are rooted in the struggle of the other only because they want severely the love of other to replace the hurt that sameness brought to them. Feminism can no longer address the pain of men as being about emotional expression because that is as helpful as this writer saying that the pain of women is about the type of clothes one has to wear – it addresses a broad category that can be part of the conversation but its a superficial engagement or acknowledgment of issues that doesn't show depth of comprehension of legitimate issues. Ultimately though, without serious rectifications of superficial dealings with other, feminism (meaning all feminisms) can no longer address the pain of men in ANY capacity because women have used feminism to hurt men.
Doctor of Philosophy Avital Ronell like Charlie Rose used her power to abuse those who trusted her. Whereas Rose used her power to abuse younger women, Ronell used her power to abuse younger men. In 2018 Ronell had been the subject of a sexual harassment investigation by New York University’s Title IX office, initiated after a former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman, alleged in a complaint filed in September 2017 that she had sexually harassed him over a period of several years. In response to the investigation Judith Butler and a group of prominent academics (many like Butler were feminist scholars) sent a letter to NYU that amongst many problematic notions reads:
"Although we have no access to the confidential dossier, we have all worked for many years in close proximity to Professor Ronell and accumulated collectively years of experience to support our view of her capacity as teacher and a scholar, but also as someone who has served as Chair of both the Departments of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. We have all seen her relationship with students, and some of us know the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her. We wish to communicate first in the clearest terms our profound an enduring admiration for Professor Ronell whose mentorship of students has been no less than remarkable over many years. We deplore the damage that this legal proceeding causes her, and seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her. We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare."
Some highlights of this text are "Although we have no access to the confidential dossier, we have all worked for many years in close proximity to Professor Ronell," the choice of "the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her," the reminder to the intended audience of Ronell's accolades and importance and how proceedings against her might damage her career and noting that they "support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare." The first highlight is a pure and simple argument from ignorance ("We have no access to the confidential dossier" but we believe the accused.") The second highlight is victim blaming and it is a dimension of rape culture ("The person who is blaming Ronell is the real monster!"). The third highlight demands special treatment for Ronell because of accolades and because the intelligentsia writing the letter like her (Other accused can be subject to any judgment. We think Charlie Rose is a predator for example. But Ronell is very remarkable. These proceedings might damage her career!). The fourth highlight is blame shifting ("Look it is this guy's fault that this is taking up everyone's time. What an evil person having this non-problem become a legal matter.").
Brian Leiter of Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog wrote an article titled "Blaming the victim is apparently OK when the accused in a Title IX proceeding is a feminist literary theorist" (she actually doesn't specialize in feminist scholarship so Leiter should have been more careful. She may be a feminist but she isn't a feminist literary theorist. The first signee, Butler is) in response and in the piece he writes:
"Imagine that such a letter had been sent on behalf of Peter Ludlow, Colin McGinn, John Searle, Thomas Pogge or anyone other than a [theorist that is a feminist]: there would be howls of protest and indignation at such a public assault on a complainant in a Title IX case. The signatories collectively malign the complainant as motivated by "malice" (i.e., a liar), even though they admit to knowing nothing about the findings of the Title IX proceedings – and despite that they also demand that their friend be acquitted, given her past "mentorship of students". (I imagine many faculty members found guilty, correctly, in a Title IX proceeding have also mentored lots of students, chaired a department, and produced notable scholarship.) If Professor Ronell had any role in soliciting this letter, it looks to me like a clear case of retaliation against the complainant that will compound her and the university's problems."
Well, on August 13, 2018, after an 11-month investigation, the university found Ronell was in violation of Title IX and responsible for sexually harassing Reitman while he was earning his Ph.D. And that is right. It is right because it ensured that an abuser received justice and it made clear that self interested metaphysical politics did not hurt others. Feminists have the right to indulge in hypocrisy (#METOO but only for women!!!) but they have no right to actually abuse men just as incels have no right to rape women).
With all of this noted men and women must accept that there are different issues between different genders because of gender difference.
With instinct and reification at play there are many things that to be honest just suck and are sort of awkward. The Terry Crews situation with him not helping his co-worker and the Bernie Sanders situation with his statement about the difficulty of there being a women president in an age of trump for all intents and purposes are the male equivalents of the weird fitness statements those women made and I overheard. Its not perfect. But the words that follow from this colon are undeniably true: The actions of Terry and Bernie weren't oppressive actions. We are not going to stop instinct and desire as they exist now until we reach an existence beyond that of of our current species – we are animals that use and misuse symbols as Kenneth Burke suggests in Language as Symbolic Action and we can work on doing better and we can work on being accountable for our OWN issues, which means accepting that there are issues that can be classified as our own and as other and we can also be better at accepting that there are issues that can be classified as being in COMMON. Interestingly, much of the "in COMMON" issues are at the systemic and institutional levels whereas many of the "our OWN" issues are at the phenomenological and social levels.
Men and women amongst ourselves have different problems and I have gone into detail explaining how men have a problem amongst ourselves in relation to male fear. We also have a problem with other that is learned helplessness and this is a type of soft co-dependence. Further, we have a problem with other in the form of inceldom and rape. Women have their own problems amongst themselves but one of the problems they establish with other is the reductionism of act and trait; meaning, men who perform anti-oppression politics can be lumped into the same terms that might be used against a rapist (Bernie and Terry could in the current political landscape be labeled misogynists). BUT, men who know themselves and know women (of course not exhaustively just as hooks does not know men exhaustively) know that they can embrace their powers and they can embrace their gender and sexuality how they like it without inflicting violence upon women. Meaning for example, hypermasculinity is just as valid as ultra-femininity.
Men have the special responsibility in leftism to maim rapists and incels if that is what needs to happen. Men also have the special responsibility of beating up fascists and engaging in guerilla warfare. This isn’t to say that women are not capable of doing these things but because of realities like testosterone and empathy men are are more likely to do them because they have more testosterone and less empathy (our "Difference & Human Commonality" article makes this clear). With that being said, a leftist man who doesn’t feel the need to jump through feminist hoops but respects women’s autonomy and wants to physically harm rapists and incels or instruct them sufficiently to not be oppressive and obtain self-esteem and mental health should feel comfortable knowing that it is okay to say “I am a male leftist with male traits and performances and that is OKAY!”
The end of institutional and systemic oppression and the establishment of equal rights, pay and court rulings is correct and social equity rather than social equality is correct.
"Letter To NYU" from Judith Butler (and pals) [Document processors like word as it is a download]. [cited 2020 July 1]
"Riot Grrrl: Revolutions from within" from Signs – Gitana Garofalo & Jessica Rosenberg
[Internet]. [cited 2020 June 17]
Outlaw Culture from Routledge – bell hooks [Book]. [cited 2020 June 4]
"Blaming the victim is apparently OK when the accused in a Title IX proceeding is a feminist literary theorist" from Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog – Brian Leiter [Internet]. [cited 2020 July 1]