The current, quiet expatriate phenomenon in the United States comprises the newest wave of migrants trying to escape some form of adversity or oppression. This migration from the United States deals primarily with men’s issues, specifically the erosion of men’s rights in the country. Public opinion probably stands against the men’s movement, although I have not asked and do not care. The trend is not new. It has been developing over the last twenty years or so, and to paraphrase an old adage: expatriates are not born; they are made. I know because I became one of them.
Leaving my country, however, does not mean that I do not love it. I do, as I am sure do most expats, including men’s advocates. In my case, I reached the point where I could no longer endure the depression, anger and fear generated by the currently dominant social class in the United States: feminists. More importantly, I saw no possibility for positive change. The situation was, in fact, worsening.
As the African American expatriate writer Chester Himes said of his experiences with racial bigotry and hatred in the United States, there seemed no other option but to leave. Leaving is what I did, to my social and emotional benefit; however, that drastic act took a long time to germinate. What makes an expatriate? Usually it is a process rather than a single event. Here is an honest presentation of a small percentage of the experiences that led to my eventual expatriation from the United States.
I used to be a feminist. As a young boy during the late 1960s to early 1970s, I began to write stories. To encourage and help me, my father taught me to observe life, places and people carefully. What I saw in my lower-middle-class neighborhood was a lot of people—my parents and my friends’ parents—working very hard to support their families, with little time or energy or incentive left to support their marriages. Those spouses seemed to love each other, more or less, but they spent little time alone with each other. After working hard all day day—and sometimes part of the night at second jobs—the men, devoted fathers, spent what little free time they had exhausted in front of the television or outside on the porch chatting with each other while the mothers prepared supper or washed the dishes. The men talked football or baseball, not men’s issues. Men’s rights had not yet become an issue.
Men had all the rights, including the right to work themselves to a heart attack or stroke, the exclusive right to die in any upcoming war, the right to shoulder the stress of financially supporting a growing family and, especially for African American and Latino men, the right to be ‘first in-last out’ in any incarceration situation. The mothers spent their free time during the day chatting with each other in front of the house or sitting in front of the television. The only truly loving couple I saw was my grandparents. Of the others, my parents and neighbors, I saw very little affection but no abuse.
Nevertheless, I noticed that women and Black, Latino and Asian people had fewer rights, fewer educational opportunities and lower salaries than men in general and white men in particular. I also noticed that Black and Latino men had fewer rights, fewer educational opportunities and lower salaries in general than white women. It all seemed so unfair, so unjust, but nothing like what the feminists rant about today. Some of those things they complain about happened somewhere, I suppose, but not in my neighborhood. The violence and abuse I saw in my neighborhood involved gang fights—frustrated boys fighting each other in the street—and police brutality: officers of the law beating boys and men because they were not white or wealthy, as far as I could see.
On two occasions before my sixteenth birthday, police officers threatened to shoot me. I attended a prep school. I was not in a gang, but I did have long hair. Even with the police threats, I suppose I got off easy. A female police officer shot and killed a friend of mine from the neighborhood. He was about fifteen at the time, and he bled to death on the steps of his home, three houses down from where I lived. Police and gangs were local problems, but I saw no signs of violence in the neighborhood homes.
We heard no screaming or crashing sounds coming from houses at night. We saw no swollen, black eyes or bruises on anyone’s mother. Only one wife in the neighborhood, the mother of one of my friends, left the home, but not because of abuse. Her husband never hit her. They seemed reasonably happy with each other and secure in their home and family. Then my friend’s mother began to change. She needed to “find her identity,” the new feminist slogan. The couple started to argue. She got a job. Then, she moved out. They found her about six months later in the cellar of an abandoned house, not too far from the neighborhood. Her dead body was surrounded by opened cans of dog and cat food. That incident was my first true, personal experience with the ideological aspect of feminism and its effects on middle-class women and families.
My father was faithful and never yelled at or hit my mother, and I saw very little infidelity or yelling among the neighbors. The exception was one of my other friends’ mothers on the block who cheated on her husband and got pregnant by another man. They didn’t divorce; the husband accepted the child. In fact, I only recall one divorce in the neighborhood during my entire childhood and adolescence.
My grandfather was a good man, and my grandmother let him know it with her own attentive kindness. He was faithful and religious (they both were), but not closed-minded. He never yelled at or hit my grandmother. What I remember most of my grandparents is their love and mutual support. My grandmother kept the house clean, the clothes washed, and she cooked. My grandfather “kept the house from falling down,” as my grandmother put it. He did all of the plumbing, electrical work, painting, roofing, carpentry and lawn work, generally on Saturdays, and my grandmother appreciated it. In fact, they obviously appreciated and loved each other. They went to church together on Sunday mornings and shared a full quart of ice cream at the kitchen table on Saturday or Sunday afternoon while they talked or watched a ball game. I admired them both for their relationship.
Other couples seemed to put all of their energy into the house, the job and the kids, mostly the latter two. I saw nothing wrong with any of that. I also knew that I didn’t want it. I thought it grossly unfair somehow that women seemed to have no other option but to be bored housewives, and men seemed to have no other option but to work themselves to death at dead-end jobs that were either very boring, very stressful—my father’s case—or dangerous. I wanted something better. I wanted an interesting career. I wanted a wife who would be interesting because she also had an interesting career. I wanted to treat my future wife with a lot more attention and affection than I saw the neighborhood men treating their wives.
I believed in faithfulness in relationships, something that, for me, went without saying. I wanted a wife who would treat me better—with more attention and affection and support—than the neighborhood women treated their husbands, my parents included and my grandparents excepted. I wanted a wife like my grandmother (maybe a bit thinner and sexier). In all of that, I thought that women should have the same rights, opportunities and pay as men doing the same job. I looked for and longed for something like that in a future relationship. Feminism was just coming of age when I started college, so I got off to a bad start.
My first girlfriend cheated on me. I wasn’t really in love, so I ended the relationship without much pain. My second girlfriend, who I met at the university dormitory and did love, cheated on me four times in two years—four times of which I am certain. Still, I did not follow the feminist lead and hate all women. I didn’t think badly of any of them, except those two. I didn’t talk badly of them or to them. I did not condemn an entire sex for the actions of a few members, as many but not all women do to men. However, I distanced myself from serious relationships for a few years and just dated around. I was no MHRA; I just didn’t want to get burned again. I suppose the campus feminists thought I was one of those men who are afraid of commitment. After two bad experiences with commitments, I was scared. However, I still had hope. Men’s issues were not yet on the agenda.
At the university, one nice, pretty, religious Campus Crusade for Christ member seemed to be interested in me. I found out later that she lied. She faked interest in me to try to recruit me and “save” me. I’m Catholic, so I didn’t need saving or her. After dropping out of the university due to a lack of funds and interest, I lived and worked near a military base. I noticed some women referring to men as pigs (aside from the cop reference), and I thought they were talking about the relatively few men who did act like pigs in a way similar to the way men and women referred to the few bad women as bitches and gold-diggers. The eighties had begun; attitudes were changing, and opportunities were presenting themselves to women eager to take them up.
I met one beautiful, career Navy seaman (seaperson?) at my apartment complex. I offered her dinner. She said that she would accept on one condition: “That I can spend the night.” I saw no ring and agreed. The next morning, when I expressed an interest in seeing her again, she informed me that she was married to a guy who lived in their hometown in the South—I don’t remember which state. A couple of weeks later, I met a guy in a bar. The night was early, and women were scarce at that hour, so we struck up a conversation. Through cross-referencing details, I found out that he had also screwed that same career Navy woman. My hope slipped a bit.
I returned to college in the late eighties. Finishing my bachelor’s degree in English went well enough. However, when I entered graduate school for my master’s in English in 1990, things were changing rapidly. Suddenly, women did not need men; men were the enemy. “Every man is responsible for the problems of all women,” is what a female graduate supervisor told me once. I pointed out the bigotry of her statement. The university provost was a woman. The university president was a woman. The English department head was a woman, and my tutoring center supervisor was a woman. In addition, I had seen men, mostly white men, homeless and begging on the street. My female office mate told me: “Things are going to be different when women are in charge.” I wondered: different how and for whom? I married a feminist. I did love her, sort of, but also, I thought I could find nothing better. My life at that time was centered on university life. I knew few people outside of it.
I settled for the best I thought was available. At least she had long hair and did not talk badly about men all the time. She even defended me against some of the more rabid feminist attacks that I endured in creative writing classes. Nevertheless, social oppression is cumulative, including in a marriage. Once, I told my wife that something she did hurt me, and she said to me: “It’s too bad because that’s the way I want it.” That told me what she thought of me, but I saw no way out. My feminist wife was in charge, and things were different for me: worse. I still saw feminist bigotry as something personal and universal in relationships, the worst of it limited to English departments on university campuses. Only later did I see it as something institutional, but for me, at that time, like for most men I knew, national borders were my borders. I was angry and depressed, but not yet afraid, not yet an MHRA. Political correctness was merely an annoyance. Feminist bigotry at work was not really dangerous as long as I kept my mouth shut and my eyes off the tits. Divorce offered relief. Alone, everything would be better, I thought.
One day, I went to the hospital of a major California healthcare provider for professors and other state workers. (I won’t name it directly; I still sometimes worry about feminist reprisals and attacks.) I was there for something routine, the flu or something, and I paused before a large poster I saw in a corridor on the ground floor. The photo showed a black youth of about late high school age, wearing a track suit. The caption, in large letters, said: “If you really want to see how fast he can run, tell him you’re pregnant.”
I stood before that movie poster-sized image for a long time. I remember feeling numb. I suddenly knew how it must have felt to see Ku Klux Klan parades pass on some main street in Alabama or to be Jewish in late 1930s Berlin and see a huge Swastika banner hanging as a backdrop to a Nazi rally. I realized that United States feminist bigotry—the man hate—had become institutionalized, had gone mainstream. University sanctioned bigotry was one thing; government sanctioned bigotry was dangerous. The migraines started about then.
I tried an experiment to test the premise behind the poster at the unnamed hospital. Over the next week, I frequented the local mall after teaching. While strolling, I counted the number of young men I saw with children. I only included youths who looked to be about late high school age—as in the poster—and the child he cared for had to look to be his. In the first three days, I counted twenty-seven black boys who looked to be younger than twenty-one and had a child in tow that seemed to be their son or daughter. Maybe the poster is only sexist toward men and not also racist. I counted all the young men of any race I saw with children. Going into the second week, I got to over forty. When I started counting young couples who seemed no older than twenty and who were with children, the total passed fifty.
On the other side of the issue, you may refer to the article by Mike McCormick and Glenn Sacks, “New American Bar Association Article Points to Crisis in False paternity Judgments,” (originally published in the Baltimore Sun 20 August 2006. Or read the article by Edward Steven Nunes “Those who commit Paternity Fraud are almost never punished” (updated 16 September 2012). Nunes says: “Paternity fraud is probably much higher than currently claimed. For an example, some laws restrict the use of paternity tests because of the presumption of paternity in marriage. In other instances, the law may restrict the use of paternity tests to preserve the family if the truth would become known. Also some laws may restrict the use of paternity tests to ensure that the father will continue to support the family that may not be of his making.”
I recall two occasions when young women tried to get me to have sex with them because they wanted to get pregnant. One woman, my first girlfriend who cheated on me, said, “Let’s do it now. I want to have a baby.” In United States feminist society, however, sexist attitudes toward men, such as displayed by the hospital, triumph. As I came to understand that, my ties to the country loosened. My sense of freedom, safety and equality dwindled.
My sense of job security also suffered. I experienced several instances of subtle or direct prejudice against men–some against me directly–that foretold of worse things to come. For example, during my doctoral program in English, I did my teaching practicum for my ESL certificate in the university’s English Language Institute. When I started my program, the director of the institute was a man, and the regular faculty was divided more or less equally between men and women. A female director took over. Within three semesters, the faculty was all female, except for one gay male teacher. I was not mistreated directly at that university; everyone was nice (as long as I kept my mouth shut). Most of the anti-male sexism I endured, in fact, came from my female students. In addition, a woman had recruited me for my doctoral program. Nevertheless, I saw where things were heading.
Just after I divorced the feminist, I took a vacation to Columbia on the advice of a female Spanish teacher, a friend of mine. The people, especially the women, were wonderful. The migraines abated for those three weeks. During that vacation another world of possibilities opened, triggered by a conversation I had with a young lady there. I met a nice girl at the hotel there in Bogotá. She was just about twenty years old but proved much wiser than some much older female English graduate students I had known in the United States. The young Colombian lady and I were having a discussion of relationships, and it seemed to us that chauvinism and feminism were two sides of the same coin: both arrogant, abusive and condescending toward the opposite sex.
When I told my new friend of the United States feminist attitudes toward equality and their claims that men were unnecessary, she said to me: “Of course men and women are equal, but we still need each other.” At that instant, I decided that someday soon, I would leave the United States.
That “someday” came ten years later. Upon returning from my Colombian vacation, I began to research my options more thoroughly and to study Spanish more intensely. I looked into everything from foreign exchange programs (teacher and student) to ESL certificates to foreign dating clubs to employment by USA companies in other countries. I saved money. I began to plan, rather leisurely, to leave the country for a Latin or Asian country where men were treated with more equality and dignity. I stopped dating United States women. I no longer went to clubs unless it was on a date with a foreign lady. I traveled more, learning about other cultures as well as teaching options in other countries. I continued writing fiction. I continued to teach. Ironically, two foreign women changed my leisurely moving plan to one of immediate action.
At the time, I was teaching college level literature and ESL. During an ESL conversation class, a second level female student from Cuba said during a class discussion on relationships: “If my boyfriend pisses me off, I am going to call the police.” Her diction was a bit higher than level II, and her words sounded rehearsed. I felt a sting of fear and thought: If foreign women are subject to this kind of influence, it may be time to get out of here. I was proven right a week or two later. I was living with who I thought was a nice lady. She was from Bolivia but had lived for a few years in the United States before we met. One Sunday evening, we started arguing about money. She wanted me to give her enough to take a week’s vacation back to her country. I was saving to move permanently.
The argument became heated but not physical. I never hit her, and she did not hit me. Finally, I got tired of it and left her in the dining room to go to the living room to watch TV. About fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang. There were two police officers at my door asking if anyone had called the police. Fortunately, they were both men. Had one of them been a woman, I would probably have been arrested. As it happened, they talked to my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend for a few minutes and left. My foreign, Latin girlfriend apologized, but I refused to touch her after that. I knew it was time to get the hell out of that country. I no longer trusted her. I no longer felt safe in my own home.
I talked to a couple of friends and foreign students. Mexico seemed my best option. I went to the Mexican consulate. A couple of weeks later, I flew to Mexico for a month to look for work and a place to live. The whole process took a couple more trips and several months, but I am here now, safe and happy. About a year and a half after moving to Mexico, I met a wonderful Latin lady who is now my wife. My life is better here.
In the United States, the bigotry toward men was constant and ubiquitous. In several states of the great Union, I heard derogatory remarks directed toward men by women more times in any given month than I had heard racist remarks against my skin color, religion or national origin in my whole life. To be honest, I have heard a couple of those man-hating remarks here in Mexico, but I never heard anything like that in Colombia, Perú, Costa Rica, Panamá, the Bahamas or China. The poison is drifting out from the borders, however.
I have heard that the situation for men is getting bad in Canada and England. That is a shame. At least for now, in Mexico, the people, including the women, are fair-minded. The women honestly care for their men and they support us. People here in Mexico discuss men’s issues and women’s issues. People here seem to be genuinely interested in equality and human rights. My Mexican wife values my opinion. She listens to me. Sexist comments from women here are very few and seem to result from United States influence, primarily through television. I have only heard a couple of man-bashing comments from Mexican women who were English teachers—not that big a surprise—and even they stopped doing that when they listened and understood the hurtful, bigoted nature of the anti-male remarks.
Overall, however, I am happy here in Mexico and very happily married. My wife is helping me to recover from the pain and emotional problems caused by feminist oppression in the United States. The migraines are gone. My blood pressure is normal again. No matter what critics might say about “copping out, running away, being unpatriotic or giving up,” it seems that Chester Himes was right. The expatriate solution works. After thirty years of feminist oppression, it may be all that we men have left.