Publishers note: Momentarily we will be starting a MANstream Media that deals with this issue. Here. PE
Women’s studies help us create heroes and role models out of women who deviated from their traditional role (Madame Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Marion Evans [aka George Eliot]), who society did not highlight, but made invisible. As such, it offers women options in place of invisibility, inspiration in place of ridicule. That’s one of many reasons women’s studies exists and one of many reasons it is important. This is one of many messages I tried to impart when I taught in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University in the early eighties.
Women’s studies courses are the seeds from which the forest of feminism has grown. Over 30,000 courses are offered at American universities, including about 700 majors or minors.[i] A study at 55 major universities found that every Ivy League school, with the exception of Princeton, “now offers more courses in women’s studies than economics, even though economics majors outnumber women’s studies majors by roughly 10-to-1.”[ii]
In contrast, there are virtually no men’s studies courses. The few courses labeled “men’s studies” are rarely genuine men’s studies, but feminist men’s studies. Feminist men’s studies’ courses tell men how they can forfeit power, be less abusive toward women, share the housework… In feminist men’s studies, when men have a disadvantage it is seen as men’s fault.
Whether that disadvantage is dying sooner; committing suicide more; doing worse in almost everything in school; being less likely to attend college; paying for children they can see only as “visitors” after divorce; being more likely to be in prison; male-only draft registration; dying sooner of all ten leading causes of death; suffering 93% of workplace deaths; being more of the street homeless than women and children combined. That is, in feminist studies, women’s disadvantages are often seen as men’s fault; and in feminist men’s studies, men’s disadvantages are seen as men’s fault.
Many women’s studies departments have become gender studies’ departments, but also only in theory. The male perspective is not dealt with—only the feminist perspective on men. Feminists teaching the men’s perspective on men and calling it gender studies is like Republicans teaching Democrats’ perspective on Democrats and calling it party politics. Just as it is true that no has less empathy for Democrats than Republican activists (or vice versa), so it is also true that no one has less empathy for men than feminist activists. Feminists call it sexism to refer to God as He; they don’t call it sexism to refer to the Devil as He.
Women’s studies in its current form is not women’s studies—it is feminist studies. A genuine women’s studies would involve the views of not just liberal women, but also of conservative women (e.g., Independent Women’s Forum; Eagle Forum). Every study of gender should include four perspectives: those of both liberal and conservative women, and those of both liberal and conservative men. Gender studies now studies only liberal women’s view of women’s powerlessness, and liberal women’s perspective on male power. It doesn’t look at liberal or conservative men’s view of male powerlessness, or liberal or conservative men’s view of female power.
What, pray tell, is female power and male powerlessness? For starters, from the male perspective, many women have male-paralyzing beauty power, sexual power, verbal skills and victim power, even as he is paralyzed by his biological instinct to protect women.
As a result of the inattention to male powerlessness and female power, men are as ignorant about their own powerlessness and female power as women in the 1950’s were about their own powerlessness and male power. And as a result, men today are psychologically about where women were in the 1950’s. The last half century has not been a battle of the sexes, but a war in which only one side has shown up. Men have put their heads in the sand and hoped the bullets would miss. The less sense this makes now, the more you need genuine men’s studies.
The feminist objection to genuine men’s studies sounds convincing: “history is men’s studies.” Wrong. History is the opposite of men’s studies. Traditional history books reinforce the traditional male role of performer. The function of both women and men’s studies is to question traditional roles, not reinforce them. Women had to question the assumption that they must do the child-raising and couldn’t do the money raising. Men need to question the assumption that they must do the money raising and can’t do the child-raising.
Women’s studies is necessary to help women see clear alternatives to traditional roles; men’s studies is necessary to help men see clear alternatives to traditional roles. Men’s studies is currently needed more than women’s studies exactly because men’s role has been less-questioned.
History books, by celebrating men only when they perform, trap men into stereotyped roles even more than they trap women, because when we celebrate and appreciate someone for playing a role, we are really bribing them to keep playing that role. Appreciation keeps the slave a slave.
For women, performing is deviating from traditional roles; for men performing is conforming to traditional roles. To help women question traditional roles we had to help people see women who deviated from traditional roles as worthy of admiration—so Susan B. Anthony receives more admiration and Oprah Winfrey receives more opportunity than they would have in the past.
What is the male equivalent of deviating from traditional roles? Deviating for a university man who is heterosexual could be telling the woman he is dating that were he to become a parent he would prefer to raise children than to raise money. Deviating might be to question the norm that he pick up the check by expectation even as she picks up the check by option; or protesting that he take sexual initiatives by expectation even as she takes them by option.
For a gay man, deviating from traditional role expectations might involve celebrating his being in touch with his sexuality; for his classmates, it might involve encouraging him to live his life in integrity, rather than shaming him for it, thus forcing him to escape to a Brokeback mountain to be a double agent in his own life.
For men of any sexual orientation, questioning traditional roles may include questioning laws that emanate from those traditional roles: from male-only draft registration to state and federal departments of women’s health without departments of men’s health (even as men die sooner from all ten leading causes of death). It involves questioning why 15% of the military is female but only 2 of 663 of the Marines dying in the War in Iraq are female (as of April 2006).
It involves questioning medical breakthroughs based on traditional roles, such as the option for women to have birth control pills but not men (even though we’ve been within a ten-year reach of the technology for a men’s birth control pill for more than a quarter century). It involves questioning his university’s institutional sexism, such as female-only scholarships even as women are already about 57% of college graduates.
Men’s studies is not for men only. It would help both sexes understand dad: why dads are so often afraid to express feelings; why, when dad becomes 85, he is more than 13 times as likely to commit suicide as mom; why he is more likely to suffer from problems with alcoholism and gambling; why, after divorce, he often feels the children have been turned against him and the courts have turned him into a wallet.
Because half of the children’s genes is their dad’s genes, as men’s studies helps students understand their dad, it helps them to understand the half of themselves that is their dad. Men’s studies, therefore, does not merely change the student’s relationship to her or his dad, but the student’s relationship to her or himself. The corollary is that when women’s studies portrays men as the dominant oppressors, and the abusers, molesters and rapists, it leaves women and men feeling shamed about the half of themselves that is their dad– and, for men, the 100% that is male.
Men’s studies helps every future mom raise her son more effectively, and to raise her daughter to learn empathy toward men. Her daughter’s empathy is eventually extended toward that daughter’s sons. In contrast, a women’s studies-only approach toward men leaves her daughter with antipathy toward men that can become antipathy toward her sons.
Men’s studies helps both sexes understand all the problems men deal with as a result of a heritage that made men able to be loved and respected only if they were able to kill animals, kill in war, or make a killing on Wall Street. It helps both sexes understand all the problems that I discuss in each chapter of this book. Without men’s studies, gender studies misunderstands not just gender but also women, in the same way that if party politics studied only one party, it would misunderstand not just party politics as a whole, but also the party it favors.
Men’s studies is not the opposite of women’s studies. It doesn’t say women had rights and men didn’t. It explains that none of our grandparents had rights—they had responsibilities. They had obligations. Making money was about not about male power and privilege, but about male obligations and responsibilities. Men who fulfilled their responsibilities most effectively received female love. Men who failed received female contempt.
Men’s studies does not say women have the power and women oppress men. It helps us understand that neither sex had the right to play the role of the other sex, and therefore, if power is control over our lives, neither sex had power. For example, most dads prior to the early 20th Century had to forfeit any fantasy of becoming a writer, artist or musician to get paid enough to feed a family of ten.
Working as a coal miner was not power. Pay was about the power dad forfeited to get the power of pay—the power to have his children live a better life than his. Men’s studies helps both sexes understand why, instead of power, both sexes had roles. And to understand that by definition a role cannot be power—again, because real power is control over one’s own life. Instead, a role implies outside forces have control of one’s life.
Men’s studies explains why, in the past, the dominant force was neither men nor women, but the need to survive. And why the “oppressor” was neither men nor women, but the fear of starvation.
Without men’s studies, neither our son nor our daughter is taught to question the process of our daughter “marrying up” and, thus, our sons don’t question the process of programming themselves to raise money to obtain love. Since young men know the most pay comes in engineering, physics, math, medicine, business and law, they will continue to avoid the liberal arts, and instead use the university as a vocational school. Ironically, then, women’s studies without men’s studies undermines what every women’s studies professor would hope for: male exposure to the university as a questioning experience rather than as a vocational experience.
Without men’s studies, once children arrive, our daughters married to middle class men (or above) have three options:
work full time;
children full time;
some combination of both
Of course, our son has three “slightly different options”
More precisely, our son’s second option once children arrive is to work overtime, and his third option is to work two jobs.
When we have women’s studies without men’s studies, we create an Era of the Multi-Option Daughter and the No-Option Son. Which is what we have done.
If close to a half century of women’s studies without men’s studies had only given us an understanding of women while neglecting men, the problem would be easily solvable: create balance with a half century of men’s studies without women’s studies. But after a half century, feminism is part of our nation’s consciousness like syrup in a pancake: even if it we attempted removal, the pancake is forever reshaped. For example, who doesn’t believe that men earn more money for the same work, or that men batter women more than women batter men, or that women do two jobs while men do one?
These beliefs have created a deep-seated anger toward men and have resulted in policies like affirmative action extended to women, and women-only scholarships. Of course, if these beliefs were true, anger would be warranted. In successive chapters, I’ll explain why none of the above is true, but for now let me deal with the anger.
The anger emanating from women’s studies has infiltrated all the leading universities. Wherever I travel, I hear those few men who dare to take women’s studies courses speak of how shut down they feel. I was doing a TV show in Seattle called Town Meeting. Also invited was Pete Schaub, a senior at the University of Washington in Seattle. Pete had enrolled in a women’s studies course. When he objected that all men were not wife beaters, child molesters, and potential rapists, he was classified as sexist. When he persisted with such challenges, he was asked to withdraw from the class.
Pete was not your political protester-type, not by a long stretch, but this was too much even for him. He reminded the school that the course description advertised the course as encouraging “vigorous, open inquiry.” To him, it felt more like a vigorous inquisition. The associate dean, caught between feminism and free speech, did “the waffle”: He officially reinstated Pete, but told him it was best to not attend the class![iii]
Because the Schaub incident occurred in the 1990’s, and in a liberal city (Seattle), I wondered if this atmosphere was still prevalent in 2006, and in the midwest. I find it is. For example, a dad in Illinois for whom I had done expert witness work so he could become fully involved with his children after a divorce, told me that Raquel, one of his six children, was taking a women’s studies class at the University of Illinois. I asked Raquel about her experience in the class.
“Warren, the class is very upsetting to me. They keep saying that dads are not good parents, as if there were no exceptions. But my dad is a wonderful parent. His parenting skills and nurturing are much better than my mom’s. But in class, by talking all the time about dads as abusers, it makes people afraid of their dads, and by emphasizing divorced dads as molesters and deadbeats, they make it seem as if a divorced dad would only want to raise his daughters if they had bad motives (like to molest them or avoid child support). It’s sickening to me.”
I asked Raquel what happened when she spoke up. “If I say something positive about men, there is often a pregnant pause—as if I had made a grossly inappropriate comment. And when I write something positive about men in a paper, I get a bad grade. When I write a paper and take the feminist party line, I always get an A; when I don’t, I get a bad grade. This isn’t right.”
The “party line,” especially at leading universities, is Marxist feminism. It posits that throughout recent history male-dominated patriarchal societies made laws and customs to benefit men at the expense of women. Capitalist countries such as the U.S. are portrayed as the worst examples. Women are seen as being treated as the subordinate class, as second class citizens, or the property of men.
Just as Marxism in the former USSR required the censorship of Soviet citizens, so the censorship of men’s voices is seen as a prerequisite to women making the unfettered transition from subservience to equality. The university—and especially women’s studies—is seen as a safe harbor in the patriarchal storm. Of course, in the Soviet Union the result was a repression of speech that felt like an “iron curtain.” The ultimate result was disintegration rather than liberation.
In universities the censorship has created a “lace curtain” into which is woven “speech codes” at more than 200 of the leading universities. For example, at the University of Michigan, the phrase “Women just aren’t as good as men in this field” is specifically included in the speech code as an example of an offense.[iv] Saying “Men just aren’t as good as women in this field” is not prohibited. Students violating the speech code might be put on probation and even sentenced to mandatory community service.
And of course that can be used against them for life (especially if they should run for political office or desire a government or university position). Speech codes prohibit speech which women or minorities might consider offensive, but not speech which men might consider offensive.[v]Even the President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, found that merely suggesting in 2005 that male-female biological differences in engineering should be studied could cause international furor and catalyze his resignation from Harvard in 2006.
The codes would be less offensive if they were a two-way street, but even that would be undermining the purpose of a university—to prepare students to respond to offensive speech by communication, not litigation. When speech codes are a one-way street, however, they boomerang against women’s preparation for the workplace. By giving women more-than-equal protection under the law, they turn women into a protected class.
This overprotection infantilizes women rather than preparing women for equal responsibility. It also turns women into a privileged class, with special scholarships, programs, events and celebrations. Because they haven’t earned this privilege, they learn to feel entitled.
When something goes wrong it is seen as evidence of discrimination or oppression leading to blaming and suing rather than as an impetus to look within and confront. This undermines college women’s preparation to be effective employees and fair employers. Human resource divisions in all major corporations and government agencies reinforce this need for special awareness necessary for women.
These codes are also damaging university women’s personal growth. Why? The less men express their feelings, the more the male-bashing seems justified. Women graduate thinking of their rights, but not men’s. Thus, they graduate with a college education of anger toward men, including a lack of appreciation for their dad. A woman who does not appreciate her dad feels love-deprived.
And that affects her ability to love her husband and raise children. In the process of stifling men’s feelings about women, but not women’s about men, speech codes become divorce training. A setup for children being raised by a single mom who doesn’t see how her demonizing of their dad leaves the children feeling unloved by their dad and isolated from their dad’s contributions.
In brief, the speech codes emanating from the atmosphere created by women’s studies undermine preparation for a happy marriage, or being a good mother, an effective employee, or a fair employer.
Isn’t it true, though, that criticizing women, tasteless humor, and teasing create a hostile environment that inhibits women from learning? In the beginning, yes. But part of an education’s purpose is to overcome that response, to use criticism as a growth opportunity, to know how to handle people with different values and senses of humor, which includes knowing how to communicate your perspective as well as to listen to theirs. Which is why the solution is not to include man-bashing in the speech codes’ censorship. The solution is to useconflict between the sexes to teach both sexes how to listen to each other.
One positive contribution of early radical feminists was their focus on the value of the process, not just the end product (e.g., the college degree). A university is a laboratory for learning how to work through our disagreements, not for learning how to put a muzzle on the sex already less likely to complain and stir anger in the sex already more likely to complain.
Aside from this, the use of public institutions to subsidize sex discrimination is unconstitutional. Feminist-only studies is a violation of Title IX (which derives from the 14th Amendment’s equal protection of the law clause). Speech codes are a violation of the first amendment (free speech).
And the method enforcing speech codes on campus usually violates the fifth amendment’s guarantee of due process. To date, though, no college student has used Title IX to file a suit against his or her university for not having a genuine men’s studies department or for not having in its department of gender studies an equal number of courses on men’s issues from non- feminist perspectives.[vi]
Toward a Solution: Gender Transition Studies
The solution? There should be neither a woman’s movement nor a men’s movement, but a gender transition movement. A gender transition movement that helps both sexes make the transition from our genetic heritage of rigid roles to our genetic future of more flexible roles.
The goal of men’s studies, then, is not men’s studies. Nor should the goal of women’s studies be women’s studies. Both should ultimately be leading to Gender Transition Studies. And both should be integrating the perspectives of more traditional men and women.
Either women or men’s studies isolated from the other is the use of taxpayer money to subsidize mistrust between the sexes. Gender Transition Studies is the preparation of the sexes to change together, and to replace mistrust with empathy.
This doesn’t mean we can jump right into gender transition studies. If we do, the agenda will be set by women’s studies: Domestic violence will assume men-as-oppressor; contributions to the family will measure women’s housework and neglect men’s work; discussions of dating will not challenge women to risk sexual rejection, just blame men when they do it wrong; men’s health will be neglected, the lace curtain go undetected….
Feminists should be the strongest supporters of men’s studies. Why? Ultimately the change in women’s roles gets stalled when men’s don’t also change. For example, moms can’t break glass ceilings unless dads are caring for the children.
We’re all in the male-female boat together; if women are paddling on the left side and men on the right, and a woman says she wants freedom to paddle on the right, the man had better learn the value of paddling on the left or the boat soon will be unable to steer clear of something that will sink it. When either sex “wins,” both sexes lose.
[i]The numbers in this paragraph are the best estimates of San Diego State University’s Bonnie Zimmerman, President, National Women’s Studies Association, interviewed February 1l, 1999. not rep
[ii]Young America Foundation, Comedy and Tragedy: College Course Descriptions and What They Tell Us About Higher Education Today, 1998-99 (Herndon, VA: YAF, 1998). See http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/feder.html. Cited inEveryman, Issue 35, Jan./Feb. 1999, p. 38.
[iii]Asa Baber, “Feminist U,” in the “Men” column, Playboy, September, 1988.not rep
[iv]David G. Savage, “Forbidden Words on Campus,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 1991, front page.
[v]David G. Savage, “Forbidden Words on Campus,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 1991, front page.David G. Savage, “Forbidden Words on Campus,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 1991, front page. not
[vi]Attorney Marc Angelucci, President of National Coalition of Free Men-Los Angeles (www.ncfm-la.org), has filed several lawsuits alleging anti-male discrimination by California and various state agencies and employees.
Much of this work was taken from Dr. Farrell’s Myth of Male Power, which can be purchased here.