is said "choose your enemies carefully, for someday you'll
resemble them." The men's and fathers' movement is gaining in
strength and slowly making progress. However, there is a
disturbing fringe element whose woman-bashing very much
resembles the vicious man-bashing which men and fathers have
endured for the past three decades. It is important that men's
and fathers' activists confront this fringe rather than turn a
blind eye to it.
What are the characteristics of the woman-basher?
Characteristic #1: The woman-basher believes that all women, or
virtually all women, are the problem.
For example, in a recent issue of
Transitions, the newsletter of the National Coalition of
Free Men, a front cover cartoon depicts a pretty bride
(representing a woman on her wedding day), and then a hideous,
multi-headed monster (representing a woman in divorce court,
presumably because she has won custody of the children and
driven the father out of his children's lives). The caption
reads "This is a female. She will destroy your life in ways you
never thought possible." Most NCFM leaders and members
immediately recognized the unjustness of the cartoon, and
realized that it was, in fact, a perfect mirror of the radical
feminist "all men are rapists" position.
Another woman-basher (WB) expressed similar thoughts in a later
issue, writing that for men, bad things "will happen if you
engage in risky behavior such as having sex, having a child,
getting married, or [having] anything resembling a relationship
with a woman." The writer cautions that those who dismiss these
inevitabilities are "the future victims."
Characteristic #2: WBs believe that men don't ever really oppose
woman-bashing or woman-blaming, but oppose it publicly only
because they're forced to do so.
After the cover cartoon was published, there was a storm of
protest from NCFM members and leaders, and the issue was hotly
debated in the pages of Transitions. Many WBs, however,
assumed that these protests (and the ensuing anti-woman-bashing
measures taken by the Board of Directors) were made because we
were afraid of our wives' reproach or because we feared
offending some by not being politically correct. The idea that
most NCFM members and leaders opposed the cartoon out of simple
fairness and decency did not seem to occur to them. This is
similar to the feminist view that any woman who opposes feminism
can't really be against feminism, but is instead the dupe or the
captive of evil, reactionary males.
Characteristic #3: WBs believe that even those females who have
helped us do so out of dubious motives.
When syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker recently launched a
misguided attack on Russell Yates, one men's chatroom
participant derided Parker as a "Giggling ditz-bunny" who is
"another Cathy Young, another Wendy McElroy - one of those women
whose image of herself is so pompously filled with patronizing
goodwill towards the poor little men that she can't even imagine
how sexist and anti-male she sounds."
Another noted that male-friendly female writers like McElroy are
simply like the "farmer [who] always fattens up the turkey
before Thanksgiving." The farmer is always "meticulously
friendly" but has "malevolence in her heart." We are also told
that McElroy's ideology is that of "friendly fascist feminism"
and that women like this don't bash men because they instead try
to "neuter them politely."
outside observer would never guess that the WBs are speaking of
the small minority of writers who have actually made a real
effort to discuss men's issues at a time when it hasn't been
popular to do so.
Characteristic #4: WBs believe that for 30 years women have won
at the expense of men and that men can only win now at the
expense of women.
Warren Farrell says, when only one sex wins, both sexes lose.
There is no way that men or women can move forward from this
point unless they move forward together and on an equitable
Characteristic #5: WBs dismiss women's contributions to our
movement because "it's often women who speak up for us only
because Lace Curtain censorship doesn't allow men to do it."
Lace Curtain censorship is real, and yes, many men have been
silenced, but this doesn't discredit the efforts of those women
who have spoken out. It is important that we don't mistreat
them, as the feminists did to the many men who helped the cause
of women's liberation. Dianna Thompson, the Executive Director
of the American Coalition of Fathers and Children (ACFC), says:
can understand men's frustration. It's unfair that women are
typically able to talk more about gender issues than men can.
If I talk about the way current child support guidelines are
excessive and unfairly burdensome to fathers, people will
listen. If a man says the same thing, people will look at him
and say ‘He's just trying to get out of paying.' It's not fair
and I don't like it, but I'm not the one who made these rules.
Women in the fathers' movement didn't make these rules."
Women who have helped men and fathers often find themselves in
an impossible double-bind--they are labeled traitors by
feminist-minded women, and at same time are disparaged by WBs.
Trudy Schuett, publisher of the Desert Light Journal, has been
denounced by feminists as a "fathers' rights whore," and Susan
Faludi has implied that pro-father women are Uncle Toms. Kim
Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women,
says that the relationship between men and women in the fathers'
movement is similar to the way "a man charged with rape will
hire a woman lawyer to represent him."
Conversely, some women in the fathers' movement report that
there are men who contact fathers' groups and are displeased
when a woman answers the phone or when a female activist is
chosen to help them.
Since some men apparently have forgotten those many women to
whom we owe a debt of gratitude, I have begun to compile a list
of male-friendly women activists and writers who deserve
recognition. To view the list,
Characteristic #6: WBs believe that when male-friendly women
writers or activists show support for the mainstream feminist
view of a gender issue, it is indicative of their bad
Young, McElroy, and Parker have together tackled a laundry list
of men's issues, yet when they've disagreed with men's activists
(such as Young and Parker's recent attacks on Russell Yates),
some WBs have been quick to accuse them of selling-out or of
double-dealing. In reality, when these women have disagreed
with men's activists they've sometimes been right. More
importantly, disagreement and independence (as well as concern
about legitimate women's issues) don't indicate betrayal or
malevolence. And while I disagree with Young on the culpability
of Russell Yates, her central point--that fathers' activists
should not defend fathers simply because they are fathers--is a
Characteristic #7: WBs use personal experience (having children
stolen in a divorce, being the victim of false accusations or of
domestic violence, etc.) to justify anti-female bigotry.
This is a dangerous practice, because it parallels the
despicable way feminists have used victimhood to justify
man-hate. One need only to look at the hate-filled feminist head
case Andrea Dworkin, reputedly the victim of sexual abuse, to
see where this leads. Pain and victimization need to be
channeled into reasonable and dedicated political action, not
healthy response to victimization is to emulate McElroy, a
former victim of severe domestic violence. Rather than turning
her personal victimization into anti-male bigotry, she has used
it to gain insight into the lives of all victims of domestic
violence, male and female.
Characteristic #8: WBs believe that feminism has caused all of
men's and fathers' current problems.
blame feminism but ignore an equally destructive force--men's
chivalrous tendency to blame men first and women last. It is
this attitude which has created what Farrell calls "the
machinery of male protection," whose victims are almost always
example, in a discussion of the Texas District Attorney who is
considering filing charges against Russell Yates "because of all
the e-mails she received" a WB wrote "Who do you think sent
those mails? Women."
can say from my experiences defending Russell Yates in the
Houston Chronicle and on radio talk show programs throughout the
Southwest that this is a misguided assumption. The most
vociferous attacks on Russell (and on me) came not from women,
but from men, most of whom have deeply imbibed the "always blame
the man" ethic of our time. Russell ought to hope for an
Characteristic #9: WBs believe that women aren't worth the
WB recently wrote about "a tale I've heard from a number of
friends. F--king women in the feminist era is so dangerous that
it's not worth the effort, and, anyway, most women are so damned
lousy in bed that they aren't worth the trouble." This writer
could perhaps find a soulmate in feminist bigot Germaine Greer,
who recently said "God knows how many women already have no use
for their men, who are all too often idle and incompetent both
as wage-earners and around the house, uninterested in the
children and hopeless in bed."
Characteristic #10: The WBs believe that their "radical"
rhetoric and posture helps the men's movement achieve its goals,
just as the radicalism of Malcolm X helped Martin Luther King
achieve his moderate civil rights goals.
Some WBs justify or even celebrate woman-bashing by referring to
the Civil Rights Movement model, whereby white racists knew that
if they didn't give the moderate King what he wanted, they'd
have to deal with the radical Malcolm.
Setting aside the fact that the above assumptions about King and
Malcolm aren't actually historically accurate, there is one
fatal flaw with this model. At the time of the Civil Rights
movement, most Americans acknowledged that blacks had been
mistreated and oppressed. Thus, while Malcolm X could be
criticized for his radical views, nobody could deny that the
source of his rage was legitimate.
do not, and in many ways should not, enjoy the same legitimacy.
Men, as a whole, are still often viewed as oppressors or at
least as advantaged. In practical terms, woman-bashing from our
quarter often doesn't sound like the noble defiance of the
oppressed, but instead like the unjust rage of the "privileged"
whose privileges are under attack. Thus woman-bashing
marginalizes and delegitimizes all wings of our movement.
be fair to the WBs, with a few exceptions, their woman-bashing
is not the product of genuine misogyny, but is instead
reflective of the frustration of a generation of men who have
grown up in a relentlessly misandrist popular culture, and who
have had almost no forum within which to oppose it. It is also
true that over the past three decades we have become so
unaccustomed to hearing criticism of women, that legitimate
criticism is often labeled "woman-bashing" or "misogyny." But
there's a important difference between criticizing certain
female behaviors or demanding fairness from women, and the "all
women are out to destroy men" attitude of some WBs.
Besides being unjust, woman-bashing could be disastrous for our
movement. After 30 years of being on the receiving end of gender
abuse, the time is ripe for gender reconciliation and a serious
attempt to address men's concerns. The injustices committed
again men (particularly fathers) by our courts and our media
are so outrageous that most people will support us if we can get
the truth out to them. Even many feminist dissidents are tired
of man-bashing and victimology, and have rejected anti-male
feminism. The special courage--the male courage--of the heroes
of September 11 has helped remind us of the many unique and
critical contributions that men make to our society. We will
change society, as long as we are reasonable and fair.
Late in his life Malcolm X said "the enemy is not whites. The
enemy is racism." The men's and fathers' movement needs to make
sure it never sees females as the enemy, but only misandry--whether
from females or from males. If not, we'll become like the
bigoted feminists that this movement was formed to oppose.
Sacks' columns on men's and fathers' issues have appeared in dozens of America's
largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at
via email at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.
Women Who Have Helped the Men's and Fathers'
and Who Deserve Recognition
has complied a list of women he believes
have helped the men's and fathers'
movement and who deserve recognition.
to view his list.
Glenn welcomes you to
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