By: Thomas Duke
Where does a good man even begin when faced with the particularly toxic brand of misandry published on dailylife.com.au?
Perhaps by cutting right to the chase: I’ve been driven to write about one of Daily Life’s recent uninspired screeds against men, courtesy of a Clementine Ford, entitled “What Does It Mean to be a ‘Good Man’?”
The spectacular belly-flop of a conclusion to the titular question? That men aren’t ‘good’ unless they are feminists: that is, the type of feminist you are and that you want them to be; which is, apparently, the type of feminist who demonizes and denigrates men, and who seems determined to arrest the cultural narrative about men as inherently evil, violent oppressors.
Clementine, to paraphrase one Mr Sirius Black, you have once again put your keen and penetrating mind to the task and as usual have come to the wrong conclusion.
I take issue with your claims not just because they are riddled with illogical and irrelevant froufrou, nor just because you and your ilk seem determined to dominate the popular discourse of what a man can and cannot say about himself.
No. I ultimately take issue with your claims because they are persistently inaccurate, and take pains to misrepresent the voices of any males who dare to claim that they are in fact human beings, with rights, who are inherently good and have immanent dignity just the way they are. That is, we don’t need to ‘do’ anything – for example, serve as the cowed, obedient attack dogs of radical feminists – to have the dignity of a ‘good’ human being afforded to us by society. Indeed, the extraordinarily flimsy assertion that to be a valuable male requires such a degree of self-abnegation as to abandon one’s own plight altogether is redolent of oppression of a certain doublethink variety.
That we men are, as a sex, inherently good is backed up by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states quite clearly – in fact, as its foremost tenet:
“Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
This assertion is rightly and powerfully emboldened by the claim in the Declaration’s preamble that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, this ‘dignity’ everyone keeps talking about is best defined as “the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect”.
Or, in layman’s terms, being considered by society as “good”.
My point? No human being needs to jump through any political or ideological hoops to be considered as worthy of honour and respect.
This may come as a shock, but men are human beings. Men are worthy of honour and respect. Men have inherent dignity. Men are good. Just ‘cause. We don’t need to conform to a particular religion, political or cultural ideology to be ‘good’ any more than women do; that is, not at all.
Contrary to this, Clementine claims in her article that:
“Unless you [men] are vigilant every day about standing against gender discrimination and misogyny – and that means stepping up, being a proactive bystander and speaking out against ideas and behaviours that perpetuate misogyny – then I’m sorry to tell you that you are not a decent, good bloke.”
Clementine, I am curious as to why you have singled out men alone here. What about women who don’t live up to your ideals? Why do you seem to think that only misogyny, and not misandry, is a bad thing? Why do you claim to be against sexism, and then structure your beliefs and shaky arguments on highly gendered and divisive claims like this?
Now, if we are going to talk about all the terrible types of discrimination and sexism in the world, why not include all the gender discrimination and sexism, including that experienced by men, as well as women? It’s kind of like hearing about an elderly person being murdered, and then only getting fired up about killings of the elderly, instead of recognizing murder overall as the real problem. So, if you are, as you claim, so appalled by gender discrimination and sexism, why aren’t you bothered by it when it happens to a man?
Because it does. Men cop a raw deal in a lot of ways in western culture in the 21st century. I know well enough that you are aware of such matters as male victims of domestic violence, male victims of rape, the inequality of male-only conscription, the anti-male bias in family courts in many countries, the higher incarceration rates of males across the board, the poor performance of male students in primary and secondary education systems, and the rapid decline of men from colleges and universities across the western world. Not to mention unfair custody battles, divorce settlements, the much lower life expectancy of males compared to females, and the fact that not only are men much more likely than women to be victims of violent crime, they are also almost five times as likely to commit suicide. And all that, without even touching on the cultural misandry in our popular discourses on men: those media, both news and entertainment, that present a false but dominant paradigm of men as stupid, violent, evil and oppressive.
Men’s rights activists do not raise these matters for shits and giggles. We don’t throw all these inequalities and statistics into the cyber-ether just to ‘compete’ with the problems faced by women in the world. This isn’t a game to us. Is it a game to you and your fellow “Daily Life” feminists? Are you engaged in some kind of victimhood Olympics with us, determined to prove women have it harder than men? Do you expect us to continually counter your claims by saying men have it harder than women? Do you get some kind of perverse pleasure out of trying to prove how much you have suffered? Do you want a cookie for allegedly being the most oppressed?
We don’t. It’s not a game to us men. We just want to be heard like everyone else. We find ourselves in a public domain where the plight of women, fueled by the hopefully dying embers of feminism, is considered with sympathy and urgent concern, but the plight of men is diminished and dismissed. Indeed, even mentioning that we are human beings with rights, dignity and issues of our own earns us the absurd label of “misogynist”.
We want to be included in the cultural narrative on the rights of human beings in the world. In amongst your pressing conversations of the rights and dignity of women, homosexuals, people of various races, and more, all of which are important, we would like men to also be considered as equal, worthy individuals whose plight also needs championing. And we are a diverse bunch: straight and gay, rich and poor, old and young, religious and atheist, white and black and everything in between.
We are good men, and we want our voices heard.
About the author:
Thomas Duke is a freelance writer and Men’s Rights Activist based in Perth, Australia. A member of Generation Y, the core focus of his activism is defending the dignity of men and boys and identifying and combatting misandry and anti-male bias in the law, media and society. .