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Feminspire | April 21, 2014

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Are Male Allies Just Trying to Get Laid?

Are Male Allies Just Trying to Get Laid?

| On 01, Aug 2013

Several weeks ago, I was the victim of an online harassment campaign where I had criticized some sexist comments made by a male author and I received hundreds of nasty, often gendered messages. One man came in to defend my feminist critique. Someone immediately labeled him my “partner” and others responded with, “Oh, that makes sense now.”

I once posted a personal Facebook status update about my experiences with rape and domestic violence. A male ally responded and we had a brief dialogue about the problems with patriarchy and the subsequent violence against all genders. One of my friends, who is male and by no means a feminist ally, immediately messaged me insisting that my ally was a “weasely,” “snake in the grass” “predator.”

David Futrelle of the anti-misogyny blog Manboobz, a watchdog group for “men’s rights” advocacy, is regularly accused of writing about misogyny to “get laid.”

It’s as though feminist ideas are so wacky and so unimportant that the only reason men would be interested in fighting against sexism and misogyny would be to get something from women. Some men are so completely indoctrinated with the idea that women exist only as a resource that it becomes unfathomable that any man would want to challenge patriarchy or that any rational man could actually take feminism seriously.

When men attack other men for promoting or defending feminism, it is often a means of gender policing. Masculinity is protected in defining it by what it is not, and it is not feminine. Just as boys who play with Barbies, boys who like theater, or boys who don’t “man up” to whatever masculine standard are chastised, men who advocate for gender equality are also chastised.

Image shows four women and one man all wearing feminist shirts. The man is covered by an image of a "man card" with a stamp of "REVOKED" over it.

Take, for example, how PJ Media describes male allies:

Maybe no one has informed you of this, but you are a dude. A man is not supposed to be a neutered, pansy-ass, emasculated weenie who trashes his own sex and spouts off lines Gloria Steinem didn’t even really believe when she first said them. Are guys like this trying to impress chicks? Were they brainwashed in a women’s studies class in college? Are they just uncomfortable with the fact that they have a penis? Whatever the case may be, these losers are so irritating that you get the feeling that even most liberal feminists have to choke back the intrinsic revulsion that they feel for these Nancy Boys.

The attack on male feminist allies is hurtful for four reasons: 1. It dismisses the legitimacy of feminism (what man would support it unless they’re trying to get some?); 2. It reduces masculinity into the tired trope that men are only interested in sex; 3. It often entails emasculating and homophobic gender policing; and 4. It discourages male involvement. The maintenance of male domination entails a lot of strict gender role monitoring, many boys and men may not want to put up with the harassment and will stay silent or steer clear altogether.

Newsflash guys: some men really are interested in social justice, and not because of any personal reward. In case you weren’t aware, many feminist women are not the easiest for patriarchal men to get along with. We hold our male friends and romantic partners up to a higher standard of integrity. It’s not as easy as posting a pro-feminist statement in a forum and then sitting back and waiting on the feminists to storm your house in a hormone-driven frenzy. The feminists I know are attracted to men who understand the issues, who care about the issues, and who fight for the issues. It’s not something easily faked, trust me.

Blowing off a man’s support with the ridiculous suggestion that he’s only interested in sex is about as shallow and lazy as calling feminists “man-haters.” It’s not true, deep down anti-feminists know that, and they just want to shut us up and keep that patriarchy working for their benefit. Male allies: ignore it and keep up the fight!

Written by Corey Lee Wrenn
You can follow her on Twitter, on her blog The Academic Abolitionist Vegan, and her website Vegan Feminist Network.

  • Vivid Sammy

    I have an amazing little brother(he’s in his teens) who has a feminist point of view, created these thoughts entirely on his own before even I got into feminism. I also have a very good guy friend who told me about this website. I only know these 2 guys who call themselves feminist and they are both incredibly smart and incredibly open minded. I never feel like I need to be on my guard around them. :)

  • Mgregs

    I have been reading this site out of a mix fascination and lack of understanding of the whole feminist movement. Im a guy, 22, and I cant say I totally understand where a lot of the posters are coming from. I don’t know if its naivety or I just see different things on a daily basis. I think I can shed some light on how guys actually feel.
    I swear im not trolling or anything, but this is how the majority of us feel. Having women as platonic friends isn’t really what most of us are looking for. Pretty much everything we do is in order to have sex with a girl. There may be a few guys out there genuinely concerned with “social equality” for women, but most of us are happy with the dynamic that we currently have.
    As a recent college grad I had four close guy friends and four close girl friends. We bought them drinks, offered our seats for them, treated them like girls. In return they would cook for us, clean up the house when it was a little dirty, and from time to time we would hook up in drunken stoopers. these four girls were our friends because they appreciated the status quo. We didn’t bring them into political discussions, they didn’t bring us into talks about the Kardashians.
    Now there were other girls that came into our group, and not to sound dickish, but at a small school, guys who were decent looking and threw better parties were a commodity. being within our circle was being invited to the fun social gatherings. There was no reason not to want to hang out with us, but a lot of feminists wouldn’t appreciate the nicknames that we would label girls with. Mainly based on their physical looks, sexual history or an outfit they were wearing one day. We wouldn’t want to have to walk an imaginary social line of correctness in order to maintain our relationships with girls. That’s why it really didn’t matter if girls wanted to be friends with us or not. We offered a certain set of things, but in return we wanted things as well. If you didn’t want to follow that dynamic, well no hard feelings, but it would be best we go on our separate ways.
    A lot of guys cant get that relationship with girls that they want to sleep with, its harder to gain a feminists approval and maybe they aren’t as apt to find girls that are easy to hang out with. So they put on this show of being sympathetic to the plight of middle class women in America. Aww. Some guy said a mean thing on Twitter to you? So heres the honest truth if you couldn’t see it already. Some guys are honestly concerned that you aren’t treated like any other guy in today’s society, most don’t care and have no trouble finding girls that don’t continuously complain about “Patriarchy” we just don’t care. Pheww.. that feels good.. Someone needed to say it though

  • Mgregs

    I think that certain realities need to be acknowledged on this site. I have been reading over articles the past couple of weeks and I think it is suffering from a lack of discussion and too much agreeing. I’m not here to troll, but rather create an informed discussion with someone who doesn’t fall in line with the feminist agenda.
    Do not get me wrong, I believe that professionally women deserve everything that their male counterparts do, however I cannot say I feel the same in social settings.
    I’m a guy, 22 years old and a recent graduate. In school, the majority of my social time was spent with my four male friends and our four female friends. We were friends with these four girls because at some point in time we wanted to sleep with them. Men in general do not seek platonic female friendship. These four girls that we did become friends with were not always platonic, but that isn’t the reason that we spent four years with them. These girls understood the dynamic that we were looking for in girl-friends. That is, they understood the status quo and had no issue with it.
    The dynamic was rather simple. We would buy them drinks, offer up our seats and jackets, etc. and in turn they would cook for us, clean the house when it was messy and often commit non-platonic acts. When we would hang out as a group they wouldn’t budge into our political conversations and we wouldn’t move in on their talks about The Kardashians or other girls at school.
    Now at a small school there are certain commodities that are more valuable than others. We were decent looking guys, threw really fun parties and were constantly on the edge of doing something worth doing. Girls wanted to be invited to our parties so they would often look to build a relationship with one of us. Throughout the years many girls came and went, but it was those four girls that remained a constant. Maybe we felt some type of loyalty to them, but the basic answer was that we didn’t need to go looking for other good-looking girls that would put up with us. Even though most girls did. However, some guys cannot gain this relationship with girls that they want to sleep with, so they are forced to put on the act that they care about feminism. “Oh some mean guy said something misogynistic to you on Twitter today?” You poor girl. A good portion of those guys don’t care, they just think that they are putting themselves apart from the regular asshole guys you deal with on a daily basis. Don’t kid yourself though, there is no difference between them and me.
    I promise I am not trolling here, this is how most guys in my experience feel. We don’t want to walk this imaginary line of what you find acceptable or don’t. If we don’t have to, we wont. We say terrible things about our sexual conquests, we create nicknames based on your physical appearance, sexual history or what you were wearing on a certain day. (I.E. Yogas McGigglebutt) As decent looking guys who bring certain aspects of having fun at school, we were able to dictate who we wanted to hang out with or not. Sure, girls called us assholes, but it didn’t matter, we didn’t need their approval because we weren’t going to have sex with them.
    The truth can hurt, but its nothing personal, you should know it.

    • Sully

      This may be the way your social circle works, but that does not mean it is the way the entire world feels, which is the point the article is trying to make. There is a world beyond the college party scene. For the most part my male friends are in relationships and I am married, so the motivation there is not sexual, and they all know better than to suggest that I do not “budge” into their political conversations.

      • Mgregs

        To All Above,
        I was not talking about my parochial, privileged life that I have always enjoyed, I was talking about how the majority of guys like it this way. We don’t want to see women transformed into what would ultimately in our eyes be, other guys. We like the dynamic of treating girls like girls and being treated like men. I mean you scream for equality then when a rape occurs, you want to be treated like ladies again. Uh.. Its a crime and when a crime happens to another guy, we generally don’t care all that much. If you want equality then we can go right ahead and stop opening doors for you, buying you drinks at the bar, offering up our seats on the train and regularly speak in the vulgar manner in which we do. Not to mention actually care when a woman is raped. I have participated in 4 Take Back the Night rallies in my 4 years at college. We do care when a rape happens, we dont care when a guy gets mugged on the street late at night.(He shouldn’t have been there in the first place) Do you want us to come to you with those terrible thing we say about other girls we hook up with? I don’t think youll find it as funny as are other guy friends. Its like we cant win anymore. Try to defend George Zimmerman for the completely legal action he took against Trayvon Martin and your a pariah amongst women, while all of my other male friends think he got his fair deal. We don’t want to walk the imaginary line of honesty and what’s acceptable to say around feminists, so we choose not to.

        Also, at my current job as a financial advisor for a mid sized firm, this is the dynamic that most of the guys in my office believe works. I made quick friends with these guys because I was able to relate with them. That’s why men move up the chain quicker then our female counterparts. I’ve already played golf with a partner and been to his house for a friends and family cookout. Who do you think is first to get a promotion, me or suzey who hangs on to her feminist ideology? I don’t see how this stuff could be any simpler, but hey, im just a white male who grew up in an affluent suburb. My life difficulty was already set on beginner.

        • Kelly

          So basically, you believe that a woman’s worth should be judged based on whether you want to have sex with her, the males in your office agree with you and that’s why you moved up the ladder. Women expect to be judged based on their accomplishments and what they are capable of instead of how your penis reacts to them and that’s why women don’t move up the ladder. And you think there is nothing wrong with that? You are basically advocating the “boys club” mentality.

          How is it that you don’t see and don’t care how harmful that line of thinking is to both men and women? Males like you are the reason all white males get labelled as sexist monsters. You are part of the problem. Your way of thinking is sexist. It is still sexist even if the majority of males think that way. I don’t see how this could be simpler.

          Women do want to be sexually desired but not at work and not by their male friends. And they certainly don’t want that to be the deciding factor on their worth, both as a friend and as a qualified employee. Women deserve more than that. Your girlfriend, your female friends, and your female relatives deserve better than your line of thinking. All men deserve better too. I wonder how many amazing friendships you missed out on because you couldn’t be bothered to be friends with a woman who you weren’t sexually attracted to. Men and women miss out on so much because of mindsets like yours.

    • Zach

      Good grief, you thought that was worth sharing? What a revelation. Who knew there were straight college boys who are privileged dicks? If nothing else at least you were honest about not caring about social justice because all the injustices favor you. So glad you could take time out of your busy schedule of reinforcing every gross stereotype about straight men to come share some of your wisdom about “reality.” Just another silly little boy who thinks that a handful of anecdotes from his short, sadly parochial life lend weight to his trite gender essentialist nonsense.

    • http://www.surlymuse.com Daniel Swensen

      Well, do they teach you about logical fallacies in college? “I am a man, these men I know are pigs, therefore all men are pigs?”

  • fernando Rivera Jr.

    I’m so glad to see an article on here that actually lists reasons and makes sense. Compare this to the other articles on this site, such as “The Fedora Isn’t the Problem – The Men Wearing Them Are”.

    In almost all imaginable cases, excluding, shaming, or holding prejudice against a person based exclusively on their gender is baseless, and ultimately harmful. That’s what sexism is, and everybody has good reason to be opposed to it.

    I do disagree with one of your final points, though.

    “they (anti-feminists) just want to shut us up and keep that patriarchy working for their benefit”

    I’m a male, and I find some feminists great, while others quite sexist. As you point out in this article, making assumptions about men based on their gender is lazy. It’s also worth noticing that it’s sexist. But yet on this same site there are articles that say things like, “reverse racism doesn’t exist”, or that it’s OK to shame and make assumptions about men based on whether or not they wear fedoras…I’m quite against those feminists, based on what their ideas, and not because I think women should be treated any differently than men.

    Basically, I think it’s a lazy generalization to say that a person claiming to be against feminism, or any other group, feels that way for any specific reason. Especially with something like feminism, which covers such a wide range of ideas and opinions.

  • Dionne Lister

    Awesome post! Very well articulated. The guys who are anti-feminist misogynists are short a few brain cells. The only reason they don’t want equality for all is because they’re scared of losing their ‘rights’. Only a selfish, close-minded moron would be scared of equality. What, they want to retain the right to rape, be violent and watch women suffer because they’re not men?

  • Kelley

    What exactly constitutes being “obnoxious about the way we talk politics or current events”?

    How does the female-male dynamic work? All your other comments basically say that the female-male dynamic is that males chose whether to be around a woman or not based on whether they want to sleep with her and don’t really care about anything else about her. Is that how the female-male dynamic works?

    I will keep fighting the good fight, just like many other men and women. Its about time men are taught to think about women as people worthy of respect instead of as sex toys.

  • Zach

    Attention all feminists and social justice activists! Breaking news! Rich straight man is content with status quo! Please cease all ongoing efforts to enact change. Rest assured, while obviously you were struggling diligently all these years for social justice because you thought straight white dudes with money secretly hated being on top and wanted you to free them from their gilded cages of privileged oppression, a singular truth-teller has now set the record straight and you needn’t bother any longer. They are totes okay with what
    they’ve got going on.

    Kiddo, I was addressing what you said. It was just that what you said was pointless drivel. What you said, and I’m paraphrasing here, was “Hey everyone, I don’t know anything about feminism or critical theory or really anything outside of my suffocatingly myopic social existence, but I’ve been told my whole life that my opinions are unassailable just because they’re mine, so here are some rambling anecdotes. Because I’m not very bright and was never taught how to critically examine my behavior, I think my experiences are representative of all men and that I am a reasonable spokesperson for half of humanity.”

    You didn’t really make an argument beyond ‘this is the way my life is and I like it so there.’ That’s not something that needs rebutting. It does, however, cry out for mockery. You’re like a white guy in the 60s bemusedly reading the paper and wondering “Why is this Dr. King fellow so agitated? Doesn’t he understand that my friends and I like the way things are? Segregation is just part of the world we live in. I should go let him know that, I bet it hasn’t occurred to him.” Did you honestly think you’d wander into a virtual room full of feminists and go ‘heya did you all know heteronomativity was a thing?’ and not get treated like an ignorant twit?

    So, lil’ buddy, next time you read things on the big ol’ internet that confuse you because they describe the lives of people who you do not personally know (which is, lets be clear, most people) how about you go fix yourself a nice little snack watch some TV instead of throwing a ‘reality check’ tantrum. I look forward to a response the gist of which is ‘No, bro, you don’t understand. I am, like, paralyzingly self-centered.’ Seriously, I get that already.

    • Mgregs

      Ha! The simple fact is that you are a guy that just never got along with the other guys your entire life so you had to find a new outlet of people who “get you”, and those people just happened to be women. You identify with them. Perhaps its your over-sensitivity toward social problems that us other guys just don’t understand.
      My experiences are what they are. The majority of men that I know (and that’s a good amount), just don’t feel the way you and your lady friends do about the status quo. We do these things because they work, I don’t know what your persuasion is to the female gender, but I can take a decent guess at the girls you surround yourself with. Those type of women just aren’t the type that the majority of men want to be around.
      I can also imagine the guys you surround yourself with. Those who complain about the injustices that are occurring in Syria and the issues Palestine has had since 48′. I just never got guys like you. So ya, the majority of us will still do the stuff that we do. We sill still pretend that we want to be friends with girls in order to sleep with them. We will still tell the most hilarious stories about them behind their backs . We will do all of this stuff not only in spite of you, but the urge to keep going about this way has a lot to do with you.
      As guys, we see the ever present threat of our lifestyle being stripped from us in order to replace it with a less enjoyable, more regulated one. It’s why the rate of women looking for marriage has remained a constant and the rate of men looking for the same thing is dropping drastically. Women aren’t the same any more. As guys search to find that girl who can still cook and do laundry, we see that number steadily dropping. In order to combat this we act the way we do today. So Keep fighting for whatever the hell you’re fighting for because with every action there is an equal reaction. You can see it occurring today. Why do a lot of women hate feminists? Because guys aren’t acting the way they want them to act. We aren’t buying them drinks, we aren’t holding doors, we aren’t offering our coats. You want equality? Well, here it is. Just don’t sit around and wonder why women hate other feminists and act like you’re doing them a favor.

  • John

    I’ll admit it… I’m a feminist because.
    Joss Whedon is my fucking hero and role model and knows how to write female characters right.

  • Spirit Plumber

    Are [people] doing [thing] to get laid? The answer is usually yes.

  • Spirit Plumber

    Are (people) doing (thing) to get laid? The answer is usually yes. We’re humans with human wants and that’s usually pretty high up the list.

    Are male allies JUST trying to get laid? We’d have to answer that statistically, but probably not.

    However, the “increasing your perceived chances at reproduction” thing helps motivating everything; ask Darwin.

  • Steve Corner

    ??