Meninism: Where Are All the Dudes?

How can you be a man and discuss feminism without appearing to be like this bozo?

If you were to think of the most insightful, thought-provoking writers on gender issues, the chances are the majority of them would be women. As a card-carrying real-life man, I’m not entirely sure why this should be the case.

Clearly, when it comes to matters of feminism and comment on the female experience, men are going to fall short somewhat. Though it is of course possible for a man to be a feminist (and there are several websites dedicated to specifically those chaps), there’s only so much understanding a man can bring to the table before his lack of an ovary or two is going to leave him lagging.

But gender issues, equality, sex and other topics worthy of debate and exploration? Hey, we know something about those and we’ve even got views on them! And I’d wager that those opinions have as wide a spectrum as women’s. Therefore, theoretically we should be filling column inches with our views on the pay divide, negative stereotyping and countless other hot potatoes du jour, but we’re not.

Is it because, throughout history, the man’s point of view has been the one that’s been heard and hence recorded as the “official” version of things? While sexism persists and we live in a male-dominated society, it’s likely to remain the case. Most – if not all – of the issues that could be covered are already heavily weighted in favour of men, which gives a comment piece two options: the man agrees with the status quo (yawn) or expresses a viewpoint that is advantageous to women. And if there’s a point of view out there that’s advantageous to women, surely a woman would be better placed to give insight about the struggles faced, and how these challenges could be overcome?

Is it because men are worried about how their arguments may come across? I’d wager that any article which gives the impression that men feel they’re unfairly treated in the world would go down as well as Frankie Boyle at a Slutwalk. As we know, society has dealt us fellas a pretty cushy hand so far – too good, in fact - it’s a hand with five aces. So, sure, there are aspects of being a man in 2012 that are pretty rubbish that women don’t have to deal with, but it’s all pretty small beans in comparison.

That said, is it perhaps because men are worried about how people might react to such articles? We all know about the cult of hyper-masculine LADS with their Neanderthal views and their “epic bantz” but they’re not the only misogynists in town. This thought-provoking (if rather verbose and pleased with itself) article in The Quietus recently highlights the rise of the beta male. There are a growing number of men who are so keen to be seen as not sexist that, rather than go to the polar opposite, they almost come full circle. Men who put women on a pedestal, believe that females are beyond criticism and think all girls are pictures of innocence and purity are guilty of just as much negative stereotyping as their alpha equivalents. Whilst claiming to have women’s interests at the forefront of their actions, they – as the article explains – believe themselves to be superior to your average FHM reader, hoping to attract the attention of women primarily to show that nice guys don’t always finish last.

Any male-penned feature on the relationship between the sexes is – unless the work of a right-wing nutjob – likely to be supportive of women rather than men, and then you’re walking a very thin tightrope, because the last thing you want to come across as is a 'mansplaining beta male misogynist' (as an aside, I wonder since reading that previous paragraph, how many people have me pegged as that right now).

A skilled, thoughtful and interesting writer should be able to negotiate those potential pitfalls in order to express their views eloquently and convincingly. The rise in websites and blogs showcasing an array of gender-related material demonstrates that there’s clearly an audience for it, and a proportion of those reading will be of the bearded sex. That’s not to mention the support that the No More Page 3 campaign is enjoying from men and women alike.

So, as the editors of this site recently asked, where are all the men? There are loads of voices and opinions that deserve attention and – providing you write what you genuinely feel and not what you think you should be feeling – there aren’t really any compelling reasons why they shouldn’t be heard. So, brothers and… well, just brothers actually, consider this a call to arms.

- JR