Edited by Sillymod, MRMOd3.
There are two things that I’ve frequently seen used in gender-issue debates to try to reframe and de-legitimize examples of men’s issues. Focusing on them and considering their basis or meaning has provided a way to explain something about men’s issue discussions, particularly with those who oppose discussion that isn’t controlled by Social Justice ideologues.
Two methods of attacking the validity of discussion on men’s issues are employed that are neither evidential based nor follow sound logic, and thus should be treated as uniformly irrelevant to disproving the validity of the issues. These methods are:
1) Painting anything that doesn’t focus exclusively on women or isn’t done exclusively for women as if the focus or benefit excludes women.
One example of this is in the creation of “safe spaces,” (a space dedicated to a specific group, for example men, women, ethnic groups, etc). Feminists especially, but often women in general, argue that spaces dedicated to women are needed, but spaces dedicated to men aren’t, based on the claim that either the world is a man’s space or that a space used by men will focus on activities that will counter the progress of women. There is no factual support for that claim, as there are no existing men’s spaces of the kind to support it. It is simply predicated on the idea that if women aren’t the sole focus or benefactor of a factor, that factor somehow belongs to men, and that men will abuse it.
Another example occurs during discussions on health issues. If public discourse on a health issue relates solely to the organ(s) or system(s) it effects, but not specifically on the gender of the patients affected, opponents of male advocacy treat discussion on the issue as if it is focused on men to the exclusion of women.
When a health issue is seen as having a higher or more frequent impact on one gender, the feminist response is decidedly hypocritical. When a health issue is seen as affecting men more often than women due to the differences in the average lifestyles of each gender (heart health, for instance, due to differences in work habits), effort is exerted to “include” women by having exclusive discussion on the topic about women, rather than arguing for gender neutral discourse. When an issue affects women at a greater frequency than men, but not exclusively so (osteoporosis, for instance), there is no effort to reformulate the issue in a gender neutral way.
The belief that women are excluded if women aren’t the primary focus is used as a premise for focusing health research and information campaigns on women to the exclusion of men. One result, matching research and information campaigns directed at the general public with research and information campaigns directed at only women, is thought of as correcting an area of discrimination against women, even when there was no discrimination in the first place.
2) Using extraneous factors involved in any issue that affects men to undermine the way the issue affects men and therefore treat it as not a men’s issue.
If it affects young men more than old men, it’s reframed as an age issue, even if it impacts men more than women. If it affects men of a minority status more than white men, it’s an ethnic issue, even if it impacts minority men harder or more often than it impacts minority women. If it affects low income men more than rich men, it’s a wealth issue, even if it impacts low income men harder or more often than it impacts low income women. Mental health issues that kill men in greater numbers are considered female issues because more women display symptoms without dying from them.
This is how society makes men’s experiences invisible, marginalizes men’s needs, and sacrifices men’s welfare for the sake of other groups – these behaviors belie an underlying gynocratic focus of society, where women are the focus of society’s concern, irrespective of gender distributions. It happens because we see men as a group having the power to act on their own behalf, while we ignore the ability of people belonging to groups that we, as a society, consider vulnerable to act on their own behalf.
When this is perceived as being done to any other group, there is public outcry. The justification for disregard when this happens to men is the assertion that men are not marginalized and thus have the power and responsibility to act on their own behalf, without expecting social support. This is tantamount to the accusation that only members of a class deemed as marginalized is vulnerable to adverse conditions beyond their control.
That’s why Social Justice ideologues use terms like “privilege,” and “patriarchy” as a substitute for substantial argument.
“Patriarchy” as an argument is the treatment of all men everywhere as a single unit instead of individuals with individual experiences and effects on the world. This argument can be summarized as “men’s problems are caused by men having power and control in society. One man’s power is all men’s power. Therefore, men’s issues aren’t issues of concern, and everyone else’s issues come first.
The “privilege” dialogue is predicated on the idea that those who are not disadvantaged are guilty of perpetrating the circumstances of the disadvantage of others. The term is used to instigate gender and other human issues discussion, allowing Social Justice ideologues to claim justification to prioritizing resolutions based on the “averaging” factor of privilege.
Injustices against the deemed privileged classes of people become unimportant; Injustices against the non-privileged are amplified. This allows the social justice ideologue to manipulate and control the discourse of public concern. The control is in how one distributes privilege points, the privilege of doing so entirely in the hands of Social Justice ideologues (irony intended). Is it any surprise that those classes with few privilege points, and thus the highest priority, also are the ones who make up the majority of the Social Justice ideologues?
Opponents of men’s issue discussions combine these ideas to ignore any adverse conditions faced by men, due to their perceived power (the power of male CEOs or politicians is somehow attributed to all men). That, in turn, facilitates reframing men’s issues as non-issues, ignoring the impact on men, treating focus on men as unnecessary or, worse, anti-woman, and otherwise marginalizing male experiences. In essence, this is an act of marginalizing men because they are not conferred the status of marginalized by the gender ideologues.
Effective countering of that attack on discussion of men’s issues requires only that you point out what the individual is doing, by addressing the assumptions on which that flawed thinking is based: The perception of only men (but not women or other subsets of the overall population) as having the power to act on their own behalf, which leads to the perception that women are excluded where women aren’t the sole focus, and the treatment of other factors involved in an issue as reason to ignore the issue’s impact on men. That’s the core challenge faced by the men’s rights dialogue; removing the perceived-agency gap, and the use of that gap in perception to excuse facilitating or tolerating social or individual discrimination and other dysfunction on the basis of gender.
Advocates for creating a dialogue on men’s issues do not want to take away from other groups, but simply want the capability and capacity to have that dialogue free from external control, as others do.