The new Good Guy checklist

feminist men

One of the most frustrating parts of talking with men about sexism is the amazing ability so many of them have to remain absolutely convinced that they are “Good Guys” while they behave in ways that reveal their sexist beliefs.

You know these guys. They are the ones who tell sexist jokes and then chastise you for objecting because “it’s just a joke.” They are the ones who constantly interrupt and dismiss women but definitely aren’t sexist because they “love women.” And they are the ones who “only” watch alternative porn because it’s way less harmful to objectify (read: dehumanize) women with hair on their legs.

It’s like these men keep a list of the most abhorrent, misogynistic behaviour possible and, as long as they don’ t regularly do those things, believe they can confidently declare themselves Good Guys and wash their hands of this whole sexism business, while continuing to behave in ways that harm women. These self-identified Good Guys are convinced they needn’t bother with silly things like listening to what women say about the impacts their behaviour has on us, or working to challenge the messages they’ve absorbed that allow their problematic behaviour to continue. Because sexism is what Other Men do – men who definitely aren’t Good Guys.

Now, everyone’s self-awareness has limits, and we all have our hypocritical moments, but there are SO MANY men doing this that we need to ask — what exactly IS on the Good Guy Checklist? And how different would that list look if women had a say?

As far as I can tell there are only two things men can do that exclude them the Good Guy Club: violently raping a stranger or hitting a woman without provocation.

Good Guys don’t bother thinking much about sexual assault, because it’s something that Other Men do. As such, Good Guys take their cues about what sexual assault is from movies and TV, where rape is overtly violent and most often committed by strangers. Never mind that 88 per cent of the pornography Good Guys use to become sexually aroused depicts aggression, most of it against women, and never mind that most women are sexually assaulted by men they know… As long as a man hasn’t jumped out of the bushes and attacked a woman he doesn’t know, he meets this requirement of the Good Guy list.

The only other thing that could jeopardize a man’s Good Guy standing is hitting a woman without provocation. The provocation part is important because, even though domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, Good Guys often believe that, despite the size and strength advantage most of them have over most us, hitting women is justified in some situations. Because, you know, we ask for it, or our feminine wiles somehow disable their ability to walk away from conflict without becoming violent.

With the Good Guy bar set this low, men can easily meet the criteria despite doing pretty terrible things. The list of criteria is really effective at making men feel great about themselves, but it’s absolute crap at discouraging them from behaving in ways that don’t harm women. In fact, the Good Guy list actively contributes to women’s oppression because it prevents men from identifying and challenging their sexist programming and working as our allies. Here are some of the questions men would need to answer “no” to in order to qualify as Good Guys if the list actually gave a hoot about women:

1) Do you get annoyed when women aren’t as nice or quiet as you think we should be instead of recognizing how the expectation that women are nicer and quieter than men is harmful?

2) Do you tell jokes that degrade women?

3) Do you stand by quietly while men around you say or do sexist things, instead of challenging them — even when women aren’t around?

4) Do you interrupt women when we’re speaking?

5) Do you offer women advice without being asked for it?

6) If you think a woman needs help, do you assume you know what’s best for her instead of asking what kind of support she might find useful?

7) Do you think rules that apply to other people don’t apply to you because you’re special?

8) Do you take up as much space as you want in public, without thinking about the impact on those around you?

9) Do you think women who don’t put effort into their appearance are unattractive?

10) Do you think women who put too much effort into their appearance are shallow or superficial?

11) Do you stare at women you find attractive, instead of considering how threatening this feels to most women?

12) Do you offer women your opinion about our appearances without being asked, instead of realizing that we aren’t contestants in a beauty pageant you’ve been asked to judge?

13) If you share a household with a woman, do you expect her to handle most of the domestic responsibilities or to make sure you’re pulling your weight, instead of actively looking for ways to do your fair share?

14) Do you think there are circumstances in which a woman is responsible for being sexually assaulted or beaten by a man?

15) Do you think sexual assault is something women can avoid by changing our behaviour or clothing?

16) Do you watch pornography or go to strip clubs or burlesque shows even though they objectify women and contribute to the male sexual entitlement that fuels sexual assault?

17) Do you buy sex or believe men are entitled to buy sex?

18) Do you think a woman you’re in a sexual relationship with should have sex with you even if she doesn’t want to?

19) Do you pout or try to convince her if she doesn’t?

20) Have you ever said “not all men” in a discussion about sexism?

21) If a woman points out that you did or said something sexist, do you deny it and defend yourself instead of setting aside your ego and listening?

22) Do you try to speak to women as an authority on women’s issues?

23) Do you continue to associate with men who behave in misogynistic ways?

24) Do you think it’s women’s responsibility to make sure you understand sexism?

25) Do you expect to be rewarded or praised for not being sexist?

That’s a long list, isn’t it? And, because our society expects women to accept mistreatment while encouraging men to dominate and win at all costs, it probably looks like an unreasonable list too — like an unfair infringement that expects too much of men. So, instead of considering how the behaviours that define masculinity are inherently misogynistic ones, and how they’re so normalized and invisible that expecting more of men seems impossible, it’s much easier for men to consider themselves Good Guys and leave women to pay the price.

If you’re a man who cares about women and, after reflecting on this list honestly you answered “yes” to a few questions, the most ineffective and selfish thing you could do is get hung up on your bad feelings. It’s really simple: you’ve been taught to behave in ways that create real hardship for the women around you, and you have some work to do. That’s it. Luckily for you, most feminists believe you can do better and you want to do better. So get to it — start doing better — because women are being hurt, women matter and women have waited long enough.

Jindi Mehat is an East Vancouver-based second wave feminist who is reconnecting with feminism after several tours of duty in male-dominated corporate land. Follow her @jindi and read more of her work at Feminist Progression.

Jindi Mehat
Jindi Mehat

Contributor

Jindi Mehat is a Vancouver feminist activist and general rabble rouser.

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  • Miep O’Brien

    “Do you feel baffled and act martyred when women end friendships with you because you do a lot of this stuff?”

    • jindi

      YES, good one!

  • ChoderlosdeLaclos

    This is a great list.

    • jindi

      thank you!

  • calabasa

    I was going to say, on the horrifying article about the Bordello of Europe that is Germany: someone on there said “liberal men are not your friends.” Well, neither are conservative men. SO WHO ARE OUR FRIENDS?!

    One VERY REAL consequence of legalizing prostitution (which is already happening worldwide because of the ubiquity of pornography) is that pretty soon ALL women will be expected to act like “sex workers” in relationships, and these “sex workers” cater to one thing: male needs, male demands. That is NOT what sex is supposed to be. Normalizing “sex work” is not only incredibly harmful to all the girls and women forced into the industry–whether by dire economic or other life circumstances, or by traffickers–but it is incredibly harmful to ALL women, as it puts forth a “model” of sexuality we are supposed to follow, a model that is driven by male demand (the “sex” of prostitution is no more real than the “sex” of pornography; yet how many of us have had boyfriends who think that is what sex IS? And if we’re not on board we are “shaming” their sexuality or worse yet, “prudes.” Because having our own desires, wants and needs is the hallmark of a “prude”).

    I can almost understand the mentality of some women who feel like “well, I get treated this way anyway, may as well get paid.” I have felt objectified and treated like a sex toy by so many men that it seems a man who recognizes that sex is a two-way street (and that your orgasm is NOT about him, either) and that women are people with needs and feelings too is the exception, not the norm.

    There are SO MANY MEN out there who are in fact misogynists, rapists, abusers, or enablers, who think of themselves as “good guys.” How did the bar get set so low? (How did the bar disappear altogether)?

  • melissa

    Oh god , reminds me of this video. i really use to like their channel but recently they’ve been really pushing the whole “accepting” “nice men” liking BDSM crap. in this one this is a “nice man” that feels “censored” ,”silenced” and “shamed” for not being able to openly objectify women and talk about his BDSM porn habits. this nice man is apparently “egalitarian”, very sympathetic to the “feminist agenda”,empathizes with women when talking about porn then feels sooo guilty about wanking to violent porn.as this narrator puts it, ” the nice man could be your friend, brother or father” and how ” there’s is a price to be paid for all this niceness”, how it creates buried resentment that could get “rather dangerous”. the point basically is that we should all be taking on board the “darkest side of our lovers” resulting in “extraordinary flowering of the relationship” by allowing them to show us without ‘shaming” of “humiliating” them what not so nice about them at all.

    This is a philosophy channel with 1,030,360 subs. a bunch edgy teens and grown men were all going “ooh this is sooo me! soo burdened with my niceness”. once again, very accurate article that may seem a bit of over the top when you’re not familiar with or haven’t paid much attention to self proclaimed “nice” or “good” men like this. urgh…:(

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihSTGqCO52Q

    • Kendall Turtle

      Omg, ew, we shouldn’t humiliate them but let them humiliate US! What shit. There was no questioning as to where these not nice ideas and thoughts come from either, it’s just expected that they be that way and we must accept it, typical boys will be boys apologia.

      • melissa

        lol ikr? also talking about “shaming” men while indirectly shaming and guilt tripping women into accepting violent degradation, humiliation and misogyny. god, i feel horrible for every woman buying into this crap. like we didn’t already have violent porn reinforcing male entitlement and forcing expectations on women to conform and perform accordingly, like 50 shades wasn’t already being celebrated as “what women want”, now we’ve got “philosophist” churning out this apologist nonsense, without any regard to whether this “nice woman” is even OK with this stuff at all. what a shame. wayyy too many “nice men” turn out to be horribly sexist and entitled, and its only normalized these days.

    • lk

      I know this youtube this channel and they do have some cool videos…but some of their videos about sex (like this one) are really lacking in critical thought.

      “Nice guys don’t not have bad thoughts, they are committed to keeping them at the level of muffled feelings rather than statements or actions”….If you have bad thoughts then you shouldn’t say them or act on them!! Why not seek counseling to shift your ways of thinking or examine why you think those thoughts?

      “It’s dangerous when we aren’t able to be fully ourselves”..what does watching porn or wanting violent sex have to do with being myself?

      “Take on the darker side of your lover”….No, just no. I don’t want my intimate partner to foster the darker side of me; if anything, I think healthy relationship should be about fostering the best parts of each other.

  • Tired

    13) If you share a household with a woman, do you expect her to handle most of the domestic responsibilities or to make sure you’re pulling your weight, instead of actively looking for ways to do your fair share?
    I did have a good laugh at this one. Many of the men I have worked with would define domestic responsibility as ‘did I put the rubbish out, mow the lawns and cook once or twice this week’ (And can you believe it, I ‘babysat once and put the laundry on as well, now I am legend’ And if they did they would have nailed it in their view.
    You might need to spell this one out a bit more. As in what domestic responsibilities actually entail. Not to say there weren’t some who did the right thing but they would be in about the 10% minority

  • calabasa

    I think these self-proclaimed “good guys” are living with some MASSIVE cognitive dissonance when it comes to their stated feelings/philosophies about how to treat women (and about feminism), and their actions. Case in point: the morning after forcing me into a sex act I had repeatedly told him throughout our relationship I would NOT do, not only because I just didn’t want to (which should have been enough) but because my first experience of it was a brutal rape (and subsequent experiences had ALL reminded me of it, and ALL been coercive, since I don’t like doing it, and thus have decided to stop–why should I, just because *men* want it? The more you cave to a disrespectful man’s demands the LESS he respects you; in fact, the lesson should be to LEAVE disrespectful men altogether), my ex-boyfriend, in describing a comic book I had yet to read which he had given me a while back as a gift, gave me a “trigger warning” for some of the content. This reminds me of Matt McGoofy or whatever his name is throwing buzzwords right and left until the air is just a confusion of whizzing nonsense while understanding none of them. This is PRETEND EMPATHY and PRETEND FEMINISM, and until someone like my ex-boyfriend understands why forcing anal sex on your previously-raped girlfriend is a WHOLE LOT MORE TRIGGERING THAN A COMIC BOOK we have a LOT of work to do (or rather, liberal men do; I don’t want to educate any of these assholes, at all).

    As for orgasms, yes. I can see that for SOME men, giving orgasms in the beginning is a way to rope a woman into a relationship (and they then will become lazy and demanding). I think it’s easy to spot these men–for whom orgasms are an ego-boost–because they will gush about your sexual response excitedly (seeming more excited by your sexual response than by the whole act/you, as a person), they will talk about your body parts as if they are not part of you, or they may occasionally compare your sexual reaction with the sexual reaction of, say, an ex-girlfriend (SO weird, not in an “I’m jealous” way but in an “that’s fuckin’ weird, dude” way). I don’t have memorized collections of male boyfriends’ body parts and how they responded to me in my mind, and I do NOT compare in my head different men’s bodies or reactions, because when I am there I am there, with my partner, in the present, and I see him as a whole person. I am coming to realize that this is genuinely NOT the case for a lot of men. And yes, as much as they like to make it seem like a favor, a lot of men LOVE going down on women (why it is popular in prostitution, when so many prostituted women are so grossed out by it), mostly for usual male fetishistic reasons (body parts, stimulus, the arousal but also the ego boost of getting a woman off). Absolutely we can tell when men are poking and prodding to discover what sorts of noises their sex toys will make (rather than because they really want to give their partner selfless pleasure).

    Realizing, as you said, that I am EXPECTED to have an orgasm and his whole self-esteem is riding on it is the fastest way to shut the whole thing down for me (I cannot come unless the pressure is off…why can’t get people just, you know, CHILL OUT a little about sex? It doesn’t ALWAYS have to end in orgasm, for either party, and keeping that in mind helps avoid disappointment and ironically increases the chances of orgasm for both). But it’s not just that–I need to feel a sense of safety with my partner. The moment that dies (like, say, because he sexually assaults me, for example; that one is extreme although it’s what happened in this last relationship–it could simply be lots of arguing and the relationship going bad) is the moment I lose my orgasm. It’s very psychological, for me. You can tell how much your partner really cares about your well-being by his reaction to your new anorgasmia (butthurt lack of trying and increased selfishness, or talking to you about what’s going on and trying to explore options? Hmmm).

    Also, if more men really cared about women’s sexual needs, they would learn some good hand techniques. The fact that SO MANY MEN don’t bother to do that (or just want to fondle/penetrate women’s genitals the way THEY want to–often roughly–without asking her how SHE wants them to) speaks volumes.

    Really, if men cared, they would ask their partners what they wanted! Or LISTEN to them when they say what they wanted! I am sick of catering to male partners’ desires, needs and demands (for my ex, sexual compatibility–which ranked high on his list of relationship necessities–meant “how much she knows how to do what I like”). It seems the more you do for men, not only the more resentful you become (that there is little to no reciprocation–how many men even KNOW the word foreplay, I mean beyond just as an abstract concept, or that sex can and should involve a whole lot more than just orifices and genitals?) but the more you are taken advantage of/the less respect you are given. I plan to ONLY date men in the future who will LISTEN to MY needs as well, before his are met (I am into mutual massage, for example, or other forms of foreplay, taking it slow and not rushing things and being relaxed first, when you have the time, but do I ever communicate this? No, because I am afraid of my partner rushing things anyway and ignoring my requests; I need to stop doing that and get some confidence, and date non-assholes) and ONLY men who will respect my boundaries (if you are worried a guy will dump you because you won’t give him something like anal sex, that is not a guy you should be dating in the first place).

    It just seems that the push to normalize prostitution and the ubiquity of pornography makes it SO HARD to find a partner who understands that sex is not all about him and his needs and desires (and ditto the relationship). And I find that I have internalized that message and need to stop myself from being passive/being a pleaser/catering to a man and then resenting him for it (and men like that have absolutely no problem finding women willing to do WHATEVER they want; my ex has now gone onto a more pliant victim, though I gather she is less exciting for him than somebody who is a bit of a challenge, as he is STILL trying to make me feel bad for “breaking his heart,” after the way he treated me; STILL blaming me for his “loss of innocence,” implying, somehow, that I made him do the things that he did–because he’s clever and he knows that is what I would think, as a knee-jerk reaction; he knows I blame myself, so this is a nice way to continue to make me suffer and to exculpate himself of all responsibility).

    It is a slow and painful process to go from being a pliant victim to being a truly empowered woman (not the meaningless buzzword that “empowerment” has become because of liberal feminism). In the past, I might have gone back to this guy after his numerous assaults on/betrayals of me; in the past I might have stayed with him, forgiven him, empathized with him (and his treatment of me would have grown worse and worse). Instead I stood up to him (however shakily and tentatively); instead, realizing he knew what he had done, I filed a report against him.

    By acknowledging that it is NOT my fault (and was never my fault) and that I have been victimized–as painful as it is (I would rather think it WAS my fault, because then–if I “made” them do it–at least I have agency; I am the “woman who makes men assault her” rather than the “woman who is vulnerable and makes a good victim”) I am taking the first step toward CHANGING that mentality; and part of that IS standing up for myself, IS recognizing how this behavior is wrong and the continuum that it is on. Revictimization is extremely common (I have been reading about it recently) and has to do with early childhood trauma and a sense of seeing oneself as “bad” or “worthless” (of not mattering), of deserving punishment or not being worthy of defending; by accepting blame for being “bad” and thinking I “deserved” what anyone has done to me, I am revictimizing myself (in order to avoid facing the facts–how vulnerable I am, and how hard it is for me to stand up for myself to men; how I have short-circuited my alarm system and don’t heed danger signals because it feels FAMILIAR to me/because I think I deserve it/because I don’t trust my instinct because of my past and think it’s “all in my head,” which leaves me far more vulnerable than most healthy women to male predation), and by revictimizing myself and blaming myself I set myself up for it to happen again (that is, to attract it/fall for it again, in future, which is not the same as saying I will blame myself, if it does happen again).

    Painful as it is (to see myself as weak that way, as I am never weak on behalf of others, and can stand up for myself in other ways–but not to men, not historically) it is an essential part of changing it, to accept it; to accept that it was not my fault, or responsibility, that I didn’t “make” anyone assault me or treat me poorly, and that I deserve better. ALL WOMEN deserve better.

    I think my experience (of being groomed into victimization/revictimized) is simply the female experience played out to a more extreme degree (though for others–say, women in prostitution, women who are trafficked, women in DV relationships who are routinely beaten and even murdered–it is more extreme); what’s going on right now in the Western world is a form of social grooming (that more outwardly violent or patriarchal cultures can accomplish through direct threats or ownership of women/restricting access to education rather than through brainwashing manipulation), more and more, using the internet and pornography and media, into the role of sex object, and convincing us that we “like it” (no matter how dirty or bad or empty it makes us feel). In a way it’s worse, because when you are directly threatened or owned it is at least easier to objectively stand back and say why that’s wrong; when you are convinced your ownership and abuse is empowering, that’s when it gets confusing.

    The logical endpoint of male-centric sexuality IS rape. That is not to say all heterosexual sex is rape. That is to say that there are many acts that many if not most women are uninterested in, and if men had their way all the time (which seems to be more and more what they want) they would be assaulting us quite often (whether through force or through coercion). The vast majority of fetishists are male and this objectification of parts/fetishizing of dominance tends to be a male thing (men externalize and women internalize; women, when they fetishize dominance, usually fetishize masochism, in Freudian repetition compulsion; they think by repeating the original trauma they can gain mastery over it, even if it doesn’t work that way). Men fetishize ALL KINDS of things and as certain fetishes (like anal sex) enter the mainstream, they can now start to demand and expect it all the time (even if many women don’t like it–whether it’s because they find it degrading, painful, or simply boring; women, unlike men, don’t have centers of pleasure located in the delicate tissues of their rectums).

    How many times have you had “sex” that felt more like rape? I think a LOT of women’s “routine sexual experiences” have felt more rape-like than sex-like (if they have had a lot of partners, or have had partners into pornography, etc.). There is a continuum between what is abusive and what is not in sex, and it comes down to mutuality; how many times have we, as women, felt pressured, coerced, or forced into things we didn’t want to do? How many times have we felt pressure to do something all the time because we offered it once? How many times have we done things to please men sexually that we didn’t want to do? How many times have we been asked for sexual favors? Performance? How many times have we had violent behaviors (like spanking, or hair-pulling, or choking, or biting) inflicted on us, without being asked first?

    Now think about it the other way around. How many times have we pressured, coerced, or forced our partners into doing things they didn’t want to do? How many times have our partners done things to please us sexually that we think they didn’t really want to do, to keep us happy (and were we okay with knowing they didn’t really want to be doing them)? How many times have we asked our partners for sexual favors? How about for sexual performance? How many times have we inflicted violent behaviors on our partners without asking?

    I can ask myself that honestly and honestly see the ENORMOUS disparity in the answers (until recently I had NEVER even asked for oral sex, not once!). Why are we, as women, taught to routinely deny our own needs, not to communicate, not to ask for what we want? To let men take the lead?

    The same reason we are taught to let men take the lead in dancing. In everything. But it sucks to walk backward all the time.

    I REFUSE to do it anymore, and WILL NOT in future. This is my pledge. I will not be a sex toy for anyone, and I will not let men who pervert vulnerability into a need for control play their fucked-up domination games with me. I neither worship nor want to be worshiped. I want an EQUAL relationship, with someone who sees me as an EQUAL, who is willing to work with me, and I with him; and if I do not find this men can go the way of cigarettes, alcohol, hard drugs, and fizzy drinks (youthful vices that don’t hold quite the allure they once did as you get older, and that once in a while you lapse and indulge in, but quite a bit less than you used to, never forgetting that your health and well-being are the most important things).

    This rant is now over. /endrant

  • calabasa

    I am actually starting to think that men are RAISED to be narcissists, and women to be neurotics.

    I was reading recently about the difference between character disorders and personality disorders. The old thinking used to go that at the core of all narcissists was a wounded being–a core of self-hatred–the narcissist was trying desperately, through his masks, to obscure. However, as more research was done psychiatrists and clinical psychologists began to discover that in some types of narcissism (which they dub a “character disorder”) in fact there is no wounded core; these are simply people (and most narcissists are men) who believe themselves superior, usually because of how they are raised (coddled) as children. They really believe themselves to be faultless, while manipulating people to their own ends, and have very little in the way of empathy or the ability to see (much less meet) another’s needs, simply because they never needed to (not the way they were raised).

    Now, interestingly, this kind of narcissism can be MIXED with self-hatred (which shows, at least, a level of awareness–that they are not as ‘special’ as they were raised to believe, and that they have done and routinely do terrible things to people). I think it’s part and parcel with how trauma causes men to act out (externalize), attacking or killing others, while trauma causes women to self-harm (internalize), with cutting, suicide attempts, or masochistic relationships; WAY more women than men experience childhood sexual abuse, and yet they don’t grow up and become serial killers. So I think actual trauma/actual issues MIXED with the toxic, narcissistic entitlement men are taught in our society can result in a dangerous, unhinged kind of narcissism (that swings between violence and self-loathing); similarly, unadulterated narcissism/psychopathy that actually believes in its own superiority can also result in violence (if you are superior, no reason to cry over the inferior others whose lives you are ruining); Ayn Rand was obsessed with this idea in her notion of Objectivism, which is why she idolized a serial killer–William Edward Hickman, who dismembered a twelve-year-old girl; to her, the lack of a conscience was an asset, not a hindrance or threat to society, and a person not possessing one had every right to feel superior (and trample over inferior others)…this justification has often buoyed the one percent.

    On the other hand, neurotics are often desperately fearful of hurting others’ feelings, fearful of abandonment, and will constantly pick through all social interactions to think about the ways in which they failed to please; they make VERY GOOD VICTIMS for those with character disorders (character disorders being defined as a disorder in which the person knows the difference between right and wrong, but chooses to do wrong–a disorder of moral character; whereas neurotics–who may or may not have personality disorders, for example borderline personality disorder–are not doing wrong on purpose, are not deliberately manipulative, and in fact are severely anxious about doing the wrong thing and are easily manipulated).

    So, is it any wonder that most narcissists are men, and most people diagnosed with “borderline personality disorder” (which many see as related to or even indistinguishable from PTSD, and which is characterized by fear of abandonment, a pattern of disorganized relationships and trouble in life in general–holding down jobs, being responsible–black and white thinking, self-harming, and suicide attempts) are women? Most of whom have a long history of trauma?

    And is it any wonder that these two often end up together? Narcissists generally prey on neurotics (of all stripes–those with low self-esteem, with anxiety disorders, etc.), because they are such pleasers and so easy to manipulate. For example: wife says to the husband: I think you should spend more time with the family. Husband says: I work ALL DAY LONG for us, you NEVER appreciate anything I do, all you DO is complain, you are SO controlling, it really hurts my feelings and makes me feel like a guy can’t get a break, can’t I do anything right? And the wife apologizes profusely for being such a controlling, ungrateful nag, and goes off to care for the kids and make dinner, and the husband goes back to watching his game.

    This is also a pretty classic interaction in terms of gender dynamics. So, neurotics, who may be afraid of abandonment and also have been raised to be pleasers and are terrified of hurting others, are easily manipulated into believing they are the guilty party when it comes to problems they identify in the relationship (or for not being “good enough” for their narcissist)…they are groomed, basically, to be supply (which is what the narcissist needs).

    How is this NOT a metaphor for gender roles? Women are raised to be afraid of male abandonment, to place all their hopes in the idea that some man will want to stay with them (in many cases no matter how he treats them), they are raised to please men and please in general, to avoid hurting others, on and on and on…(at their own expense). Men are raised to believe they are superior and entitled by dint of that superiority to women (and other inferiors) as supply. And yet they NEED that supply to give them a sense of “self” and “purpose” since the definition of masculinity is such a fragile one (since it’s an invention, and men don’t have a super-obvious purpose, like giving birth, to fall back on for self-definition). So men NEED something that is inferior to them (where the hate comes from, I think); and men who are hurt by this but nevertheless buy into it fall into the category of “wounded-core” narcissists (while men who truly have no conscience/feelings–who really buy into it and DON’T feel hurt by it–fall into the category of “pure narcissists” who never have a moment of regret, weakness, or self-doubt).

    I think this pretty neatly describes gender roles.

    Which is to say, GENDER ROLES ARE A PATHOLOGY. They are pathological. They do not create healthy, whole individuals who can have healthy, moral relationships, civic or personal, with others.

    Obviously I have been doing a lot of thinking about this but I think it needs saying…gender is a pathology, as defined by the DSM (I mean, if you look at character trait lists of what makes men men and women women), and it needs doing away with.

    And since men are the narcissists in this equation, OF COURSE they will always find a way to blame the victim, blame anyone (but themselves), blame women, for making them do it (wearing short skirts, say) or simply imagining it, as you say.

    And women, as you say, are taught to look inward, to self-blame, and to feel they are at fault (the perfect complement to the narcissist’s blame); to accept and glorify their role as subservient, lest they be “shaming” male sexuality and masculinity, which just has a need for domination, which is totally healthy under controlled circumstances (totally). Let’s not “shame” these narcissists for their destructive, manipulative behavior now…basically, with liberal feminism (as in so many other areas of life) men are acting exactly like men and women are acting exactly like women (under the prescribed rules of gender roles): narcissists and neurotics (whom you could call enablers, but would that be victim-blaming)?

    I think a study needs to be done about masculinity and femininity that examines the nature of pathology, the interlocking nature of some pathologies (for example certain neurological studies of the brains of people in DV relationships show that both parties get a dopamine rush when the pattern of violence followed by apology and bonding occurs; they become, at a physical level, addicted to each other and to the abusive behavior) with a direct and unwavering focus on gender AS A PATHOLOGY that is holding back mankind rather than as something neutral or inevitable.

    Maybe I should do it. Somebody should do it. In an academic way that people will take seriously (because chatting on blogs on the web without a million white male citations is something that women do–yak yak yak–and who could take that seriously? Women. But when will men)?

    It could be called, “Narcissistic Masculinity Disorder”: When Supply Enables the Man (or is that too punny?)

    • Wren

      OMG DO THE STUDY!!!

      Plus, you finally clarified why I hate people into Ayn Rand. What a bitch.

      • calabasa

        I know, right? If only we could all not have consciences and never ever feel bad for things we did (or if only we could all have the rubber-glue superpowers of narcissists, where the truthful grievances of others bounce off us and stick to them, miring them in their oppression and making it out to be their own fault).

        Actually, I think this is very much the same mechanism at work in ALL hierarchies (which is where intersectionality comes in). Those in higher income brackets have lower levels of empathy and ability to read facial expressions; why? Because they don’t NEED to pay attention to those around them, either in terms of looking for signs of opportunity/ingratiating themselves for the sake of symbiosis (low-income communities really rely on community goodwill–people helping each other out in times of need) or in terms of looking for signs of danger, either (as low-income communities tend to experience more violence because of disenfranchisement–not always true, but often, especially in dense urban areas).

        So basically, when you don’t NEED to pay attention to other people’s lives/needs/humanity, and when you are raised to feel you are superior simply for existing (as rich people often are, whether it’s explicit–from parents–or implicit–reinforced by culture and the privilege of the people around them), surprise surprise, you think you are (there is a reason that poor areas are known as “humble surroundings;” you won’t find a lot of super-poor narcissists, I’m betting). But you need a justification for your superiority, and other people’s inferiority does nicely (and something like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism gives you permission to be free of a conscience and to think you have the right to lord it over your inferiors…MANY prominent politicians, businessmen and economists, including Dick Cheney and Alan Greenspan, swear by her books).

        On the flip side, if you grow up poor you internalize messages about your own inferiority all day long and gradually grow to believe it (or have a REALLY HARD TIME fighting not to).

        The same thing happens with race. The same thing happens with gender. Basically with all hierarchies.

        And we groom the poor to be supply too–that is what capitalism is all about. We groom people of other races to be supply too (someone has to play the role of the hated Other, to give the white race meaning and purpose and reassure it of its superiority; it must have an inferior to blame everything on while getting away with the real crimes–a patsy–as well as a standard by which to measure itself).

        I think this dichotomy (you could call it predator and prey, or narcissist and neurotic, or whatever you want) plays out over and over, in all hierarchies, and they all reinforce each other; however, that’s simplifying it, as many people are oppressed in some ways and not in others, and so may take on both roles or represent both to other groups within their lifetimes (and as individuals will respond with varying degrees of pathological behaviors or of incorruptibility to the dictum of this system).

        I just think we have always assumed that gender (like race, which some people are FINALLY beginning to admit is a construct) is innate, and it has never been looked at as a SPECIFICALLY predator/prey relationship (or, in the human world–in psychology terms–narcissistic/neurotic relationship). I mean, we talk about the patriarchy as being a hierarchy of men above women, but (apart from radfems) how many people say that it is BECAUSE of the molds that we force men and women into–what it is to be a “man” and what it is to be a “woman” (gender roles)? And, if that is true–if gender roles are the CAUSE of patriarchy (or at least of its continuation; which came first and why could be disputed and would be an interesting thread to try and trace back–as so many have–but chicken or egg question aside, we know gender roles are the certainly the cause of its continuation), then WHY is that–what is wrong with gender roles?

        Well, radfems discuss it all the time (toxic masculinity and enforced femininity, etc.). But WHY are these bad/toxic/mentally unhealthy? I think looking at them SPECIFICALLY through the lens of pathology and applying the same rigorous diagnostic criteria to gender roles as we do to personality disorders would be interesting.

        And the point is for society, we should be neither predator nor prey; cooperation has historically strengthened the bonds of all social animals a lot more than competition, and in the end hierarchies don’t really help anyone (even the rich, knowing how much the poor hate them for owning everything, must live in a kind of free-floating anxiety about losing everything, or they wouldn’t hoard so much). Isn’t it better to feel loved and trusted and supported than reviled and hated?

        It’s just been done this way for so long, justified with so many hateful twists of logic, and once people’s empathy is lowered it’s hard (though not impossible) to provoke it again (apparently just the MENTION of money lowers empathy levels and raises greed; you know what raises empathy levels? Reading literary fiction).

        Gender-wise I just think it would be interesting to challenge, on a behavioral/scientific/sociological/psychological basis, the idea of gender as innate or healthy; and to position it in fact as mostly learned, DEFINITELY reinforced (to an extreme degree that causes sharp divergences between the sexes), and distinctly UNHEALTHY (with catastrophic consequences for human relationships and the world at large).

        I know it’s been done in various smaller studies. I am thinking more about a book drawing on a lot of different research from varying fields–sociology, psychology, human sexuality, biology, gender studies–to try to make a definitive case (that gender roles are innately harmful and are, in fact, crippling personality and character disorders).

        Sorry I keep repeating myself. I am trying to talk myself into doing this book. (I am lazy and need to keep repeating things until I drive myself crazy and do something about them…I’m getting there).

    • Georgia95Luciana Todesco

      I think you have described my marriage, lol. Early on in my marriage I saw a psychologist (who had also counselled my then husband) and expressed my fear that my husband did not love me (yes, I’m neurotic). I have never forgotten his words: “He doesn’t KNOW how to love anyone”.

    • Hannah

      Well for what it’s worth, I thought this was a really interesting comment. Something to think about for a bit. I definitely know a (male) narcissist but I thought it was almost always due to low self esteem so it’ll be interesting to observe his behaviour in this context now. Thanks for typing that all out!

  • calabasa

    Aww…which ones do you do, Francois?

  • Alienigena

    Do you consider emotional expression (normal human emotions that may be inconvenient for some, read males) a sign of weakness and tell your female counterparts that they should be less emotional?

    I am not talking over the talk emotion, I am talking about enthusiasm, distress, anger, etc.

    This one always gets me because I have also been accused by males of being difficult to read (e.g. in a job interview with a male applicant) and at other times of being ‘too emotional’. The same guy who made this accusation sent me a very snippy email, might I say ‘bitchy’ and long email on a topic that we obviously disagreed on. Verged in my opinion from professional disagreement to personal opinion.

    Sometimes I just want to say, so not a catatonic robot, so … bad.

  • Novo

    Yep, the lack of attention to these questions is how Noah Fucking Berlatsky ends up published on a ‘feminist’ site. This guy is basically Hugo Schwyzer 2.0. He positions himself as an authority on women and is generally creepy as hell in his writing yet he gets away with it because of his ‘intersectional’ views on gender identity/race. http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/05/16/why-are-trans-women-penalized-for-body-fantasies-we-all-have/. (Warning: reading this will likely make you want to take 20 cold showers) I don’t know anything about the main subject, but Berlatsky is a dirty old man who has no place opining about women’s issues. the entire point of the website is to represent ‘women’s voices’, yet here is Noah, a white (cis) guy who has made a career of objectifying women under pseudo-intellectual pretenses. Midway between this article he starts spewing his inane conspiracy theory about how all women have fantasies about other sexy women, because Beyonce. A while back he had a similar article in the Atlantic about the connection between nicki minaj’s butt songs and lesbian fantasies. The fact that this guy is getting published at all, that people have not discovered what a hack he is testifies to how broken our culture’s discourse on ‘feminism’ is.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Yep, the lack of attention to these questions is how Noah Fucking Berlatsky ends up published on a ‘feminist’ site. This guy is basically Hugo Schwyzer 2.0. He positions himself as an authority on women and is generally creepy as hell in his writing yet he gets away with it because of his ‘intersectional’ views on gender identity/race. ”

      Yes exactly! I’ve said this many times. The fact that The Establishment publishes him should tell you everything about their politics.

  • Refael Fishzon

    Well, I… kinda agree with you. But don’t say I’m trying to come out as the cool guy who doesn’t discriminate, that’s not true.
    Do you think men would put to their appearance in a more free society?

  • Andrew Cole

    There is a reason why the word man-child is so fitting.

  • Andrew Cole

    “3) Do you stand by quietly while men around you say or do sexist things,
    instead of challenging them — even when women aren’t around?”

    I think a big problem in this area is that men, like most people, self-select their friends. The sexist dude bros all hang out with each other. I’m married with a three year old at home. At this point neither of us really have any friends and I sure as hell wouldn’t make friends with a bro. I mostly work from home and men don’t usually blurt sexist things at the supermarket, so I just don’t hear it, and wouldn’t associate with those guys anyway.

    I think most other men who are bothered by this behavior just avoid it rather than confronting it. I’m not really sure what to do about that. I’m not going to go make friends with assholes so I can chide them for being assholes.

  • Jem Leav

    Another well said, spot on article. <3

  • Brittany Beckman

    I saw the same potential problem, but ultimately, the selling of male-conceived novelty sex (and even bringing it into our private relationships) is problematic. It is the norm of pornography and the sex industry to cater to men, who more often have the money and demand for it. 3rd wave feminism gets this one wrong, imo. Political correctness should not stop anyone from calling out a problem where there is a problem. Its naive to say “we just don’t embrace women doing those things enough.” I think, as far as BDSM goes, we should remember that that milieu emerged in the 17th century when two white men wrote lengthy exposes of their subversive fantasies involving women. It is not as if it naturally evolved or was co-created by a man and woman experimenting… and neither is most porn. In sex entertainment, while some adult women are doing it eyes-open, legitimate clubs become shelters for sex traffickers. And industry workers defending their right to work turn a blind eye toward the abuses underfoot, often involving children or immigrants. But what the author’s intent was, and it ultimately boils down to, is the entitlement mindset… that is what the intent of that question was. Entitlement is not the same thing as force… entitlement creates the demand. A man who makes the Good Guy list didn’t go to the Super Bowl looking for some after-the-event action away from his wife and kids. Period.