When news broke of the release of a video showing Ray Rice beating Janay Palmer unconscious, I was in the middle of writing a topic for a book about sexism. The topic was “How is Sexism Related to Masculinity?”, and it discusses, among other things, the role of male violence against women in a patriarchy.
In her book The End of Men, Hanna Rosin states that we no longer live in a patriarchy, and that the establishment of an American matriarchy is just a matter of time. Although Ms. Rosin does have some insights about the ways in which our culture is changing around gender, her definitions for both these terms are incorrect—which means that she misses the very clear signs that America is a thriving patriarchy.
The first time I read virulent online misogyny, I was angry, of course. But I also felt a very specific fear, one that included an unconscious undercurrent of shame: what might I have done to create such hatred in the eyes and hearts of men? This, my friends, is the lesson of Eve: our bodies are our selves, and our selves invoke the fear and loathing of men. The Men’s Rights Movement relies on this collective fear. Its proponents claim to be championing men, and indeed they do appeal to the frustrations and angers of men—the ones that patriarchy, via its neverending game of prove-yourself-as-a-man, engenders. Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) claim not to hate women, while blaming them for the problems of a sexist society. They believe women should pay for these problems with our bodies and minds.
In her deeply necessary book about helping boys grow into happy, healthy, productive, and honorable men, Masterminds and Wingmen, Rosalind Wiseman notes that despite the fantastic work that a slew of experts are doing on boys’ issues, “…the reality is that the impact of Boy World and boys’ social dynamics on boys’ emotional well-being has been left out of the national conversation.”
Why is that?
Last week, I published the first part of a feminist glossary because an understanding of feminist terminology is vital to addressing our cultural issues with sex and gender. I began with basic terminology; although some of the concepts in this week’s installment are also relatively basic (such as ally and slut shaming), I’ve also included some more advanced terms here, the kind that you only bandy about after you’ve been immersed in feminism for a while. I’m sure I’ll think of some more terms tomorrow, and the next day—feel free to add your own in the comments!