I really appreciate your thoughtful response to my article. I plan to read your article soon as well. It is refreshing to have a man here take the time to respond with something personal and conversational.
I am going to refer to toxic masculinity here as t.m. from now on to save time in writing my response.
I need to you to clarify your statistics. Where are you getting these? 75% of men forced out of homes due to divorce? Are we speaking strictly of US American dads? And, 4–8% of dads are deadbeat? I would have to disagree. But, if you can show me where you got the stats, I am happy to shift my perspective.
“Feminist political agendas” is a humorous thing to think about for me. First off, are you saying 2nd Wave Feminists political agendas, or are you naming current feminism here? 2nd Wave Feminism happened a while ago. Yes, some of the paradigm still exists, but as a field of study and practice we have moved on from this. Current feminism is actually rather intersectional, and isn’t aimed in hating or rejecting men, and separating them from homes. In fact, I would say that the current legal and social work system encourages homes to remain intact, and often votes in the direction of normal all the way on up to domestic violence families, remaining functional and intact, where often the male (abuser) gets to continue to be around the children. There are a lot of interventional programs out there to help with this process. Additionally, I would say most legislation makes it very difficult to hold men accountable for rape or abuse. So, I don’t see how feminists rule the world. Please enlighten me further.
Also, NOW providing legal aid and support for women, is for particular women who qualify due to gender injustice, other forms of oppression, and are economically disadvantaged. Most women do not free legal help in the US or the world at large, as far as I am aware. In fact, this is why many legal cases never reach court and are settled quickly, because it costs women more than they can afford and they cannot find childcare during these legal proceedings. Additionally, this organization (NOW) was created and persists because women from all sorts of backgrounds are oppressed, usually make less on the dollar to men, in work, and are also the ones who end up spending more of their time doing unpaid labor, such as caring for children. Could men get legal aid and more care too, sure, but I don’t think women don’t deserve the help, when they still legitimately need it.
I have worked with many hetero couples getting divorced and I am not sure where you are getting the data to make a sweeping statement that men are forced to pay for their lawyers and that of their ex-spouses. I would say in cases where there is extreme evidence that the man owes this to his partner, this is where this gets court ordered. Be careful of the picking and choosing here to support and argument that the feminist agenda is destroying everything.
I am not particularly fond of waving the finger at men. I love men. But holy shit, you guys really don’t get it sometimes. I understand many people look at me this way when my White privilege is glaringly obvious and annoying to them. So, I have compassion for how difficult it is to own up to one’s privilege, and how hard it is to see what is made invisible to you based on your position in society/culture/life. I live in a context where I get my Whiteness (and other privileges) pointed out to me constantly, as I previously mentioned, I am currently in Mexico. It gets easier every time, but it is of course constant work to realize, “Oh shit, yeah, there are whole ways my expectations, reality and identity are severely distorted because of my privilege.”
I wrote this article as a means to center men in this conversation of what is going on with abortion abolition, and get them to begin to dismantle their t.m., critically assess their privilege, and perhaps be motivated to change. I see this article perhaps did not set the right tone, nor motivate change. But, I can only hope some men read this and walk away thinking, “Wow, yeah, I am gonna always have condoms, never try to coerce a woman to have unprotected sex, I will take responsibility for supporting a woman whom I do impregnate, and I will actually join protests and vote to keep conservative policies like these out of legislation.” I also agree that men being educated and taught accountability, kindness, integrity, and care is DEFINITELY important. That is my aim here. I am grateful you are a part of this as well.
My biggest question here for you is, Why would you see t. m., while interacting with boys, in the context I mention here, when working in a classroom? I am speaking about t.m. in the context of sexuality, and sexual relationship accountability. I suppose they perhaps might talk about their relationships and sex in the classroom, however, I am not so sure you are in the environment to be collecting the same data I (and all the women in my life) have collected, our whole lives, while being aggressed upon by males, and/or while being in actual close, intimate SEXUAL relationships with them.
To assume your experience as a man, gives you the same clout in commenting on the validity of data I and many many other women have collected through direct experience is a bit suspect to me… I cannot assume I know the complexities or ultimately the validity of race analysis, when written by someone who experience racism first hand, for their entire life. I can point to what I have learned and how I have been educated academically and in life, by my friends, partners, and community of color, but beyond that, I always stand ready to be corrected. This is a part of me facing my privilege.
Hearing that you don’t see t.m. at all makes some part of me also feel hopeful though, considering that I would expect there would at least be some of it in the classroom banter. Either you are blind to it, or perhaps these younger generations of men are really much further along in their development than I am giving them credit for. Writing that makes me feel quite old…
I am making an assumption you are a man and have sex with women. Maybe I am wrong. I really want to know if you can relate to the patterns I am sharing here in your own sexual history/experiences. Please tell me that you cannot resonate at all with complaining about wearing a condom or that you have always thought about the potential consequences to women and their bodies if you don’t wear a condom? Please tell me your male friends who have sex with women have never acted the way I describe in this article. Please enlighten me.
And in direct response to what you wrote about Black men. I was writing this piece in the article as a means to acknowledge intersectionality. The messages men receive about how to be men and how to be sexual beings in relationship with sexual partners is completely intertwined with the socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural, class, and many, many other contexts they are immersed within. Me writing this bit was not me digressing from the point of the article, it was meant to highlight my understanding that it may be easier (and more socially acceptable in their circles) for White, able-bodied, wealthy, highly privileged White men to (even get the idea to) seek the resources, education, and contexts that could help them shift their scripts of t.m.
More on intersectionality. I live here in Mexico currently, and have witnessed how challenging it is for people who are working class or poor, to even know, desire, seek, or experience resources or differing contexts than their own, due to having so little options available in the course of their life. For many of the men I have come to know in these contexts, it is extremely normal to psychological and physically abuse your female partner, as well as to treat them as a domestic servant and baby maker. T.m. in these contexts appears entirely different than how it manifests in other contexts, and remains relatively unchanging for many men in these situations, because this is what is normal, and what has been presented as the best possible way for them to live.
To say that 2nd Wave Feminism caused what Black men and men of color experience is, in my opinion, too simplistic of an analysis. However, I do see where you are coming from. Yes, racism and the myopic and objectifying approach of past and current feminists has contributed to a way of men being severely stunted in their development of social and relational skills. I also think women blaming, harshly criticizing, demonizing men, and demanding they just be different, taking men’s male privilege very personally, without seeing the contexts that created these men, is not helpful. Additionally, women internalize patriarchy and views of t. m. as well, and also treat men in ways that encourage t.m. to continue to exist. Men need to be treated as humans too, who require education, compassion, and care. I am on the same page with you, though I also see how trauma women have had in the face of men misusing their power makes it rather difficult for women to not be angry, especially in the face of the absurd and bizarre new laws in regard to abortion. Just like I cannot expect a person of color who has lots of trauma at the hands of White supremacy and White people, to completely humanize me and not get angry with me, men cannot expect women to be sweet to them in this conversation…
Just some thoughts in response to your comment.