Feminists hate masculinity

Feminism: The Liberation of Men

That feminism is important and still has a lot to do is no longer a minority opinion. After decades of hesitant submission, women, girls and their allies around the world are again speaking out to demand a better deal, not just in law but in practice. But the kind of feminism that has played a role in the media for years and has dominated the headlines primarily benefits the heterosexual, well-paid white women of the middle and upper middle classes.

It was said that gender liberation would "trickle down" like prosperity. [1] This is of course complete nonsense. Feminism does not seep down, and while a small number of extremely privileged women worry about the glass ceiling, the basement fills with water and millions of women and girls and their children are trapped down there, staring up while they are the water runs into your shoes, sloshes around your knees and slowly rises to your neck.

In short: they lied to us. Women of my generation were told we could "have anything" as long as "everything" was marriage, babies, a career in finance, a closet full of beautiful shoes and utter exhaustion, and as long as we were rich, white, straight and good.

But that is only one side of the coin. Because men were also lied to. They were led to believe they were living in a brave new world of economic and sexual opportunity, when they were angry or intimidated, when they were hemmed in or unsettled by conflicting expectations, when they were under pressure to pretend masculine, money to be dominant, to fuck a lot of beautiful women and at the same time to remain a decent person, then women and minorities are to be blamed for their misery.

To understand the principles of gender, power and desire, we need to talk about men too. The goal of feminism is not only that women emancipate themselves from men, but that all people free themselves from the straitjacket of gender-specific oppression. Men and boys are only now beginning to collectively understand how terribly screwed up masculinity is today - and they ask how they can change that.

Give the patriarchy a name

For many centuries, money, power, and the ability to wreak havoc and bloody carnage have been concentrated in the hands of a few white Europeans; usually the richest men with the best relationships. These men make up only a fraction of the total male population, and yet every man and boy is expected to orientate himself by them, and every woman to seek their company and closeness. There is a simple word for this system: "Patriarchy". "Patriarchy" does not mean "male rule". It means "paternal rule" - the rule of less powerful household heads over the rest of society. Men lower down the social hierarchy are too humble to have power over women to make up for the lack of control over the rest of their lives.

The word "patriarchy" is particularly burdened because it describes a centuries-old structure of economic and sexual oppression in which few men are granted power. Patriarchy: not the rule of men, but the rule of fathers or father figures. Most men don't rule that much, and they never have. Most men do not have much power, and what little social and sexual superiority they have over women is now being challenged. That must hurt. Anyone who benefits from patriarchy is not a bad person, even if he is unlikely to become a better person that way. As always, when someone is in a position of power over others, the test of character is what to do with that knowledge.

Throughout most of human history, patriarchy has oppressed men and boys as well as women. It is a hierarchical system of male supremacy that is enforced with violence or threats of violence. When we feminists say, "Patriarchy harms men too," we mean it. Patriarchy is brutal and violent, it is difficult for men to get out of it, and it is tightly interwoven with the economic and class system of capitalism. When I talk to men about gender and violence, the word "patriarchy" is particularly difficult for them to take.

Since the modern economy produces few winners, many men inevitably feel like losers - and a loser is the last thing a man is allowed to be. Women want nothing to do with losers. Losers are not real men, not desirable strong men, and if neoliberalism produces more losers, it must be because men are not valued enough, and feminism is probably to blame, not misguided financial policies. Neoliberalism may have doomed hosts of people, but we cannot be dealing with a capitalism crisis here, so it has to be a gender crisis.

Everywhere, in the north and south of the globe, people notice that their elected representatives and the unelected elites have cheated them of social, financial and personal power - but young men are still learning that their identity and potency depend on the fact that they have power.

Masculinity is a crisis

In 2000, Susan Faludi reported in her book “Men - The Sex Deceived”: “Forty years later, as the nation stumbled towards the turn of the millennium, those who felt her seemed to agree that the end of the world was looming : American masculinity was in danger […]. 'Men on trial', wrote the headlines. 'The plague with the boys' - 'Do you need men?' - 'Is manhood recovering?' ”[2] More than ten years later, the same headlines are still circulating:“ Boys in crisis ”-“ Testosterone on the decline ” - "Girls overtake boys" - "How do you think the men deal with it?"

No, masculinity is not in crisis - you could almost say masculinity is Crisis. When modern masculinity plunges men, especially young men, into a state of anxious desperation, when they are lonely and isolated, unable to express their true feelings or live the life they truly desire, and when they are then their social and sexual ones Taking frustration out on women instead of realizing that it is a systematic consequence of elitist inequality then masculinity works very well. Then it is even in tip top condition.

Women, it seems, are only allowed to talk about their gender. Men are allowed to talk about anything, just not their gender. Discussion of what it means to be a man is tacitly taboo in most social circles. Masculinity works more like that Fight Club in the film of the same name: The top rule of the men's club is not to talk about the men's club.

It is one of the saddest chapters of modern society that it has led us to view masculinity as something dangerous and violent, something closely related to domination, control and brutality, hunger for power, money and greedy, abusive sex. Part of the feminism project is to free men as well as women from repressive stereotypes. Just some young men, of course. For the crises of masculinity that may take place on private yachts or in the dormitories of elite boarding schools, no tears are shed or water cannons are set up.

As the power of individual men over individual women is more competitive than ever, it is more unforgiving and more fetishized, especially in pornography, where the hurting and degrading of women has become the template for sexual intercourse. What men want is supposedly elementary, brutal and uncomplicated. Beer, blowjobs and buffalo meat, torn from the galloping animal if possible and fried in testosterone.

What right do women actually have to talk about men, their feelings and their desires? We have every right to do so, especially since men have been talking about women for many years, writing about women, making laws for women and exploring what we feel and desire, mostly without our being allowed to have a say. We have every right in the world, and as long as men don't speak honestly about their experiences with gender and sex, we may even have a duty. Because gender and desire are the only topics where women are given something like competence.

A history of violence

But it will hurt. It can be terribly depressing for men to be confronted with misogyny, especially their own. Unfortunately for them, as soon as they grapple with the sexes, they come across a terrible, unshakable fact: the enormous extent to which men have altogether hurt women. This is why it is extremely difficult for men to talk about masculinity without dealing with how terrifying and aggressive masculinity has become in its modern form. It is terrifying.

The following also hurts: Eight percent of men admit acts that fit the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. [3] More than one in five men claims to have "been so sexually aroused that he could not stop having intercourse even though the woman did not agree". [4]

Rape and sexual violence are commonplace. Ritualized misogyny is so common that the relationship between men and women needs to be radically redefined, and the traumatic beginnings of this redefinition demand sacrifices on both sides. Whenever there is talk of rape in the press, the concern is always with the reputation of the man, which is valued above the autonomy of women. Women ruin the lives of others with their lies, we hear again and again - the lives of men, and that's the only thing that matters. But what is really ruined by women’s refusal to keep their mouths shut is the illusion of sexual equality. Anyone who is so attached to the status quo that they want to shut up women who want to talk about power, privilege and violence should ask themselves what it actually means to be a man.

According to a modern myth, men think about sex every six seconds. With that in mind, extremely rarely do they speak even halfway honestly about sexuality and what it means. Men are expected to fuck brutally and on cue, to be greedy for sexual intercourse for no reason and to throw a few crumbs of affection in exchange for sex, which they force in case of refusal. There is no language for gentleness, for slow approach, for play. Men as well as women are taught that male sexuality is harmful and dangerous - and at the same time absolutely natural. Men learn that deep within them lies a source of violence that is closely linked to sexuality and cannot be controlled, only contained.

Many men find this granite depiction of their sexuality extremely disturbing. Gays and bisexuals know nothing else than that their sexuality is portrayed or presented by the mainstream as something shrill, grotesque, a counterpart to the brutal phantom image of heterosexuality that dominates our visual culture. But even men who are predominantly attracted to the opposite sex are only offered one type of sexuality, namely that of the painstakingly restrained beast. I keep getting emails from men and boys who are unsure how to deal with this stereotype, but who are afraid that if they don't do it justice, they will be rejected, be it by their peers or their partner .

Here's what I want to say to these men: It's perfectly fine if you're scared. It's okay if you don't know what to be, how to behave. You may question what it actually means to be a man, or even suggest that there might be questions about it, because if you did that, if anyone did, we might get answers. We might discover that “masculinity” as we have seen it so far is really just a facade, that “masculinity” is really fragile, vulnerable and hurtful, that it is nothing more than humanity.

Real men don't ask questions. Real men hit it with the hammer for so long and shoot with the laser until the problem is eliminated. But what if the problem is in your own heart? What if the problem is just a feeling, deep down, that something is absolutely wrong? Hammer and laser are of course also an option, but another would be to take your own hardship seriously and deal with it instead of suppressing it with drugs and medication or hobby misogyny.

It is of course not the job of women or feminist activists to solve men's problems. Even if it were so, there are countless women in this world who have been severely traumatized by encounters with men and who therefore want nothing more to do with them, and that is of course their right. I understand the small stream of feminism that women can only counter male violence by yelling at men and boys until they stop; I used to find myself in this school of thought. That was once.

A new look at sexuality, gender and power can help men deal with their gender-specific pain. Realizing the extent to which male violence against women occurs is a painful shock to any man who is blessed with a conscience. That is why men can only talk about masculinity after they have worked through their modern, brutal form.

Anyone who is affected by prejudice suffers from it, regardless of whether there is something to this prejudice or not. Women notice that men do not regard them as individuals from their upbringing, but as a category, as a social problem that needs to be solved. When men notice that women see them in exactly the same way - as hostile terrain - they often react hurt and angry.

Social heterosexuality is still a process of mutual dehumanization. This also explains the ongoing debate about whether men and women can “really” be friends without “sex getting in their way”. What is revealing about this age-old pseudo-controversy is not only that it is seriously discussed, but also that it is assumed that sexuality prevents friendship. Every person we possibly want to see naked is basically on hostile territory that needs to be conquered but not understood.

Almost all men and boys - almost all human beings - want to feel like they are needed and loved. It's a quiet tragedy of our time that we still persuade young men that the only way to make themselves useful is by either making a bunch of money and bringing it home to a grateful, docile wife who dutifully rewards them with boring sex, or Fight in a war far from home and possibly die. In the real world, very few men have ever acted as heroic fighters, and wars are increasingly being fought by robots. Even so, men want to feel needed and loved.

At least that's what they tell me in their letters. I would despair if I didn't get so many letters. For every man who squeezes a few minutes from his daily schedule filled to the brim with self-loathing to tell me that I am a vicious frigid Feminazi who is supposed to choke on his vengeful erection, another comes who just wants to know what he is for rape prevention can do. Or who is desperate because, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot find a job in the crisis and therefore no longer feels like a real man.Sometimes I get emails from college students who shyly confide in me that they may be feminists and that it is okay, like they have a bad rash and ask if this is normal. None of these men express a desire to be a "breadwinner," but all of them desperately long for exchange.

A great many men and boys do not want to be a “breadwinner” or a “hard man”, and a great many men and boys do not want to determine women as they have been taught to be. Almost all of the young men and boys I've been close to in my life wanted something completely different. More and more men and boys want to blow up the prison and team up with others.

Because there have always been others too. Big, strong men who just wanted to flee into town and paint pictures. Men who liked to have sex but didn't want to start a family. Men who wanted to submit to women or other men and did not see this as a weakness. Men who had a knack for dealing with children or the elderly. Men who couldn't get used to the prospect of making a living for forty years by beating someone with sticks. These men have always been there, and they quietly condemn the claim that there has always been only one type of "masculinity".

It will hurt

Despite a compassionate attitude towards men, feminism is not supposed to spare their feelings. But on the contrary. If we want a fulfilling life and a society that treats women as full-fledged people, men have to see themselves and their world of experience in a new and unpleasant light. The compassion men and boys need in escaping the world of violence, misogyny, and emotional constipation is not that of the priest forgiving sins, but that of the doctor, the suffering idiot, the festering Wound has delayed the visit to the doctor for too long, stated emphatically: I'm afraid this will hurt.

Of course it will hurt. But it already hurts. One hardly hears anything of the deep pain that the grotesque caricature of modern masculinity inflicts on countless men, because if it were allowed to express this pain, it would not be felt as anger or hatred, but as fear and disgust, as Confusion and self-doubt, or even just insecurity about what the hell we're supposed to be these days. And that's just not manly.

Books and studies such as Hanna Rosin's “The End of Men” come to the conclusion that the gains for women - progress in the workplace and the relative freedom not to marry, to have children and to be at home and at work are the power of men to subjugate - correlate with losses on the part of men and boys. It is pretended that there is a fixed amount of equality in the world so that more for women automatically means less for men. But that's not how freedom works. More than anything else in the world, freedom enriches those whom it grants to others, even if they are reluctant to do so. Men who have a conscience have no idea how comfortable they would feel in a world in which women are allowed to live, work and fuck as free and equal actors, in a world in which humanity comes before gender .

"Feminazi" or the fear of men

The great obstacle to the advancement of women is not their hatred, but their fear. The “men's rights activists” who organize themselves on the Internet to drown out women are mostly frightened, lonely beings who desperately want to talk about the sexes, but can only do so by silencing women. This expression of fear expresses itself in an extremely childish way in an attitude that is as fascist in its surveillance of gender roles as that of a playground bully and whose representatives use words like "Feminazi" in a very serious manner. Because the Nazis were best known for their struggle for equality.

They just pretend, by talking about the injuries inflicted on us as a result of being a woman, we prevent men from talking about the excruciating pressures of manhood. Obviously, many men can only articulate their suffering if they simultaneously prevent women from articulating theirs.

Now, as more women, girls and a growing number of male allies speak out against sexism and injustice, something strange is happening: if we address prejudices, it is criticized that it is in itself a prejudice.

When women address misogyny, they are often asked to moderate their language so as not to offend men's feelings. Don't say, "Men oppress women," it's sexist, just as bad as the sexism women grapple with, maybe even worse. Instead, say, "Some men oppress women." No matter what you say, you must not generalize.

Splitting hair like this is an effective way to shut up women. After all, we've been taught to always put other people's feelings above ours. We don't have to say what to think when there is a chance we might hurt or, worse, upset someone. I observe this muzzle technique in all social movements I deal with: blacks are asked to consider the feelings of whites before talking about their experiences; Gays and transsexuals are asked not to be so angry, so that heterosexuals do not feel uncomfortable. So we weaken our statements with apologies, qualifications, and placings. We assure our friends and loved ones that of course they don't belong to those stupid hunts. You're not one of those racists, these homophobes, these misogynists.

Profiteers of Sexism

What we don't say: Of course, not all men hate women. But the culture hates women, and men who grow up in a sexist culture tend, often inadvertently, to act and express themselves sexistly. We don't judge you for who you are, but that doesn't mean we don't ask you to change your behavior. First of all, what you think deep in your heart about women is not as important as the way you treat them in everyday life. You may be the gentlest, kindest man in the world, but you still benefit from sexism, but you still may not open your mouth when you see women being insulted and discriminated against. This is how oppression works. Thousands of otherwise decent people are being led to come to terms with an unjust system because it seems too troublesome to change. If someone calls for this unjust system to be changed, the appropriate response would be to listen, not turn away or yell like a small child, "It wasn't me!" Of course it wasn't you. You are definitely very lovable. Even so, you have a responsibility to do something about it.

Society tends to hold us back from structural thinking. In a culture in which we are supposed to see ourselves as freely acting individuals, it is not easy to recognize disturbing realities such as poverty, racism and sexism as parts of a larger architecture of violence. But the community is affected by bigotry like an infection: You only see and feel it when the symptoms become visible. But it is there, beneath the surface, it swells and swells in many individual wounds, from which one can see that more is happening beneath the surface. Your girlfriend is raped by another friend at a party; your colleague has to quit because she cannot afford full-time care for her child; your daughter comes home crying because she feels too fat and refuses dinner. It is easier, and not so disturbing, to view all of these things as individual, disjointed experiences rather than part of a structural sexism that infects everyone. Even you

When I say "all men are part of a culture of sexism" - all men, not just some men - it may sound like an indictment. But it is an invitation. As a man, you can choose to help create a more just world for women and men. You can choose to take action against misogyny and sexual violence if you observe them. You can choose to take risks and spend energy supporting women, promoting women who treat women as equals in your life. You can choose to take a stand and say no, and more men and guys are making that decision every day. The question is: do you want to be one of them?

What we ask of men is difficult to do. One thing must be said clearly: We have created a society in which it is structurally difficult and existentially grueling for every male person not to act like a complete asshole. We have to give them credit for the fact that quite a few men manage to be decent people.

Feminism must not treat men's issues marginally, but must address them directly and passionately, because at the moment there is a conspiratorial silence on the subject of men and gender. If male identity is to have a chance, men and boys have to accept that the old distribution model of patriarchal power is a thing of the past. For most people, it never existed anyway. Tomorrow's men must let it go with grace. In the face of a subjectively perceived loss of power, preserve your dignity, and you will see that other people who are not men honestly describe to you what is meant by real powerlessness.

One thing should be made absolutely clear: I don't want to take feminism at its best, nor do I want to lead men to believe that it won't change their lives, because it has already done that, and it will continue to do so until we're done - and that's good . It's not that we can't afford feminism. Conversely, no matter how broke we are, we cannot afford a world without feminism. And I can't wait for us to finally get going.

I can't wait for us to meet on an equal footing. I can't wait for human potential to finally be free, and that will happen when one half of humanity no longer lives in fear of the other. I can't wait to be able to wear what we want and love who we want without fear of violence. Men, women and everyone else build this world by striving for a free life, freer than is completely safe possible in this monstrosity that we call modern life.

With every year that goes by, I meet more men and boys who are just as tired of restrictive gender norms as the rest of us, and who are ready to change something, to create space for difference in their lives and to stand up for all those who do also do. It's not an easy task. Those who reject the rituals of violence that a man grows up with risk violence, risk making mistakes and appearing stupid, risking their pride being deeply hurt, and I am moved by the courage of the men and boys in my life who take these risks enter. They are the strong men. They know that true strength requires adaptability, because whoever falls and cannot bend, breaks. You have the power to renew the world. And as long as I am a political person, I will show solidarity with these men.

* The post is based on “Untold things. Sex, Lügen, Revolution ”, the author's latest book, published by Edition Nautilus.

[1]* The post is based on “Untold things. Sex, Lügen, Revolution ”, the author's latest book, published by Edition Nautilus.

See Natasha Walter, The New Feminism, London 1999; see also Sarah Jaffe, Trickle Down Feminism, in: “Dissent, Winter 2013.

[2] Susan Faludi, Men: The Deceived Sex, translated by Ursula Locke-Groß, Sabine Hübner and Angela Schumitz, Reinbek 2001, p. 13.