The Elephant in the Men’s Movement Living Room

I think that the most fascinating thing about the Men’s Movement is that it’s a lot like alcoholism. The elephant in the living room is that these Manly Men are trying to shed the traditional roles of masculinity while beating their chests about what studs they are and how feminism seeks to emasculate them. Additionally, to further stretch the analogy, they all seem to be enabling each other. “Jim? He’s not an alcoholic. He just drinks a little too much.”

To whit, witness Running Scared’s blinkered defense of the Manly Men:

Shakespeare’s Sister said:

Of course, the flip side of this coin, which is left out of the article, is that men’s rights advocates also believe if a woman doesn’t want the child, she should be forced to be responsible to carry it to term at the man’s wishes.

and Running Scared said:

“I’m throwing the bullshit flag here right away. No sensible male I know would put up with the argument that they should be able to force a woman to carry a baby to term if they don’t want to. “

I must respectfully assert here, sir, that I believe that the “bullshit flag” has fallen over head and is obscuring your view of the television.

PIERRE, South Dakota (AP) — Gov. Mike Rounds signed legislation Monday banning nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Goodness me, if that’s not a forced birth law, what is it?

and then, Shakespeare’s Sister said:

You’ll notice in both cases, the woman is expected to be responsible—by allowing the father freedom from child support payments, by either getting an abortion or giving the child up for adoption if she can’t support the child on her own, or by not getting an abortion or giving up the child for adoption even if she doesn’t want a child but the father does. Funny how that works.

and Running Scared lost his motherfucking mind:

We’re going to continue in a moment, but I’m going to offer an analogy that’s just a touch more grounded in reality. Let’s say I’m involved with a girlfriend and she decides that she wants to buy a Jaguar. Upon hearing this, I decide that we certainly can’t afford one and decline. She goes ahead and buys the Jaguar anyway without my signing on for the car loan. Guess what? She owes the money for the Jag, and if she can’t afford it, she should probably give it up to a nice family who can afford such an expensive automobile and get a Honda.

Clearly more grounded in reality. Running Scared’s solution to an unwanted child? Put an ad in the paper and sell it. Buy something more sensible with the money… y’know, like a puppy.

We’re not talking about cars here. Perhaps it’s too much to assume that everyone knew that. We’re talking about a little person, who will one day become a big person with feelings, a desire for his or her life, a music collection and at least one bad haircut.

It would seem that Running Scared and the rest of the Father’s Rights movement is, as my brother says, climbing up on the world’s tiniest high horse and basing their entire argument on the tiny fragment of the world of conceptions where the mother deceives the father or somehow unintentionally becomes pregnant. Their war cry? “IT’S NOT MY PROBLEM IF I DON’T WANT IT TO BE!”

Lemme help you “men” understand something that I have always assumed was an implicit assumption in sexual relations:

If you’re gonna rock out with your cock out, you need to be prepared to accept the consequences. Period.

Complaining about it, after about seven centuries of Western Civilization where the White Guy always has the last say, would appear a bit…. churlish, don’t you think?

Let me try and frame the argument in terms everyone can understand, though I don’t know that everyone will agree (and y’know what? I am ok with that…..)

Running Scared said:

And the powerless women have no say here in our anachronistic 21st century society. I see what you mean, really. I think it was only on Saturday that I was walking down the street and saw this hot coed intern who works at our company walking near our office building. I informed her that she needed to head in to my office immediately and get undressed so I could have sex with her, and can you believe it? She briefly objected!

Your argument here, sir, is as tendentious as it is tedious. As I pointed out above, the ant-woman, anti-sex movement is clearly on the march (again? As if they EVER stopped!). And your denial of the depth of their commitment to outlaw abortion, outlaw contraception, to marginalize sex as some sort of compulsive behavior that periodically breaks out between Devotions to The Lord Our God is touching, really. To hearken back to our alcoholic denial metaphor, you ignore the true motivations behind much of the Anti-Choice and Anti-Women’s movement at your peril, i.e. “Everyone talks about how much I drink, but no one talks about how thirsty I am.”

Your justification of the further marginalizing of women in the decision of whether or not to have a child is pointless in the face of the what THE ACTUAL CONSEQUENCES OF THIS ACTION WILL BE.

Let me address as a whole the “men’s movement” and the whiners in the “Fathers’ Rights” chorus:

(If you’re not a penis-American, the rest of the paragraph is not addressed to you, ‘k? It has some kinda old fashioned ideas that aren’t completely modern or even totally progressive, so y’know, this is kind of between us guys. No offense, ‘k?)

You boys need to grow up.

My daddy taught me a few things about being a man, when I was coming up, and clearly some of you didn’t learn those lessons. Now, I understand that some of these ideas are a little quaint, and not true in all cases, but pointing to the exceptions and using them as justification for bad behavior is disingenuous and it makes you look like a fucking weasel. (I’ve seen you do it so I’m just saying…)

Let me paraphrase…

As a man, you will earn more money, have more social advantage, have better access to credit and advancement in the workplace, and be less vulnerable to all manner of physical attack through the course of your life. You are more than likely stronger and more physically imposing than 90% (or more) of the women you know. As a man in American society, especially a white guy (and when I have SEEN the Fathers’ Rights whiners in person, they are OVERWHELMINGLY white guys), you win the genetic lottery. The research has shown, despite outlier studies that your candyasses are always digging up, you get the jobs, you don’t get ripped off at by mechanics, you get the red carpet treatment at banks, and for fuck’s sake, look at Congress. It takes a lot of nerve to ask for more than that, boys.

AND, in the course of conception, gestation, childbirth, and lactation, you only have to do the fun bit at the beginning. The rest is SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM on the most elemental and undeniable level.

All of these advantages don’t come without responsibility. Two of them rise above the rest- Protection and Providence. (This is the bit my father drove home to me, and you’d do well to listen, son…)

You get a lot out of life just because you pee standing up. You want to talk to me about Men’s Rights? Button it, boy. You have a right to get out there and get a job and provide for your progeny, at minimum. We have some names for men that don’t. We call them “Sorry,” “No count,” and “Worthless.”

You don’t have to like it.

I realize that not everyone can live in the same house and some of your kids might be better off with you far, far away because you’re not a positive influence or whatever, but at MINIMUM, you’re going to help your babymama along with some cash. Quit crying about it. It makes you look like a weak and sorry pissant.


  1. If you’re gonna rock out with your cock out, you need to be prepared to accept the consequences. Period.

    Not that I disagree with this sentiment, but (with a change in anatomical references) that’s exactly the same argument anti-abortion folks use to justify their stance. I will bet you anything, anything, that anti-abortioners will seize upon this argument and use it to turn back the clock.

  2. If you father a child, you’re responsible for it, period. If you don’t want a child, don’t fuck or use protection. If you want a child, find a woman who’s willing before you fuck.

    That is all.

  3. Well, Neil, I’d say that’s a good point except that logic is fundamentally flawed. That “anatomical reference” is pretty important here because it implies that with a male, his choice ends when his spermatozoa leave his person. After that, it’s in the realm of the woman’s body and therefore her choice. Anything a man does at that point to exercise his “choice” would involve coercion of the woman and, thus, is unacceptable in terms of autonomy of the person (which is the core of their argument). I’m not saying you support this, I’m just saying that the argument doesn’t withstand logical scrutiny in light of the biological facts.

  4. That was really something. I knew there was a good reason why I was so drawn to you way back when. Feminist men are totally hot.

    That said, Neil is correct that anti-abortion folks use the “don’t do it if you aren’t prepared to take on the responsibility” line against women. In the best of all possible worlds, a male and female contemplating having sex would have an explicit conversation beforehand discussing their positions on how to handle a pregnancy that might result. Hardly anybody does that because they are too focused on immediate personal gratification rather than, you know, being responsible about the actions they choose to take.

    Does this mean we should be able to force someone to have a baby they don’t want? Certainly not. Abortion is a completely responsible option for women who don’t have the means or desire to become parents.

    But if a man informed his partner directly and clearly, prior to having sex, that he was not willing to become a parent (thereby giving her an opportunity to avoid the risk altogether by leaving the bar with her girlfriends), and he asked the woman whether she would abort or carry an unplanned pregnancy that might result from their encounter, and he opted not to do her if her answer was carry it, and he used at least a condom and ideally spermicide too if her answer was abort — I would have a hard time arguing that he has an obligation to participate in the life and upbringing of any child that accidentally resulted. Of course, we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds, people don’t typically have those discussions, and at the end of the day somebody has to provide for the children that exist.

  5. I think all dudes should just get a vasectomy… and adopt when they want kids… that way you don’t have to worry about any surprises… but that’s just me.

  6. -wild applause-

    And besides everything else, this addresses a curiousity that I have long pondered:

    namely, since when did butching up become about outwhining everyone else?

    I mean, like, do what you need to do, you know: go beat drums in the woods, chant and grunt in masculine solidarity, wank off to whatever the hell you fancy, as far as I’m concerned. Just STOP. WHINING. It’s obscene. And insanely irritating.

  7. For that matter, the *man* could always elect to choose other forms of sexual expression besides the ol’ in-out, at least until such time as he’s truly prepared for parenthood. Who knows; it might even make him a better lover. Mother of invention and all that.

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