Where does the Christian Fit Into the Gender Wars?

I knew if I spoke critically of the “The  Manosphere” I would encounter some angry men. My column today at Patheos, “Complementarity, Not Competition” has already brought out a few to make my point for me.

Here’s a taste:

There is a corner of the internet known as the “manosphere.”  In a backlash to perceived cultural bias against men due to the mainstreaming of feminist principles, some men, feeling oppressed and trampled into submission by strong women, are pushing back by schooling one another in masculinity. They write advice blogs on mastering the “Venusian arts” or the art of seducing women, by asserting their authority, physical strength, attractiveness, and intelligence, in order to acquire “Alpha” status in comparison to their male peers.

 

Some personalities in the manosphere write mainly to other single men, but there are some married proponents as well, who suggest that becoming more of an Alpha male will improve their marriage. I don’t disagree. Husbands should know how to lure their wives happily to bed. They should know how to lead a family with authority and respect. They should understand women’s hormonal cycles and respond accordingly, or refuse to respond with alarm, as is often a more appropriate course of action. And above all, they should be happy about being men.

 

The married portion of the manosphere has gained traction among some Christian and Catholic men, who perhaps raised in broken homes, are looking for male role models as they strive to build a marriage and a family that will last.

 

So what’s wrong with the manosphere?

 

Read the rest…

 

About Elizabeth Duffy
  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    “So what’s wrong with men’s rights?”

    Nothing, really. But a Christian adult, man or woman, does better to focus on responsibilities. We look not for what we get or can seduce out of another person, but what we can give. Many conservatives seem to have been seduced over-much by the protest schtick, asking, “What’s in it for me?”

    A real man looks for what he can do for others. It might be the traditional providing for a family–that’s great. For a single man seeking companionship, it might be an expression of leadership, inviting a woman to go somewhere not for what he will get out of the deal, but for what he can do for her.

    I think the whole emphasis on rights, coming from the liberal or the conservative, is largely misplaced egoism. If when it is, there’s something wrong about clamoring for rights.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Back in the day (giving my age away, here), most Boom generation men that I encountered were actually all in favor of abortion, birth control and pre-marital sex—the more the merrier! They were also very much in favor of feminism, since it supported all these things; there was an alliance between the Playboy/feminist movement. Many men would state outright, at the beginning of relationship, that they never intended to marry, or have a family—that was just sooooo boring, and middle class, and if you didn’t agree with that, you were uptight, a religious fanatic, or possibly, a lesbian. (If you were male and didn’t go along with this, it was the same thing: you were uptight, a religious fantatic, and, possibly, gay—not that there’s anything wrong with that
    !)

    If they did marry, the wife was expected to work outside the home and bring home a sizable paycheck. And, of course, she was expected to practice birth control, so as not to get pregnant, and “burden” the husband with children. If things didn’t work out, there was always divorce. In short, the couple—even if married—lived together more as roomates, than an actual married couple.

    I don’t like 20th Century feminism. I think it was a terrible thing, for both men and women. But, in the beginning, it was supported by both men and women—and much male treatment of women at the time, created a very fertile ground for anti-male sentiment.

    Just finished reading a book, “Orange Sunshine”, about a hippie commune selling drugs in Orange County, during the 70′s—a fascinating read, about a certain period of time. The commune sold drugs to raise money to buy an island, where they could create utopia. The women were expected to have children, learn to weave, cook, sew, garden,clean house, take care of the men and help them hide their drugs when the police came around—in short, perform all the tasks a medieval housewife would have been expected to perform, without a medieval housewife’s background, or training in such things. (Well, all except for the hiding drugs part.)

    The men? They surfed, got high, smuggled drugs and preyed upon teenage girl runaways, in nearby Laguna Beach. Yes, I know; all Boomers weren’t like this. But enough of them were. And there were enough of them to influence the general mindset of the times. And many progressive males supported feminism, women getting jobs (often so they could support their “Man”) and women being sexually “liberated.” This meant that when feminism really got going, there were plenty of disgruntled women who’d gotten thoroughly sick of the whole thing, and who didn’t like men too much.

    In short—”The Sexual Revolution is over. Everybody lost!”

    Both men and women sinned against each other. Until both men and women apologize to each other, repent, and agree to start over, neither side will win—because it’s not a question of winning. The sexes were created to compliment each other, not fight each other.

    The manosphere is simply the flip side of feminism. Both are wrong.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    A Christian, man or women, doesn’t fit in with either feminism, or the manosphere.

    A Christian fits in with love, and repentance.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    The feminist movement is a necessary corrective to the evils of institutional sexism. Someday it won’t be needed. But the movement, like any ideological initiative, is better served by focusing on the rights of others and the responsibilities of the self. If men or women want to get together over a beer, a drum, a coffee, or even a manifesto, I have no problems with it. If they want to tell others how the culture is failing the oppressed, no problem there, either. If any of us disagree, we just don’t join the group. But our Christian responsibilities still need attention.

  • Manny

    @Rhinestone, you said:

    “I don’t like 20th Century feminism. I think it was a terrible thing, for both men and women. But, in the beginning, it was supported by both men and women-”

    Feminism has turned into a cultural disaster, especially when you consider how it has culminated into the pro abortion way of life. In fact, I doubt abortion would even be tolerated today if not for feminism. However, I should quibble with the quote from your comment I cite. There were plenty of men and women throughout the 20th century that raised the issue of what such a feminism would lead to, and did not support. Even throughout the baby boomer generation, people like Bill Buckley and the National Review crowd were very much in opposition to feminism. The men you’re referring to were mostly Liberals who were essentially bleeding hearts to perceived wrongs to women.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    If feminists hadn’t picked up on abortion, the Republicans might well have stuck with it. Abortion was not universally embraced by feminists in the 60′s, and indeed, most of the pre-1973 penalties came down harder on providers than victims. A good portion of the GOP wanted abortion decriminalized, and I’m sure that many in the medical field are pleased to have the gravy train of tens of millions of abortions.

    Many feminists today are disentangled from abortion.

    And no, most men were very slow to sign on to feminism.

  • Manny

    @Todd, you said:
    “Abortion was not universally embraced by feminists in the 60′s”

    I’d like to see evidence of that, and I don’t mean some anomaly. That is completely contrary to pervailing view, and I bet wrong. And Conservatives, such as Buckley were anti abortion period. At no time did they support it. The issue of feminism is greater than political parties. Political parties shift with the wind, but cultural conservatives were anti feminism from the start of the 20th century. In fact read read over TS Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land,” (published in 1920 I believe) and abortion is mentioned as one of the highlights of the modern wasteland.

  • Manny

    Just went and checked. “The Waste Land” was published in 1922.

    And here are the lines in particular:

    When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said,
    I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself, 140
    HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
    Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
    He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
    To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.
    You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set, 145
    He said, I swear, I can’t bear to look at you.
    And no more can’t I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
    He’s been in the army four years, he wants a good time,
    And if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said.
    Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said. 150
    Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
    HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
    If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said,
    Others can pick and choose if you can’t.
    But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for lack of telling. 155
    You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
    (And her only thirty-one.)
    I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face,
    It’s them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
    (She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George.) 160
    The chemist said it would be alright, but I’ve never been the same.
    You are a proper fool, I said.
    Well, if Albert won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said,
    What you get married for if you don’t want children?

    Eliot captures perfectly the sex obssessed culture took root and has only gotten worse with the sexual revolution.

  • craig

    It’s all well and good to talk about how Christians ought to look for what they can give to a relationship and not what they can get out of it. True, but it misses the point.

    Relationships men form with other men, or women with other women, are fundamentally different than those formed between the sexes. In terms of pure companionship, same-sex (but non-sexual, as contemporary culture must sadly qualify) friendships can be stronger and more sympathetic than opposite-sex friendships, even those between spouses.

    So why should Christian men seek female companionship? The question is not ‘what can he get out of it?’ so much as ‘what makes it qualitatively different?’ Find a good answer to that, and you’ll be closer to repairing the relations between the sexes and rebuilding the value of marriage in today’s society.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Actually, the problem with modern day feminism is that it isn’t feminism at all—it’s Marxism, masquerading as a concern for womens’ rights.

    Much of the actual grunt work regarding womens’ rights was done by the suffragettes, back in the 19th Century—and, by the way, the suffragettes were against abortion, as well as prostitution, sexual exploitation and most of the things the sexual revolution, and the 60′s, celebrated.

    Sadly, easy divorce, birth control, abortion and the sexual revolution affected even many Conservatives, who claimed to be against such things. In the nominally conservative Southern California town I grew up in, trophy wives were common, and boys and girls who weren’t sexually active were considered freaks.

    Speaking of womens’ rights, however. . .

    I do believe in those, though I’m no fan of modern feminism.

    The males of the manosphere might complain about womens’ alleged princess mentality, but they, themselves, seem to suffer from the “I’m the Sheik! My slave girl must adore me!” mentality. They seem to take it very hard that they can’t simply demand, and keep, a female. Back in the supposedly “Good old days”, a guy could get a wife by giving her father, or male guardian, a herd of goats, or a cow or two. She then belonged to him. If she rebelled, he could assert his authority over her, or go out and buy another, more submissive wife. Women considered unworthy of being wives had to stay at home, and be supported by their fathers and/or brothers. (Here’s an assignment; read Jane Austen. Really read one of her books, and look beyond the balls, and flirting, to how desperate, and unhappy the lot of a single woman—or a married one—could be, back then.)

    Those “Good old Days” are over—thank God! Women can support themselves now. They can make their own money. They can pick and choose the man they want to marry. They don’t have to be dependent on their male relatives to survive. If they don’t marry, they have career options other than spinsterhood, or governess or fallen woman. It’s no longer a matter of, “Hey, in exchange for three goats, you can have my daughter to wife!” And the males of the manosphere do not seem happy at all with this situation. Women, they believe, must be put in their place. Otherwise, they will not appreciate the males of the manosphere. And the manosphere will decide what a woman’s proper place is!

    (And the poor, silly saps actually post their strategies on the internet, apparently forgetting that women read the blogsphere too. “Um-hmmmm, passive/aggressive put down compliment! That’s rule seventy-toot something! Later for you, pal!”)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    craig, seriously, if someone finds same-sex friendship deeper and more pleasing than opposite sex relationships, they might want to consider celibacy, or devoting their virginity to God; marriage doesn’t really seem suitable for them., since it doesn’t sseem to offer anything they want, or need.

    Men and women are individuals; hence, different men mean different things to different women—but the male/female bond is stronger, and deeper, than friendship, or sympathy; read Genesis.

  • Gerry

    If I knew who in tarnation Don Draper is, I might …

  • thule222

    I’ve been reading a lot of the manosphere lately, and this just doesn’t ring true. It’s not true of the parts I’m reading at least.

  • http://semperjase.com Jason (semperjase)

    I agree with most of the article, but your label of “manosphere” is overly broad. I think your criticism is what would be more accurately referred to as the “seduction community.”

    There are other sites that would seem to fall under the umbrella of the manosphere that are the antithesis of what is criticized in the article. Most notably, The Art of Manliness (artofmanliness.com), celebrates masculinity without any of the negative views of women that you describe. In fact, that site was created by a husband/wife team and she contributes frequently. I suspect they would say that members of the seduction community lack true manliness.

  • Elizabeth Duffy

    Yes, getting a working definition of the manosphere is very challenging. There’s a lot of overlap between the different communities, so I’m referring essentially to those with an openly anti-woman bias.

    The Art of Manliness, I would put into a different category, similar to women’s blogs that celebrate femininity without deriding men.

  • http://industrialblog.powerblogs.com IB Bill

    The PUA community is an extreme reaction to the horrific post-sexual revolution environment. Men can read PUA lit between the lines and find extremely important information. For example, stay away from women who don’t have strong religious practices — most of them have either fallen into the hands of abusive men, or have become self-serving death-culture supporters, unaware of how politicized they are. The PUAs also support the culture of death, but they do so unapologetic-ally as predators. Women have left themselves dangerously exposed, and the PUAs have adapted and intend to pick them off one at a time.
    Unfortunately, as the author said, men and women are called to complementarity and love. Neither feminist points-scoring or PUA exploitation will be helpful to heal the damage. What will work is recognizing the diagnosis and follow Church teaching on marriage and sexuality.

  • Virago

    Todd

    I am a republican and I don’t recall a call for decriminalization of abortion;

    and the time for the Feminist Movement to move on has come and they just won’t leave the party.

    For what feminism brought to this party prior to the sixties, I am grateful; for what they have done to our present culture, the family and the legal system they should be ashamed of themselves. and this is from a former Feminist frontline fighter. I know what the current so-called mainstream feminists think and believe and it is definitely NOT mainstream.

    Years ago the movement could have taken the high road; consideration for all women, white, black, red etc …….
    ….and it could have been more supportive of mothering.

    Do you want to know where all feminists worker bees went? We went home to get married and have children. The best job in the world!!! and the hardest, definitely not for the faint of heart or a calling for everyone!

  • Virago

    Hey,

    are there really more Catholic Democrats than Catholic Republicans?? Actually I am a Catholic Independent but I had to register as R or D when I registered to vote.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Virago, that’s true.

    As far as modern feminists wanting to help women. . . when was the last time one of them spoke up against the abuse of women in the Islamic world? Or denounced Shari’a law?

    The modern feminist movement was infected, early on, with Marxism; sadly, they rejected the high road.

  • Virago

    Mr Suderman

    I totally agree. And I lived through the mess and made out to tell the story.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    IB Bill, I would say the PUA community isn’t a reaction to the culture of death, and the extremes of the sexual revolution; it’s their natural culmination. Predators are the inevitable result of these movements.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And God bless you, Virago, I’m glad you did! (I did too! I’m actual Mrs. Suderman, not Mr. Welcome aboard!)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And again, modern feminism itself was largely a reaction, not only to the sexual revolution, but to men behaving badly during the 60′s and 70′s. (Yes, I know all men didn’t behave badly! But too many of them did. And the early 60′s-70′s zeitgeist was really not a friendly towards women who didn’t fall into line with the whole free love/womens liberation thing—or for children—or for anybody, male or female, who wanted a traditional family.)

    If both sexes continue reacting to bad social trends, rather than actually coming together, it’s not going to be good for either one of them.

    And, of course, both men and women have sinned in supporting abortion.

  • Thomas R

    There were a fair amount of “fiscal conservative” Republicans who did favor legalizing abortion. An element of Republicans are like moderate-libertarians so supported it on that end. Some bordered on being more overtly “poor people shouldn’t get born.” I think some of Planned Parenthood’s original supporters were New England Republicans.

    I don’t know, however, that there was that much feminist opposition to abortion in the 1960s. I know there was some, but even in the 1960s a good deal of “establishment” feminism was about upper-class women wanting more financial and political power. Going by studies having kids is more likely to lower a woman’s career rise more than a man’s.

    I haven’t really experienced much of the “manosphere” but what I’ve seen of people like that I think it’s true many of them have an anger at women. I don’t know so much that it’s because they think women are “entitled princess.” From what I’d seen it’s maybe more about their entitlement. The ones I’d seen feel they are entitled to any kind of woman they want. If they are a small balding man of obscure interest they still “deserve” casual sex with beautiful women because darn it they should be able to achieve whatever goofy dream they have too. So they’re “angry” because the woman is keeping them from “fulfilling my dream” by not being interested in sex with them. So either sex maybe feels they should be able to “accomplish any goal I have”, which to me is nonsensical.


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