Apparently, I’m a Second Class Citizen

Apparently, I’m a Second Class Citizen July 23, 2013

I would never have guessed, but I am apparently a second class citizen. No, not by virtue of being an atheist but by virtue of being male. And to make things worse, a white male. And still worse, a straight white male. In the real world, that makes me extraordinarily privileged; on Planet Wingnuttia, where Suzanne Venker lives, that makes me a second class citizen.

In November of last year, I wrote an article for Fox News called The War on Men (which I subsequently expanded to an eBook). To keep it pithy, in the piece I focused on one effect of this war: the lack of marriageable men. But there’s so much more to it. The truth is, men have become second-class citizens.

The most obvious proof is male bashing in the media. It is rampant and irrefutable. From sit-coms and commercials that portray dad as an idiot to biased news reports about the state of American men, males are pounced on left and right.

Biased reports about the state of American men? Hmmm. You mean like if someone wrote a book claiming that there is a lack of marriageable men because we’ve all allegedly been emasculated by uppity women? That kind of false report on the state of American men? And it’s funny, I don’t feel like a second class citizen. I feel like I’m part of a group that has ruled this country from the very beginning and continues to do so. Seriously, how could someone live in a country where more than 80% of the seats in Congress are held by men (the lowest percentage ever, incidentally) and we’ve never elected a woman president and actually believe that men are second class citizens?

Title IX is also abused when it comes to sex. In 1977, a group of women at Yale used Title IX to claim sexual harassment and violence constitute discrimination against women.

Genuine harassment and violence should be punishable offenses, obviously. But the college campus is a breeding ground for sexual activity, which makes determining wrongdoing (and using Title IX to prove it) extremely difficult. Sexual misconduct does not necessarily constitute harassment—and women have as much of a role to play as men do.

No, no, no. The fact that men and women have sex on college campuses does not make it any more difficult in determining sexual harassment and assault than if everyone on campus was still a virgin. The existence of consensual sexual activity does not make non-consensual sexual activity any more difficult to identify.

Yet it is males who suffer in our society. From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced. Unlike women, however, men don’t organize and form groups when they’ve been persecuted. They just bow out of the game.

We do? I mean, I never have. No one I know ever has. Men still seem to be in charge of almost everything. Who exactly has “bowed out of the game”? And what game is she talking about? This is so counter-factual as to be downright perverse.

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  • sigurd jorsalfar

    … men don’t organize and form groups when they’ve been persecuted

    So I guess that whole Mayflower thing, founding of colonies in the new world, and later Declaration of Independence and formation of the United States never happened? Those white men really just bowed out of the game?

    And I suppose it was just a dream and I really didn’t learn in school about those white males in the south who did the exact opposite of bow out of the game when they felt themselves persecuted by the election of Abraham Lincoln.

  • raven

    … men don’t organize and form groups when they’ve been persecuted

    Who staffs our armies then?

    Robots? Ghosts? Zombies?

    Works for me. I thought those were all imaginary.

  • unbound

    Well, if you replace “white american male” with “white american asshole male”, and this actually makes sense. With more independent women, you can’t be the same level of ass that you used to be.

  • skemono

    From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced.

    Actually, that sounds exactly like the sort of oppression women face every day. Did she just mix up her genders?

  • otrame

    You know, I think males do suffer pretty badly in our culture. They are pounded with requirements of who they must be, what kind of jobs they must have, what kind of activities they can like (gaming is okay, knitting is not), how they should approach their relationships with both other men and with women (and those rules for relationships with both other men and women tend to be pretty toxic). For fucks sake, there are even rules about what colors they can wear.

    But it is not feminist women who enforce the draconian gender roles on men. It is the overall culture and in particular it is other men. It is the expectations of everyone around them from the moment they are born. It sucks. As a feminist and humanist, I fight every goddamned day to relieve some of the straightjacket that men must wear, to the tiny extent that I can.

    And at the same time, I fight (to the tiny extent that I can) to end the ugly, evil sexism aimed at women. Because we may be allowed to both play computer games (along with free harassment and instant contempt) and knit, and we are not nearly as limited in profession as we used to be, and we can own property and we can vote and we can even wear whatever colors we damned well please, we pay for that “privilege” with verbal and physical harassment, assault, rape, and murder. And every single motherfucking thing marketed to girls is fucking pink.

    I have an idea. Let’s all work for a culture where each man and woman can explore who and what they want to be without gender-assigned requirements from the culture. When men can knit and wear pink* without people assuming that they are gay (which will no longer be considered a bad thing anyway), we will have made some progress.

    *Yes, yes, these are trivial, but they are emblematic.

  • cptdoom

    From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence.

    It’s hard out there for a white guy, isn’t it. I am most appalled by all the female office workers who daily hang out at construction sites and ogle the sweaty men, making them feel like nothing more than sex objects. You can really tell how it damages their self-esteem. And don’t get me started on all those teenage boys being bullied and called “breeders” by the evil homosexuals in their high schools.


  • DaveL

    His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced.

    Well, at least she got something right. In fact it’s so unlike the oppression women have faced that it doesn’t resemble oppression at all.

  • I always thought the various sitcoms that portray did figures as doofuses (and there are many of them) only serve to reinforce the patriarchy. The message to the audience is that any shortcomings by the father figure are acceptable, and that the mother figure is expected to simultaneously be deferential while solving all sorts of problems (never getting any credit for that). Peter Griffin leaps to mind as the most obvious example of this kind of patriarch. Emotionally, he is little more than a child. And yet he’s the one in charge of the major decisions. All the time his improbably hot wife demands almost nothing from him.

    One would be very hard-pressed to argue that Family Guy is a feminist show. In fact, it’s fairly easy to argue the opposite. Seth MacFarlane constantly degrades female celebrities, whether it is depicting Margot Kidder as a psychopath, or Sarah Jessica Parker as an aardvark, or Jodie Foster as a man in disguise.

  • Yet it is males who suffer in our society. From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced. Unlike women, however, men don’t organize and form groups when they’ve been persecuted. They just bow out of the game.

    Uh, I’m a white male American, but I’ve never experienced this, nor did any of my white male American friends or family inform me of any such experiences. It’s kinda hard for me to believe it’s so prevalent when I see women commonly taunted, stereotyped, demonized, and told to shut up about it by whiny, insecure, thin-skinned man-children who keep stalking and harassing these women even if they do try to bow out and get on with their lives. And then those stalkers keep going on and on how they were allegedly victimized by being sternly informed of basic social standards.

  • Randomfactor

    Who exactly has “bowed out of the game”?

    Sadly, lots of boomer males, apparently. (Females too, though not as many.) But that’s probably not about discrimination, it’s about the shitty economy.

  • bushrat

    Pendulums swing, the world turns and clocks keep ticking.

  • Doug Little

    Well shit, now I’m apparently a second class citizen as well, who knew. Does this mean I can now play the sympathy, faux outrage and persecution cards like those other second class citizens the Christians?

  • thascius

    @5-You hit the nail on the head. Patriarchal society does cause problems for men, not as bad as the ones it creates for women but problems nonetheless. But those problems were not created by feminists, and undoing feminism as Venker apparently wants would make them worse, not better.

  • abb3w

    My not-so-inner pedant would like to note that the existence of consensual sexual activity does indeed logically make non-consensual sexual activity more difficult to identify — albeit trivially. If there does not exist any consensual sexual activity, then the recognition of activity as sexual activity in itself suffices to prove that it is non-consensual sexual activity; whereas if there exists a possibility of consensual sexual activity, recognition of activity as sexual activity then requires one ALSO take the step to recognize that consent was absent to prove that it is non-consensual sexual activity.

    That Suzanne Venker considers this incremental decision effort of recognizing the absence of consent “extremely difficult” appears illuminating as to her moral and intellectual capacity… which seems likely to have been Ed’s less-pedantic point.

  • thascius

    @14-for many on the right, though the problem with non-consensual sexual activity is more the sexual activity part than the non-consensual part.

  • Yeah, we’re second-class citizens, but now there’s a whole new series of ads addressed to “Male Gamers Only!” So there’s our shiny consolation-prize for letting wimmin exploit and exterminate us all.

  • exdrone

    sitcoms and commercials that portray dad as an idiot

    Since it is typically the entitled group that is the butt of jokes, would this not be “obvious proof” that men are not being treated second-class citizens?

  • smrnda

    On the whole ‘male doofus’ joke – a lot of people making these jokes and inventing these characters are men, with the ‘joke’ being that you can be the silly male idiot and still get by in society, get with women, and be respected as the man of the house. We don’t see Marge divorcing Homer.

    The idea that white males get through with all these ‘taunts’ and whatnot – there’s a contingent of white males who seem deeply offended at any mention of the problems of any other demographic, it’s just a ridiculous overreaction by privileged snots who seem to confuse not always being the center of the universe for being oppressed.

  • thascius

    @17-“Since it is typically the entitled group that is the butt of jokes, would this not be “obvious proof” that men are not being treated second-class citizens?”

    Not really. When I was a teenager a lot of my white acquaintances told anti-black jokes and couldn’t understand why I didn’t find them hilarious. Anti-women jokes, anti-gay jokes, anti-trans jokes are still around, even though they’re a lot less socially acceptable now than even a decade ago. One of the privileges of being the majority is being able to hold the minority up to mockery. I think the difference is that sitcoms aren’t held up as jokes because they’re male so much as because they’re clueless.

  • ….White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence

    To the extent this is true, it is largely coming from other males: that he must be good at sports, not show physical or emotional weakness, take up only “manly” hobbies like woodworking or cars but not sewing or knitting, exhibit casual violence (even if only simulated as in video games), properly objectify women, and especially don’t be attracted to other men (or even worse: assume female social presentations).

    But I don’t think that’s what she was talking about, is it?

  • Pen

    If you had children you might have enjoyed the opportunity of being treated like a second class parent until you finally gave up. Leaving their mother to assume the role that tends to set people up as second class citizens, as nature and God intended.

  • John Horstman

    @20: No, she’s talking about push-back against sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, racism, ableism, classism, etc. as “taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence”, eliding the volitional behavior part. Invariably when I see someone accused of ‘hating men’, it’s actually only the case that the person in question hates asshole men, and other asshole men are projecting their assholery onto all men, like the assholes they are.

  • John Phillips, FCD

    John Hortsman #22, QFFT.

  • raven42

    I find it really weird that there are people who are even capable of investing so much of their identity in the label of “white male” that stuff said about white guys in the media bothers them. “White” is a concept that was basically invented to keep poor white people from joining with poor black people against the rich. I mean, I know I’m “white” and I understand the implications of it, but I’m just not empty enough inside to need to define myself by it.

  • lofgren

    Following on some of the comments above, it’s always really bugged me how the “What about the MENZ?” is treated in some feminist subcircles (e.g. its inclusion as the central square on many Feminist Bingo cards). While this cry can be used by assholes as an attempt to silence feminists, it’s also a really important question that every man who is even a little bit thoughtful and wants to be an ally to women will eventually ask himself.

    Most importantly, it’s a question with a really good answer that deserves more exposure. I was lucky enough to have some world class feminists to help me answer the question when I started asking it in college, but actually the best answers I got (similar to those in comments 5 and 20) were from gay men who were fighting their own battles with the patriarchy.

    RE the doofus dad trope, it’s really just a variation on a standard comedy routine that goes back to ancient times. I call it “fat man/skinny man.” But of course the fat man does not have to be fat and the skinny man does not have to be skinny, and neither have them have to be a man.

    Defining features of the fat man:

    – Provides broad, often physical humor

    – Is often of low intelligence, or otherwise incompetent

    – Typically has an unrealistic or lofty impression of himself

    – Easily fooled or prone to “get rich quick” type schemes

    – Generally optimistic, kind-hearted, and affectionate

    Defining features of the skinny man:

    – Provides pointed, witty, verbal humor

    – Is more competent and/or smarter than the fat man, but held back by societal forces (e.g. racism, sexism, age), often represented by the fat man’s incompetence (who will be the opposite of whatever category the skinny man represents)

    – Either refuses or is unable to pursue his own ambitions, but frequently proves adept at cleaning up the fat man’s messes

    – Is generally acerbic, cynical, and standoffish.

    These are broad archetypes and you can mix and match characteristics to some extent, but most husband/wife duos in comedy sitcoms fall into this trope: Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, The Honeymooners, and that one with the lesser Belushi to name a few. Examples of the wife as the fat man are EXTREMELY rare. Roseanne was more complex than this single schtick, but when they made use of it Roseanne and Dan took turns in each role. (More often Roseanne was the skinny man and her sister or mother was the fat man.) Lucy was the fat man in I Love Lucy, but her neighbor was her skinny man rather than her husband. (Ricky was a pure straight man.)

    I can also tell you why the husband is typically the fat man. It’s because the cultural expectations of men are that they are serious, smart, reserved, hard working, and pragmatic. Women, meanwhile, are emotional dupes who need constant guidance and attention. Making the man the fat man and the woman the skinny man is an easy way to eke a little bit more humor out of the bit by turning those expectations around, as comedy is wont to do.

    Of course by now we have become so accustomed to this formula that its repetition has become soothing of itself. You could probably put a big fat circle and a skinny rectangle on a screen and have them carom about randomly and a lot of people would supply their own fat man/skinny man narrative, likely involving a doofus dad and his improbably hot and young wife. I don’t think the omnipresence of this trope on television actually means anything, except that network television is an incredibly conservative medium. Our great grandchildren will probably be complaining about the latest remake of the Honeymooners at our funerals.

    That said, the tastes of white men (or what conventional wisdom says are the tastes of white men) are the gatekeepers of television. Even when a show is being developed for another niche, it’s going to be developed according to what white men find acceptable for that audience to be exposed to. Ultimately the characters on a primetime sitcom are likely to be aimed at, or at least palatable to, white men. So I have always assumed that doofus dad characters are aimed primarily at dads. If you’re a father, there are probably some days when you’ve felt like Father Knows Best, but there are probably plenty of others when you felt like Fred Flintstone. If you have a wife like mine, you probably felt like she was a sainted miracle for managing to keep your universe from spinning off its axis, while giving you a good ribbing at the same time. As much as I loathe the typical family sitcom, I definitely identify with the doofus dad more often than I would like.

  • Loqi

    Yes, how oppressed I am that I can be less than the cultural ideal of male attractiveness and have nobody really care.

  • kermit.

    Hmmm. Does the presence of many legal financial transactions make it harder to detect illegal transactions? I think it must, a little. So the solution must be to either criminalize all legal transactions or to blame the victims of the illegal transactions (theft, fraud, etc.).


    The problem of insulting Dad stereotypes is quite real. When I was a kid, back in the 1950s and 1960s, men were men. And we had no such characterization of men on TV or movies. Oh, wait…

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