[Discussion] Men talking to men about Feminism

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This thread is for people who believe that when it comes to feminism it's important for men to listen to women and to talk to men.

In this thread we assume Feminism is something you wholeheartedly support or want to support. Questions about the validity of Feminism are for somewhere else.

jdzappa wrote:
Stele wrote:

In my experience most religious people don't feel comfortable talking about this stuff. I have no idea what anyone from the church I grew up with thinks about any of this.

I honestly think this is a big part of it. People aren't trying to be stodgy or oppressive, it's just an incredibly difficult thing to talk about. I realize I probably overshared but I am trying to negotiate a few things.

I mean, that's definitely an answer of sorts -- for now, at least, for many people the issue remains unmentionable, and thus unmanageable. Understandable I suppose, but unfortunate, you know?

I don't think you overshared at all, though. It's right there at the start of the thread, after all:

Maq wrote:

Let's also talk about masculinity – toxic and otherwise – and how expected gender roles shape our own problems such as increased suicide rates, being both primary victims and perpetrators of violence, and how we break out of a culture that actively resists men taking about this stuff.

I think precisely the kind of willingness to confront uncomfortable topics you demonstrated is one of a great many things that are needed to keep our culture moving forward — particularly in cases like this, where the source of that discomfort is outmoded, and whatever value it may have once had has shifted to toxicity in the context the cultural change that has been achieved so far.

The most recent episode of the hidden brain podcast is thought provoking (for want of a better term).

It is titled "Why Now" and goes into the harrasment/assault issues with Israel Horovitz (the title references there was a series of articles about it in the early 1990s that basically went nowhere, and when it resurfaced last year it had repercussions for Israel).

BBC broadcast a daytime drama Moving On - Invisible a few days ago. It centers on a woman who was sexually abused by a school teacher, some 30 years ago, yet never reported it. This man is discovered, by this woman's mother, to still be teaching. How the show handled the reasoning behind this woman, then a young girl, and her mother, choosing to do nothing at the time and to simply move past it, as well as the thought that this man may still be at it in part because of their decision to do nothing, was a gut punch to really take in. What follows when they do approach this man, from him and then his family, and parents of other children demanding to know, was eye opening.

I'm not sure if it is a multi part drama. It seems it may be one of five showings.

Re: Sexy Bible Stuff

Sorry, I have a hard time talking about ideas without also talking about the historical context of those ideas. I think it wasn't until William of Ockham (he of the Razor) who shifted the notion of masturbation and hmosexuality into their own sins, and away from being just types of luxury/decadence, in the early 1300s. Which means we're 700-odd years of conversation down the line from these things being thought of as their own distinct thing, and it means that the Biblical basis that current Christians are trying to build their understandings and practices on are at least culturally iffy translations. If "sodomy" as a term wasn't invented for a millennium or more after the New Testament was written, then what does it mean when we read a letter from Paul that's warning people about "sodomy"?

Coming at it from another angle, most evangelicals/born-again folks view themselves as trying to do what the Bible says, but these folks generally aren't trained cultural anthropologists, historical linguists, or theological historians. That means that, as humans, they aren't going to dig into the "meaning" of a text unless they're unsatisfied with the meaning as they have received it, which is a lot more culturally determined, so they aren't going to prise apart or conflate masturbation from pornography from intercourse or any other related stuff unless they were presented that way when their pastor or older relative talked to them about it when they were 12. If "the talk" came from someone who also said "Lookin' ain't cheatin'," that's probably what they believe.

So there's some broad context.

For me personally, here's how that shakes out:

My church generally doesn't have a strong, specific stance on the definition of "lust," but does oppose sex outside of marriage, and does recognize that pornography and masturbation can form a strong habit of psychologically addictive behavior.

I'm a deacon (from Greek "diakonos" - "server" in the sense of both helper or waiter) in my church, which our church uses in large part as a sort of triage for connecting needs to resources. Our deacon ministry was founded and built by a professional psychologist, and so we tend to approach things from that level, as sort of that intake process and handling lighter work ourselves, but passing more acute needs on to specific ministries and trained professionals. If someone comes to me saying they have a problem with what they recognize as a sin, I'm generally going to provide my time, prayer, and other resources to helping them with that, providing that I don't think their views are wildly out of line. That partly means working with the "client" to help them define the problem and the intended outcome. That might mean no sexy anything, or it might mean "My spouse sends me pics, and we're both cool with that."

Within the context of marriage, we generally recognize that the spouse is part of the conversation, and both spouses are obligated to work towards something that works for both. If they both want to go to an extreme of procreation-only sex or something, I am going to also gently push back and make sure it's not based on warped and unhealthy understandings, but after that I'll at least try to help them reach their goal, same as if someone came to me asking for help in fasting from food.

I'm not, from my position, going to chase down people and ask them if they masturbate. Honestly, if someone implies that I should be asking, I'll say that's someone else's job. Playing the Inquisitor would impede my ministry as a deacon, as I want people to feel comfortable bringing their problems to me.

So after some more talking, I think in our family the biggest issue is fear of compulsive behavior, which also seems to be an problem in a lot of relationships. It’s not so much the act itself as the idea that it’s taking focus away from the relationship.

At any rate, it’s helpful to get feedback and I really appreciate Word’s insight on how he handles the situation as a deacon.

Just got unfriended by an old friend for calling him out on some "you can't pay anyone a compliment any more" bullsh*t.

Remind me to post the full story later, but I just wanted to raise that I think it's important for men not to be afraid to call out their friends for stuff like that, even if it risks the friendship. Men providing cover for their friends is part of the problem.

Mad respect to you.

I was pointing out the whole "you can't compliment someone anymore" thing is kinda bullsh*t. Everyone's perfectly capable of reflecting on what kind of compliment it is and if someone reacts to you then you apologise and leave them alone. Women are, by necessity, on high alert when complimented by men and it's worth remembering that.

He said he'd never made a women uncomfortable as far as he knew. I echoed "as far as you know" and he got really pissy and "that's really insulting, I have several sisters". I said that I'd be very surprised if there's a single man alive who's never made a woman feel uncomfortable, and getting super defensive about that rather than reflecting on it is part of the entire problem.

Then I pointed out that he was full of it because I've been in the damn room as he made several women uncomfortable. He was a creep in his 20s. I mean we were all a lot more immature but he was the creep of the group.

Yeah, he deleted the thread and unfriended me after that.

There's no man alive who has a clean slate when it comes to this stuff and if you think you're the exception you haven't been thinking hard enough about it.

Self-reflection, if it was ever that common, is dead for a significant part of American male society. Criticism is an attack on them personally.
All other problems in the world, I think this is the single thing that is driving me insane right now with the people I have in person relationships with. People that I have respected and that I know should be capable of it, just seem unwilling to even consider self-reflection on anything.

Back to swearing at my Facebook feed.

"How can I hate women? My mum's one."

IMAGE(https://media.giphy.com/media/WUMKrzIPp9YzK/giphy.gif)

lunchbox12682 wrote:

Self-reflection, if it was ever that common, is dead for a significant part of American male society. Criticism is an attack on them personally.
All other problems in the world, I think this is the single thing that is driving me insane right now with the people I have in person relationships with. People that I have respected and that I know should be capable of it, just seem unwilling to even consider self-reflection on anything.

Ah, but they have "the courage of their convictions"!

I think the complimenting women at work thing for me does feel a little tricky. I used to feel like an ass if I didn’t notice if someone got a new haircut and said it looked nice, etc. Now I realize I may have been an ass by commenting on a co-workers appearance.

So I’m very careful about not commenting on someone’s appearance now. It is a hard habit to break as I always thought I was being polite if I told someone their outfit looked nice or whatever. Now I realize I’m probably just being a creeper. Although I do still comment on the men if they are wearing a sharp tie or something but that seems less creepy. But I dunno, maybe that’s weird too.

Now that I think about it, tonight I had an impromptu dinner at the hospital with a female colleague whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. She is a friend but also a cancer survivor who was a former patient. And I realize now I told her “You look great!” Which she did but maybe those kinds of comments are unwelcome and I don’t even know it.

Some of these old sexist habits are so hard to break!

Woman chiming in here for a moment:

In the right context, those sorts of comments are fine, and can even be welcome. They can have a bit more freight when influenced by gender dynamics between people of different genders, but that's avoidable if you make sure the situation defuses rather than emphasizes power imbalances.

The primary problems are: 1) expecting a certain kind of response to compliments (i.e. don't be the guy who gets upset if your compliment gets ignored, and absolutely don't be the guy who gets upset if your compliment is accepted instead of the recipient showing false modesty), 2) repeatedly giving the same person compliments in a pushy way (i.e. don't be the guy who is always telling women how great they look, every single time you see them), and 3) giving compliments in contexts where it's a complete non-sequitur (i.e. don't be the guy who in the middle of operating on someone feels the need to tell a woman coworker how attractive she is... in her scrubs, apparently.)

All of those can be aggravated by unusual degrees of physical proximity or being in a space or situation that is constrained in some way. (Elevators are a particularly good example of a bad place for giving compliments, since they're typically small and while you're in the elevator and it's moving you can't get away.)

In general, if you're in a public area with other people around, everybody has plenty of personal space, and it's a compliment that you would feel comfortable giving to your mom, it's probably totally fine. (If your mom is unusual, you might have to choose different criteria.)

There are no absolutes, though, so pay attention to body language. If you're neurotypical you should probably be able to tell when someone is feeling uncomfortable or nervous by simply paying attention to their reaction and being willing to accept it. If you're neuroatypical and might have difficulty, some primary signs of discomfort or anxiety in NT folks are: when people ignore what you said (acting as if they didn't hear it although they were clearly paying attention when you did), when people leave or avoid your company for no apparent reason, and when people use defensive body language like keeping limbs tight near their core, moving to avoid being close, avoiding eye contact, or shifting their center of gravity. (And you should be able to find some other resources online for additional signs.)

If you observe people being uncomfortable or nervous around you after you've paid them compliments, you've probably done something that upset them. Don't ask them what it was, but watch for patterns and avoid the same sort of language, behaviors, or situations that have resulted in that. As long as you don't keep repeating it, it should be fine.

And of course remember that intent isn't magic. Even if you had no ill intent, you can still make people feel uncomfortable without realizing it. Different reactions among people with different genders happens a lot, because of different experiences people of different genders have with power dynamics throughout their lives. So don't take it as a personal criticism, just do your best to adapt and be the best person you can.

Docjoe wrote:

I think the complimenting women at work thing for me does feel a little tricky. I used to feel like an ass if I didn’t notice if someone got a new haircut and said it looked nice, etc. Now I realize I may have been an ass by commenting on a co-workers appearance.

Are you complimenting someone because you think they're pretty? Or are you complimenting something that they've done that they themselves thinks looks pretty? New haircut or clothes? Sure, if you have a friendly enough relationship then compliment it without dwelling on it. If they're not the kind of co-worker you go for drinks with play it safe and keep your comment to yourself.

Hypatian wrote:

There are no absolutes, though, so pay attention to body language. If you're neurotypical you should probably be able to tell when someone is feeling uncomfortable or nervous by simply paying attention to their reaction and being willing to accept it.

There's a research article upthread that shows men are perfectly capable of doing this. It's the choosing not to that's the problem. This is what I got stuck into my friend about.

That and the fact that apparently apologising if you make someone uncomfortable and then leaving them alone was too onerous for him to handle.

Maq wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

There are no absolutes, though, so pay attention to body language. If you're neurotypical you should probably be able to tell when someone is feeling uncomfortable or nervous by simply paying attention to their reaction and being willing to accept it.

There's a research article upthread that shows men are perfectly capable of doing this. It's the choosing not to that's the problem. This is what I got stuck into my friend about.

Yup. The note is for the sort of neuroatypical folks who don't have an easy time processing social cues. Because even if you don't get them instinctually, it's still possible to learn them, and explanations help.

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