In Defense of Men.

Via on Mar 10, 2012

When did it become okay for women to be sexist?

I like men.

Oh, I don’t mean just like that.

I value men. I value my friendships with men, the contrast of masculinity to femininity. And yes, I know we all have both. And yes, we’re all equal. But I don’t pretend that being of equal value means that we are the same. We are different. And vive la différence!

I’ve noticed something disturbing lately.

A male friend was telling me a story about when a female yoga teacher told him in the middle of a class that no shirts were allowed. Everyone laughed and he rolled with it, and made a joke about not wanting to make anyone feel insecure. No big deal, right?

Another friend told me about a female colleague who routinely puts him down and tells him his work is “mostly dumb shit.”  If he says nothing, she keeps tearing him down—often in front of other co-workers. If he speaks up for himself, he’s told he’s being too sensitive.

I asked another friend I consider a gentleman, a good guy, if he had ever experienced anything like this. He sort of sighed and looked uncomfortable for a minute. Then, he reminded me that our mutual friend was in the habit of calling him “dumbass” and “f*ckface” instead of his name most of the time. He said he’s thought about telling her it hurts his feelings, but didn’t want to deal with the confrontation and more ridicule.

I started asking around and realized most men I asked had some anecdote about being verbally slammed by the women they knew, and then often called “too sensitive” if they bothered to stick up for themselves.

The sharing of these anecdotes all ended the same: a shrug. A slight bite of the lip. A “this kind of sucks but I’m not sure what to do about it” expression. Maybe they don’t seem like a big deal to you. Men can take it, right?

But what if the genders were reversed?

What if a male yoga teacher told a female student to strip down to her sports bra if she wanted to stay?

What if a man routinely disparaged his female co-worker’s ideas and put her down?

What about a man calling his female friend “bitch” or “c*nt” instead of her name?

How do we feel about it then? Starts to feel like a bigger deal, doesn’t it?

I’ve also noticed an ever increasing tendency—particularly among feminists or equally empowered women–to treat men as targets, not equals. Man up. Suck it up. Idiot. Jerk. Bastard. And it goes downhill from there. When did women being empowered start to equal beating up and devaluing men?

Why did God make men? Because a vibrator won’t take out the trash.

Why can’t men get mad cow disease? Because they’re all pigs.

Why do men name their penises? Because they don’t like the idea of having a stranger make 90% of their decisions.

All of these—and these were a few of the kinder ones—were from a chain email from a woman I know considers herself a feminist. Why the hate? Why does female empowerment have to go hand in hand with emasculation?

What’s even worse than the blatant, tacky jokes is what masquerades as mindfulness. A woman writes about her sexual experimentation–she’s empowered. A man does the same—he’s a pig. If a woman posts pictures of a shirtless guy, the comments are “more, more, more!” If a man posts pictures of a woman in provocative dress, he’s likely to have a mob of angry commenters after him. If a woman speaks up about rape, we rally behind her. If a man speaks out—it’s often a joke. Women being stalked or victims of domestic abuse? We react in horror and want to help. If a man…oh that’s silly! How funny, poor guy–hahah!

Being strong should have nothing to do with cutting someone else down.

I’ve learned a few things from the men I know. Things that make me pause before I respond to them as if they were made of bricks and steel instead of flesh and blood like me.

1. Men want to be listened to and heard. In our culture, many men have this need filled exclusively by the women in their lives.

2. Men want to be valued. It doesn’t feel good when your opinions are met with a slap in the face–verbal or otherwise.

3. Men are vulnerable and insecure and our society says it’s not okay for them to be either of those things. They want friendships and relationships where it’s okay to be vulnerable.

4. Men want to be respected.

5. Men want lots of different things and can’t be pigeonholed into any bullet-pointed internet list of what men want or who they are—any more than women can.

Most women I know want the things on that list too. Men want many of the same things we women do. And they aren’t from Mars or Venus or whatever the hell that book was. And they aren’t just women with penises and more body hair. We are different. But it isn’t the difference of silk and steel. The ways that they are stronger don’t mean they can’t be broken. The ways that they are different aren’t flaws.

(Photo: Pinterest)

Men aren’t made of bricks any more than we are delicate flowers.

It’s about complementing each other. It’s about being stronger because we work together. It’s the yang to the yin. It’s the jigsaw puzzle edges where each of us are different and the same. Beyond gender, beyond sexual orientation–it’s about respecting each other and delighting in the ways we come together and move apart. Enlightenment and empowerment are not about making anyone feel like they are less.

Let’s stop tearing each other down.

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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171 Responses to “In Defense of Men.”

  1. [...] am not a feminist, I am a humanist. I believe in human rights, for all humans. I will fight for women’s rights, because women are humans. I will fight for gay rights, because [...]

  2. [...] push him away. I still expect him to abandon me. I still put him down sometimes so he fits into the stupid/cruel/immature/dick-centric box we’ve thrown men into for so long it’s become an impulse. He has his baggage [...]

  3. Harry the Horrible says:

    Dunno 'bout other guys, but here is the answer:
    We don't care what women think. Yes, we love you women, and want to please you (otherwise, we'd live in cabins or caves). But…
    I'm the guy who served four years in the Army in combat arms.
    I'm the guy who rescued you by the side of the road when your car broke down.
    I'm the guy that kept my father-in-law from wrecking his sailboat on a lee shore and kept it steady until a tow boat pulled us out.
    I'm the guy who pulled our daughters out a burning car after an asshole rammed me in the rear and blew our gas tank.
    I'm the guy you want to investigate the strange noises in the house (cats…).
    I'm the guy who fixes the gadgets when they decide to rebel even I don't particularly like the darn things.
    I know karate. And I shoot for sport.
    I may ACT like an amiable dunce sometimes, and I may have "outdated" views, but when it hits the fan, I am the person you need most in the world.
    And I know it. And you should, too.

  4. Thank you a million times for writing this, Kate. A man could not have done so and been taken seriously. Well done, indeed.

  5. PanOptikum says:

    Thank you for recognizing sexism as a gender neutral agenda. We have to strieve to overcome seperation movements of all kind and reunite as (secular) humanists ind their principles. We have to come together and see us as one. We are not all the same, but we have the same rights and the same "value", regardless of sex, skin, country, religion. And we need to do it peacefully, because "There is no pah to peace. Peace is the path" (Gandhi)

  6. Zoran Taylor says:

    I see this kind of male bashing all the time…..on the internet. And precisely nowhere else. The fact that you encounter it in person shocks me, because as a guy it's never happened to me, at least not since high school. Maybe it's because I live in Toronto, where despite it's current, temporary Political Hot Potato Status, there is an almost fearful adherence to basic notions of decency and respect. It seems like the underlying attitude is that we should all be nice to each other, but if someone isn't nice, everyone else has the right to kick their ass. It's like Canadian social attitudes with NYC execution – it IS a major city, after all…..but anyway, it's been my experience that in this day and age everyone, including feminists, like to hide in plain sight on message boards under assumed identities and twist their own self-applied labels into complex excuses to pillory people they harbour pent-up resentment towards. You might know these people personally and have no idea what they're doing on the internet.

  7. Fotoman says:

    Great article, and it's very true. Not all women and not all feminists, treat men like this, but I have seen women treat friends, boyfriends, colleagues, etc..in this manner.
    I'm so done with women I would have no issue telling her she's a bitch. Of course, if it's a colleague, that's where HR comes into play and I'd be talking to the HR manager, but friends…if they're calling me those kinds of names, they're not friends and Bitch or C8nt would definitely be something I'd have no issue in calling them.

    Great post !

  8. Interesting thoughts…I think the dumb-guys jokes serve useful social purposes (holding up caricatures for ridicule, motivating real people to act different from the characters) but can't imagine how it would seem useful or empowering to call someone by a nasty vulgar name.

  9. Buckley says:

    Wow, what a breath of fresh air to read. A few ladies out there 'get it', particularly Helen Smith from PJ Media. Not endorsing this, however, the sad truth is more and more men are opting out of social dimensions that included women. Have this this too frequently: something heavy needs lifting, no men show up, a woman has a flat tire, at night, too many cars drive past her, she argues, 'acts up' in public, and those around her don't help her save face and recover….too many situations to name.

  10. nick says:

    AWesome article, and especially like the point about embracing that although males and females are of equal value, that doesn't necessarily mean we should try to pretend we're the same in every way. I've noticed that females becoming "empowered" often means adopting masculine energies, attitudes and even clothing (anger, assertiveness, suits with shoulder pads etc.). This is awesome and I think to a degree was necessary, but I think what we've been missing is that its not females that are undervalued at this time — it's Femininity itself. Compassion, nurturing, empathy, caring, cooperation, relaxation — these are feminine/yin energies and are what the world truly needs more of. In our society, an assertive woman will generally be valued more than a sensitive man. So its not about one gender or the other, its about each of us as individuals learning to balance our own energies to take better care of the world and each other. Sometimes that requires more masculine energy (which, occassionally, men may have more of) and sometimes it requires feminine energy. In fact, the Dalai Lama consistently advocates electing women to political office simply because they tend to naturally have more compassion and sensitivity to others' pain. So, therefore, I think if women really want to offer something valuable to society (which I'm not saying they're not already), they shouldn't sell out by trying to fit a round peg in a square hole so to say — be yourself. Don't try to emulate men. We've fucked up this planet pretty bad already, so we dont need more of us. Cultivate and use your feminine energy, and slowly, like the force of the moon's gravity, you will naturally create the change you seek.

  11. richardwschmidt says:

    While I applaud the fine lady for writing this blog entry, I don't agree with it- this world is still to a very large degree, despite some forms of women's liberation, a "man's world", and men should understand why it is that some women in positions of authority act the way they do towards men – think of all the shit they have had to deal with on the way up and still have to deal with- AND, men shouldn't be such sissies about getting their feelings hurt or similar emotional bullshit – weak men are just as much a liability in this world as weak women- strong women should be admired for standing up for themselves – if they happen to sling a few insults a man's way, I believe they are entitled to, and men shouldn't utter so much as a whimpering cry about it – maybe have a one-on-one conversation with the offender if you must, otherwise, suck it up and drive on!

  12. bexvankoot says:

    It is patriarchal values which teach us that men should be able to suppress their feelings (because feelings are for girls) or that all men want sex all the time but women must be convinced. Gender essentialism is a problem that touches each and every one of us raised in this sexist world. Modern, intersectional feminism recognizes this and teaches us that our assumptions about binary gender, our essentialist thinking, is a product not of nature but of our environment. Patriarchy hurts us all. Blaming feminism is just plain lazy.

    • It seems you've missed the point. I am not blaming feminism—at all. It is a call to feminists to truly embrace equality, rather than fall into the lazy (and harmful) trap of male bashing.

  13. Ron says:

    Yes. Thank you.

    Although I'm not certain about your list of things that men want is any more accurate than a list of things that women want. Men want everything. And anything. We are all unique.

  14. Sari says:

    I think this article is coming from a good place, but worded very dangerously. You make it seem as if "feminism" is actually about attacking men, or as if mainstream feminism enjoys gender roles, including the archaic and oppressive ones placed on males. I wasn't always a "feminist", mostly because I had this sort of impression of it. That feminist were "She-woman Man-haters" who burned bras and thought all men were pigs. After learning what feminism is really about, and how most feminists don't agree with ANY gender roles, including those that oppress men (such as the idea that it's okay to sexually harass a man by demanding he take is clothes off, or that male rape is funny and unimportant), I began to realize that it was foolish to be female and not be a feminist. Man-hating is not at all my reason for being a feminist, and I do not disrespect individuals simply because they were born with a penis between their legs. I'm a feminist, just as I'm pro-gay, and anti-racist, because I believe that all people should be equal, and unfortunately, women are more oppressed than men, and typically oppressed BY men. And I think equating someone being a general asshole to someone being sexist is not a fair comparison. For instance, a white person calls a black person an ass, maybe they're just angry at that person for some reason. But a white person calls a black person a slur, that's racist. It's not sexist just because a woman said "fuckface" to a guy. I agree with another commenter that the insult would have to be gendered. And a lot of the male, gendered insults are already homophobic in nature, so we have to ask; is it sexist or homophobic? Or is it both?
    I'm not saying there aren't man-hating women, and women who claim feminism and are doing it wrong. Those people exist. I just don't like the idea of that being assigned TO feminism, as if all feminists are sitting around in secret man-bash meetings where we just fume on how evil all men are.
    The point of feminism is to end gender stereotypes and promote gender equality. It's to make it okay for a man to wear pink, or (more seriously) make it feel safer for him to speak up about being sexually assaulted. It's about ending sexual assault on women AND men. It's about equal pay, especially for women and people of color. It's about ending street harassment, of women, of LGBTQIA people, and even of straight cis-men. It's about making the world a safer, more equal place for everyone, and that's it.
    I will always be a feminist. I will never hate men. I think it's irresponsible to publish an article that makes it seem like feminism is about male hate, and that all feminists think that way.

    • Hi Sari,

      My issue is not with feminism, but with the feminists that propigate that "man-hater" stereotype. That hurts all of us. For you and I, our goal is equality. However, there are many feminists, and groups of feminists who don't embrace that goal.

      The article does not state that feminism is about male hate, but instead calls us all to a higher standard of truly embracing equality.

  15. Kelly says:

    Thank you for writing this message as I have argued like this with feminists in the past. Hating is hate no matter the direct object of the verb and equality means losing the hate on both sides. Peace out Batman!!

  16. Daniel says:

    Not exactly proud of it but my sister used to verbally abuse me a lot, Felt like I was taking the place of the father of her son who cheated on her and left her. I was the punching bag because he wasn't there to take the lumps. One night in particular from the comfort of a recliner she got particularly nasty with the verbal abuse… I finally lost my temper after 5 years of it and headbutted her lol. Mainly because she was about 3 inches from my face spewing spit. I think we are on much better terms now then we ever were before. A Respect that didn't exist there before has formed not really sure if its respect for power or respect for personal space or whether she just finally realized that she couldn't take out her frustrations on the missing father on me.

    I think woman take for granted that men go out of there way to never physically abuse them, and as men are often inferior in terms of verbal quips we usually end up on the verbal side of the abuse while always trying to contain our temper. The fact of the matter is physical abuse is just as bad as the verbal side, it can get so bad that a man might commit suicide over it. Many have in fact done so some take there whole family with them when they go. I have seen wives do things to there husbands without ever touching them which should be considered illegal. Lies, manipulation, constantly tearing them down, and worse. The manipulation one is especially bad the way it provides hope or goodwill in a bait and hook scenario. Sometimes its innocent, sometimes it's crushingly bad.

  17. Alex says:

    Great article. Reminds us about simple old good behavior. Men (and general Western culture) have needed lots of reminders (and forceful reminders) about treating women well. Doesn't hurt to remind us that we can keep up the good work without being mean to men as well.

  18. Kiki B says:

    Oh lord. You didn't actually equate feminism with hatred of men, did you? Some women can be rude and mean and stupid. That doesn't mean that feminism is somehow to blame. That just means that some people, women included, can be rude and mean and stupid. Feminism is about giving women and girls the rights, education and job opportunities that men and boys have mostly always enjoyed. You know what feminists actually hate? Patriarchal male privilege, especially the arrogant, unexamined and/or violent kind. Glass ceilings, unequal pay and the fact that the US has never had a female president. The ever-present fear of rape and/or domestic violence. Child brides, FGM and sex slavery. Lack of access to contraception and reproductive healthcare. Plenty of women are feminism's worst enemy – ever heard of Sarah Palin? Feminists will take all the allies we can get.

  19. melodear says:

    Feminism is not about making men inferior or women superior. It is about equality. Please read this blog written by a young woman (college sophomore) who seems to possess more wisdom than most much older people. http://www.matthewsplace.com/blog/why-i-need-femi

  20. @Noo_Yawka says:

    If women and men are equal why is it that women hire only other women to nanny their children? If women and men were equal 50% of the people hired by women to take care of the children would be men. Does suggesting hiring men to do nanny jobs seem like a joke? Or is it so fundamentally absurd that it destroys the concept of female/male equality?

  21. JayJay1980 says:

    I can't wait for the day when we don't need labels to define what we are and stand for…we can all just call ourselves human beings

  22. Amelia Theodorakis says:

    You have got to be kidding me. Yes, there are women out there who will put down men (for whatever stupid reason) but please don't pretend men are systematically and casually as oppressed as often as women are.

    "Why does female empowerment have to go hand in hand with emasculation?"
    It doesn't. It's people like you who don't understand what feminism is, who insist on linking it with women who want to dominate men. Why would women want to do that? Feminism is about women achieving social, financial and political equality with men.

    "A woman writes about her sexual experimentation–she’s empowered. A man does the same—he’s a pig"
    Here's another generalisation, since you like them so much: A woman chooses to be a stripper and she's a slut. A man is taken to a strip club for his bucks night and he's just boy having a deserved night out.

    Some men might experience light oppression, of feeling like they are targeted because of their gender (this is wrong) but it gives them a taste of what it's like for millions of women every day of their lives.

  23. karlsaliter says:

    Could you use the words "kid" or "little girl" a little more often? I'm having trouble defining you as superior to Kate, and the demeaning name calling helps.

  24. Why are you here exactly? You obviously don't like Kate, or EJ, so why are you here? This is borderline abusive, and I feel sorry that you carry around so much hate. Not to mention that this is a peaceful community, say your piece, fine, but do it respectfully or not at all.

  25. oz_ says:

    "if there was a strong feminist OR union presence at EJ, not HALF the shit posted on this site would be tolerated."

    “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
    ~ Noam Chomsky

    Thank you for confirming for us the fundamentally totalitarian and anti-free speech nature of YOUR versions of feminism and unionism. I'm sure Stalin is smiling, somewhere.

    There have been numerous hateful posts in this commentary section, but – so far at least – this one takes the cake. It's absolutely venomous – toxic in its cynicism. Seems there is no room for peace in your heart, and I'm honestly sorry for that.

  26. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    —–"And don't think you boss would help you in the event of misogynist disrespect — he's too busy "aspiring to journalism" — gonzo journalism, it seems — and sympathizing towards the "environment." Live and learn, kid. No one will have your back when it matters."—–

    I have her back. So do at least 10 others who have commented (and others 500 who haven't had a chance to comment yet). Who has yours? Does it really matter and can it be settled through a comment or its absence?

    In any case, if you care to know, her "boss" is actually too busy to reply right now, because he's out doing this thing called, hmmm, journalism, instead of aspiring to it through offensive and condescending comments. So, you shouldn't waste your rage either. If you really have so much to say and you can manage to organize your thoughts into a respectful rebuttal to Kate's arguments, please send us an article and we'll post it for you.

    In the end, it's really simple–as Jenn put it–if you dislike this community so much and it's making you ill, why are you here? The internet is a big virtual world. You can comment on any other site that does "real" journalism. If, however, all you really want is a hug, you can just ask for it. We also give free hugs here – aside from the two daily articles.

  27. elephantjournal says:

    "when have I ever beaten up anyone about anything"
    three words later
    "little girl"

    Mirrors are available at home furnishing and hardware stores everywhere. ~ Waylon

  28. Eric James says:

    Well, there were some pummelings going on here, certainly, but from all sides, I'd say. And if EJ does not consider its writers little girls or boys who need to be protected, it should not censor comments. I saw that happen, it got reported elsewhere, it's been done to Doug Keller and others. I don't see this as a site of "journalism" despite yogasamuri's nearly obsessive commentaries (I suppose Huffpost doesn't give him enough of an outlet) but rather a private site ruled by a single person: Waylon. So. caveat emptor, as always.

  29. We've had many problems with Intense Debate over the past few months. The comment policy is fairly clear, and personal attacks are not okay. But we did have problems with lost comments on many posts that had nothing to do with censorship. I personally spent many hours trying to find and restore comments one weekend.

  30. mladams520 says:

    LOL

    I love conspiracy theories! non-stop source of entertainment!

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