In Defense of Men.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Mar 10, 2012
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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 a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on and Barnes & She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


172 Responses to “In Defense of Men.”

  1. Seth says:

    This is a weird article. I agree with others that it should be more well-phrased and articulated.

  2. Bart says:

    Rape is gruesome always, but statistically, it is perpetrated far more often against women and children than men. This is a stupid commentary. If you want the women in your life to stop harshing on men, say so to them. Stop blowing it up into Something Larger. You’re making an absolute idiot of yourself.

  3. effie says:

    I think you should learn to assert yourself in the moment to the specific people who irk you in their behavior instead of writing these articles about whatever. Grow a pair.

  4. huh? says:

    Check out “fear of feminism” by lisa hogeland.

    Feminism is a ‘hindrance’ for a lot of women who wish to make sure their sexual alliance to men remains unalloyed. Pubicly unalloyed. As she points out, many women feel that feminism is a hindrance when it seems that it might interfere with their sexual relations with men.

    At any rate, it does seem that many of your “beefs” are better addressed directly with those you have them.

    The problems you raise have very little to do with feminism, labor unionism, or another civil rights movements.

  5. tvman says:

    Tell those people to stop watching so much television.

  6. Absolutely—I usually do assert myself when I see this behavior. I feel it's enough of a problem that it warranted writing about.

  7. Balkans says:

    Men may be “withrdrawing” into tech, but at their own peril. Women have taken over tech as a vast resource for international identity and coliation a la Donna Haraway Even in the US, women have entered the workforce at an extraordinary pace, and will soon outpace men in both income and cultural domination. Political power is only the next frontier. So stay in your resentful, withdrawn, D&D gamer world. You’ll always have sympathetic crooners like this girl whose pic you can masturbate over! They rest of us are so done with you boyz. Really. If you’re fuck-heads, you are. If you’re Homer Simpsons, so be it. You’ll be relegated to the dust-bins of cultural history, b/c as the US empire inevitably expands, we’ll have more and more options besides you. Kate can have you, Yogasamuri. No one else has any interest at all in your or boys like you.

  8. Lorin says:

    Anyone who truly embraces the feminist movement recognizes many of these arguments as part of that project. No one should be derided solely due to his/her sex. Language is important and can be used to disturb, or perpetuate, systems that limit the life possibilities of men and women. The U.S. is still a patriarchal culture, but that does not mean that specific men do not experience negative treatment in spite of – or because of – being male.

    It doesn't hurt anyone for us to be reminded to treat each other with compassion and dignity. If it's not a reminder you need, then good for you and move along.

  9. fred says:

    But, with that long history of male power came a tradition of taking care of women. Men may earn more money but they turn around and give it to women: women spend 85% of the consumer dollar in the US. Women live longer than men. The grass is not really greener over here.

  10. oz_ says:

    LDB, you first write:

    "The examples you cite have no instances attached to them"

    then, when Kate points out that she did indeed attach instances, you write:

    "Don't rely on links to demonstrate your points"

    Seems your dogmatism doesn't permit consistency. But it does permit ad hominem attacks.

    And speaking of specious arguments, this notion you advance that TV is "the constructed imaginary of an extremely small sliver of the population" in order to dismiss it's gargantuan societal impact is about as specious as it gets.

  11. oz_ says:

    Sounds like you've got yourself a nice, insular little echo chamber, then. And the ad hominem attacks just keep on comin'…

  12. Thanks Oz…was curious about that myself. Can't really have it both ways.

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Love to hear more about your thoughts…your comment could itself be more fully articulated, we welcome constructive criticism, it's healthy! ~ Waylon

  14. Wasn't really making any points about labor unionism…just trying to make the analogy of something that was necessary at its onset and has become (at times) less useful. Not the best analogy…

    I do take these "beefs" up when they come up in the day to day. I put it out there because it seems to be a larger problem than just in my circle of friends.

  15. oz_ says:

    So….if I get your logic, then it's "stupid" to pay attention to a less frequently perpetrated injustice than to a more frequently perpetrated injustice. Which ethical system is this again? Oh yeah – one that, as with many of the other commenters here, prefers launching anonymous ad hominem attacks to engaging in substantive debate. Those who disagree with you are necessarily "stupid" – "idiots"- couldn't just be someone who sees things in a different way, could it? Sure sign of an ideological zealot, and it's all over this page. Might as well be reading the Christian Right's commentary on an article supporting evolution – it has the same scent of dogmatic purity.

    If Kate is "making an absolute idiot of" herself, Bart, simply for propounding a view with which you disagree, what are you making of yourself, who have personally attacked her for this heterodoxy?

  16. oz_ says:

    Why the presumption that she doesn't do so effie? Do you in fact know that she doesn't? Why would you speculate about someone you don't even know?

    And why the ad hominems? "Grow a pair"? Really? What is this, 5th grade? And what's with all the sexist slurs – ""babygirl"? "grow a pair"? What's the deal with all you haters anyway?

    And why the suggestion to Kate that she should muzzle her opinion? I know I know – free speech is *so* overrated…especially when it happens to be speech with which you disagree. Wow, say one critical thing about feminists, and watch the haters come outta the woodwork…

  17. 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.

  18. I know, right? Kind of ironic & reinforces the angry, mean feminist stereotype…

  19. Mamaste says:

    Touche oz_ ! ~Mamaste

  20. oz_ says:

    ROFL, sorry but this got me laughing. Up above, LDB, you wrote snarkily to Kate that "You need to go back to college and take a composition class about generalizations" – and yet here you write:

    "many people in positions of power have very little emotional and social maturity."

    Yeah. When Kate generalizes, she needs to go back to college – when you do it, I guess it's supposed to be totally justified?

    Sheesh, the commentary on this page is about the saddest example of logical inconsistency and personal slurs I've seen outside of blogs by members of the Religious Right. But then, not surprising – dogma is dogma I suppose…

  21. 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.

  22. karlsaliter says:

    It is clear from reading that Kate is not talking about all faminists, come on. This piece is cohesive and makes some good points. If you are so up on what to write and what not to write, maybe it is time to write your own articles, LDB.

  23. oz_ says:

    Nicely put.

  24. I am not going to sit here and pretend I know a bunch about feminism, or the movement, or whatever, I think this post is more about defining the way we treat one another on a very basic human level. Take away all the labels, and the "articulation", and the phrases, the stereotypes, etc.., strip it down, bare bone, that's what needs to be examined. The way we treat each other and the excuses we make for our behavior. In the end, that's not ok, and that's what I take away from this.

    Thanks Kate!

  25. Karl Saliter says:

    You are right, Jen. When Kate said “It’s about complementing each other. It’s about being stronger because we work together.” it was an effective summary. The need to love, tolerate and support each other is


    From a discourse grounded in mutual respect, genuine liberation emerges.

  26. 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.

  27. yogasamurai says:

    I'm not in that world, and I'm very happily coupled. Many women like a man who holds his own, so do keep your pushovers? It's obvious that you're the angry one. I'm not at all. So why not look at why? (Or don't, ni modo)

    Women are a long way off from having anything resembling economic "parity" at the commanding heights – men have largely "cut you in" at the middle level management level, mainly.

    And political power? Forget it. You guys are further behind than you were 10 years ago.

    Hey maybe that's why you're angry. It's this female chauvinism that's the problem really, but rock on Sis, see how far it gets you.

  28. yogasamurai says:

    Not "fear" of feminism – I would call it "post"-feminism. Quite a few men participate in their own world of spiritual, emotional and cultural celebration — and it's probably not one we're going to cut you guys into any time soon. And the fact that you don't want to be a part of it – so much the better. It's not for or about you. (Yes, there is such a thing still).

  29. yogasamurai says:

    By the way, fastest rate of pornography use now is among women, not men. It's not a male-only thing. If women had more guts, they'd be hiring hookers – and some are, in a more disguised way. Ever seen who all the young Latino illegals are "servicing" in cities like Los Angeles? Rich Hollywood bitches – and rich gay men. And social media use generally? Who do you think is the the utterly mindless foundation for most of these far-flung "friendship" sites? Ain't dudes, Honey Bun

  30. yogasamurai says:

    Having studied feminist theory and the history of social movements ad nauseam at UC Santa Cruz, I don't agree with all of your history here. For example, there are plenty of reverse cases – Margaret Sanger's birth control movement, the original inspiration for Planned Parenthood, was heavily inspired by the Eugenics movement, which was about Black population control. Women and women's movements have long had an ambiguous relationship to other movements.

    I do agree, though, that powerful movements largely led by men, in fact – civil rights, for example – have proven unusually inspiring to women – because let's face it, a lot of the claptrap expressed here notwithstanding, men – and the male archetype – is still unusually inspiring to women. Just look at all the Gurus in yoga, most recently John Friend.

    Though somehow I don't think that's the point you wanted to make.

  31. Andréa Balt says:

    In defense of Kate:

    The very fact that someone like Let'sDoBetter (to quote one of the meanies above, unless it's the same one changing names – chameleon issues?) would take this post as an offense to whatever (womanhood, manhood, human race…) makes it only too clear that reality is not set in any way, but created by us with every breath we take. Not only did I not find this offensive or inappropriate or poorly stated, but after finishing all I wanted to say was "amen" because I know and care for a couple of those abused men, and it hurts to see them get hurt.

    You've written from the heart again about overcoming our differences and not working against each other but together – the true essence of feminism (not slaughter men, but appreciate them for who they are just as we ask them to do the same with us).

    So all I can really say is "thank you". I don't think your post is "out there" or that your arguments are not clear. It's not a PhD thesis, it's a short and compassionate post on a real issue happening to hundreds of men. It's well explained and stated clearly and if anything, it moves and inspires me to listen more to all those men I may have hurt with any of those socially praised and accepted, so-called "feminist"remarks we often and rather carelessly throw at them.

    It's a tough world for everyone. Sometimes we write in defense of women, others of men, others of animals, nature, ourselves… we're here to care. You can't say it all in one sentence, you can't "feel" the entire elephant, only a part. And obviously the devil is in all of us at some point. But so is God.

    So, I'm keeping this: "Being strong should have nothing to do with cutting someone else down." I'm definitely emailing the Sacred Feminine in all of us so she gently includes it in a new & more comprehensive version of the Feminist Manifesto – as the first and most important point, with a side note that says: "Read this, eat this, memorize this, before you read/do/say anything else and start creating a devastated world through your broken glasses, you sad & lovable creature!"

  32. 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.

  33. Feminothing says:

    Feminism is a dangerous and divisive dogma. It is (or certainly seems to be) about hatred of men.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of men who support abortion rights and hate what’s going on in Virginia and other states where women’s rights are being restricted and narrowed excessively.

    Feminism has no mutual inclusion with women’s rights because there are many men and both-gender libertarians who accept the same views as feminism proclaims yet dispense with the Marxist bullcrap and passionate misandric ideology.

  34. Just a guy says:

    And yoga in the US is a matriarchal culture…something yoginis should remember as they marginalise men all the time.

  35. elephantjournal says:

    Very true! ~ Kate

  36. Branáin says:

    On behalf of men everywhere (yes, because I am the Lorax and I speak for the men), thank you.

    I have met women who love to attack men in the ways you described, but I also have met men who are equally demeaning to women, and people who put down other races, dietarians, animals, car choices, etc.

    Mother Theresa said that she would never attend an anti-war rally, but would gladly go to a peace rally. You can't define yourself or your life as Not-X (unless you are practicing yoga, in which case you define your entire self as Not-my-body, not-my-emotions, etc.). You will never improve yourself by putting down others. I think we all need to be more mindful of how our comments or actions degrade others, no matter how subtle it is.

    Be careful, you could start out making fun of others for the laugh factor, but may one day find yourself labeled "that crazy [email protected]#$&!" that no one wants to be around.


    P.S. Some days I am a brick…not quite a brick house, but still a brick.

  37. SQR says:

    I guess I should say the analogy was good in the context it was used… I also see the need for labor unions to continue- many of my friends over the years have been members, mostly from my truck driving days (Teamsters), and having family from WV, the UMWA is usually well regarded around my house. I must say, though, I've never really understood how so many people where I live object to stores like Wal-Mart and yet wouldn't be caught dead in a UAW built vehicle- that's the only kind I run. Sorry- this all a bit off topic, I suppose…

  38. elephantjournal says:

    Well put, Karl. This isn't controversial or worth hating on—this is commonsense. ~ Waylon

  39. elephantjournal says:

    Agreed. For example, we post a sexy photo of Adam Levine, it gets 8000 views and 80 comments saying "I want to marry him" "more please" "dayuuuuum" "hotttt"…it's like hanging out with a construction crew. Nothing too much wrong with that, it's silly, healthy and happy.

    But we post a sexy photo of a woman, say from PETA, the woman has chosen to model for a cause, and we get (perhaps deservedly) 1000 views and 50 comments hating on elephant, not PETA so much.

    It's just an interesting double-standard or difference. I get that difference and why it exists–I was brought up by a strong, wonderful sweet mama and have considered myself a feminist. After a few years dealing with these comments, though, i just consider myself an equalist—as do many feminists and postfeminists. ~ Waylon

  40. elephantjournal says:

    You're blocked. If you'd like to be reinstated, which I'd like, my friend, focus your criticism on the arguments, not the person. ~ Waylon

  41. 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

  42. elephantjournal says:

    I agree with all your points, as I think Kate would. Congress, TV…But you dilute them with personal attacks. We can do better, argue with respect. ~ Waylon

  43. 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.

  44. ValCarruthers says:

    This is such a terrific article, Kate. And so necessary. In the early Seventies when Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and others led the Feminist movement, they knocked down some major doors on behalf of women's equality. Maybe at that time it was necessary to say things things like the classic, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

    What's sad is that we've gone from slogans like the above to mindlessly abusive male-bashing. Slamming men in retaliation for what? Post feminism was supposed to usher in a brave new era of understanding and interdependence between men and women. For women to *come out on top* we must celebrate and support the men who are right there with us, whether we always see eye-to-eye. Otherwise this post-post-feminist world is not a pretty sight.

    Bless you, Kate, for speaking from your mind—and your heart.

  45. Thanks Val! I agree, it may have been needed at the start, but we're at a different place now. In many realms in Western culture, it's much easier to be a woman than a man. The vitrol of some of the comments shows just how bad it's gotten. I'm at the point where I'd prefer to just call myself an equalist than a feminist. Or better yet—just a human being and leave it at that.

  46. 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.

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  48. warriorsaint says:

    Oh, Kate, I am so with you on this! I grew up in a famiy of brothers and a father I adored. I could never understand all the vitriole of the early Feminist Movement and have never identifed myself as a feminist as a result.