Defeating the feminist frame: Patriarchy oppresses men

Feminists like to frame men being in positions of authority as the empowerment of men as a group. As a counter-argument, many people offer women being the majority of the electorate, women winning as often when they run for positions as men or the glass cellar.

All of these counter-arguments are, once again, allowing feminism to control the frame by accepting the unproven premise that being in authority is actually a benefit.

Earlier this year, the Daily Beast published some female supremacist triumphalism: an article about the rebuilding of Rwanda after the genocide that bragged about how women not only had rebuilt but did it better than the men who had so-called oppressed them before.

Omitted from mention was the tremendous violence women had inflicted during the genocide and their relative immunity from being victims of said violence.

Also omitted was the reason why women experienced a greater survival rate because of the very patriarchal society feminists spew venom for. If it had been a truly egalitarian society, equal numbers of men and women would have been slaughtered. And if Rwanda had been a real matriarchy, the people being hacked apart would have mostly been women.

Let’s imagine for a moment a formerly matriarchal Rwanda and the newly liberated male survivors dancing on the mass graves of their former protectors as they rebuild a better society without those matriarchal shit-ladies.

Yep. The only reason women were spared was due to “patriarchal” norms that make men the appropriate victims of violence. And then we turn around and blame men for the very norms that protected women in the first place.

Men are expected to assume positions of authority. If they don’t compete successfully for positions of authority, they are socially ostracized or even killed. And when you set a group of people to compete with each other, by definition they lose sympathy for each other. Each man gains power and prestige at the expense of other men and also at the expense of a shared identity that would form the basis of caring about and benefiting other men.

Therefore, saying men as a whole benefit from a tiny minority of men being in charge is an ugly lie. Those men have earned their authority at the expense of other men and to the detriment of all men as recipients of compassion when they are in need.

In simple terms, we prefer people with perceived agency to suffer over people without perceived agency.

Thus, the expectation that men compete to assume positions of authority—upon pain of death or banishment—is actually disenfranchisement of men as a group, relative to women as a group who are empowered to retain their social dominance as the expected recipients of provision and protection.

In fact, we might say the Rwandan genocide proves that “patriarchy hurts men too”; to be more specific, “patriarchy hacks men apart with machetes and restricts women from taking part in those activities that would make hacking women apart with machetes more socially acceptable.”

Therefore, when a feminist says, “But men are 99% of the people in power,” as a men’s issues advocate you respond with, “Exactly! Being forced to assume a position of authority means being disempowered when it comes to commanding sympathy and that’s a men’s rights issue, not a feminist issue.”

Congrats. You have now successfully challenged the feminist frame.

Alison Tieman
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Alison Tieman

Artist/Writer at Xenospora
Alison has been researching men's issues since her mother gave her "Princess at the Window" by Donna Laframboise in 1994 when she was 16. She's taken part in men's rights communities since she started posting on soc.men in 2003. Since 2011 she's run the gender apostate blog Genderratic with her pal Gingko the wonder leaf and she founded Honey Badger Brigade in 2013 with Hannah Wallen and Karen Straughan. According to Vice the pony she most resembles is Fluttershy.
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  • MaleLib ForLiberation

    I think you’ve done an excellent job of highlighting how being at the supposed “top” can oten mean being at the front of those being slaughtered. Also (similar to your 2012 youtube “Why Feminism Is Wrong About Patriarchy Theory”) you highlight the social pressure, and sigma and sanctions against men, which means also economic and other sanctions, if they don’t compete for “authority” positions or take on such roles.

    As for 99% of those in power, that is quickyl changing to 95% and 90% and less. That’s a minor point in many ways, but worth noting (see for example List_of_elected_and_appointed_female_heads_of_state on wikipedia, and scroll down to find incumbants) See footnote at bottom, about wikipedia.

    One numerical statistic I think is worth bringing up is “percent of men who are NOT heads of state” and “percent of women who are NOT heads of state” Or non-CEOs, and so on.

    The answer is obvious…but eye opening…very roughly 99.9999% of men versus 99.999999% of women, let’s say, and “how much better men have it” as far as being CEOs becomes laughable. And of course is closely tied to the expendability of men in your youtube vlog mentioned.

    I’m not sure about ” Rwanda had been a real matriarchy, the people being hacked apart would have mostly been women.”

    To me that thought experiement suggests instead how the term Patriarchy is almost meaningless…which is how (some) feminists like it because then you can mold is into any shape, to fit any example. Another gender reversed example might be a U.S. where MGM is illegal and FGM is legal (the opposite of our world) and people calling it a “matriarchy”. Similarly it’s too convenient for (some) to say that “yes men suffer sometimes, but that’s because of the Patriarchy” which is as silly as our imagined Opposite World saying, “yes, women get genitally mutilated in the U.S. and men almost never have that done to them and it’s illegal, but that brutalization of women is due to the Matriarchy so it only proves our point!”

    There is a big grain of truth to what you’re saying: men being used as pawns and cannon fodder is due to their position in society, a position which one could say, to some extent is a kind of patriarchy…but only up to a point. Behond that it just plays into the hands of (some) feminists who delight in being able to blame “that bad old Patriarchy” not only for real and imagined crimes against women, but for any hurt against men: it’s ALL the patriarchy’s fault….so a one sided war can be waged by those warriors.

    We should be cautious not just for tactical reasons, but the underlying meaning is such that yes, in some ways we live in a Patriarchal world, in other ways, in a Matriarchal one, depending on what areas of life, what parts of society, which roles, which protections, one looks at. One can say men die first becaduse of the P word or the M word. One could say MGM is legal and FGM illegal in the U.S. because of the P word or the M word…each claim captures part of the truth, part of reality, but not all of it.

    And maybe we need to find other words, neither P nor M, to describe some of these dynamics.

    Certainly men’s lives being expendible relates to militarism, and to corporate profits in the “wars” of the economic world, not just the wars of the physical battlefield with bombs and guns. Blaming the F word (“feminism”) for every single negative trends on gender, is also problematic, though I know many here will have a hard time agreeing on that. At the very least we need words for the positive – humanist? rights for both? And not “who has it worse” as the main focus.

    I ask self identified “feminists” even if they can’t see or agree with many specific points I would raise about unfairness towards men, I ask them, if society cut off one finger from one gender at birth, and cut off a hand of the other, should we spend most of the time arguing that the hand cut off has it so much worse or work to stop both barbarities?

    But I can ask the same question of self identified MRAs. Even though the view here is reversed as to who has a hand cut off at birth and who has a finger cut off (and of course the painful irony of the physical reality of MGM…) But common ground can be found with anyone who doesn’t think the other gender has it perfect.

    Society screws over college aged and shames them and minors…society also does the opposite and shames and age discriminates against the old. So it’s not without precedent. At the end of the day, yes, the heirarchy will use as pawns, everyone, and a combination of history, customs and circumstances determines which group (for example men) gets which ill use as which type of pawn..

    Apologies if I’m not able to log in often enough, I welcome (but certainly do not demand or expect) private email at gmail for on going discussions) but will try to check here again when able -ML

    Footnote: yes I’m quoting a website where I was targetted not less viciously but more viciously because I identified as an advocate of men’s and women’s rights, both…instead of being more open to such a moderate stand, that made me more dangerous apparently, making it harder to paint “MRA” as a dangerous anti-women monolith. Still, I’m not sure I’ll be more accepted in MRA circles than those feminist ones, I use neither term about myself, since different people use each term to mean radically different things. By accepting the truth that society harms and discriminates against men over in many ways (that the most blatant, MGM, is invisible to so many feminists, it damning), I am deemed “an anti-woman MRA” by some, and by accepting that women do not have it better in “all” ways and are harmed and hurt in many other ways, I am seen (by some) in the other community as confused at best or “evil feminist” at worst. In reality a neutral alien visiting this planet would quickly recognize each statement as obviously true. It would also spend less time on who has it worse, and more time on how to make society less brutal, less unfair, less demeaning, to all human beings, including the gendered ways it currently harms men and women, physically and psychologically. I don’t want to debate those oints here, see my website under construction maleliberationOrg…

    The more progressive sounding self identified MRAs like the author Alison here, make me feel I might fit in after all. I am not entirely comfortable using google here, not trusting anonimity. Avoid google plus at all costs, it has outed many before. Hopefully gmail without google plus is safe for anonimity, in a world where advocating that, for example, male babies should not be mutilated, carries risks of being seen as a “hater” by some impossible twisting of logic and sanity.

    • MaleLib ForLiberation

      Here’s an example to make the percents clearer. Suppose there are 100 million men and 100 million women in some country. This is just to make the numbers simpler, though in the U.S. the numbers while different, just happent to be pretty close (Demographics_of_the_United_States#Ages from 2010 Census show about 103 million each for men and women in the 15 to 64 age bracket for example)

      Now suppose we look at the largeset 100 corporations and we find that 99 of the CEOS are male and 1 CEO is female. One statistic is: “99% of the CEOS are male” That is not irrelevant, it’s one aspect of reality, but not the only one.

      We also see that 99 out of 100 million men, which is very very nearly exactly 1-in-a-million, are CEOs. That means that 99.9999% of men are NON-CEOs (actually a tiny bit higher, since only 99 not 100 out of 100 million men are CEOs, but close enough)

      So 99.9999% of men are non-CEOs. What percent of women are non-CEOs? 99.999999% of women are non-CEOs.

      So the difference between men and women as far as “do you have the power of a CEO?” is the difference between:

      99.9999% of men are non-CEOs


      99.999999% of women are non-CEOs

      This statistic (99.9999% versus 99.999999%) is another aspect of reality.

      Arguably, as far as how much power the average guy on the street has, it’s more relevant than the first stastics. But even if we give the two statistics equal footing for the sake of argument, this second one is almost never looked at.

      Could that be because it tells a different story than the “men have all the power” meme?

      Similar stastistics apply to the percent of men (versus percent of
      women) are who non-Senators, non-members of the House of
      Representatives, and non-Presidents.

      The “men have all the power” meme is wrong on many levels. It’s powerful though and an upper middle class woman can buy into it given media repetition of that view of the world, even as she walks by a homeless man who tried to make it but who came from a very impoverished background, and after being beaten up physically, abused emotionally or sexually, and so on all while told to suck it up and that “boys don’t cry” and to just “take it like a man” finally cracked and had a breakdown, and now he’s on the street, while an upper middle class woman walks by him and watches some news video on her brand new iPhone which reinforces the “men have all the power meme”

      This is not to criticize “women” per se, many of whom work for the disadvantaged (we should recognize this even while we resist the mainstream media treatment that sometimes can marginalize men’s compassion because another gender stereotypes is violated here) but to dismantle the meme.

      So next time you hear statistics about 90% or 99% or 95% of such and such elite positions are held by men, in addition to fact checking it, and in addition to AT’s points above which include the fact that having the “role” (socially enforced) upon you as being one of the “dominant class” often means you’re first in line to be shot up physically in a war (or coal mine or emotionally without social permission to feel needy and needing a hug..) we also should ask the person sharing it something like:

      “I agree that any actual discrimination that may be behind that should be eliminated…and there is socialization that pushed men towards CEO positions -often at their detriment and to the detriment of their health by the way- but if I follow you, then this statistic is telling us that 99.999,999 out of 100 million women are non-CEOs while lucky powerful men in this society have it so that not 99,999,999 but instead only 99,999,900 out of 100 million of them are non-CEOs..oh how powerful they are, this elite class known as men, wow! ;-)” and say it not with angry sarcasm but with a friendly sense of humor

  • Hendick

    The “pop culture matriarchy” often depicted in film and novels is very much as you say….an inversion if the male and female roles. However, if we look past pop culture, we discover that the most violent societies are actually Matriarchal.

    I’ve provided a link to 6 Modern Matriarchal societies. Notice the similarities to American Ghetto Culture, and also American Trailer Park Culture.

    True real life matriarchies are societies where human females use male power. It is the natural feral state of human beings. Mankind didn’t arise until the concept of Paternity gave Men the incentive to civilize the world.

    Here’s the link to modern day matriarchies…