In the beginning | HBR Talk 32
 
 

Last week on HBR Talk Alison, Karen, and I described and discussed what got us involved with the men’s rights movement, how we met on reddit, and what characteristics contributed to our choice to team up. We got you as far as the first of two incidents that helped us identify a need in the community: women who could approach men’s issues discussion without occupying a standpoint that begins with blaming and shaming men - without occupying a gynocentric standpoint - to make ourselves heard. 

This isn’t needed due to any importance of women’s opinions on men’s issues. On the contrary: The rightful authority on the needs of men and boys, their human rights considerations, and the legal and social issues surrounding those considerations... is men. 

Last week, I pointed out there will always be women sticking their noses into this movement. As I said before, that’s partly because women are busybodies by nature. It’s also partly because, within their own families and among their friends and colleagues, women are going to see examples of men’s issues, and there will be some, at least, who recognize the need for reform and are inspired to speak out and engage in further activism.

I also pointed out there are two camps of women who will involve themselves in the men’s rights movement: Those who will do the normal female thing of entering a male dominated area and deciding it has to be changed to suit their attitudes and sensibilities, and those who will deal with the environment as it is, the issues as they stand, and the unadulterated nature of what activism is needed. The latter camp is needed in order to prevent the former from turning the men’s movement into he for she.

There really is a third camp: Those who openly like the status quo, who see the men’s rights movement as a threat to it, and who will fight tooth and nail to shame us into silence. That is an area of female power that is entrenched in our society’s perspective on and response to gender issues.

Women who eschew gynocentrism can cut through that shaming. We are the antidote to dismissal of men’s complaints as whining, to accusations that said complaints are misogynistic, and to derailing by other women who want to redirect the conversation to women’s issues, back to that gynocentric outlook. 

We didn’t grow up being told, like boys, to defer to girls, respect women, and cater to female sensibilities, and that makes it easier to both see through and overcome pressure to follow those rules. Because of this, non-gynocentric women have the power to break down the barrier that gynocentric women’s sensibilities represent to the legal and social reform sought by the men’s rights movement. This difference also provides us with a perspective from which to add to the information and language used by the men’s rights movement to understand and articulate the issues faced by men and boys. In terms of how female power and female attitudes impact these issues, there are times when it is easier for women to identify the mechanisms behind the issues. 

I’ve heard that described by friends in the movement in a lot of ways, but I think the person who really hit the nail on the head is Alison. To paraphrase her, sometimes it takes a woman to see through other women’s shit. To build on that, what the movement needs most from women is that we get that shit out of the way so that it does not hinder the human rights work that needs to be done… and that, in a nutshell, is where and how we started to work together.