I want to give Hugo Schwyzer a quick shout out for resigning from The Good Men Project. It's a good article and Hugo explains a lot of the problems with Tom Matlack's behavior, both in his original article and in the ensuing twitter battle afterwards.
I might be a tad late on this bandwagon, but a friend pointed this out to me (h/t to Lindsey!) and I had to write something.
So I have to disagree with Tom Matlock. Being a "dude" is not a good thing. Tom Matlock's article talks about a lot about being a dude, and being blamed for being a dude, and not liking it when women blame him for being a dude, but he never really says what a "dude" is. He claims he doesn't want to look at the "macro," but look to at the "micro" instead. He doesn't really look at either.
Well, listen here: I think we all know what a "dude" is. If Tom simply meant "dude" to mean "human who identifies as male" or "human whose sex is male," I suspect if he would have said so. But by using the term "dude" to describe men, he uses a word rich with meaning and one inextricably linked with the kyriarchy and it's very fucked up sense of gender.
Tom asks "why men are blamed for everything?" I'll give him two answers. Firstly, they're not. Plenty of things happen that are the fault of women. The world is replete with women who buy into all sorts of fucked up gender things, and willingly or not, perpetuate it. There's also plenty of women who quite knowingly advocate for policies that I think leads to all sorts of fucked up ideas about gender. So, I'm going to call shenanigans on the premise of the question. But secondly, on the other hand: let's really examine the premise of the question. Ultimately, who has had power in this nation (and in most of the world), since the beginning? Men. So if you think there's a problem in this country, chances are, a man made it. Did he make the problem because he's a man? Probably not. But a man he was, and a problem he made. I don't think "men are blamed for everything" because they're men; I think men can get blamed for a lot of things, because we made just about all the things.
Tom's theory is that men and women are "quite different," and that women want men to be more like them. Thus, men must be resigned to the fact that they are unacceptable at some level to a woman in their life.
Well, that's pretty fucked up, so let's unpack that. I, for one, don't believe men and women "are" different. I think we're socialized differently; I think we're taught very different norms and practices about what is acceptable for us to do, to think, to be; but I don't think we have profound and innate differences. Tom again eschews any sort of macro analysis that might lead to these conclusions and thus to doubt his own theory, again pointing out that men and women "think differently, [...] express emotion differently, [...] are motivated by differen things, [...] think about sex differently, and [...] use a very different vocabulary."
These are all things that are taught. The Good Men Project, and I will give them credit for it, does point out how so many of these things are socialized. There's certainly many articles about how men are taught that they can't express emotions, except base ones like rage and lust, certainly not sadness. And there's been many articles about how women and men are taught wildly different things about sex. What's puzzling is that underlying all of Tom's "theory" and his post is that whatever differences there are between men and women, and Tom does say that they are "basic instincts," women should pretty much just shut up and accept men for how they are.
And the fact is, they shouldn't. There's not a whole lot redeeming about the stereotypical way that a cis, het man is socialized. Cherishing fatherhood? Sure. Being a provider? That's okay. But oh, the challenges, the obstacles, the travesties we men heap on our sons, our brothers, our fathers, I want so little of that for myself, or my unborn sons, or my male friends. And I certainly wouldn't want to be with a woman who would accept those things in me.
Let me echo the comments of fellow well-named feminist man, Jeff, on Feminist Allies -- the Good Men Project does not strike me as feminist and it seems to perpetuate the same structural issues, but simply from a masculine, "nice guy" perspective.
I don't wish to overstate my criticism. I support any discussions of masculinity, and a lot of the things at TGM seem like they're going in the right direction. I'm just uneasy about it all. I can't quite put my finger on it all. They seem to have a number of posts that simply celebrate good men doing good things. It stikes me as the kind of puff pieces your local paper does, profiling a "good" person in the community. I mean, I get that they're "The Good Men Project" and they want to showcase men who are, well, "good," but it just doesn't strike me as particularly progressive, or feminist, or anything.
I can't quite put my finger on it. Any of the commenters have any thoughts?