“Tragically, we are witnessing a resurgence of harmful misogynist assumptions that mothers cannot raise healthy sons, that boys “benefit” from patriarchal militaristic notions of masculinity which emphasize discipline and obedience to authority. Boys need healthy self-esteem. They need love. And a wise and loving feminist politics can provide the only foundation to save the lives of male children. Patriarchy will not heal them. If that were so they would all be well.”—
Look, I support the feminist movement and recognize that it has accomplished a great deal for women over the past 50 years, and - with any luck - will continue to do so. Only a complete idiot could fail to acknowledge that.
And, like the black civil rights movement, the struggle for women’s rights has also benefited the persons who, ostensibly at least, are members of the dominant group that they are fighting against. So men have also been beneficiaries of the feminist movement.
But, no, feminism cannot be the “only foundation to save the lives of male children.“
I’m reminded of this by a series that appeared this past week in the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto, examining the fact that girls are doing so much better in school now than boys are. Well, I’m not that far out of high school myself, and some of the reasons for substandard male performance are not hard to see. The curriculum, the content and style of teaching methods, has an obvious female bias. (I can go on at length at this, but I won’t bore everyone right now. As an example, just look at a standard math textbook now - with its reliance on written skills and reading comprehension (generally skills which girls do better at) - and compare it with the textbooks used in the 1970s and 80s.)
Now this doesn’t mean, necessarily, that it’s bad. After all, there’s a hell of lot things in our society which have an obvious male bias.
But I was struck, in these articles, that whenever they needed a contrary view - to the effect that boys didn’t need any help and that changes were not needed to the educational system - all they had to do was troll through the local university and find an instructor in Women’s Studies. Invariably this feminist authority would react defensively, list all the areas in which girls still find themselves at a disadvantage, and argue that no changes were required in the educational system to address the issue of male performance.
Okay, I understand that for someone looking at any social situation from the perspective of the struggle against historical patriarchal dominance, that that person might tend to judge any proposal for change on the effect that the change might have on females.
And that’s entirely understandable. But, as a man, I can’t rely - I’d be an idiot to rely - on that person to represent my interests.
It’s always struck me as strange that while feminists have always argued that the cultural choice of words and meanings has an impact, they are content with the use of the word “feminist” to denote universal values affecting both females and males. Now how is “mankind” a sexist phrase when used to describe both men and women, but “feminism” as a term to describe a political philosophy applicable to both sexes is not?
There is so much wrong with this, I can’t even. Starting and ending with the idea that women are somehow privileged in anything over men. It is almost guaranteed that something that might look like it’s privileging women on the surface will mainly be rooted in misogyny.
This is probably going to get quoted in every publication just because I said it. And I’m not even saying anything. I’m not talking about my films, I’m not talking about my life, and I’m not talking about the world. And yet, the media will print it simply because I said it. And at this moment in time, I bet there is an artist around the corner of this hotel, on the street, with a mind far beyond ours, but we will never listen to him simply because he has not appeared in a movie. And that is what is fucked up about our culture. - Robert Downey Jr.