How to convince him that women are still not equal?
December 13, 2015 10:04 AM   Subscribe

A little while ago I showed my boyfriend, who has sometimes infuriating views about women, this College Humor video about women's hymens. After watching this, he said that the video was sexist towards men. Why am I so angry, and is that a fair assessment? And how to defend feminist positions more cogently than I presently do?

He said it was sexist because the men were made to play the stupid people in the video, while the woman was in the clever expert role, but that since there are obviously women who also do not know that the hymen functions in this way, in order to be really "equal", there should be at least one woman in the video who also played the stupid role.

I find this an amazingly infuriating position, but can't seem to make a convincing argument to him why. He also says that men have begun to suffer this sort of sexism and discrimination a lot in our modern age of pro-feminism (we live in a liberal western society and no amount of explaining gets through that women elsewhere in the world may not have it as good as women in America and the UK, let alone the fact that women in America and the UK still don't have it as good as he thinks they do - he believes that women have progressed so much that it is now men who are being discriminated against in even material terms like salary, job promotion, attendance in higher education, etc. He also takes issue with what he views as overly-concessionary stances towards women which discriminate against men at the same time, e.g. generically sexed sentences which are careful to use "her" rather than "him").

I am sad to admit that I am so bad at arguing against these positions, partly because I get so angry about them and find them infuriating, and partly because I realize how little concretely I know about present state of feminist affairs, because I have never had to justify my feminism so explicitly - I've always been with people who think it's obviously a good thing that, for example, that video should have a woman explaining things about her body to a man. So perhaps this is a good challenge for me? Anyway, I would appreciate any help. I am looking for two things. First, is it actually possible to say this video is sexist to men, and if not, why not? Second, any concrete arguments or examples for explaining women's continuing unequal position vis-a-vis men. Data especially welcome. I.e. give me your best feminist arguments!
posted by starcrust to Human Relations (51 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
because I have never had to justify my feminism so explicitly - I've always been with people who think it's obviously a good thing that,

Right, so you know there are men out there that don't need training wheels in order to see you as a full human being. Dump this loser and date them instead. You shouldn't have to put in so much work and emotional handholding to make this guy get it. It's really not fair to you.
posted by phunniemee at 10:17 AM on December 13, 2015 [157 favorites]


He has a big stick up his ass about women and doesn't really like them. There's no logic trick you can employ with dudes like this. Think about all the rewarding things you could use your big, beautiful brain for that don't involve trying to teach feminism to someone who is too dumb to get a College Humor video.
He sounds pretty tedious, I hope for your sake he makes up for this in other ways...somehow.
posted by cakelite at 10:17 AM on December 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Well, where the definition of "sexism" includes institutional power over the object, there is no such thing as sexism against men in a society as steeped in patriarchal history as the United States simply because the mocking inherent in women making fun of men carries no actual threat of oppression. See the oft quoted "Men fear women will laugh at them; women fear men will kill them."

If your definition of sexism "is making fun of someone because they are one sex or another", then he's right. But no-one gets made fun of because of their sex; they get made fun of because of all the assumptions, expectations and power structures around their sex.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:18 AM on December 13, 2015 [35 favorites]


How old is he? He sounds like he is still a bit under-ripe.

Time to cut and run, rather than deal with this misogyny. (IMHO)
posted by heathrowga at 10:19 AM on December 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


(watches video)

This video was pretty good: I learned things!

Is it a little sexist in the way it sets up the men as dumb jocks who need things explaining to them? Sure, but at the same time that was a deliberate inversion & commentary on the 'man explains thing to women' trope: It was *meant* to be a little jarring & get you to think a bit.

Your boyfriend sounds like he is being a bit of a jerk about this to be honest.
posted by pharm at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Bustle has a good general interest article about this. Though it's argued from an (admittedly) heteronormative position it basically breaks down the idea that sexism isn't just "being prejudiced against someone because of their sex" it's actually the institutionalized prejudice that means any random man in the US (whether he buys into this idea or not, this is why we talk about how patriarchy hurts everyone) will be likely to be paid more at any random job, be more likely to be advanced in their career, will do less than 50% of the housework and will be much much less likely to be the victim of sexualized violence.

There are some exceptions to this, but they are nothing compared to the huge facts like women still receiving less pay for equivalent work even in a world where people are aware that such discrimination exists, that still doesn't fix it. Here's a basic curriculum on sexism for teachers from Tolerance.org that may help. Here's a page from a Feminism 101 website that is also helpful, discussing this specific topic.

So how can you get him to see this? Maybe you can and maybe you can't. But it's also worth not getting dragged into first-principles arguments with him about stuff like this either. Different people have different opinions about whether it's worth it to engage with this "But what about the men!" style of debate.
posted by jessamyn at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2015 [54 favorites]


The Master of None episode "Ladies and Gentlemen" is all about the continuing need for feminism, and I was struck by how it does an extremely good job of walking through the standard counter arguments. Plus, entertaining to boot. Highly recommend this short watch, either with boyfriend or on your own.
posted by estlin at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Not that this guy is worth your time, but the guys in the video aren't even being portrayed as "stupid" and the woman isn't being portrayed as "clever". She's someone who knows how her own body works, and they don't and are embarrassed and afraid. The other parts of this episode showed both the man and the woman not knowing how the male body works. If he didn't know any of this about the hymen then he really does need to shut up.
posted by bleep at 10:33 AM on December 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Second, any concrete arguments or examples for explaining women's continuing unequal position vis-a-vis men. Data especially welcome.

If you really just want to throw data at him, you can always show him a site like Status of Women in the States which breaks down different indicators, including the pay gap, by state. This could also be helpful for illustrating that progress is geographically uneven.
posted by AndrewInDC at 10:34 AM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Basically someone who walks away with this kind of childish and facile understanding of what they just saw is probably not going to be capable of understanding what you need him to understand.
posted by bleep at 10:37 AM on December 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I love Caitlin Moran for putting feminist arguments into words that make them seem so obviously right, in ways that I hadn't been able to articulate myself. I recommend reading Moranthogy and shamelessly ripping off her arguments, where relevant. I don't know that I've actually won anyone round as a result, but I've felt more satisfied with myself for having explained my argument properly.

Bonus: Very funny.
posted by penguin pie at 10:39 AM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is one of a series of videos, and at least one of the guys (and often the girl as well) plays the bumbling role in them as a way to make their point. Your boyfriend can make a valid argument that it's a sexist video for the reasons he gives -- and it's an argument that MRA-types make a lot, pointing at sitcoms, adverts, and other forms of media (notably almost always if not always comedic in nature). For the most part, this is what people are starting to call "punching up" -- since white guys are in such an unquestioned position of power, poking fun at their intelligence or competence doesn't actually cost anyone any real stakes. No one believes that white men are - as a whole - bumbling incompetents. No white guy is likely to not get a job or a promotion or taken seriously by a cop because of someone watching this video. Because no one watching the video is taking away "boy, all [white] guys are so dumb." But it sure looks like it's doing a good job of scratching this particular guy's insecurities. And rather than dealing with that insecurity (/fear) by asking questions or accepting that maybe he learned something, too, he is reacting by lashing out -- and by calling out "sexism," he is also lashing out at feminism itself by trying to hang it with its own tools.

"he believes that women have progressed so much that it is now men who are being discriminated against in even material terms like salary, job promotion, attendance in higher education, etc." He is incorrect in this belief. Salary and job promotion are still stacked in favor of men. This data is fairly easily accessible. Women are going on to higher education in greater numbers. But this may be because so many Black and Hispanic young men get derailed by the prejudice within the US criminal justice system.

So long as we live in a patriarchal culture where the deck is stacked heavily against women socially, financially, religiously, etc., - including in ways pointed out in that very video - calling out sexism against women (and minorities) in media is important. Ignoring it can have very real costs. Calling out sexism against white men? If he's coming from a place of real hurt, then sometimes it's best to just agree. Yes, I see how that could be sexist, too. It would be great to live in a world where no one poked fun at anyone for something they can't control. But that's not a reason to attack women / feminism / the work feminists are doing to counter sexism, racism, etc in media.

If he's coming from a place of manufactured anger, all you can do is ask him what it is about feminism and the fight against misogynist media that is scaring him so much. You probably won't get an answer, but it might be fun to watch him squirm.

TL;DR - He is not a feminist ally. He is co-opting the words and ideas of feminism to twist them into meaninglessness. This isn't a semantic game. The stakes are real. If he can't accept that, then as others have suggested, there's no use having the discussion with him.
posted by Mchelly at 10:43 AM on December 13, 2015 [50 favorites]




Why am I so angry

You are angry because you've been assuming that you're with someone who treats you as an equal and women with equality and respect. His views show that he hasn't and doesn't.

Systems that provide a boost to women and minorities are unfair only if you assume the system was fair and equitable in the first place, which obviously they aren't. If he's unwilling to see even that then you have to really ask yourself if you want to be with someone to whom you have to justify being treated like an equal human being with even the most basic 101 arguments.

And it's okay not to be great at making these arguments! But if you want to be better at those arguments, do it for yourself, not for him. And as suggested, the big picture here is where you see the future of these relationship. In a lot of ways, he's violated your trust, because if something happens - like being catcalled on the street, a sexist incident at work, one of his friends hitting on you - can you trust him to believe you, to not blame you, to see how the system has allowed what happened to happen? Can you trust him to treat you as an equal with physical and emotional labor, sexually, emotionally, and intellectually? This is the very first part of the discussion you need to have with yourself if you truly want to convince him.
posted by barchan at 10:48 AM on December 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


Overly-concessionary stances towards women which discriminate against men at the same time, e.g. generically sexed sentences which are careful to use "her" rather than "him").

Um. He thinks something as simple as using "her" rather than "him" in a sentence about a hypothetical person is "overly concessionary"? So, his opinion is basically that men are the default sex and women are basically not even worth acknowledging, even in hypothetical situations?

I'd say that if that's where he lives philosophically, there's not a whole lot of percentage in discussing this with him, much less arguing about it. To me, I'd give it up trying to reason with him and move on to deciding whether his stance on this is a deal-breaker for the relationship.
posted by holborne at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


You may be angry because you shared something that was meaningful to you, and he instantly made it about him.
posted by amtho at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2015 [70 favorites]


Barchan makes a good point. I found this article about sexual assault pretty eye-opening: "Paradoxically, now that such blatant sexist behaviors are in theory no longer tolerated, we convince ourselves that the specific men in our lives would never engage in them." - and when they do, we feel like if we can't defend them, it's somehow a personal fault in ourselves for letting them into our world.
posted by Mchelly at 10:57 AM on December 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh lordt. He sounds like an MRA.
posted by Brittanie at 11:06 AM on December 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


You should not have to put so much effort into making your boyfriend see you as an equal. DTMFA.
posted by a strong female character at 11:13 AM on December 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


Great video.
Personally, I get that the style was chosen in the interest of comedy and to make the point that most men don't know about this subject, so it does not offend me at all as a man.

However, I understand his point of view. Because the men in that video are all playing buffoonish cartoon idiots, he's interpreting the video as implying that all men are stupid.
It's true that if the genders were reversed and it was a corresponding video with clownish stupid female characters being lectured by a man about how ignorant they were, a lot of offense would be taken.

I think his reaction is a sign of being a little sensitive and immature, and it's the kind of thing you grow out of. I think he's just young, not a bad guy.
posted by w0mbat at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm confused why you need to argue this with him. Why are you dating him?
posted by Toddles at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Really, for me, one of the biggest arguments for the continuing existence for the structural inequality of women in society is that there still hasn't been enough time for there to not be.

The 19th Amendment wasn't even a hundred years ago! We are still very very much in the phase of (hopefully) correcting the deep knock on effects of many hundreds of years of disenfranchisement and legal inequality.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


First, is it actually possible to say this video is sexist to men, and if not, why not?
Your boyfriend might appreciate Target Women with Sarah Haskins, which shows the Doofy Husband as a sexist stock character. He still has to connect the dots that the Doofy Husband and similar depictions harm women by reinforcing gendered and unequal expectations about (in this example) household responsibilities. The Mary Sue explains further.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 11:24 AM on December 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think if his assumption is truly that "women have progressed so much that it is now men who are being discriminated against," then you are not going to be able to argue effectively enough to get him to see a different reality, no matter what statements people here suggest.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 11:29 AM on December 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


the men were made to play the stupid people in the video

- At least one of those men was in the video voluntarily to promote his show, that he stars in.
- The men were just repeating things that people actually say.
- The men turn out to appear pretty decent and open-minded. You know, able to learn, which would be the opposite of stupid.

The problem here is not that no cogent argument was presented. It's that your boyfriend is a bigot. Bigots don't want to learn. They just want to be superior to others in whatever way is available.
posted by zennie at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Why am I so angry

I dunno why you're angry, but I would be angry about the fact that Emily talks about women in some parts of the world having to prove that their hymens are intact in order to gain access to things your boyfriend gets to take for granted, but rather than acknowledging how fucked up that is, your boyfriend is making himself into a victim based on how he thinks men are being portrayed in the video and not acknowledging the advantages and opportunities he gets everywhere simply for being a guy when he turns off that video and steps out into the world.

There are a lot of dudes out there who get this stuff.
posted by alphanerd at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


That video is a segment of the Sex episode of the half-hour TV show "Adam Ruins Everything," which is produced from the CollegeHumor gene pool, hence the same cast. Perhaps your boyfriend should watch the full episode because Adam's character is often treated as stupid; the gimmick of the show is that he's a person with no social boundaries when it comes to educating people about some topic they are, well, doing wrong. I refer you to the title of the show.

This is the first episode (and tenth in the series) where one of his costars, whose lives he takes over for the duration of an episode, has wrested control of the show and the knowledge firehose from him.

He's not wrong that men are often treated like dunderheads on TV, thinking with their muscles or penises. They're one of a few groups of people you can safely portray as idiots, and TV needs idiots.

Get him to watch the show: Adam is the overeducated guy in the room who leads other people to knowledge while destroying what they love. It's entertaining as heck! It's "Penn & Teller's Bullshit!" produced by Alton Brown, more or less.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


No the video is not sexist. That's bananas.

You're angry because he's an insecure asshole.

To not be as angry spend less time with insecure assholes. Your partner is not a person you should need to convince that feminism is worthwhile.
posted by French Fry at 12:17 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are a few different things going on here.

How to convince him that women are still not equal?

I don't know if you can and you have to decide if it's your unpaid job to do this. You can break out all the data, frame everything as "this is important to me and I need you to respect that," but that is going to change the tone of your relationship and probably not pleasantly.

Why am I so angry, and is that a fair assessment?

See, this is what bothers me. You know why you're angry. You said, "X is a real thing, look at that," and he not only didn't get the message but made it all worse by mansplaining why the video got it wrong and then he spewed a yucky sexist rant framed with #notallmen.

Of course you're furious. It sucks to see people say things like that and it's even worse when we're dating them and it's like, "Ugh; could you not just stop being stupid and be normalsauce so we can be a couple?"

Listen, sister: the real issue here is that you feel angry and you're second-guessing that feeling and asking if that's fair. Your churning stomach is right and the best thing you can do is listen to that feeling: you feel angry and you're allowed to be angry and you should figure out if this is part of a pattern with this guy and if you want to keep dating him.

Don't second guess yourself; it's the worst thing we do to ourselves.
posted by kinetic at 12:21 PM on December 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Yeah, the guys in the video are ignorant, not stupid. They men in the video don't know something and are open to learning about it. Your boyfriend is not open to learning about sexism and is stupid.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:21 PM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted. Please don't come in here to criticize other commenters or pick a fight about SJWs. Go ahead and give a constructive helpful answer if you have one, otherwise please just pass the question by.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:33 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


First, is it actually possible to say this video is sexist to men, and if not, why not?

He feels its sexist, so approaching this by telling him he's wrong probably won't work or help. Even if calling this video sexist is a huge stretch.

Second, any concrete arguments or examples for explaining women's continuing unequal position vis-a-vis men. Data especially welcome. I.e. give me your best feminist arguments!

Ask him how often he feels there's a chance he might be raped.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:33 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


He said it was sexist because the men were made to play the stupid people in the video, while the woman was in the clever expert role, but that since there are obviously women who also do not know that the hymen functions in this way, in order to be really "equal", there should be at least one woman in the video who also played the stupid role.

False equivalence.

he believes that women have progressed so much that it is now men who are being discriminated against in even material terms like salary, job promotion, attendance in higher education, etc. He also takes issue with what he views as overly-concessionary stances towards women which discriminate against men at the same time, e.g. generically sexed sentences which are careful to use "her" rather than "him").

While it's certainly possible that he's arrived at these conclusions on his own, these are really standard arguments of the "Men's Rights" (MRA) and other social conservative movements - I have to wonder if he's not picking this stuff up in various places on the web or in other media. We Hunted The Mammoth is a site that does excellent work in debunking and mocking and refuting many of these arguments.

any concrete arguments or examples for explaining women's continuing unequal position vis-a-vis men. Data especially welcome. I.e. give me your best feminist arguments!

Not to, like, pat ourselves on the back too hard, but you could do a heckuva lot worse than read MetaFilter (and AskMe and MetaTalk) threads about feminism and sexism and related topics. There are a bunch of smart, funny feminists here who are often able to express feminist concepts in clear and explicit language.

Posts tagged with "feminism" just to get you started.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


First, is it actually possible to say this video is sexist to men, and if not, why not?

I don't know, but it's entirely possible your boyfriend has a poor sense of humour and perspective, if he gets so upset about two comedian-type guys amiably portrayed as being lectured by a pretty woman with the aid of horn bands and cheerleaders and balloons in a College Humor video.

Aren't women supposed to be the ones getting upset and seeing sexism everywhere? What's this trend of men trying to steal that prerogative? Tsk.

Seriously though, it's likely that your boyfriend doesn't really know what the word "sexist" means. You could tell him that he's actually being more sexist to men himself with his reaction... The male comedian playing up the cliché of feeling confused by women's anatomy is not a new thing, it's a tradition, invented by male comedians themselves - here it's just given a different twist in service of a more serious point, about women's rights and sexual freedom. Is that what bothers him? That the video is not really about men at all?

It is supposed to be lighthearted and they all play along to that. Except when they do mention serious stuff like the compulsory virginity tests and hymen reconstruction surgery "in some parts of the world" * - and hasn't your boyfriend noticed the two guys also get serious there and feel just as shocked as the woman by what she's talking about? What was his own reaction there?

As for him wishing there was another woman in the video who's just as ignorant and confused as the two men about the hymen - haha, look, I don't know about you but as a girl growing up I barely ever knew wtf a hymen is or where it is supposed to be and I never noticed anything in my body like what's supposed to happen to hymens, as far as I know I never even had one, I simply never cared. Nor did any of the girls around me, as far as I know. We had the luxury not to care about any of that, we were lucky not to be born where a hymen is still a big fucking deal.

That is exactly one of the points of this little video, that hymens don't work the clichéd way they're supposed to and we really shouldn't care about their existence at all. And yet they still are a big fucking deal, in some cases with tragic consequences.

That is what the video is about. And all your bf gets offended about is two men playing dumb to make a serious point? Ask him this and see what he answers.

And then, ask yourself this: is it worth your time, getting into counter-arguments with him about his reaction?

And why do you feel you have to educate him yourself?

And most importantly, how does he actually behave towards you, in practice, in real daily life?

Look, it's entirely possible that someone with dumb and stubborn and argumentative and infuriating and clichéd political views is also a perfectly good person and boyfriend. It's perfectly possible even for a man holding this kind of pot-pourri of recycled pseudo-antifeminist opinions, to be a perfectly fine man who respects women in actual interactions with individual women. It's possible. Or rather, it's not impossible. There are known unknowns here. You don't DTMFA based only on his views, it's his behaviour that matters and only you are the one interacting with him and only you can know what his behaviour is.

Personally, for instance, I tend to find a lot of the general debate about gender and feminism and women vs men can easily turn into a frustrating minefield for all sorts of bad faith positions and badly argued claims and twisted facts and exaggerations on all sides, so I wouldn't even want to waste time arguing about this with someone who doesn't have enough basic knowledge and experience of life and of the world to start with. I do enjoy a challenging debate and on rare occasions I've had intelligent honest discussions with someone holding a very critical view of mainstream feminism and the keywords here are intelligent and honest (hence, rare).

You owe him no single minute of your time trying to educate him and encourage him to be better informed and developing his own views a bit more fully. You're not one of his parents, or teachers.

All you need to figure out is how much of his reactions to this video are telling of his actual behaviour towards you and other women and other human beings and sentient beings in general.

* Incidentally, as I was watching the video, I thought hang on where have I recently seen something about women going for hymen reconstruction surgery - and then I remembered, it was a Lebanese film, Caramel, a sweet lighthearted romantic comedy type of movie, about a bunch of women friends working at hair salon and their different stories. They're a bunch of women dealing with their hopes and wishes in a very male-dominated culture where sexual freedom can destroy your reputation and marriage and family and honour is all important. There's a scene where one of them who is about to get married confesses in tears to the others that she is not a virgin and how worried she is about this, about her husband finding out on the wedding night. They joke about that, and then they do accompany her to get the surgery. It made me so uncomfortable, so sad, so angry, because it was so realistic - in everything else they were these sexy cool fun women you could only wish to encounter anywhere, and still they had to deal with that crap, ugh.

This is not even "the rest of the world", it's one world, we're separated by borders less and less these days, people move around more and more and bring their cultural backgrounds with them. There is no excuse for anyone even in the most progressive areas of the world to consider women's issues in another country as separate or irrelevant to the women's issues in another. Hymen reconstruction surgery is a procedure that's done in the US too, by the way. Just google it. Ugh.

Ask your boyfriend, does not get angry at that? Does he care less about that, than about his impression that the two male comedians in the video are being portrayed in some horribly insulting "sexist" way?

posted by bitteschoen at 1:00 PM on December 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


"The function, the very serious function of racism, is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language, so you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly, so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Someone says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” -Toni Morrison

No. Honey, just no. You don't need articles and CDC or RAINN or IRS data to help you win arguments with this man because he isn't arguing in good faith. There will always be another level of bullshit. I hate to be crass, but the sex had better be absolutely incredible to justify how much time and energy you are going to waste trying to prove your basic personhood to this guy.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 1:07 PM on December 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


Your friend does seem insecure and scared, and it also seems he is trying to bully you into submission. Like many above, I wonder if he is the right person for you. But that is also a harsh judgement from people on the internets who don't know you personally.

Many, many men (and women) feel threatened by contemporary society. That is obvious, just from observing political developments. And to be obvious, some men (and fewer women) have been loosing privilege slowly, and with setbacks, during the last hundred years. White heterosexual men are no longer allowed to beat their wives and servants, in most western countries.

White heterosexual men can no longer take it entirely for granted that they can get away with rape, abuse or even man-slaughter. When I was young, I personally knew dozens of men who had gotten away with date-rapes and even bragged of it. For that sub-section of humanity, minorities were fair game. They are losing that privilege.
They have to actually work in order to compete for college and graduate education - when my mother was a young, less than 10% of the graduates from universities here (not in America) were women, and less than 10% of those women went on to actually have a career. The numbers today are dramatically different. Obviously, this means male students have to work harder for the same results. They are losing a privilege.
In many cases, they actually have to compete for entry-position jobs with women and minorities (later on, things get easier..)
They cannot take it for granted that women will accept their life-choices, no matter what, once they are married. They are losing a privilege.

I believe it's worth a good long think wether the above described loss of privilege is a problem.

White heterosexual men are not losing the love and care of their friends and family. They are not losing the opportunity to succeed with hard work.
They are gaining the freedom of pursuing activities that were formerly seen as feminine - such as child-care or home-cooking, without losing any of their masculinity or access to male activities. (Literally, one of my friends took 8 months of child-leave, wrote a cook-book and became a national celebrity - his macho power exploded during that child leave).

Maybe you should sit your friend down and hear him about the threats he perceives and the advantages he can gain. And then evaluate how you want to deal with that. Remember that you cannot save him from himself, and that that you are worth a man who respects you and wants you to be happy and thrive and vice-versa. Also, take it from one who has been where you are: even the most intelligent, handsome and romantic man is heading into the abyss if he doesn't accept feminism. And he might become dangerous.
posted by mumimor at 1:20 PM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


While it's certainly possible that he's arrived at these conclusions on his own

Oh, I'd say it's more than possible, I'd say it's extremely likely. So far as I can tell the reason the depressingly common counter arguments against women's equality and feminism are depressingly common isn't just because they're widely spread, it's because they're pretty much the first arguments that will naturally fall out of a brain that hasn't done much thinking about the topic and is just reacting.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:26 PM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


His actual problem is with late capitalism. He sees competition for resources on this field as a zero-sum game organized along gender lines, because feminist conversations are just around, and he doesn't understand any of it, and doesn't want to understand it. He also doesn't understand satire/punching up (e.g. that the male characters in the video are stooges, caricatures, meant to represent a phenomenon). He isn't very bright, and he is hugely self-centred, lacking all kinds of awareness, overly sensitive and defensive - just DTMFA.

He also takes issue with what he views as overly-concessionary stances towards women which discriminate against men at the same time, e.g. generically sexed sentences which are careful to use "her" rather than "him").

Ridiculous and out of touch; amped-up defensiveness.

You'd need two or three decades to undo this, and life is way too short.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:15 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


For fucks sake. Dudes like your BF don't think things are "sexist against men", they WANT there to be things that are sexist against men to use as a "see! both sides do it" defense for the usual sexism. They go looking for these things, and we all know if you look hard enough for something, your mind will see it in the shadows everywhere.

A guy who can watch a video about men (and women) not understanding a woman's body and get upset because the people being explained to were men is doing that. It had to be that way to get the message across clearly without introducing distracting derails. Can you imagine what we'd be talking about if it had been a man, mansplaining a woman's own body to her?

You can't logic these guys. Point him at A Voice For Men or something like that where he'll be happy, and pull the ripcord.
posted by ctmf at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


And remember, you are not 'failing' at feminism because you can't convert him to the cause. He's failing at being a well-rounded and respectful human being.

Do you really want to waste the next xxx days of your life trying to gain the respect of this person? Take it from someone who has tried with guys like him: it is not worth it, it will cost you a lot, and it will take a lot of time and energy to recover from the personal disrespect you will have to engage with to keep him from bullying you.
posted by Thella at 2:33 PM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the guys in the video are excessively dumb. And there is lecturing. It's not well written. Also, it's boring. Not particularly sexist.

I have to put up with a spouse who takes offense at negative portrayals of men appearing stupid and who claims it's sexist, but he's 69, does all the cooking, and shows no other signs of dementia yet, so I'm not going to get rid of him. But you say your boyfriend has "sometimes infuriating views about women," which suggests this is a pattern.
posted by Peach at 2:40 PM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if your anger is because you can tell he is arguing from a position of pure emotion, but he is maintaining it is actually logic/rational thought. When you respond with the logic/rational thoughts/data he purports to want he becomes more emotional but still insisting on "logical" arguments. It is frustrating to recognize someone is arguing in bad faith, without any self awareness, and using emotional manipulation on you (again, disguised as "logic").

Values are the number one predictor of relationship success, IMHO; a lot of disagreements can be resolved if you share values. It is clear you and your current boyfriend have very different values. I'm sorry.
posted by saucysault at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Some stuff to send him:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/shocking-stats-reveal-comedys-huge-4580843
http://seejane.org/research-informs-empowers/gender-in-media-the-myths-facts/
https://bitchmedia.org/post/we-crunched-the-numbers-on-how-much-stagetime-female-comedians-get

And that's just media stuff. Ask him about the gender balance in politics or upper management.
posted by kjs4 at 3:03 PM on December 13, 2015


Rather than wasting your time and energy on a jackhole, find an enlightened guy who enjoys discussions and understands things that are still pretty obvious.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:39 PM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Before you start trying to make this guy less sexist, ask yourself how many years of your life you want to invest in this one topic. More than ten? More than twenty?

Last year I tried to talk a former colleague out of being an active member of GamerGate. It took me seven weeks just to convince him that GamerGate itself, as a movement, isn't particularly good. I was unable to convince him that men still have it better than women; that there is no vast, powerful feminist conspiracy that is actively working to make men second-class citizens; or that charging into a Facebook conversation about rape and posting videos by misogynists was wrong. I convinced him of nothing other than that he shouldn't be affiliated with this particular hate group. Seven weeks for just that.

This guy is not some sort of mustache-twirling villain. He's just a guy who has grown up in a sexist society, is not very introspective, is terrible at critically evaluating information he is presented with, and sees no particularly good reason to change any of this because the system works well for him.

I had a huge advantage that you don't have: I'm male and I used to be his boss, so I automatically got some degree of authority in the conversation. I didn't have to spend time and energy convincing him that I am capable of forming reasonable opinions that are at least worth listening to.

As multiple other posters have mentioned, there are people out there who, at the very least, are already willing to learn to be allies. Is there really anything about this guy that would make it worth decades of your life in a probably futile attempt to make him see you as a human being?
posted by Fanghorn Dungeon, LLC at 5:28 PM on December 13, 2015 [30 favorites]


First, is it actually possible to say this video is sexist to men, and if not, why not?

No it's not.

You can't have any kind of discussion without agreeing to the fundamental definitions of what you're talking about - a widely accepted standard for discrimination - racism, sexism, etc - is that it is both institutionalized (encoded into either law or culture) and evidenced by a long history of widespread discrimination. That definition excludes the idea of sexism against males.

Some actions can be discriminatory towards men: some actions can exhibit bullying behavior towards men. This video could be interpreted as example of that but there's no way to go a step further and argue that this video is "sexist" (demonstrative of sexism against men) when sexism against men doesn't exist in the first place.

---

Second, any concrete arguments or examples for explaining women's continuing unequal position vis-a-vis men. Data especially welcome. I.e. give me your best feminist arguments!

This is a rather pointless thing to argue because there are so many layers to it, but, say, you have to start from a definitions - does he believe that women are born with equal (non physical) capabilities and desires as men? If so why do women only make up 4.4% of CEO positions in the S&P 500? Those two facts are incompatible: either he believes men and women are NOT equal in terms of ambitions and capabilities and thus the fact that only 4.4% instead of 50% of CEOs are women is perfectly normal and fine: or he believes that men and women are equal and women are currently suffering systemic discrimination at school, at work, and at home (in terms of burden of work).
posted by xdvesper at 6:36 PM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


My version of this boyfriend is well described and well advised against here.

It got worse and worse and then dangerous, despite my not believing it could.

Just dump him now and save yourself the trouble.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 8:33 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


He also says that men have begun to suffer this sort of sexism and discrimination a lot in our modern age of pro-feminism (we live in a liberal western society and no amount of explaining gets through that women elsewhere in the world may not have it as good as women in America and the UK, let alone the fact that women in America and the UK still don't have it as good as he thinks they do - he believes that women have progressed so much that it is now men who are being discriminated against in even material terms like salary, job promotion, attendance in higher education, etc.

My reaction was basically the same as above already,
Oh lordt. He sounds like an MRA.

I not only think this guy doesn't sound like someone you can, or who is even worth arguing with... But in my experience guys who are invested in believing these kinds of things are not only impossible to truly have their minds changed by anyone else, but are also actively detrimental and even dangerous.

All that stuff is part and parcel with believing that women make up false rape accusations all the time, do many things just for attention, etc. It's extremely likely you could end up in a situation in which you need his support and he sides against when something that SUCKS happens, or even just something that hurts.

I feel bad in the "don't delete your friends who post racist shit" way in that other people are going to have to deal with assholes like this whenever i disconnect from them, but i honestly just don't see the point of arguing with them. The information is right there and he's reading it a completely different way than you. He isn't just holding the map upside down, he's seeing a pentagram between the cities on it that isn't even there.

I'm serious on the "potentially unhelpful and even dangerous" part though. Many actual assholes and even predatory guys i know turned out to buy in to stuff like this, and many guys who have argued for this side in things i've later found out are predators, or fell out of a relationship after taking a really fucked up on side on something that hurt someone else i know badly.

Sit down and really think, if you were assaulted by someone this guy knows... would he believe you? Or would he want to See Both Sides and immediately jump to wondering if you were just Making It All Up for some bullshit hairbrained scheme reason he farted out.
posted by emptythought at 9:10 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


When this happens, I get angry because for him, it's an intellectual exercise, and for me, he's calling into question my own lived experiences.

Reading the emotional labor thread might be worth your while.

For data: how about a f2m transgender scientist's experience? "Ben gave a great seminar today—but then his work is so much better than his sister's."

Look, if you want to stay with him, you need to make a cost/benefit analysis. There are some people who were borderline, who were worth (to me) the time, and things have gotten a lot better with them. Others, I just cut loose because I am Too Damn Old For This Shit. You don't owe him an education. If he wants to be blind to the world, that's not on you, that's on him.
posted by RogueTech at 9:13 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm neither as invested in SJ stuff as Mefi typically is, nor am I am MRA. The video is completely harmless, I think, so it's a little worrying that your boyfriend reacted so strongly to it. So my question is whether your bloke has come under the influence of MRAs by walking the left hand path on Reddit, or whether he's just not very knowledgeable about stuff which the general population also knows and cares little about (I get the impression this is more true in Britain, too, because the stye of SJ I'm thinking of is an American import).

In general, I'd recommend asking how he knows the things he thinks he knows, Socratic style, rather than asserting contrary things which you don't seem to be able to prove anyway (the hip term for this approach in the atheist community is Street Epistemology, see Anthony Magnabosco's Youtube). In this case, it actually sounds like both of you don't really know why you hold the opinions that you hold (other than that you read a different set of websites, maybe), but you're at least admitting it and looking for answers. Can you get him to that point and find out the truth together?

People can always find anecdotes (or lived experiences, if you like) to match yours, but there are studies which offer more than just anecdotes. Scott Alexander is good on those and is possibly more believable because he's often accused of being biased against feminism. See Social Justice for the Highly Demanding of Rigour, for example.
posted by pw201 at 4:25 PM on December 15, 2015


pw201: "So my question is whether your bloke has come under the influence of MRAs by walking the left hand path on Reddit"

Yeah this was my immediate assumption as well. " men have begun to suffer this sort of sexism and discrimination a lot in our modern age of pro-feminism" has Reddit written all over it.

Not that two wrongs make a right, but my basic position has been that as a white man it's my job now to sit on my hands and just listen for a while and, if necessary, feel awkward. It's not incumbent on women for men to feel 100% comfortable at all times.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:07 AM on December 19, 2015


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