Thursday, June 01, 2006

Men's studies or feminism-for-men?

I guess I ought to be pleased at a new men's study course at a British university, but the Guardian's (London, socialist) presentation of the story is peppered with misandrist inuendo and the course looks suspiciously like a vehicle for feminist propoganda. There isn't a word in the entire article about what men might actually be good for.

On the face of it, the course seems fairly positive in its intent, designed to "develop skills to work more effectively with men in social work and social care, or when delivering therapeutic services to men". But the "course convener", Jim Wild, whose academic qualifications are not described, is "concerned about abusive men", believes "we need to apply what we have learned from feminists about men's abuse within the family", and "is keen to emphasise the high levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence men inflict on women, children and one another." Is he grooming social workers and therapists to assume men are like this, or is it that he wants them to be able to work with those men who actually are? 'Hard to tell.

He claims "the diploma will be rooted in theory, including feminist theory." There's no mention of any masculist theory so I don't know what other theory he might be talking about. On the other hand, he wants to find "aspects of ourselves that have often been repressed - sensitivity, openness, vulnerability" but I'm afraid that sounds like another version of "men just can't express themselves" to me.

He says "Feminists at our university are OK about it. If it was a diploma on 'Finding the Warrior Within', I think there would be uproar." Uh-huh, so Jim Wild isn't a wild man and has the feminist stamp of approval (is that a tautology?). Are these pre-requisites for the course to be allowed?

Despite this, some feminists don't like it. One thinks 'the establishment of a separate discipline of men's studies is a retrograde move. "Feminist scholarship and the study of women, as well as the study of men as men, remain [sic] marginal in every discipline in every university, and it is this that we should be focusing our attention on,"' OK, so we've got women's studies courses, studying, er, men as men is marginal and so is the teaching of one of uncountable political theories at universities but a men's study course is a retrograde step. I don't get it. Anyone?

According to the article, "feminists - and a small number of pro-feminist male scholars - have done the important work of developing a critical analysis of male power and masculinity." Nice of them. Which prompts me to wonder how they'd feel about a critical analysis of female power and feminimity done by masculists and a small number of pro-masculist female scholars.

One academic feminist 'recalls a conference on men's studies. "No one liked the title as we were all aware that everything we teach and learn is 'men's studies', because men dominate all social and political structures in society."' Thus she exposes who exactly was at this conference, and shows herself to be another feminist who thinks and teaches that "some men" means "all men" and pre-emminence in some arenas means dominance in all.

To make sure that she can't be accused of failing to balance her reporting, the article's author quotes George McCauley after she takes care to point out that he's a member of the UK Men's Movement and describe it as anti-feminist. Before the quote we're told he 'instantly assumes that it is the study of "men's oppression"'. Those terrible, reactionary masculists, eh?

Then the quote: "Women have it all their own way and believe that equality is a one-way street. If women's studies are going to be elevated to the status of religion, as they are in universities, then we should have men's studies." Well, I guess the religion thing is a bit hyperbolic, but I can see his point.

Just to make sure that we don't swallow this obvious departure from approved reality, the next paragraph begins "In reality" and proceeds to assure us that the "oppressive, violent and controlling" traditional masculine stereotypes will be, uh, challenged by the course. Well good stuff, but doesn't that make it at least in part a 'study of "men's oppression"'? And by the way I can't say I know of any tradition that men should be that way and the stereotype seems to be feminism's favorite to me, not anyone else's.

Well, like I said, I guess I should be happy that the UK has got its first men's studies course, and I hope that it isn't feminism-for-men in disguise, but I don't hold out much hope.

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1 comment:

Masculist Man said...

I'm all in favor of a real pro-masculist men's studies course and I would like it to be conducted by masculists not femitized toadies like Jim Wild.

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