"Our hypothesis is that worthy victims will be featured prominently and dramatically, that they will be humanized, and that their victimization will receive the detail and context in story construction that will generate reader interest and sympathetic emotions. In contrast, unworthy victims will merit only slight detail, minimal humanization, and little context that will excite and enrage."
óE. S. Herman and N. Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent:1
Caitlyn left The Bridges of Madison County feeling a bit bored with her husband Ė it had been a long time since a Clint Eastwood had courted and excited her; the following morning she read about a housework study saying men expect their wives to pick up after them. Now she was wandering into the bedroom; her husbandís socks were on the floor... "who did he think she was?"
Caitlyn was experiencing the influence of an attitude toward men generated first by the arts (Bridges), and, the next morning, by academia (they did the housework study), the government (they funded it) the media (they reported it) and the helping professions (they were the sources of interpretation used by the media). At times like this, Caitlynís husband could feel Caitlynís anger even if she said nothing. He responded by withdrawing. Unwittingly, the love between them was being contaminated by what I will refer to in this chapter as the "Lace Curtain"2 Ė the tendency of most major institutions to interpret gender issues from only a feminist perspective or from a combination of feminist and female perspectives.
Is it true, though, that the male point of view is not being represented? In a study of more than 1200 headlines from seven high circulation Canadian newspapers, women were referred to as victims of violence thirty-five times for each one reference to men as victims.3 Not a single article focused on men.4 Compare this to the reality: Men are three times as likely to be victims of murder, twice as likely to be victims of non-domestic violence, and equally as likely to be victims of domestic violence, but the study found that newspapers virtually ignore the violence against men in each of these areas Ė no matter who the perpetrator.
More discouraging, when violence against men was reported, it was usually in statistical and raw data form; womenís was personalized.5 That was in Canada. In the United States, neither the government nor academia nor the profession of journalism has financed a comparable study, or examined why such gaps exist between reality and perception on almost every male-female issue.
One of the most common responses I hear when I introduce some of the findings in this book, or from The Myth of Male Power, is an incredulous, "If all this is true, why hasnít the media reported it?" Or "If the news likes whatís new, why are they ignoring new news?" And, as feminists accurately point out, far more men than women are on the front pages.6 To many, this implies a bias in favor of men, making it hard to understand why what I discuss goes unseen or unreported Ė or seen and distorted. Why?
The Paradox of the Visible Invisible Man
How can it be true that men make the front pages more often, but menís underlying issues and internal stories do not? The process of raising money and climbing leadershipís ladders that gets a man on the front pages requires a man to repress his fears, not express his fears. So a manís external story is visible; his internal story invisible. Whether on the front page or the business pages, we rarely read of a manís sorrow about coming home too late to read his child a bedtime story, or the emotional distance he may be feeling from his wife, or whatís worrying him when he canít fall asleep. This is the paradox of the visible invisible man.
If, however, women make the front pages less often, does this mean womenís issues make the front pages less often? No. One of the major functions of men who make the front pages is to protect women. In general, men make the front pages either when they protect and save us Ė or threaten our safety. And men are especially concerned about saving and protecting women. So, when the President and Congress unanimously pass male-only draft registration and a Violence Against Women Act, it is mostly men on the front pages, even though it is women being protected. Ditto for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) programs, an Office of Research on Womenís Health, the Learned Helplessness Defense, sexual harassment legislation, the prosecution of a man for rape or date rape... mostly men on the front pages, saving mostly women.
Men are also on the front pages when they violate womenís safety, whether on the level of OJ Simpson or Clarence Thomas. We sometimes forget that those men on the front pages are also portrayed negatively much more often than women.7
Letís go beyond the front page. The Life/Style/Womenís sections share womenís internal stories: her experience of divorce, depression, domestic violence, remarriage, her "juggling act," her battles with harassment and discrimination, even her frustration with the toilet seat being left up. The coverage is legal and emotional. We see statistics and tears.
Conversely, no section shares a manís personal feelings about losing his wife, children, and home after divorce and then being expected to pay for what he doesnít have; we read of him coming home drunk and hitting his wife, but not the disappointed dreams that led him to disappear into a bottle; we read the drama of her depression, but only the fact of his; the dilemmas of her juggling act are not balanced by the dilemmas of his "intensifying act" and "fatherís catch-22"; we donít read long stories about his fears of remarriage, his experience of depression, his "life of quiet desperation," why he doesnít report domestic violence against him, his thoughts of suicide, or his personal story of what he feels like if he canít tuck enough money away for his childrenís education after the mortgage, insurance, and orthodontist bills are paid; or what he feels like wanting to make love with his wife but not wanting to be a bother.
We care about men as human doings, not as human beings. We care about him as an individual like I care about the individual parts of my car Ė I care about its problems only when itís causing me problems. Or I care about prevention only when lack of prevention will cause me problems. Even when a manís problems are affecting his ability to be a protector, we often refer to his problems from the perspective of the problems they create for a woman (he cheated on her; he got drunk and hit her). Which is why the other men who make the front pages are the villains who are causing us problems.
In brief, menís lives count only to the degree they are heroes who perform for us or save us, or villains who disturb our peace. Womenís lives count more for their own sakeÖa womanís pain is every talk show.
We so rarely inquire of a manís grief, we forget it exists. When Princess Di had her affair, we asked her about her isolation, her depression, her husbandís aloofness; but when Prince Charles had an affair, we accused him of infidelity.... As a result, billions of women worldwide identified with Princess Di. Few men had any male fears with which to identify.
For millions of years, this attitude was necessary for survival, but it is now dysfunctional for our dads and sons having a quality life. And it is destroying love between the sexes.
Lack of compassion for menís stories is also dysfunctional to our selection of leadership. Think of the bind Bill Clinton was in as a candidate for president. If he had acknowledged his sexual addiction before he became president, we would have denied him the presidency. We say we want honesty, but reward denial. When we force a man to choose between working on himself and his career, we encourage denial. And we serve neither him or the country. Nor do we serve women: be they Hillary, Chelsea, Monica or the millions of women who now trust men even less.
One reason men fear speaking up is that they fear they will be evaluated not by the compassion applied to Princess Di, but by the assumptions applied to Prince Charles. For example, when President Clinton had an affair, we didnít inquire of his emotional isolation, or ask compassionately if his and Hillaryís political partnership left him emotionally and sexually starving. Maybe this was not the case, but we didnít ask. Until we treat a man as something other than a replaceable part when we discover him as a human being, he will pose only as a human doing.
Thus far Iíve been speaking of men who make the front pages. But they are, at best, one tenth of one percent of all men. Meantime, the "invisible" man, the short order cooks, the truck drivers, the garbage collector or construction worker, the Willy Lomans and Private Ryans of everyday life, have neither their external or internal stories told.
Because of our dependency on men as saviors, when men fail, we treat them differently than women who fail. When women commit crimes, we are told of the hardships of their childhood; with men, we are told of the victims of their crime.
Are women prevented from having their external stories told? No. Today women are given scholarships and affirmative action to encourage them full time into the world of business and politics; men are given neither to encourage them full time into the world of home and family.
The Lace Curtain
Hearing womenís internal stories Ė without hearing menís Ė made the world seem unfair to women. Ironically, because we didnít know menís stories were being left out, the more we heard from women the more we thought weíd been neglecting women. Soon it became politically incorrect to interrupt her flow. So womenís stories became womenís studies, not to be interrupted by menís studies.
Graduates of womenís studies courses soon controlled gender related decisions in almost all large bureaucracies. When an issue about sexual harassment or date rape came up on a college campus, the feminists flooded the committees concerning these decisions, created the agenda, and decided who would be hired as consultants and speakers.
The problem? Women with backgrounds in womenís studies were not only uneducated about men, but often saw men as the problem and women as the solution. They had demonized men. If someone spoke up against them, they werenít just outnumbered, they were labeled sexist. And what we will see in this chapter is how that labeling led to the end of careers in the Ď80s and Ď90s as quickly as being labeled communist ended careers in the 1950s.
The power of feminists to allow only a feminist perspective to be aired (in every field that dealt with gender issues) came to be labeled the "Lace Curtain."
The Iron Curtain shut out opinions considered a threat to Communism. The Lace Curtain shuts out opinions considered a threat to feminism.
In an Iron Curtain country, capitalist-bashing was the norm. In a Lace Curtain country, man-bashing is the norm. The chapter on man bashing hopefully made clear the degree to which man bashing is the norm; this chapter on the Lace Curtain shows us how each institution, from the government to the school system, from the helping professions to the media, produces that outcome, each in its own unique way.
In an Iron Curtain country, being too critical of core Communist tenets could cost you your job. Especially if your job was in the government, media or education system. In a Lace Curtain country, being too critical of core feminist attitudes (sexual harassment, affirmative action) can cost you your job. Especially if your job is in the government, media or education system.
The Communist Party achieved this power to censor formally, by revolution and becoming the one-party system of Soviet politics. Feminism achieved this power informally, by becoming the one-party system of gender politics: creating a new area of study, defining the terms, generating the data and becoming the only acceptable source of interpretation. This chapter explains how this occurs, and why.
Communists came into power by selling the belief that workers were exploited by capitalists. Feminists came into power by selling the belief that women were exploited by men. Both communists and feminists defined an enemy and sold itself as the champion of the oppressed.
Once Communism and feminism successfully defined themselves as progressive and morally superior, censoring criticism could be rationalized as progressive and morally necessary.
How do you know if youíre part of the Lace Curtain? If you feel more comfortable telling a man-bashing joke than a joke bashing all women. How do you know if youíre in an organization thatís part of the Lace Curtain? When you tell a man-bashing joke and everyone laughs, then tell a woman-bashing joke and no one laughs.... In some organizations, the censorship starts sooner... we donít even think of telling the woman-bashing joke!
The Lace Curtain is less a "woman thing" than a feminist thing. But feminism has made women-as-victim so credible we would sooner think of saving whales than saving males. In this respect, almost all of us contribute to the Lace Curtain.
Which institutions create the Lace Curtain? Universities, in all the liberal arts, especially at the top-ranked schools; the school system, especially public high schools; government, especially at the national and United Nations level; the media, especially print media and television; the helping professions, especially social work; advertising, especially on television; book publishing, especially self-help and text books; funding institutions, especially those funding health, arts, and university research. Each institution censors and distorts in its own unique way. Each reinforces the other like academics citing each otherís research.
If your son or daughter is about to enter a top university in the liberal arts, he or she will be behind the Lace Curtain. Youíll notice it next Christmas. It is leaving many of our daughters with a love-hate relationship toward their dads and husbands; when they become mothers of sons, their feelings about men are transmitted to their sons, leaving their sons with mixed feelings about themselves. The Lace Curtain, like the Iron Curtain, ultimately hurts even those it was intended to benefit: leaving many employers fearful of hiring women; making many of our children fearful of marriage.
Is the Lace Curtain a conspiracy? No and yes. "No" by the current meaning of the word (a covert manipulation), but "yes" by the original Latin, meaning "to breathe together" ("spire" means to breathe; "con" means together). If we think of a conspiracy as people of a similar consciousness, in essence "breathing together," then the Lace Curtain is a conspiracy. For reasons I discuss in the chapter on man-bashing, it is a "conspiracy" common to industrialized nations.
How I Met the Lace Curtain: My Personal Journey
As I listen to the stories of authors who have tried to articulate menís issues, I hear one experience of censorship after another. Some I will share, but many authors who are published or still have hopes of being published, are afraid to be mentioned Ė "Iím afraid people will assume the real reason is that my work is inferior"; "Iím afraid it will be seen as sour grapes"; "Iím afraid people will say my book didnít sell well and thatís why Iím so angry"; "Iím afraid...."
I acknowledge all of these fears myself. But I also know that if I donít practice what I preach Ė that women canít hear what men donít say Ė then I have no right to ask other men to take risks I am myself unwilling to take. I know this will leave me vulnerable, and I know some people will never read this book because they will first read some news account of some distorted version of these personal stories that will make them turn off to me before they get started. I canít say, "so be it" because I do care Ė I write to be read. But every man has exactly these type of fears when he first begins to share his life experience Ė that his career, his reputation (his readership) will be hurt. And sometimes, when he shares, that is a price he actually pays.
I will ask you to assume that if you have a teenage son, or husband, that he has these same fears, fears that keep a part of him silent even as another part speaks. If you are able to hear him in the way of Part I above, you will give him your greatest gift. Enough. Here goes....
When I was first elected to the Board of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City, I was 26. I had never written for a national publication. The New York Times sought me out, did a major story on me and the menís groups I was running, and asked me to write an op. ed. piece. I did. They published it, with hardly a word changed. They asked me to do a second. Again they published it with hardly a word changed. And a third....
As long as I was writing from a feminist perspective, The New York Times published everything I wrote. Once I began questioning the feminist perspective, The New York Times published nothing I wrote Ė not a single one of the more than twenty articles I have since submitted to them in the following two decades.
Back to the story...
The New York Times coverage led to the Today Show. During my years speaking from the feminist perspective, I was three times a guest on the Today Show. Once I began articulating menís perspectives, I was never invited back. I was beginning to notice a pattern!
Phil Donahue had apparently seen me on the Today Show and in The New York Times and extended an invitation. When we met, we hit it off. He immediately invited his first wife (Marjorie) to meet me and dine together. When he and Marjorie ran into conflicts, he would call me for advice. After each show, he took me to the airport himself. On the seventh show, though, something happened. I began to add menís perspectives. Suddenly, I was not invited back for years.
When Why Men Are The Way They Are was published, I was eventually invited for an eighth show. But articulating menís perspectives, even in balance with womenís, led to another six year hiatus. When The Myth of Male Power came out, although it was from the male perspective, it was so much up Donahueís line of relationships and politics that three producers were vying to be the one to produce the show. I was scheduled, with a firm date. The producers convinced my agent to book me as an exclusive on Donahue. As a result, queries to all other American talk shows were dropped. Then something happenedÖ.
The taping kept getting "postponed." Eventually neither I nor my agents, Hilsinger and Mendelson, the most powerful in the book publicity business, could reach them. As I was trying to unravel the stonewalling, a Canadian show called. They were filled with enthusiasm. But suddenly it, too, kept getting "postponed." This producer, though, had previously booked me; I could feel the remorse in his voice; so I pressed him for an explanation.
Finally he caved, "If you promise to never use my name Iíll tell you." I promised. Hesitatingly, he started, "We wanted to have a balanced show, so we called a couple of feminists Ė big names Ė to be on with you. Instead of just refusing, they said in effect, ĎIf you have this guy on, donít expect us to bring our next book to you, or supply you with real-life examples to use on your show Ė weíll do that just for Oprah.í Another one used the moral appeal Ė something like, ĎFeminism is opposed to rape and the battering of women; so, if you have him on, youíd better take responsibility for making women even more vulnerable.í Once the word got out that we were considering you, we got other calls, even one from a guy, sort of repeating the same mantra.
"Warren, most of us saw all this for the attempt at censorship it was, and as for me, I was excited by the controversy, but, well, it just took one of our producers whoís never met you and hasnít read the book to freak out and, before we knew it, we were all afraid to stir up her indignation." Well, there you have it. Or,... there I had it!
Then there was the day I first questioned in public the statement that men earned a dollar for each 70 cents earned by women. I did that on Hour Magazine, a show that was nationally televised at the time. The other guest was Gloria Steinem. I said, "Never-married women often earn more than never-married men, because...." Gloria, who had to that point (1986) viewed me as an ally, looked to host Gary Collins as if to signal "cut!" Gary Collins, who had always treated me with great respect, told me I must have gotten the sexes mixed up, and signaled for the producer to interrupt the taping.
Off air, I explained that I had meant what I said. I could see in Garyís and Gloriaís faces that I had "turned the screw." I could feel the segment was being redone merely so they could avoid saying directly that it would never be aired. And yes, it was never aired. My status changed from regular guest to never being invited back. As for Gloria Steinem? Well, she went from being a friend, to never returning my calls. Thinking a little humor might break the ice, I sent her a phone from Toys-R-Us with a dime taped to it. Maybe she doesnít like Toys-R-Us.
I had naively believed that leaders as pioneering as I thought Gloria was would be delighted to hear of ways in which women were succeeding. Now I had to face a deeper fear: that some of my feminist colleagues might have an emotional investment in womenís victimhood that went so deep as to prevent any discussion that might dilute womenís victim status. Since my income came from feminist referrals, and since feminist power was solidifying the Lace Curtain, I felt, well, Öscared.
I was eventually to discover that fear was well founded. My speaking engagements on college campuses were soon reduced to less than 5% Ė not 50%, but 5% Ė of what they were.
It isnít that many women and even individual feminists were not open enough to hearing a different perspective. When I wrote The Myth of Male Power, an editor at Modern Maturity, the publication with the largest monthly circulation in the United States, had read it, loved it, felt it would be perfect for the male readers, and asked me to write two articles for Modern Maturity. I did. Both articles were loved, edited, approved, paid in full, and scheduled for publication.
I had just turned fifty, so I was to receive my own copy. I saw it in the mailbox, and quickly scanned the front cover to see if they gave it special coverage. No. Then the table of contents. Nothing. I called the editor. She apologized and said they had "changed focus" at the last minute. But something in her voice said "cover up." I asked the editor to be honest. She was. She explained that one feminist researcher, who admittedly could find nothing wrong with the research, nevertheless protested. Loudly. The management became afraid. The editor felt as awful as I did.
One day, I received a call from Glamour magazine. They had done excerpts from Why Men Are The Way They Are when other womenís magazines had passed. So I was especially happy when both Glamour and one of my favorite editors there wanted to co-author with me a major article on "How Does Sex Really Feel to Men?" Here was the deal: I do the research; she does the writing, Glamour-style. Fine. So I did the research.
I found that many men felt sex was better with less-attractive women. In one manís words, "The most attractive women Iíve been with have been the worst lovers...." A few had good experiences with women a little overweight. One explained, " Thereís kind of a maternal quality that I find very arousing, comforting, very erotic."
The editor loved the material Ė to her it felt unique, and suggested that many different types of women could be loved. But a top Glamour editor marked these very findings with "Iíd drop this." Finally, the entire piece was canned. The excuse? "Nothing original." The editor was shocked. She knew the real reason: Glamour isnít selling slightly overweight, less-attractive women.
In this case, my findings were compatible with those of virtually every feminist Ė put less emphasis on the quasi-anorexic woman. The censorship came instead from a different portion of the Lace Curtain Ė the portion whose investment is not in victim power, but in "genetic celebrity" power:8 the power of a womanís beauty to obtain attention, "love," dinners, dates, and diamonds without her doing anything but smile in return. The genetic-celebrity-power portion of the Lace Curtain knew that the more she had an investment in her genetic-celebrity-power, the more she would invest, the more the ads were worth. I was discovering that each portion of the Lace Curtain wanted to hear the menís feelings that they wanted to hear.
What happens when the genetic celebrity gets married? A Ladiesí Home Journal reporter interviewed me about "What Men Fear Most."9 It was about the secrets men fear sharing even with their wives (e.g., fear of not earning enough money combined with a desire for a career that he enjoyed more that paid less). He sent me the draft he sent to the Journal. I was relieved. I knew it would be helpful to the marriages of Ladiesí Home Journal readers. Until we saw the published piece Ė with virtually every insight surgically removed. An experienced writer, he had never experienced "editing" at this level. He was shaken, and depressed.
The Myth of Male Power had just arrived at the studio of Good Morning, America. It was creating an in-studio buzz, and my publicists were informed they wanted to devote a full half hour to a debate between men and a leading feminist like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, or Susan Faludi. None of the name feminists would do a debate. Feminists who mostly agreed with me, like Camille Paglia and Nancy Friday, were willing to dialogue, but that wasnít enough conflict for Good Morning, America. Now hereís where the Lace Curtain comes in: In ten years of expressing only the feminist perspective, including three times on Good Morning America, I had never been asked to debate. This time, when the big name feminists refused to debate, they cut the appearance from a possible half hour to four minutes!
Why, though, would the feminists not debate? For the same reason any one party system has no interest in debating. When you have the power you have little to gain and a lot to lose. When we speak of power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely, one example is the unwillingness to debate. The unwillingness to debate is part of the corruption of power.
Perhaps the most ironic story is still "in process." For more than three years, I have been told I was too politically incorrect to be on Politically Incorrect! Stuart Pedersen, a paid consultant to the show finally wrote me, "As if you didnít know, Politically Incorrect is clearly censoring you.... Theyíre afraid of you."
If my experiences were unique I probably wouldnít have the courage to share them here. For me, part of what I learn from women and feminists is the value of sharing what is "private," helping each of us to determine whether our "personal" experiences are also political ones. Even with that, I may still not have the courage to share these stories had my reception not been so positive for so long when I was writing only from the feminist perspective.
In a moment Iíll share some of these other menís perspectives, but first, there are two feminists who refer to themselves as dissident feminists Ė Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers Ė who have also met the Lace Curtain head on. Camille Paglia has not hesitated to speak publicly of being booked on shows and then hearing producersí tales of the feminists calling to persuade them to drop her. Because she receives so many death threats, her answering machine announces that she doesnít personally open packages sent to her.
When Christina Hoff Sommers wrote Who Stole Feminism?, CBSís Eye to Eye was doing a special on her. When the show was aired, Connie Chung publicly announced on the show that she was surprised to receive phone calls from so many feminists, including Gloria Steinem personally, trying to pressure the producer into not having the show aired. To CBSís credit, and in particular to the credit of reporter Bernard Goldberg, they did not cave.
Men from the US to England who have tried to express menís perspectives on a broad range of issues have found themselves similarly censored.
A colleague of mine wrote letters-to-the editor to The Nation for years. Nothing published. Finally he signed his name "Stephanie" rather than Steve.10 Published. American authors Asa Baber and Jack Kammer, both balanced and articulate, and British authors Neil Lyndon and David Thomas, both of whom met with success before they tried to articulate menís perspectives, could not garner among them a single review or article in The New York Times, Newsweek, or Time.11 As a result, Neil and David basically forfeited their expertise on menís issues; Asa, a Playboy columnist with hundreds of thousands of readers, wrote no more books; and Jack has been unsuccessful in getting his next book published.
The British authors, unpublished in the United States, experienced a different type of Lace Curtain treatment in Britain. Neil Lyndon, author of No More Sex War, explains, "The reviews avoided what I said and attacked me personally, saying I must be impotent, or angry because I couldnít get a girlfriend. I happened to be involved with a stunningly beautiful woman, but the truth was irrelevant.... And then, I was invited to speak at the Cambridge Union [the British pinnacle of intellect and debate]. It was at the time of the threats to Salmon Rushdieís life, about which all intellectuals were outraged. When I finished speaking, the President of the Cambridge Union, a woman, said in no uncertain terms that my book should be burned. Some weeks later, a student told me her history prof said in class that I should be shot. Shot! To me it is too ironic that the same people who are outraged at the censorship of Salmon Rushdie are so quick to censor anything confronting feminism, and are blind to their own hypocrisy."
At least Neil did not experience the death threats encountered by Camille Paglia, or the ostracism experienced by Suzanne Steinmetz, Richard Gelles, and Murray Straus when they published their findings showing women batter equally (see the chapter on domestic violence).
The Lace Curtainís power exists even in male-dominated institutions. For example, Dr. Charles McDowell, formerly of the US Air Forceís Office of Special Investigations, discovered that 27% of Air Force women who claimed they had been raped later admitted making false accusations of rape.12 The admission usually came when they were asked to take a lie detector test. With these admitted false accusations he was able to develop 35 criteria distinguishing false accusations and those known to be genuine. Three independent judges then examined the remainder of the cases. Only if all three reviewers independently concluded the original rape allegations were false did they rank them as "false." The total of false allegations became 60%.
Rather than publicize the study as an antidote to the Tailhook scandal, the study was buried. Dr. Charles McDowell was ostracized and movedĖ the Air Force equivalent of being sent to Siberia.
How does the Lace Curtain become part of such diverse institutions in such a wide variety of industrialized nations around the world? Hereís an overview, but donít expect yourself to believe this before you read the chapter.
How the Lace Curtain Works: The Eight Step Plan
The Lace Curtain works...
ē By the training of feminists in womenís studiesí programs who then become the only experts on gender in all institutions working on gender questions.
In the process, the three other major perspectives of the gender dialogue go unrepresented. The perspectives of:
- non-traditional men who feel both sexesí traditional role needs changing, and both sexes need equal compassion in making that transition. This group sees itself as temporarily focused on menís issues, but ultimately being part of a gender transition movement. They believe that historically neither sex was a victim, they both had roles necessary to survival. (Although this is the group with which I identify, I do not believe it should be more than one-fourth of the gender discussion.)
- traditional women Ė the 65 percent of women who do not consider themselves feminists (according to a CNN-Time poll);13
- traditional men (the equivalent of the 65 percent of women who do not consider themselves feminists). This includes Promise Keepers and men agreeing with Rush Limbaugh.
The effect? Almost every aspect of male-female relationships is studied and legislated from the feminist point of view, not the traditional female or male point of view or the perspective of the non-traditional male. Within the feminist point of view, we will see how the victim feminist perspective dominates those of empowerment feminists in the areas that apply to the Lace Curtain.
This bias is not stagnant. It can begin anywhere in the system and spread like the ripple begun by a pebble tossed in a pond. Feminists in the womenís bureau of the department of labor may subcontract a study to academic feminists, the results of which are promoted to a feminist media which does not question the bias, and the resulting hard news and soft news create public support for politicians to create legal changes that in turn fund more feminist academic and government studies....
This gives feminist perspectives so much value the system "buys" more feminists. How?
- By awarding feminists with honors, scholarships and careers.
We will see below the 1,700 funding sources for women and the complete lack of comparable sources for men; the way 30,000 womenís studies courses support professors who think feminist and teach feminist, while virtually no comparable menís studies courses exist with teachers who think "masculist," if you will; the way the Human Resource and Development divisions of most large corporations allow only a feminist approach to gender, thus creating careers for tens of thousands of additional feminists. Even some of the most prestigious awards, like Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards, are given to women with feminist world-views, like Susan Faludi and Toni Morrison, but never to a man or woman who specializes in menís issues.
With the Lace Curtainís structure and funding intact, its next step is defining the issues and non-issues, the heroes and villains. It does this by...
- By defining two-sex issues from only the womanís perspective.
Thus, we discuss domestic violence against women, not domestic violence against men; we study schools from the perspective of the neglect to our daughters, not our sons; we define health issues as womenís health, not the 34 neglected areas of menís health outlined below; we define work-in-the-home as housework, remaining blind to the fifty areas of menís contributions; we discuss dating from the girlsí perspective of boys coming on too strong, not boysí perspective of fearing being rejected or their feelings about girls not sharing the risks of rejection.
Even if men (e.g., legislators) are competing to solve the problem, they are competing to solve a Lace Curtain definition of the problem. The men may be accused of male dominance, but they are actually working for women Ė dominated by womenís concerns without even knowing menís exist.
- By creating victim data to catalyze "Victim Power."
Female-as-victim data is publicized, male-as-victim data ignored. We saw in the chapters above how men as equal victim of domestic violence data has been kept out of the public consciousness for a quarter century. The best way to ignore data is to not ask questions to discover it to begin with. Thus we see below how the Census Bureau asks only women about child support payments. And finally, victim data is also created by falsification, as we saw with the United Nations falsification of housework data.
When the problem is worse for American men, as with suicide, or circumcision, find a country in which it is as bad for women and headline it as worse for women. Then portray this womanís problem as caused by men or patriarchy.
The effect? Woman-as-Victim catalyzes the protector instinct in all of us, leading us to create advantages for women, from affirmative action and scholarships to special legal defenses. It creates female Victim Power. This tempts feminists to ignore data and perspectives empathetic to men for fear of destroying this female Victim Power.
Does male victim data catalyze a parallel male victim power? No. It catalyzes the "cringe response." Why? Our fear is that a man who needs help cannot protect. Cringe.
- By making illegal the problems growing out of the traditional male role and ignoring the problems growing out of the traditional female role.
Thus deadbeat dads becomes a major issue, denial of visitation a minor issue. We expand the ability to prosecute rape and ignore false accusations of rape. Since womenís new role is working outside the home, equal rights to the workplace are a major issue, menís equal rights to the homeplace and fathering are minor issues. Since men are the sexual initiators and more likely to be above women at work, we prioritize the problems of sexual harassment, and ignore the problems of sexual advantage Ė for example, the advantages Monica Lewinsky received that other interns did not, and the awarding of damages to future interns to compensate for the suspicion with which they will be viewed.
The effect? Once the man is portrayed as perpetrator, the perpetratorís story is suspect and the media is hesitant to cross-examine the presumed "victim" Ė it doesnít want to appear to be "blaming the victim," or "not believing the victim." Thus the media drops its investigative mandate.
- By neglecting to define menís issues.
Other menís issues, like the lack of a menís birth control pill, male-only executions, male-only draft registration, menís health, equal pay for equal dating, or false accusations of domestic violence or child molestation, especially during custody battles etc., are not defined in the public consciousness at all.
- By labeling people who disagree with victim feminism as "sexist," and if they persist, putting their careers at risk.
While feminist thinking is honored and turned into careers, the reverse is true of non-feminist thinking. I am often approached by men when speaking to corporations about their fears of being honest about women in the workplace. I recall a man at Bell Atlantic who said, "If I suggested that at 7pm, the only people left in my department are men Ė and thatís why we get promoted faster Ė Iíd be setting myself up to never be promoted again!"
- By menís silence.
The reasons for menís silence and the price it exacts are the theme of this book, [Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say] so no explanation required here except that without it the Lace Curtain would not exist.
1 Subtitled The Political Economy of the Mass Media (NY: Pantheon Books, 1988), p. 35.
2 Term coined by Nicholas Davidson, author of The Failure of Feminism (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1988).
3 James W. Boyce, "Manufacturing Concern: Headline Coverage of Male and Female Victims of Violence in Canadian Daily Newspapers, 1989 to 1992," 1994. MA Thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario.
6 See, for example, Laura Sydell, "How the Media Slants The Message," On the Issues, Summer, 1992, p. 33-36.
7 Junetta Davis, Journalism Quarterly, 1982, No. 59, pp. 456-460, as cited in Jack Kammer, "On Balance: The Journalism of Gender," Quill, May, 1992, p. 29.
8 Warren Farrell, Why Men Are The Way They Are (NY: Berkley, paper, 1994).
9 Hank Herman, "What Men Fear Most," Ladies' Home Journal, March, 1992, p. 82.
10 Steven Svoboda, private correspondence, January 19, 1997.
11 I interviewed David Thomas, author of Not Guilty, on December 16, 1998, and Neil Lyndon, author of No More Sex War: The Failures of Feminism (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992), on January 17, 1999.
12 Written correspondence to me from Charles P. McDowell, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.L.S., Supervisory Special Agent of the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations, March 20, 1992. This is based on an Air Force study of 556 rape allegations, the methodology and details of which are explained in my The Myth of Male Power (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993 ; NY: Berkley, paper, 1994), p. 322.
13 Poll taken mid-May, 1998, and mentioned on CNN & Company.