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What To Do When The Man-Bashing Starts

Six Important Rules

Copyright © 1998 by Lou Owen

 


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What To Do When The Man-Bashing Starts

As extremist feminists become more boldly and openly anti-male in their attitudes, more and more men are encountering blatant man-bashing at work and in their social lives.

It's a recurring question among men: what do you do when the man-bashing starts? Some men say you should just ignore it -- take it like a man. But that might just be the worst thing you can do -- and it might just let the anti-male attitudes become so strong and entrenched that you will have to face it sooner or later. If it's "later," it might be too late.

Sociologists have studied group dynamics to see what happens when one person begins denigrating another person who is absent. It often happens that the denigration will escalate and others will join in if no one objects to it.

But if just one person speaks up -- even with a mild disagreement or a question -- then the denigration is often sidetracked. The first denigrating comment is sort of a test to see how others will react. If no one objects, then others feel free to join in the attack. If it goes on long enough, the denigrating comments become the accepted norm.

Let's say a group of coworkers start discussing Joe, who is not there. One person blames Joe for messing up a project. Everyone either nods or remains silent. The speaker then goes on to criticize Joe's handling of other assignments, getting in a few digs about his personality. It's now established that attacking Joe is not going to be met with much resistance. So someone else joins in. The attack gets reinforced, and it's obvious from the group dynamics that attacking Joe is acceptable. If this goes on long enough, attacking Joe will become the norm. In fact, people might actually feel obligated to attack Joe if they want to feel like they belong to the group.

Now let's back up to the point where the person first blamed Joe for messing up the project. Sociologists note that if just one person says something like "Maybe Joe wasn't given enough time to finish that job," the criticism might be largely defused. Often the attack will go no further -- unless someone really has a vendetta against Joe.

Many feminists are coming from environments where the criticism of men was rampant, acceptable, and expected. Feminists originally had many legitimate grievances. But they were aired in an atmosphere without any restraints on the extent that men could be bashed, blamed, denigrated, stereotyped, and hated. Bashing men became the norm. Men are like the "Joe" character. If people in the feminists' movement had regularly spoken up with statement like "I don't think we should blame men for everything, including our own choices," the man-bashing might have been muted. But instead, most feminists took the easy way out. They sat silently as the extremists bashed men, so man-bashing became the norm. If they spoke out against man-bashing, it was usually because they though man-bashing was hurting feminism's image.

Once man-bashing became the norm, we saw the next phase: many feminists felt obligated to join in the bashing just to feel like they belonged to the group. It's at this stage that we see, for example, women who invent false rape accusations so that they can feel part of the "Take Back The Night" movement.

All in all, feminist "consciousness-raising" often consists of reducing men to stereotypes. Such feminists look on men with open hostility, and still think they are being "moral" for doing so. We can't do much about the professional haters like the National Organization for Women. But what should you do when feminists start bashing men in the work place? It's a tough question, but every man has to be prepared with a plan. Otherwise you are at the mercy of a movement not noted for its mercifulness. So here are Six Rules we urge you to keep in mind.

The first two are:
I. Don't overreact.
II. Don't get angry.

Remember, women today are often consider a "protected minority" in many work places. A woman might be able to get away with calling you a "prick" or a "dickhead," but you might well be fired for replying with a similar anatomical reference. That happened in a recent case at the Miller Brewing Co., where one woman worker used gutter language to describe the male anatomy. However, when a male coworker made an oblique reference to the word "clitoris," she complained about him and he was fired. (The good news is that the man sued the company and the woman, and won. Still, losing your job is a tough way to prove a point, and most men don't have the liberty of doing this.)

The next rule:
III. Judge how serious (and how feminist) the anti-male attitude is.

If the comments involve a woman's minor irritations or good-humored grievances against men, don't let it bother you. Women will always complain about men leaving the lid up, and men will always complain about women taking so long to get ready. That's part of the age-old dance.

The comments you have to be concerned about are the ones with a political agenda behind them -- an agenda of discriminating against men. Comments like "all men are potential rapists," or "men hold too much power," or "men have screwed up the world," etc., signal to you that a feminist thinks she is morally and intellectually superior to you, or that she thinks she is "oppressed" and deserving special perks and programs at your expense.

When you see that the comments have a seriously anti-male agenda behind them, you have to be aware of the "Joe process." Remember, the first comment is sort of a test to see if the speaker can get away with bashing men. If she gets away with it, it tells her that anti-male attitudes are acceptable. Once it is established that anti-male attitudes are acceptable, they will only get bolder, uglier, and more filled with hate. We've seen how that happens in modern feminism's slide from a supposedly egalitarian movement down into stereotype-slinging, discrimination-advocating demagoguery. Anti-male attitudes are like rust. You can't hope that it's just going to get better if you ignore it.

So how do you respond? That's Rule Four:
IV. Make a calm response pointing out that anti-male attitudes are not good for the work place.

When the feminist says "Why do men think they can just go on raping the whole planet?" say to her "Stereotypes really don't help any of us get along," or "most anti-male attitudes tend to be counter-productive." Make your reply a general statement rather than a personal attack. Stress the good of the work place.

She might reply, "That's not an anti-male attitude." (Feminists do not readily admit to holding any stereotypes or anti-male attitudes.) If so, don't argue with her. Just say "Okay, I just felt that bashing any group at all doesn't help us here."

If she's spreading feminist propaganda, you don't have to debate her. Your goal is not to win an argument. Your goal it to send the message that anti-male attitudes are not going to be condoned or be met with passive acceptance. Don't be hostile, just let her know it's disruptive. You could say: "I don't think that's true. Anyway, men and women should work together, and statements like that won't help achieve that."

So Rule Five is:
V. Do not argue or debate with them.

The work place is not a debating society, and you are not going to change their cherished opinions in what little time you have. If you argue with them, you might get a reputation as being argumentative. Moreover, they might just be probing you for any statement or opinion they can take out of context or use as a weapon against you.

Do not try to appeal to the conscience of a feminist who is engaging in bigoted or demeaning behavior. If she had a conscience, she would already know these things are wrong.

You might encounter a male who is willing to condone or support anti-male attitudes. This is common in men who are women-pleasers and those who are ashamed of being male. You're not going to talk them out of their self-loathing, so don't try. But when they defend the man-bashing by saying "I wasn't offended by that remark," tell them "Let's be aware that others might be." Tell him that whether people are right or wrong about feeling offended, it's not beneficial to job performance when people feel like they're being denigrated.

Keep the goal in mind: you're not going to settle all the controversies over feminism or vanquish their arguments. You're just making sure her anti-male hatreds do not find a "safe and nurturing environment."

Remember to object to the statement rather than attack the speaker -- especially if the work place considers her a "protected minority." You can talk about anti-male attitudes, just don't call her a man-hater (even if she is.)

If you do these things well, you might even gain a reputation for good managerial skills -- someone able to defuse a difficult situation. Most people don't really like the man-hating attitudes of modern feminism. A lot of people are glad when someone sidetracks the disruptive anti-male bigot before they work up a real head of steam. You will find many people who are glad you spoke up, and they might start speaking up themselves. The situation could turn completely around from the anti-male attitude the feminist wished to create.

There will be times when nothing you say or do will be able to stem the tide of anti-male hatred in the work place. Many bureaucracies will side with a feminist no matter how abusive or disruptive she becomes -- they will protect her no matter what she does. You have to pick your battles. If you think you can set a tone in which anti-male attitudes are discouraged, then go for it. But if the feminists are already free to practice anti-male hatred with impunity, then the situation has probably already gone too far.

If that's the case, document everything. Get a notebook or set up a floppy disk you know you can keep confidential. Then whenever you experience man-bashing, write it down. Make sure that you describe the statement or action and record the speaker, the time, the date the place and anything you think is relevant. Do this religiously, whether the man-bashing occurs every day or once every six months. This is very important. In court cases, judges and juries are very respectful of documentation. When you have the anti-male actions written down, with dates and names all noted, it builds your credibility immensely. And it shows that the situation was serious enough that you felt that you had to document what was going on.

It is all the more important to do this because the news media is today so biased in favor of feminists. They run with microphones at the ready when feminists cry sexism in the work place, but they tend not to be so interested when it's feminists practicing the sexism. The news media will do the documenting for the feminists. You need to protect yourself by doing your own documentation.

And finally, never, ever, underestimate an extremist feminist's capacity and desire for revenge. There are feminists who believe that you have committed an offense simply by disagreeing with them. They are right, and if you disagree with them, you are an oppressor determined to keep women down. It does not matter if you are merely saying that you do not want to be discriminated against. In their minds, this translates to "He wants to keep women down and preserve all the male privileges of the patriarchy." (Anyone who has objected to anti-male discrimination during a Usenet discussion is familiar with this reaction.) Well, feminists who react like that are not merely on the Usenet. They are out there in the real world. They are coworkers and supervisors, they are politicians and bureaucrats and reporters. When they've decided that you are the oppressor-scum, any low blow they can aim at you will seem justified in their minds.

So when you are objecting to man-bashing, you have to watch your back. Be aware of who you are talking to. Keep your ears open for the grapevine. Many extremist feminists will practice character assassination as a way of punishing you for the sin of disagreeing with them.

So you already know that Rule Six is:
VI. Document everything.

Document, document, document. It will help protect you if any feminist decides to launch a smear campaign because you objected to man-bashing. Your documentation will help catch them in any inconsistencies they might have, and it will expose their anti-male attitudes and also point out their motive for attacking you. But more than that, by documenting anti-male biases, you are doing more than protecting yourself. You are writing the history that politically correct academia will not yet write. Someday -- perhaps not today, but someday -- the wider audience is going to finally be told the full story of extremist, hate-mongering feminists and the McCarthyesque tactics they use.

Most of all, make sure that your story is documented for the day when society is finally ready to take an honest look at the bigotry that has been hiding beneath the mask of gender equality. So remember what to do when the man-bashing starts:

  1. Don't overreact.
  2. Don't get angry.
  3. Judge how serious (and how feminist) the anti-male attitude is.
  4. Make a calm response pointing out that anti-male attitudes are not good for the work place.
  5. Do not argue or debate with them
  6. And most important, document everything.

Lou Owen escaped from the world of cities in 1968 and ran away to the Keeweenaw in Michigan's remote Upper Peninsula where he lives with his wife Liz. He has two grown children and works teaching High School and College history courses. Packpacking, canoeing, chess bridge, dogs and good movies fill his time but on occasion he meditates on the meaning of being a man.


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