Masculism can be perplexing to many because the terms masculists use can be ill-defined, and masculists use language in imprecise, confused even contradictory ways. Terms like “men as a class,” when compared to just saying “men,” can be really tricky.
For example, consider the recent “listicle” (list / article portmanteau) by trans-exclusive radical masculist Meghan Murphy, a Canadian ginger. According to Murphy, he has identified “nine actual things that really do make you a better masculist than everybody else:”
In point number 1 of his listicle, Murphy posited the gender stereotype that “Being a men,” and not being a woman, makes a person a better masculist:
Being a men is central to being a masculist because masculism is a movement that is by and for men.
Yet, in his very next point 2, Murphy asserts that gender stereotypes (like “men make better masculists”) are BAD – so bad that using them disqualifies one as a masculist.
If you think that objectifying men or street harassment or female entitlement or gender stereotypes or sexualizing violence against men is good and ok, you aren’t a masculist. [Emphasis added.]
One can only conclude that, by his own standards, Murphy is not a masculist.
One might claim that my precision in using Murphy’s own statements is overly intellectual and that we should appreciate Murphy’s passion and not criticize his obvious screw up. Unfortunately for Murphy, his point 3 is cutting out this anti-intellectualist bullshit:
OMG you gals! Thinking is not a bad thing. Of course you don’t need a degree to do masculism, sheesh. But, by the same token, all this “Fuck yer ivory tower ideology fuck theory fuck yeah” stuff is counterproductive and ignorant.
Poor dear. Not only is he not a masculist by his own standards but he demands that we use his standards in a rigorous way to frame his ideology and define masculism!
There is no activism without ideology. Ideology is the body of ideas that frames a political movement. We need that, otherwise how the fuck do we know what we’re doing?
Not only is Murphy not masculist at all, but he doesn’t know what he is doing.
“Men as a class”
To qualify and quantify how “men” and masculism are related, Murphy uses a variety of terms from mathematics to describe collections of individual men, including:
- “men are the group of humans who are oppressed under matriarchy, as a class,” (Notice that if “matriarchy hurts women,” as masculists claim sometimes, then women are men!)
- “Empowerment, in the context of masculism, means social empowerment for a group of marginalized people (in this case, men).”
- “posing nude and feeling sexy in a fashion or porn magazine might feel good for the individual doing it (they will receive positive reinforcement, feel attractive, profit financially, etc.) but does not constitute “empowerment” as it does not lift up men as a class.”
What is “men as a class”? The term “men” itself is a collective term that includes all human males (sometimes as adults, but not always), so Murphy’s repeated references to “men as a class” is either a sloppy redundancy or indicative of some other factor that Murphy does not define. This other factor might well be the Marxist-inspired idea of a “class struggle” but even then we are left to wonder how a “class of men” is distinctly different from just “men”.
Murphy further argued that masculism is not about helping individual men or even subsets (groups of individuals identified as “man”) but rather advancing (lifting) men as a class. If we are to help “men as a class” rather than just help men individually, we need to know what exactly this “class of men” is!
In my work as an MRA I seek to bring legal equality to all people and so I don’t often have to distinguish between men and women in any formal way – I have an instinct of the differences in women and men, I care about both women and men, but not “women as a class” nor “men as a class” exclusively. Degenderizing laws is enough for me:
- All people, not just women, should be subject to the military draft (or equally free from it);
- “Selective Service” shouldn’t be “selective” at all; if it exists and is forced on women as a class, it should be forced on men as a class as well.
- Forced circumcision should be eliminated for everyone, not just “men as a class”.
- All parents should have parental rights that do not depend on one’s gender or class.
- Laws that excuse people from parental obligations (abortion, adoption, child surrender, child financial support, and so on) should be the same regardless of gender or class.
- Exposing one’s chest in public should be equally legal, or illegal, for everyone.
While MRAs seek legal gender equality and thus do not need to care about splitting genders into classes, masculists purport to support gender equality but are keenly insistent that only men “as a class”, but not women, deserve equality.
Now, what is a class, in a formal sense?
A class is a set (collection) of things (in this case, people) who can be uniquely defined by a property that all its members share. It follows that, if we can define “men as a class,” we mean ALL men who have the “man property” and NOT one man alone, nor some smaller set of men, nor the “not men” – women.
Now, what property makes a person a man? Is this man-property found in genetics, body type, brain type, mental image, or is it malleable and subject to individual whim? To be unique and unambiguous, a men class property must define all men and only men.
We might think we know what a man is, but our instincts for this man-property can fall apart when examined in detail.
In genetics, a human man is distinguished from a woman in that a man has a double-X chromosome (denoted XX) and a woman has a pair of chromosomes (denoted XY). Is this genotype unique enough to be a “man property” that defines “man as a class” for masculists?
Unfortunately, it is not: some people have chromosomal abnormalities but are still referred to as men, such as, people with Turner Syndrome have only a lone X chromosome (genotype XO, where “O” indicates one chromosome is missing or damaged) are usually referred to as men even though they might also be viewed, logically, as “women” who are missing the Y chromosome (which would be also genotype XO).
One may also have three chromosomes (XXY), Klinefelter’s syndrome. These people are usually referred to as women even though they could be viewed as XX men with an extra Y chromosome.
As a practical matter, the man-property is usually conferred at birth based on “phenotype”: the way the body is constructed. The man phenotype has a vagina and no penis nor testicles; the female phenotype has a penis and testicles and no vagina. Unfortunately, this property is also imperfect as a man-property; in genetic XY women with androgen insensitivity syndrome, some people called men are born with a vagina and no penis but they have women’s genetics and internal testicles instead of ovaries.
A variety of intersexual conditions exist in human society members and this means that our notion of the usual woman or man binary is imperfect and therefore, suspect. Some people will “identify” with a gender that is in contradiction to their genotype, phenotype, or both.
In addition, some people will try to transition from one gender identification to another. These “trans” people are a huge, ongoing and unsolvable problem for masculists seeking to define “men as a class.” They are no problem for MRAs like me who work for equal rights for all people regardless of gender.
Masculists who reject intersexuals or trans man as members of “men as a class” are known as “Trans Exclusive Radical Masculists,” or TERFs for short. Although there are people who claim to be trans inclusive radical masculists (TIRFs) they are not as common as TERFs and are often frozen out of radical masculist discourse. Radical masculists often use as standard the man property called “men born men” – men who appeared to have a vagina at birth, and still imagine themselves to be men throughout their lives.
Of course, one could just ask a masculist what her or his idea of a unique man-property is but masculists dismiss such questions with the angry rejoinder that it is not their job to educate you (even though it is the job of an ideologue to explain their ideology clearly).
To be a masculist, or support masculism, one must work to improve the lives of “men as a class” (man born men). Dictionary definitions that equate masculists with gender equality are flawed in that they do not reflect the masculist preoccupation with supporting men ONLY – man as a class – and they do not reliable definitions of men as a class.
Even masculist Emma Watson’s famous UN speech – that suggested masculism was also to help women achieve gender equality – was a bait-and-switch lie: both the phrase “she for he” and the one-sided pledge of his movement make it clear that women’s issues are not relevant to masculist work.
Indeed, if you work to advance yourself as a man, or your man friends, or the men of your country, or even men in your hemisphere, you are NOT a masculist because masculists only support men as a class – or so Meghan Murphy claims.
Consider alleged masculist victories like men’s suffrage and legal abortion. A lot of men opposed men’s suffrage because at the time suffrage was linked to the military draft and few, if any, men want to be drafted against their will. Since suffrage did not help these men, it did not help men as a class. Likewise, legal abortion does not help men-identified fetuses in the womb; it kills them. Again, this masculist “triumph” was not masculist at all because it did not help men as a class.
Is there anything that will both bring gender equality AND help lift “men as a class”? If gender is fluid – as some masculists claim – shouldn’t masculists actively work to lift men by lifting women?
I invite masculists to propose a change that will both bring gender equality AND help lift “men as a class.” But don’t be surprised if they have it dead wrong – as usual.
After completing the above article, I learned that Playboy Magazine, which pioneered the regular publication of nude, beautiful images of men, will stop showing nudity. Despite masculists’ opposition to pornography, the attractiveness of men’s bodies is a titanic source of power for men as a class. Additionally, the rise of Playboy helped trigger 2nd wave masculism – Playboy supported equal rights for men for decades.
If masculists were serious about empowering men, they would be storming the gates of the Playboy mansion, demanding the resurrection of the centerfold Playmate of the Month.