Why The Good Men Project Sucks

Trigger warning for rape/sexual assault.

The Good Men Project has been getting on my nerves for the last fortnight or so, and I’ve struggled to really put together some coherent thoughts about it. But there’s a couple of blog posts by co-founder Tom Matlack that I just have to take issue with. He first wrote “The Feminist I Used To Know“, and then “In The Beginning, It Was About Storytelling“.

I’ll start with the first. Not only is the title insulting, but the standfirst begins:

The Good Men Project started with the goal of empathy. Empathy for other men. Tom Matlack hopes that today’s feminists can understand that.

Because feminists really struggle with basic concepts like empathy, because they are all nonsensical, stupid harpies that don’t understand human emotions. The post begins off in a patronising tone. Not really started off on the best foot, has it? Then he screenshots this:

If that isn’t the definition of antagonism-parading-as-ignorance then I don’t know what is. Of course he knows what feminism is. It’s disingenuous of him to suggest he doesn’t. He even says at one point that he grew up with feminists and he considered himself one.

He whinges about how women don’t really understand that he really is a good guy, and that he’s done nothing wrong – and then says:

Even the idea that women, or some women, would prefer men to be more like them than more manly sends the twitter-sphere into orbit. The idea that it’s not okay to treat all men as rapists, despite the preponderance of rape committed by individual men, is wrong.

I assume by this he is saying that he feels women, or feminists, treat all men as rapists. I am going to guess that this is based on the wonderful, must-read essay Schrödinger’s Rapist. The point of the essay seems to have flown entirely past him, though. The point of Schrödinger’s Rapist is that women do not know what rapists look like, and therefore cannot predict that they will be raped, or act accordingly (by presumably protecting themselves) – because they look exactly like other men. Contrary to popular belief, the ‘rapist’ is not someone who jumps out from behind the bushes, and looks distinctly evil; he is the man in the suit you work with every day; he is the friend you’ve known for years; he is that charismatic and charming man from the house party last week. He is a familiar acquaintance. Until he rapes you.

But I don’t know a single woman that treats a man differently because of this idea. All they do, is act a bit wary. I don’t hear stories of women attacking men for assuming they are rapists. Do you? It’s almost like Tom kind of likes missing the point. He seems to do it so often. How any man could possibly be offended by or misunderstand the idea of Schrödinger’s Rapist is really beyond me. And the second men say that it’s offensive, they lose any kind of credibility with me. I’m sorry – how does your wish to chat me up/stare at me/touch my arse trump my right to be left alone and feel safe? Why is it offensive that I want to live my life in peace, feeling safe and unharassed?

He says he is a feminist, then says:

I don’t understand being angry at men at-large, or to criticize those of us who are trying to get really honest in hopes of building a stronger foundation for intimacy and relationships and goodness in the realm of fatherhood and husbandhood.

Being angry at ‘men at-large’ – this is called the patriarchy, no? This is exactly what feminism is about – fighting the patriarchy; the unwritten, widely-accepted rule that men are better than women. If you don’t understand that and you can’t tell the difference between singling out individual men, and looking at ‘men’ as an entire group (ie as oppressors) then I’m sorry but you don’t get it, and you’re not a feminist. As for the last bit of that sentence – writing about ‘feminine power‘ and how women are the ‘rivers’ to the ‘mountainous’ men, and how being a woman is sexy and powerful – is not going to endear you to any feminist that I know. That’s an actively backwards step in the world of gender, in fact.

Another post I’ve read, “Is It The End Of Men?” the female author asserts that the problem with feminism is:

I was taught to believe that the plight of women was so difficult that I failed to see that men had problems too.

I don’t know a single feminist who would not admit that men suffer under the patriarchy too. What kind of feminists had she been surrounding herself with? The difference is that one cannot take on the world at once, one must pick the battles they feel they are more interested in. Of course, most people are more interested in what directly affects them. But I don’t think any feminist worth her salt would read something like The Rape Of Men and say that men being raped is not an issue. What is interesting is that where the common ground is, is that men are nearly always the perpetrators (again, not always – women have raped men, but not in the numbers that men rape women, men and children). So in short, of course men have problems – no feminist denies that. Again, someone missed the point here.

In the “In the beginning it was about storytelling” piece I can accept that the GMP was created in order to document stories that mainstream media were not interested in. This is great – just don’t start talking about gender issues that you don’t know anything about. That’s all I ask. I don’t doubt that Tom has good intentions. I don’t doubt that there are some genuinely heart-warming posts about how hard it is to be a man, on there. But every single thing about the Good Men Project that I’ve seen (even the name – geez, want cheese with that whine?) gets my back up, and I wish he would see that for what it is, rather than bitching that nobody understands him – again.

@Hubbit has written something about the GMP here, too. I recommend reading it.

About A Girl
Mostly writes on Half The World Is Watching. She is interested in and writes about feminist issues, politics and activism. An 80s child at heart, she loves old things, computer games, and keeping up with the development of social media.

9 Responses to Why The Good Men Project Sucks

  1. Pingback: Feminism - Pearltrees

  2. Hi…I write about gender and feminism as well and had a similar response to yours. I have written for The Good Men Project and uploaded a post asking if we could stop asking the question “Is this the end of men?” I have had the same response as you…a feeling of wrongness and a misrepresentation of feminism. Thanks for writing this!

  3. Adam APple says:

    I totally agree with your opinion on The Good Men Project. The site is nothing other than a subversive argument by progressive feminists. Nothing wrong with making an argument but it should be made openly and notoriously if, in fact, there is a valid argument to be made.

    In my opinion and experience, the primary fault with the theme of the site is women want their men (generally speaking) to be men regardless of political persuasion. The fellas at the Good Men Project make a limp attempt at getting their readers to believe in the existence of a woman who will hold and soothe them while they have a good cry after a bad day at work.

    It just ain’t gonna happen. (e.g. “even the name – geez, want cheese with that whine?”)

    Where I do disagree with you is on your pretense that men are the primary perpetrators of sexual assault. There is no disputing the fact that men where once first in line to commit the act of rape but that was when society was dominated by men. This is no longer the case. The historic argument is become a weak generalization.

    A 2008-2009 study (3 to 4 years prior) performed by the U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals the following statistics on prison rape. (You may find the report here:
    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/svjfry09.pdf)

    “An estimated 12% of youth in state juvenile facilities and large non-state facilities (representing 3,220 youth nationwide) reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization
    by another youth or facility staff in the past 12 months or since admission, if less than 12 months.”

    “About 2.6% of youth (700 nationwide) reported an incident involving another youth, and 10.3% (2,730) reported an incident involving facility staff.”

    “About 4.3% of youth (1,150) reported having sex or other sexual contact with facility staff as a result of some type of force; 6.4% of youth (1,710) reported sexual contact with facility staff without any force, threat, or other explicit form of coercion.”

    It is the last statistic that is the most telling.

    “Approximately 95% of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female staff. In 2008, 42% of staff in state juvenile facilities were female.”

    95% of all incarcerated youth were assaulted by female staff… It appears what was once popularly assumed to be fact (males being the primary perpetrators of sexual assault) is returning or coming around to fulfill an old adage.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    A simple Google search comparison of “sexual assault by male teacher” versus “sexual assault by female teacher” will prove that women are quite competitive with men in every aspect.

    Sure… Anyone can pull statistics out of their backside to prove a point, right? Other popular arguments are that females tend to not report abuse. The same could be said for males. How? They usually get caught through email, text, and running their mouths.

    Sometime in the future, sexual assault will just be sexual assault. Women will serve equal in jail time for the same crime. They will be eligible for the draft and thus justifiably able to hold elected office. Abortion will be seen as murdering an unborn child for she is not the creator of life… just a temporary carrier. She will be held equally accountable for financial support of the children she assisted in creating. Until then we’ll all just have to carry on with the princess rules and make them up as we go along to suit ourselves where laws and regulations allow. ;)

  4. Norah says:

    “I don’t know a single feminist who would not admit that men suffer under the patriarchy too.” AMEN! Not only does the oppression of women hurt the families and relationships that men are a vital part of but sexist standards insult and hurt and hinder men, too!

    Granted, there are extremists that twist and misuse any group, religion, or political party, i.e. many violent cults claim the name ‘Christian’ but act not Christian either in word or deed. I have a large network of feminists I have personally met and worked with…, none of them are anti-men (some ARE men), and none of them think ‘every man is a rapist’. It is well known and statistically proven, that most men AREN’T rapists. But those who chose to rape often have multiple victims. That we still have to talk about this is ridiculous, and insulting to men and the women who love them, and an affront to anyone with a rational mind.

    To Adam. Yes, in specific sub-populations the offender and victim demographics are different. This not surprising. It is horrifying and disgusting what occurs, but no more than what is happening to the larger population that live outside the prison complex. I’d say neither of us want any group to be ‘raped more’ and there is no reason to work towards ‘evening out’ who the victims are. That would be a sick mentality, especially when there is so much work to do towards lessening the occurance of sexual violence, reducing victim blaming, and holding offenders accountable.

    As someone who works at a rape crisis center, the day sexual assault is viewed just sexual assault will be a grand day indeed! When gender power dynamics are not at play (in either direction), I believe we’d see a huge reduction in rape. Having rape not being seen as “a women’s issue” will be tremendous in advocating with our legislation AND would open doors to much needed funding. Not working against the related prejudicial dynamics in the ER, police station, and courthouse allows us to advocate for our clients so much better. Not having gendered hate crime as a confound to the assalt will speed many victims healing process. Having sexual assault just be sexual assault will free many (both men and women) from the shame of coming forward and from victim blaming and make the healing process less complex.

    Question. You seem to be implying that only men are held accountable financially for child support? Where do you live in that this is true?? Women are expect to pay and have been jailed for not doing so, as have men. Since there are more than twice as many single moms with kids than single dads with the kids, it follows that more men are ones owing financially since they are not the custodial parent. There are ‘dead-beat’ parents of both genders.

    Your abortion note seems a bit misguided. In most cases, abortion is not just a ‘way out’ for the woman, its a ‘way out’ for the man, too and absolves him of responsibility. With abortion as option, he can blame the women if she has baby. Society also blames women for having more kids than they can feed, not the men who co-created them. In addition to the women who are coerced or forced into unprotected sex, some are coerced into abortions by male partners. So, I hope if your rules ever came into play that men (who are equally responsible for creating the life) would held to the same murder charge. I view abortion as a symptom of many of the problems of patriarchy. The lack of proper sex education, lack of access to birth control, coercisive relationships, and sexual assault rates GREATLY influence the rates of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. If we want abortion to end (I do), we need to work against these things.

    “Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.” – Susan B Anthony on abortion.

    Soph, Thank you for writing this. GMP has become the MRA’s own stereotype of feminists – whiny, lashing in out anger, and full of victim mentality. So sad since the GMP had such promise at its beginning of bringing men together, supporting them, and providing a format for them to learn from each other. Currently, I see more tearing apart then building. More finger pointing and hate than food for thought or encouragement.

  5. James says:

    I found the “Goodmen Project” and from the websites description of itself, it sounded like a website devoted to having articles that would make men better men…smarter, compassionate, etc. So anyway, I went on and searched around through some of the articles, and some of them were decent…

    But, OBVIOUSLY, THIS IS A WEBSITE FOR MEN WITH THE MIND OF TEENAGERS! You can tell most of the authors have that Zach Braffe attitude that he has on “Scrubs” or any of his movies. The “Trying to figure out what it all means in the grand scheme of things,” attitude. Yuck! These articles were total filler material! I want some meat…some meaningful articles. Like some how to articles on building stuff, what to expect during pregnancy, how to be a better father to your child, how to keep the spark alive in your relationship…Hell, even throw in some fashion advice…but I probably wouldn’t take it…not, all this crap that is an extension of what I used to think about in high school, that some other guys apparently haven’t let go off yet!!!

    So yeah, if you want a weenie, emo, can’t make up his mind type fellah, ladies, have him read the GMP. Me? I’m gonna go search around for articles on fixing stuff and taking care of things around the house…you know adult stuff?.

    • patbona says:

      Totally agree with your remark that it is a website for men with the mind of teenagers. Looked at it once on a particular post and some of the answers were so immature. Some were very intelligent & mature answers, but not a lot of them.

      The post was about young women having relation with older men. What most of these “good men” were thinking is that women having these relations :

      - don’t know what they are doing (for these “good men” women can’t think by themselves).

      - have these relations for pecuniary motives (some of these “good men” clearly wrote that these kind of relations were a kind of “prostitution”).

      What I saw was clearly misogynistic and condescending.

  6. PMurphy says:

    I’m curious, when you say the ‘patriarchy’ is the “unwritten, widely-accepted rule that men are better than women” – can you give any examples of that at all?

    Because I can find lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of evidence to the contrary, here are two examples:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/aug/28/genetics.genderissues

    http://www.rense.com/general38/men.htm

  7. Josh says:

    The problem with feminists is when it comes to misandry they jump straight to ‘there is a deference between me and radical feminists’. Radical feminism originated from somewhere…

    “But I don’t think any feminist worth her salt would read something like The Rape Of Men and say that men being raped is not an issue. What is interesting is that where the common ground is, is that men are nearly always the perpetrators (again, not always – women have raped men, but not in the numbers that men rape women, men and children). So in short, of course men have problems – no feminist denies that. Again, someone missed the point here.”

    Yet strangely I’ve never seen a campaign against it. You also have failed to point out or research that women are the greater portion of perpotrators when it comes to child abuse, yet women always get custody in a separation. And children of single mothers are also abused by others that the mothers attract into the household and the childs best protector (the childs father) isn’t there to help.

    You fail to acknowledge that these perpetrators statistically come from single parent upbringings that has boomed since the rise of feminism (because you needed to be strong and independent). And then even worse fail to do anything about it. This is the same as when feminists cry about women in politics. You make up more than 50% of the vote! It is feminism that is tearing families apart then you cry when there are so many criminals (Strangley from broken homes).

    Most feminists aren’t worth there salt. You are prepared to say I’m not like those radical feminists yet you do nothing to stop them. Males are falling behind in schooling and education since curriculum has been change by feminism. What have you done – nothing. You say you are about equality – Yet all you say is – YOU GO GIRLS.

  8. courage the cowardly dog says:

    GMP claims that “no other media company is having the large-scale discussion [they] are having about men, manhood and masculinity.” This is false. Within the guidelines GMP sets out on its cite I have attempted to give voice to a more conservative viewpoint challenging the feminist/gay philosophy GMP promotes. For that my posts have been deleted and my posts are uniformly blocked from appearing. How many feminist cites have a man as their publisher. GMP’s publisher is a woman. She point blank has accused me of attempting to “advance an agenda”, while I have simply responded to the agenda GMP seeks to advance. I have thought about paying to become a premium member with the belief that if I pay I cannot be silenced as long as I comply with the posting guidelines, but I do not want to financially support a pinky tip on the arm of the main stream liberal media or do anything that would advance the GMP agenda.

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