Why The Good Men Project Sucks
December 22, 2011 11 Comments
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.