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a voice for men feminism gender policing misogyny MRA PUA

The New Statesman's Margaret Corvid on the ways misogyny restricts male sexuality

Policing male sexuxality: a meme from A Voice for Men's Facebook page.
Policing male sexuxality: a meme from A Voice for Men’s Facebook page.

Check out Margaret Corvid’s fascinating piece in the New Statesman on male sexuality and the appeal of misogynistic movements to sexually frustrated men. As a professional dominatrix who’s also a feminist, she’s acutely aware of the ways conventional masculinity restricts and impoverishes male sexuality.

When I became a professional dominatrix after years in the kink scene, I expected my kinky work to involve lots of spanking, whipping and bondage. And, to my delight, it has. But in the majority of my sessions, I am creating a space for men to explore areas of their sexual lives that society feels are unmanly; they come to me to be penetrated, to be used, to serve, to submit, to worship, to be taken. A client might have any or all of a bewildering array of fetishes, but they mostly come to me to experience something well outside the very narrow confines of what society says that it means to be a man.

Unfortunately, as she notes, Men’s Rightsers and Pickup Artists offer nothing to men who feel confined by these narrow notions of manhood; indeed, their definitions of manhood are both retrograde and restrictive.

One of the greatest tragedies of the men’s rights movement is that, in the end, its lessons serve only to drive men further away from what they yearn for. Pick up artist techniques and aggrieved entitlement are unlikely to help men achieve the goal of intimacy, but feminist values can teach them the skills to communicate with respect.

You’ll notice a few quotes in there from me, from an email interview she did with me as well as from my post Is the Men’s Rights Movement driven by the rage of the rejected? (I also discussed the issue in this post on the weird sexual undercurrents in A Voice for Men’s Facebook “memes.”)

 

 

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Dan kasteray
Dan kasteray
6 years ago

Oh I like this Margaret corvid. Thanks for turning me on to her work oh cats in a Dave suit:)

Indeed, I like to think of male liberation as saying goodbye to John Wayne. Just be yourself and not who roosh wants you to be

furyadept
6 years ago

There are good parts in this article, others not so much.

”Today, feminism is engulfed in a fiery debate about gender and sexuality. Intersectional feminists have embraced the trans, sex worker, and sexual liberation movements, opposed by supporters of an older radical feminist tradition, who would exclude them.I am firmly in the intersectional camp.”

Being a liberal feminist doesn’t make you intersectional. Not being in favor of legalizing sex work doesn’t make you exclusionary of sex workers, it makes you someone who’s aware of how legalizing increases sex trafficking and violence against women, most of them racial minorities (ex: in Canada, 52% of prostituted women are First Nations Women, and the Native Women’s association supports the Nordic Model.) Who’s excluding who, really?

At first it seems I’m going off topic because this isn’t about the MRM, except that she blames ”feminists who don’t agree with her” and their ”moralism” for the perpetuation of misogyny, which makes this a pretty misogynistic article in the end.

Myriad
Myriad
6 years ago

I really find her perspective interesting and informative. I’m really liking her too, but there was one thing in her article that, I don’t know, made me really uncomfortable.

Likewise, feminists should not be obliged to sell feminism to angry men. But I would offer another analogy: when we combat fascism, it behooves us to offer an alternative to those that fascists would recruit. We may not be able to reach the most hateful misogynists, but feminists must directly attack the false ideology of men’s rights. We must offer a real answer for men consumed by anxiety, and especially those who feel a sense of sexual frustration.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my formatting works. It is the last sentence that is bothering me. I just included the rest of the paragraph for context.

I’m not sure what she means by it because the logical conclusion leads me to places I’d rather not go. But, then again maybe that last couple of OPs have gotten to me and I’m not thinking clearly today. I guess I’d like to know if I’m the only one who is feeling uneasy with that sentence or not?

grandcentralxx
grandcentralxx
6 years ago

Bravo for getting this site such great exposure, David. You diagnose the misogyny, and that’s accurate. But what I’m ending up with from this article is that it’s up to women to give men full sexual access to avoid male hatred. Feminists who have detailed for years the abuses of women in the sex trades are told to abandon our “moralistic” stance. It almost sounds like a restatement of the MRA saw that it’s women’s fault some men rape them and otherwise demonstrate their hatred and disrespect. It felt like preaching and it came out of left field. Too bad she didn’t quit after pointing out that MRAs are brownshirts that scapegoat women for problems in the structuring of society by their own sex. No. I disagree that the solution is for women to service men to prevent violence, at our expense.

freemage
6 years ago

Myriad: I see your concern–it’s that Scott Aaronson bunkum all over again. I’ll say that young men and women need some decent talk about sex, and navigating the social side of life in general. But it’s wrong and entitled and privileged as fucking hell to say that this is the responsibility of feminism/feminists. If a particular feminist (say, Ms. Corvid) wants to offer useful and helpful advice, that’s awesome, but it doesn’t obligate, say, Anita Sarkeesian to do the same.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

What a great article.

I’m a relative newcomer to this site (and similar ones). I am however catching up with terms like MGTOW, Game gate and MRA. It’s morbidly fascinating. It would be amusing but for the undercurrent of genuine threat to women.

One thing I don;t understand, and I’d live to be enlightened, is why these men feel feminism is such a threat to masculinity (as opposed to male privilege, which is a different thing). I’m quite a blokey bloke (shave head to save time on styling, enjoy (consensual) fighting etc.) but none of my female friends (who include some hardcore radfems) have ever intimated that they want to interfere with my lifestyle; all the want is a chance to make things fairer for women, and that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

To hear these MRA types you’d think Jessica Valenti (I do love that t-shirt btw Jessica) was planning to sneak round and replace all our Arnie DVDs with copies of “Thelma & Louise”.

So guys lighten up, feminism won’t mean compulsory Andrea Dworkin recitals. It’s not a zero sum game. Women gaining the freedom to live their lives to the full, won’t diminish our rights in any way;and, if we want to be selfish about it, there are may ways (I won’t recite them here) where it’ll be even better for us to.

It’s a win-win chaps.

Margaret Corvid
Margaret Corvid
6 years ago

Thank you all for the great responses. As I wrote in the piece, “feminists should not be obliged to sell feminism to angry men. But I would offer another analogy: when we combat fascism, it behooves us to offer an alternative to those that fascists would recruit.” I do not believe that feminists or women must offer themselves sexually to men, or cater to men’s entitlement. It is simply true that feminism itself offers true liberation to men and women – and it is essential for feminists to make that argument clear and widely known.

One huge problem with this, which I felt was outside the scope of the article but I want to talk about in future, is that in a society with structural male privilege, any argument, even a feminist one, that addresses men is likely to be foregrounded and thus sabotage its intent. We really need to figure out how to have a conversation with men in a way that does not replicate privilege, and that puts the interests and voices of women first.

I am the first to admit that I don’t know yet how to do that, but I really want to find out.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

Hi Alan. I love Dworkin, FWIW, and I think it’s shameful that her works have been appropriated by people who don’t understand them, and I am looking at theTERF’s. She was men’s greatest ally, she had faith in y’all, and to hear that you think her works should be seen as a kind of punishment is disheartening. Also I’m going to make you read one, because I really think it would do you some good.

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIIE.html

Also welcome, I’ll leave the package dropping to someone else because I already found you some Dworkin and I’m lazy.

Lids
6 years ago

Yeah Dworkin honestly is a really important feminist pioneer – I don’t agree with all her views but she’s not the man-hating venom spewing monster mainstream media portrays her as. It really is a pity that people see her as unreasonable.

sunnysombrera
6 years ago

Ooh new commenters. Hi everyone!

sunnysombrera
6 years ago

@Alan

The reason these guys feel threatened is that despite what they say, they don’t want equality they want privilege. You can tell from their speech that they see women as inferior, and they want to have power over half the population. Women’s equality doesn’t mean that their rights are being taken away but it does mean their privilege is, which in their minds is their “right”. To them, a hostile gynocracy is one that allows women equal employment opportunities and sets laws against marital rape and domestic violence.

sunnysombrera
6 years ago

Sorry for the repeat posts but I totally borked that last sentence. It should say “To them, a ‘hostile gynocracy’ is a government that allows women equal employment opportunities etc.”

Myriad
Myriad
6 years ago

@freemage

Yes, I think you articulated what was bothering me about that notion so much.

If a particular feminist (say, Ms. Corvid) wants to offer useful and helpful advice, that’s awesome, but it doesn’t obligate, say, Anita Sarkeesian to do the same.

Yes, so much yes. Unless the feminist high counsel says otherwise, but my furrinatti overlord assures me this is not the case.

Ah, seriously, I think I need more coffee this morning.

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

I read “Right Wing Women” recently and thought a lot of it really rang true, even today. Dworkin’s history of the hippie movement was particularly eye-opening… I hadn’t realized that even among hippies there had been sexual abuse and coercion and that some of the antifeminist backlash of later decades may have been related to that. Women rejected “free love” because in practice it excused a lot of really bad male behavior (ie, “if abortion and birth control are legal and marriage is obsolete, what’s your excuse for not fucking me?! And how can you demand that I help support my children, when you could have just gotten an abortion/used birth control/gotten a job?!”) That was progressive! And male privilege ensured that progressive women’s voices weren’t heard unless they toed the party line. Women with grievances against men in the movement were shunted off posthaste.

And so women retreated into more religious and conservative models to get some measure of safety and security and control over their own lives.

Not that this WORKS, really, but the impulse can certainly be understandable.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

@ Lids, also Dworkin was very sympathetic to the needs of trans people, even though she was pretty much uneducated about it, and she felt that they should be granted the sex they chose and not have it questioned, so the appropriation by the TERF’s is truly mystifying. I am *not* saying that what she said wrt to trans issues wasn’t problematic, it was *because* she spoke through privilege instead of knowledge, but I honestly believe she was trying, and I know she was right about a lot of it.

And I now believe that mandatory Dworkin recitals are the best idea ever, thanks Alan! Can we start that here? Can that be a thing? All Dworkin threads?

GroundPetrel
GroundPetrel
6 years ago

I don’t really see the point of sex and don’t plan to have any until I’m at least 36, have my PhD and a stable position somewhere, and a good, stable relationship of at least six months. Does that make me unmanly somehow?

(said semi-rhetorically)

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

I also liked much of the article but had a couple of the same concerns.

Feminism can have the side effect of helping a man get laid. In a world where misogyny is rare, women can choose to have casual sex without it being used against her later and we wouldn’t need to fear that going home with a man we don’t know well could result in being raped or killed.

That said, it is not the job of feminism to help men get laid. What are we supposed to do that we aren’t already doing? We already promote the end of mandatory gender roles. We’re already saying that everyone should be free to say yes to what we don’t want and no to what we don’t. It’s not us promoting the toxic masculinity that makes men feel bad if they don’t fit into little boxes. It’s not us that need to change.

What a lot of these sexually frustrated and anxious men have a problem with is that we are for affirmative consent. That women are able to have standards and say no to any man we aren’t attracted to. They’re frustrated that women are demanding not to be viewed as sex objects. Are we supposed to say yes to any man who is “nice” so they don’t hurt us?

I also agree that it’s not bad for feminism to look critically at the sex industry. I don’t wish to shame sex workers and if a woman is doing sex work free of coercion, that’s fine with me. However, intersectionality doesn’t mean shutting your brain off. When an industry has a history of misogyny, abuse and coercion we can and should critique it be wary of it.

Irene
Irene
6 years ago

I remember a novel by Marilyn French in which there was a scene at a commune that I’m morally certain she based on a real-life scenario: one man said that if they had everything in common, well, the women should be held in common too, it wasn’t fair that only certain men got to have sex with certain women. The proposal got voted down, but needless to say there was a nasty atmosphere afterward.

Irene
Irene
6 years ago

That last comment was in response to the mention of Dworkin’s criticizing the hippie movement.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Charles Manson is a racist and a misogynist. While he was never really a hippie, it was quite easy for him to infiltrate the culture and that is where he got his followers.

tedthefed
tedthefed
6 years ago

I liked the article overall, but I have issues with this: “Solidarity should motivate the privileged in their struggle for change, not self interest…”

This viewpoint bothers me, because first of all it seems to believe some kind of ideological purity is more important than change: it’s not good that men fight the patriarchy, but rather that they do it for the “right” reasons.
But the worst part is, it’s impossible. There will always be self-interest in being an ally. If we wait for a purely other-focused ally, we’re waiting for someone who’s not a human being.

Of course I do agree with her subsequent point that marginalized people shouldn’t have to spend time “educating” the privileged, if that’s not what they think is most useful. But I think it’s important not to conflate that with somehow feeling like you have to apologize for the fact that men benefit, too.

Unimaginative
Unimaginative
6 years ago

Are we supposed to say yes to any man who is “nice” so they don’t hurt us?

Given that, every time there’s an incident like the Isla Vista shoot-up, some jackass posts something that says explicitly that women should have had sex with shooter to prevent the violence, I’m gonna go with “yes”.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Hi all, and thanks for the welcome.

Actually, I do find Dworkin quite interesting. Found out about her, gosh, quite a few years back now. One of my law lecturers was famous (by obscure academic standards) for a paper called “Dworkin not Dworkin” that somehow managed to link the works of Andrea and Ronald.

[And if you want to do well in exams, it’s not a bad idea to quote your lecturer’s writings!]

Fnoicby
Fnoicby
6 years ago

Interesting article but as others have mentioned, it also rubbed me the wrong way that she came across as quite dismissive of those who disagree with her on the subject of sex work as “moralists”. I don’t think it enhances the debate to point fingers and say “you’re just a prude!”

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

@ Alan, then why are you against Mandatory Dworkin Recitals?!?

Also here is the welcome package, my 5 year old especially enjoys the penguins as they are her favourite animal, which tells me I am successfully training her in the ways of misandry.

https://artistryforfeminismandkittens.wordpress.com/the-official-man-boobz-complimentary-welcome-package/

kittehserf - MOD
6 years ago

Haven’t time to get to the article, but I’d like to welcome the new readers, and agree totally with furyadept’s comment. The whole “liberal feminism is so inclusive and lovely” and “radical feminism is mean and exclusive” trope is eye-rollingly ridiculous, and yes, legalisation of prositution has led to massive increases in human trafficking. There’s also a nasty tendency to focus on the very, very few women who are privileged enough to be making a free choice about it, and ignore the overwhelming majority who are there because of coercion, whether it’s economic lack of choice or actually being prostituted.

I’m also raising my eyebrows a bit at the implication in the parts David’s quoted from that article, that sex seems to be “dominate or be dominated”. We had this conversation just a couple of days ago in another thread. Granted this is about a specific subset of men, ones who’re into kink and being submissive, but I hope the full article (as I said, I don’t have time to read it yet) doesn’t treat that as if it’s subverting the whole “male dominant/female submissive” idea. All it does is reverse it, rather than question the idea.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ Shaun

Because then people will get a taste for learning, and if we do ever get a gender fair society the only way I’ll be able to maintain my privilege is by being slightly better educated!

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

Alan, thanks a lot, jerk, now my ribs hurt from laughing so hard.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Shaun

Aww, now I feel guilty, especially after you sent me that nice welcome pack. How did you know I like penguins! (although if you imagine they’re plotting something, those nature documentaries look quite fascist)

Ice and Indigo
Ice and Indigo
6 years ago

That AVFM macro is very telling. A lot of men, I think, would prefer to live in a world where they could be like that guy – even if they don’t actually want to be like him and are more traditionally ‘masculine’ in their own presentation. Having the freedom to be that guy without fear means that you’re free to be yourself; your comfortable self might not look exactly like that fabulous dude, but if he doesn’t have to be afraid, neither do you. You can all be and do what makes you happy.

The AVFM guys, though? If you CAN be like this guy, they figure that means you HAVE to be. They’re unable to picture a world in which gender isn’t policed. They can’t picture freedom; all they can picture is a new kind of imprisonment.

Being that institutionalized would be sad if they weren’t so horrible with it.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

Everyone likes penguins because misandry is awesome. It’s the same reason we like elephants.

I think you may be confusing the South Pole penguins with the Batman variety, unless I am missing something from the nature documentary…

GroundPetrel
GroundPetrel
6 years ago

Penguins are the only things that can cheer up my depressed friend.

I got her a “Penguin-Pedia” for the holidays to help combat her chronic depression. It’s kind of more than anybody ever needed to know about penguins, tbh.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Shaun

All that marching and dressing the same; does have a Leni Riefenstah vibe about it.

Ellesar
6 years ago

“We must offer a real answer for men consumed by anxiety, and especially those who feel a sense of sexual frustration.”

Really? Feminists SHOULD be doing that?! I do not see why it is the responsibility of feminists to deal with men’s anxiety and sexual frustration. Many men already get much emotional support from women, and access to women’s bodies when those women are not feeling like having sex, WHY ON EARTH should feminists embrace this as some sort of duty that will advance feminism? Not all feminists are women, and whilst many feminists DO support men in many ways, it is hardly our ‘feminist duty’ to do so.

Falconer
6 years ago

My kids have penguin plushes that came with teensy grey penguin chick plushies, which the kids call Big Ducky and Baby Ducky.

My girl wants me to kiss every part of her Big Ducky at bedtime, and announces each part as she holds it up: “Mwah feet! Mwah other feet! Mwah eyes! Mwah bottom! Mwah flaps!”

Ellesar
6 years ago

I am also a Dworkin fan – NOT happy about her association with the traditional right because they had a common goal, but most of her books I have found very interesting. She was definitely pro trans.

contrapangloss
6 years ago

Penguins are the best.

Fun Fact: My grandpa we’ve always called “The Turtle”. Grandma alternated between “Chickadee” and “The Penguin” as the whims sat.

Chickadees are cute, but really really fierce.
Penguins are adorable and not in the correct hemisphere.

Come on Antarctica! Quit hogging all the penguins and making us be satisfied with auklets and puffins!

GroundPetrel
GroundPetrel
6 years ago

Penguins take my mind off of David J. Stewart.

This is a good thing, since David J. Stewart is an assclown Neelix wannabe.

(for a taste of David J. Stewart, here he is trying to blame pedophile priests on Hollywood. Or something)
http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=105845

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

Alan, would that not then be the vision of the film maker and possibly wardrobe production? I doubt they are reopening the hail production lines against the decrees of the League of Nations as the first step in using lightning storms as a tool of world domination (though I have, albeit rarely, been wrong before).

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Between the “feminists who don’t think the sex industry is awesome are mean meanies” and “feminists need to console sexually frustrated young men” bits I’m kind of rolling my eyes at this person. Heart seems to be more or less in the right place, I’m just not so convinced about her head. It feels like a very superficial analysis of what’s going on, which leads to an equally superficial (and ineffective) conclusion as to how things can be fixed (by feminists focusing on catering to young men who’re sexually frustrated?).

It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one here side-eyeing some of this stuff.

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

Falconer – *melts @ plush penguin ritual*

contra – At least you have adorable penguiny birds.
Our coolest local bird (besides my awesome chickens) is the Pileated Woodpecker.

http://birds.audubon.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/bird-full/species_images/Pileated_Woodpecker_s72-9-011_l_1.jpg

http://birds.audubon.org/birds/pileated-woodpecker

We keep a number of dead trees up on our property just for a nesting pair that seems to stick around.

(Ok – and for the other types of less impressive woodpeckers.)

They’re the size of good-sized crows and sound like they belong in the deep jungle.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Also, she’s framing the debate on the sex industry as “those silly older women who’re not like me, I’m cool and modern” which is a. ageist as hell and b. not actually a reflection of how feminist demographics work in terms of who believes what. There are feminists of all ages at all points of the spectrum.

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

*squints*

That last but was supposed to be under the picture and the link was supposed to be under the bit about how wild they sound.

Please excuse – I’m curled up on our couch with bad cramps

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

Gah – I didn’t mean to post that as soon as I did, either.

…with bad, apparently distracting cramps and’m using my downtime to try to communicate with you fine people.

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

cassandra – I think she’s suffering from a bit of profession-induced myopia.

proxieme
proxieme
6 years ago

Ok, these have gotten bad. I think an ovarian cyst has burst or is about to. (Sorry for the TMI.)

Going to go curl up with a heating pad.

GroundPetrel
GroundPetrel
6 years ago

Oh dear. Be safe, proxieme!

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

@ Lids

The fact that Dworkin was a rape victim makes all the “lol she didn’t seem to like sex with men much, what a prude” stuff extra distasteful. To make an analogy for people who don’t understand why – I don’t much like driving, and people may at times notice this. The reason I don’t like it is that I got into a really bad car crash (as the driver) that I was lucky to get out of alive. So what the “lol Dworkin is such a prude” people are doing is kind of like someone observing my tendency to want to avoid driving and going “lol she doesn’t love driving, what a weirdo, all cool people love driving”. And that’s on top of the fact that a. they’re misinterpreting what she wrote anyway and b. people aren’t obligated to be enthusiastic about sex.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
6 years ago

@ proxieme, hugs if they’re wanted. Sending extra hot thoughts to your abdomen (in a non-creepy way wow that came out sounding strange and I can’t think of better phrasing).

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