8

Objective:
Remaining amicably, for them not to feel rejection on a personal way neither on a philosophical level, so they can still gather at our home and discuss feminism and activism, keeping hateful ideas out. I don't want to make them feel I'm dismissing their whole political stand, I've taken feminist postures many times myself because I take the side of justice.

But now I feel used because it seems some of them only listen to me when I'm actively helping their cause under their terms, but if I offer this type of insight they shut me out.

Phrasing confrontational arguments in a polite sounding sentence would not nearly suffice, that's why the conflict-aversion tag is there. I'm expecting a smart strategy that includes a way to measure success.

I care because my community is in fact troubled with double standards affecting both women and men. I've found many hateful speech and attitudes being fed. I'm not a fan of judging people, only ideas. Some ideas stand in the way for them to be listened to.

I don't believe there are "misogynists" and "misandrists", but people acting on misogynistic and misandristic ideas I have no trouble debating this topic with men shooting themselves on the foot with misandristic comments coming from the "macho" spectrum, like:

Yeah dude, we men are spendable, nature says so, wars prove me right.

But I don't know how to discuss with a feminist group saying things like:

"Of course men are allowed to cry, but to be honest it kinda does make them less manly"

Or

"That will be done by robots soon and we won't need men."

Or

What is he good for if he can't (insert stereotypical manly skill)

I've found it very difficult to bring up the topic. In the past I did approach a couple of groups with this issue. Their answers were similar to:

"Misandrism? What is that, does that even exist?"

And:

"That's an anti-feminist made-up word"

Which is the same as being dismissed.

I tried to explain what I knew about it and made the observation that it applies to both men and women.

While trying to remain cordial and constructive during these discussions, there are individuals with a tendency to throw popular terms at me like "mansplaining".

Answering

"Telling you a word exists because the phenomenon exists is not mansplaining"

didn't help. Defending my views become harder when you realize the word is not even included in most dictionaries (including apple's, windows, chrome's auto-correct tools).

The group I'd be approaching now has direct influence on a person I care about deeply, my girlfriend. They gather at the place I share with her usually after they have larger meetings. But I've also noticed those comments at larger meetings/gatherings (weddings, congresses, etc), not only my distant family but also friend's events and at other events where many women gather and men are minority.

How can I approach an otherwise open-minded feminist group that seems biased against hearing about misandry?

  • 2
    I think that this answer on our meta will help you understand better what we're looking for in a question like this. This isn't a duplicate question but it's still not a good one. You're so heavily focused on these terms that you never actually explain the behaviors that you find troubling. Tell us about what's going on, be specific. Depending on what they're doing, a different response may be appropriate. – Catija May 5 '18 at 19:04
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    Unfortunately, this question seems to be asking about arguing techniques and debate. Why would ever approach a group of ANYTHING and start an argument? What interpersonal skill does that show? – Clay07g May 5 '18 at 23:07
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    @JA I'm guessing in the literal sense; as in "reacting to being charged with mansplaining when you are a man". – Erik May 7 '18 at 13:26
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    @JA why did you rollback the tags? Is this question not about feminism and affected by gender? – Em C May 8 '18 at 15:54
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    Just so you know, the word is misandry, not misandrism. Just like it is misogyny, not misogynism. – BlackThorn May 9 '18 at 22:36
12

Misandry is a tricky thing, but it's important to remember it hurts both genders. Next time you hear something misandristic, bring up how it hurts women. However, how you phrase it is important. People don't like being told "that thing you said was bad." That's probably a large part of why plainly telling people they're being misandristic hasn't been working for you.

Instead, I'd phrase my responses as questions if you can. I'm an adamant believer of the Socratic Method. Hopefully, your question demonstrates the point you're trying to articulate without too explicitly calling the person out for what they said. With luck, as they think of a response, they might also think about the point you're trying to demonstrate. You can't change someone's beliefs on a topic like this overnight; I really think your goal should be to get people thinking about the ways these statements affect people, and hope they open up to idea that they should cut back the amount of misandristic things they say.

For example:

Of course men are allowed to cry, but to be honest it kinda does make them less manly.

Doesn't that imply women are weaker because they cry though?

.

That will be done by robots soon and we won't need men.

Well women do that work too, right?

.

What is he good for if he can't (insert stereotypical manly skill)

What do you mean? I know all sorts of women who can do (stereotypical manly skill) too!

The idea here is that misandry and misogony are two sides of the exact same coin. Cutting out offensive statements towards one gender almost necessarily cuts out the offensive statements towards the other. Although it appears these responses try to get people thinking about how their words affect women, they're actually trying to get people to think about how their words affect people.

In these examples, you're bringing up how it's pretty unreasonable to split certain actions/roles up across gender. Using the way this affects women simply appeals to your audience; they're more likely to digest what you've said than if you were defending the gender they're making fun of. However, if you can successfully get them to think "Oh yeah. Why would I say (stereotypical manly skill) is just for guys?", then you've accomplished your goal. It's less important now how you got your foot in the door. I'll admit it's a rather indirect approach, but I've found in cases like this one, direct approaches seldom work.

  • You're not taking into account the "group" element. After countering with one of the arguments you propose, I suspect there will be a response, it could be silence or an attack or dismissal or an apology or I don't know what to expect, do you have any experience or anecdotes, how could I stand my ground without getting to a confrontation? – J A May 8 '18 at 18:43
  • Anyways, would you care completing the body of your answer to include both considerations? The bit about asking questions naturally trying to reconcile my model of what's right, etc. Seems really helpful, will try that. – J A May 14 '18 at 21:20
8

1. Don't inform them of anything.

Instead, seek to understand their positions fully, and in so doing you will expose yourself to the reasoning underlying their positions and highlight any logical/rhetorical/social problems that their reasoning and/or conclusions may exhibit.

I strongly second Farquad's suggestion of the Socratic Method, but would further suggest that you not apply it in a confrontational way. Asking a question as a direct challenge ("Lots of women do X, so how can it be masculine?") is confrontational and dismissive of the other person's point. After all, you're presenting a "question" not so much to gather further information but instead to illustrate how totally wrong the other person is. That is something that most people, in my experience, dislike. It may have some extra baggage when coming from a man and directed at a person who identifies herself as a feminist.

In situations like this, I try to keep a refrain going in my mind. Something along the lines of "I just want to understand", or "I'm just not getting it". If the comment is, "What good is he if he can't (stereotypically masculine thing)", questions might try to tease out something like the following:

Why are some behaviors gender-coded? How does blithely accepting that gendered element to behavior fit with feminism's traditional rejection of so much of that coding?

The questions themselves should be presented more gently.

"I may not be well-informed enough about these issues, but it seems to me that you're accepting that gender-coded activities are valid and meaningful for men. Feminists have struggled against that same idea with a lot of activities that used to be 'feminine'. Could you tell me more about your thinking on this topic?"

2. Don't get too bogged down in specific terminology when it is not necessary.

Misandry is a real word and a real thing, just as is misogyny. But the latter gets heavy use and has some additional social and political heft. Are you certain that you must use that word to get your point across? A comment like "I get the impression that if I described something about women this way you wouldn't be so accepting of it. Am I mistaken about that, and, if not, what is your argument for why it's OK to apply gendered stereotypes in the one direction but not the other?" gets at all the same questions but avoids a mostly worthless argument over terminology.

3. Recognize that it's possible for you, yourself, to be mistaken.

This is more a general purpose piece of advice, but telling someone something about the content of their own arguments, and by implication the content of their own minds is a pretty arrogant thing to do. Sometimes it's useful, and sometimes it's necessary, but when doing so you are expressing that your judgment is definitely correct, the other person's judgment is definitely wrong, and that you are in a position to assess and correct their errors. That attitude is the core of the idea of "mansplaining" (or any other form of [x]splaining). This is true even in cases where you are irrefutably correct (about, say, a mathematical proof, perhaps). The idea that you already have all valid and relevant information and that you are bestowing it on someone who, in your assessment, totally lacks it is dismissive.

By allowing rhetorical space for your own position to be mistaken or incomplete you prompt less of a fight and more of a conversation. A conversation sounds like what you're looking for.

4. Be prepared to be disappointed.

This is not a foregone conclusion, but lots of people are obstinately wrong about things. If this particular group of individuals hears your assessment, then you've informed them of what you wanted to tell them about. They may or may not change their thinking and/or behaviors in any way. That's beyond your control, and efforts to make others come around to your way of thinking often go over poorly. I think that that may be particularly true in the case of a man lecturing an explicitly feminist group consisting entirely of (presumably, from how the question is written) women.

Presenting your positions and arguments is easy. Doing so and being satisfied afterwards is less so.

  • 2
    In support of point 2, the question about pointing out bias has many answers mentioning that attaching a label to an action is often counterproductive. – cactus_pardner May 9 '18 at 20:59
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    even when well structured, this is not an answer to my question, thanks for the time and effort spent – J A May 10 '18 at 5:30
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    @J A: I'm not intending to override your conclusion that this does not answer your question, but would you be willing to explain why you feel that way? "Don't inform, but discuss; don't focus on terminology over content, be open to counter-arguments, and don't aim for a specific outcome" seems (to me) to be entirely on-point as an answer to "How can I talk to a group about this when they seem resistant to discussing it?". I'd like to improve this (and future answers), so I would appreciate additional feedback if you are willing. – Upper_Case May 11 '18 at 14:23
  • @JA If you want useful answers and you don't think this answers your question, I strongly encourage you to explain what you think this didn't cover. I've spent the last several years trying learning everything I can about how to be maximally effective at convincing people in the kinds of scenarios you're asking about, and this answer is the best one I've seen so far from my perspective. So if this answer doesn't help you, Upper_Case or someone else might be able to tune this answer or provide another answer that bridges the gap, but that's a lot harder to do if you don't say what's missing. – mtraceur May 14 '18 at 21:46
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    Well, this answer does provide further insight on an approach suggested by another person who was more practical on how to apply the Socratic method. Other than that, it doesn't answer the question because it doesn't offer actual strategy, remaining focus on introspection rather than "you can do this or that", which could probably be more useful than "say this or that", because the way to address it verbally was already outlined by the other person. To be honest, the person suggesting to bake cookies was more practical, even if not useful. – J A May 14 '18 at 21:58
7

In politics, when a "group" grows, it tends to attract more and more people, those people come with their own views and take on the general idea represented by the "group".

For exemple, Feminism is about fighting the inequalities met by women in society, as to make them 100% equal to men. But, since Feminism is so massive in number, there is many, many subsets, and every subset have their own idea of what "fighting the inequalities met by women in society" means, and how they should go about it. Some subsets think that both men, and women are targets of inequalities, and unfair treatment. While other subsets think that men are innately sexist, and are the ennemy of women in general.

The more a group grows, the more likely it is to contains at least some extremist subset. Those subset usually harbor a more hateful community, sadly, those community tends to be the most active, depicting a less than likeable idea of any group, to stay in the Feminism example, today, to stereotype of a feminist is a man-hating woman.

In your case, confronting the group about their ideas, and how it makes them look to the outsiders eye won't help. It will either lead in you being dismissed, or in a fruitless debate.

If you want to help your friend, confronting that group is not gonna help, what you should do is talk to this person, and this person only, and try to reason with them. If they're not too politically oriented, they might listen to what you have to say. Don't forget that if they decide that they don't want to listen to you, there's not much you can do.

The only way anyone decide to change their political views, is not when they're confronted about it, but when they decide to do so.

If you decide to ask them to pick another group, and assuming they care enough about you, I would suggest you to be honest about the reason why you want them to pick another another group. And how the ideas in the group they're currently in affects you.

Somthing along the lines of :

I know you really care about feminism, and I understand fully, but some of the ideas of this group are quite hateful, and biased toward other groups. If you started believing in those idea, and/or acting on them, I would feel terrible for X/Y reasons.

Could you maybe see if another group would not suit you better ?

This way you don't accuse them of condoning, agreeing, or buying into those ideas, you simply tell them how you feel, and what you're afraid of.

As for the reasons as to why it would make you feel terrible, try to be honest, and rational :

  1. Hateful ideas depict a wrong image of any groups, and lessens any message and/or voice they could/would have otherwise. (No matter how great, or right your ideas are, if you spit on another group, they won't want to join you).
  2. How it would affect your relationship with them (if you have a significant relationship with them, such as a Romantic relationship, or a Friendship).
  3. How those ideas makes you, as a person feel. (again, only if the other person cares about you).

    But always remember that, ultimately, it's going to be their choice, and theirs only.

4

First, I have a lot of speculation here about who's saying this and why. Bear with me. Is this group of people actually gathering as feminists ("We now call the Springfield Feminist Association meeting to order"), or are they just a bunch of people hanging out? The gender essentialism inherent in all three quotations really doesn't fit with feminist theory, and so I'm guessing it's the latter. And I'm guessing they're saying these things because they think they're funny truisms (a.k.a. "We should put that on a t-shirt!"), but that it's not the main thing they talk about.

(Alternately, if this is a group for female survivors of violence or abuse, that might explain some of the bitterness, but it would be troubling if group leaders were engaging in talk about men like this.)

A respectful approach would be to suggest that these examples are out of character for them, juxtaposing their expectations about men to how they think people should be treated. That is, you have common ground that people should be treated fairly and that that doesn't always happen because they're given opportunities or judged based on whether they do what's "expected" for their gender. You're against those limitations when it happens to women, and maybe they haven't thought through that these (hopefully off-handed) comments about men are also limiting.

There's some self-awareness (perhaps) about this in the comment, "Of course men are allowed to cry, but to be honest it kinda does make them less manly." This is part of a problem that when we grow up in a society that has certain ideas, they often become part of what we feel. (One might even argue that this can be biological as well as social, yet that our feelings are not in line with how we want society to be.) If this is in the context of more formal political/ideological group, then a question they should be prepared to address is, "Can we have a version of 'manly' that doesn't rely on toxic masculinity?"

user3399 has some good discussion of bringing it up to your friend, rather than to the group. This is good advice, although if the group is hanging out at your house, say, it may be appropriate to raise this issue.

Ultimately, the most persuasive thing for your friend would be to say that you don't speak for all men, and you know that the people in that group don't speak for all women. You respect and trust your friend and hope that they don't buy into it when that group that casually demeans men. (I'm treating this as, "My friend hangs out with people who occasionally make racist jokes." If demeaning men is the main thing the group does, or if it is rampant, it might require an approach closer on the spectrum to, "My friend is hanging out with bigots and neo-Nazis.")

  • 2
    The insight you offer is interesting and covers more than a few possible angles/scenarios. You also made me notice there's one detail I need to include in order to help everyone be more accurate on their answers. This is a group of friends gathering at me and my girlfriends place after feminist meetings. I wouldn't qualify their remarks as rampant yet, but they have been going in an incremental direction. I I've also noticed the "our feelings are not in line with how we want society to be" part of your coverage, that's way too complex to elaborate here I guess. – J A May 7 '18 at 20:14
-2

You need to be very precise with the terms you use, and demonstrate your point. Those people are very much convinced about what they are preaching, so you can't come directly with your arguments and throw them out.

With this type of group (very engaged politically, or feminist...) you need to first show them that you're on their side, and that you are not trying to fight their ideology. You need to first agree on something important to them and then you can explain them what you think for instance :

Did you saw the new and how Trump did place here something whatever Trump did of misogynistic yesterday, it make me think that the other day some one told me : "how can you be a man if you can't use a tractor ?", I was like : "what ? Do you hear yourself talking, please! Their's plenty of room for every kind of men, would you stop making gender judgments ?"

I believe that you have better arguments than mine, but here's the idea, give them something and show them peacefully without fighting where they're wrong.

-3

Based on the [momentary?] change in title, here is another strategy that avoids conflict and is memorable, yet causes them to rethink what they have said against men.

When the group next comes to your place, bake cookies for them.

Show, don't tell. Show them that you are not bound by gender limitations. Show them that the world would be a worse place if everyone limited themselves to what they were stereotypically supposed to do.

There's deep symbolism here if you go with the cookies, since second-wave feminists often equated things like cooking and baking with being forced into a single gender role. It also hearkens to the Simpsons episode where Homer and Marge back different people for governor, with Homer inviting Mr. Burns over for a media circus, and Homer tells Marge, "But you do get to express yourself! In the lovely home you keep, and the food you serve."

Further, a gesture of goodwill can often soften people's attitudes and help restart a tricky relationship. (If you know that half of them are vegan, then use a vegan recipe or figure out what would be a clear goodwill gesture for them. Same thing if you don't think you could bake good cookies; find something that works for you and them.)

While they're eating, you could explicitly say that you wanted to remind them that you don't want them to just assume all men are one way and should be one way; there are plenty of answers here that suggest what words you could use.

This strategy of show, don't tell and conveying goodwill will hopefully generalize to other groups in other situations, even if the specifics of it do not. Good luck!

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    I'm the one who cooks and bakes at home most of the time, I almost went for a chef career actually. That is memorable I guess in building the image they have of me, but that happens naturally and doesn't deliver any message. Gestures of good will have been there since the start. – J A May 10 '18 at 1:26

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