Thursday, September 30, 2010

MRA Essentialism of the Day

Many men's rights activists (MRAs) are not fans of gender essentialism. When it is men who are being negatively stereotyped, that is.

Indeed, for all of their whinging about women/feminists/society framing men as violent, sex-crazed cavemen, one might expect that a logical next course of action would be to reject other assertions of alleged essential characteristics of men.

But alas. While it is observable that (a) men and women have more overlap than difference with respect to personality characteristics and traits and (b) that the display of "masculine" and "feminine" traits is often attributable to social conditioning rather than biology, making many stereotypes about men and women unfair and inaccurate, many MRA (and socially conservative and anti-feminist) pontifications on sex and gender can be reduced to the following maxim:

Gender essentialism is inaccurate when it is men who are being negatively stereotyped as violent, sex-crazed loafs, but is accurate when men are being positively stereotyped as strong, ambitious, and of superior intelligence. Gender essentialism is mostly accurate when it is women who are being negatively stereotyped as weak, passive, and intellectually inferior and inaccurate when women are being positively stereotyped as non-violent, compassionate, and safe.

With these tenets in mind, let's observe today's MRA essentialism. Specifically, one MRA's take on why lady-run businesses are destined to fail:

"When women leave the home and the patriarchal structure that supported it, and go into business to do what men do, they really do what they 'see' men do, for they are completely unaware of the unseen activities of men that enable the functioning of the seen. Unable to comprehend the unseen, women then have only one purpose for all that they do in the world of men-making money. They think the reason to publish a book is to make money; whereas, men know the reason to publish a book is because it contents are worthwhile, and the challenge of the publisher is to make a profit on its publication.
Women think the purpose of a business is to make money; men know the purpose of a business is to bring products and services to humankind, and that the challenge of the businessman is to make a profit so that the business can be sustained.

Women get jobs in order to make money whereas men go to work to support their families....

Women do not pioneer; they deal with what is; with what they 'see.' Any woman-started business will be in a field that already exists. They do not start new things nor do they invent things, both of which require dealing with the unseen."

Look at what he's saying here. Women, because they have woman bodies 'n brains, are inherently incapable of understanding the great unseen myssssssssteries at work when men do that manly thing known as Being A Productive Contributor To The Public Sphere. Men, though, because they have man bodies 'n brains, have sort of a sixth sense for Just Knowing how to contribute totally new and worthwhile products to society, and men furthermore never invent products with the sole aim of making money.

This is all just the way men and women essentially are, folks.

Note the cocksure certainty of this man's take on men and women. Citing no study, no authority, or heck not even an article found on the world wide web, he just knows that this is what men and women are like and he knows he's right. Imagine how an MRA would respond to a woman-written article that was this broad, this certain, this unsupported, this grounded in stereotypes, and this full of namby-pamby statements alluding to "unseen activities" and the "feminine" and "masculine principles."

Unfortunately, such folks rarely let facts that really exist in our real world intrude upon their essentialist, fantastical, "unseen" men and women are opposites worldviews.

So, what follows is for everyone else.

This post was brought to you by women, creators of Kevlar, Harry Potter, and fire escapes and is dedicated to men, creators of "sea monkeys," Ponzi schemes, and the worthless securities that led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

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