Blog

Of course some women are flattered by catcalls, but that doesn’t make it ok: A response to Paris Lees

Paris Lees has been busily trying to erase decades of feminist work over at Vice as of late, first promoting prostitution as something sexy, empowered women do, and now encouraging men to catcall women. Lees, who says she used to be “a boy” (i.e. she is a trans woman) and is “a total attention junkie” is tickled at being “sexually objectified and treated like a piece of meat.” She enjoys being “eye-fucked on the escalator” and claims that “eye-fuck” is an “age-old mating call.” Lees admits she doesn’t represent all women but what she fails to do is connect her feelings of flattery to a larger social context. She individualizes her own experience and refuses to look beyond her own personal thrill at properly performing femininity, which prevents her...
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Set to Explode: On masculinity and death

My best friend died at twenty years old. He, like so many males, was set to explode; a bomb of manhood with a wick as short as impulse. He was taught only one game: breaking boundaries. In the end he broke his own. Game over. Masculinity is killing us all. In men’s endless drive to prove themselves as real men, they must break boundaries as a matter of course. “Don’t do that” is simply an invitation. Each inhibition crossed is a further affirmation of manhood. There’s a reason why a certain major firearm company’s main marketing ploy revolves around convincing men that, without these guns, their “manhood cards” will be revoked. Like bombs, men don’t simply hurt themselves when they explode, but also whoever happens to be nearby. That’s...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Is there such a thing as a ‘male brain’ or a ‘female brain?’

Feminists have long argued against the notion of innate ‘female’ or ‘male’ characteristics, pointing out the ways in which socialization impacts and shapes our behaviour. Yet a recent study out of Penn Medicine claims that there are, in fact, ‘hardwired difference between male and female brains’ that explain why men are supposedly better at certain tasks than women and vice versa. In this episode, I speak with Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist at Barnard College and the author of Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, about the study. Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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Blog

Why not boycott the NFL?

I saw this Tweet today and, while I don’t completely agree that “Black Friday is a ‘feminine’ Super Bowl,” it did lead me to think about the left’s priorities… Black Friday is, without a doubt, a fairly horrid phenomenon in the U.S. (now extended into Canada), wherein consumer culture, corporate greed, and anti-labour practices collide. The holiday tradition of over-consumption, beginning on Black Friday and ending at Boxing Day Week in a mountain of things and post-holiday depression, led Adbusters to attach itself to the promotion of “Buy Nothing Day,” which takes place the day after American Thanksgiving. There are a number of smart critiques of Buy Nothing Day (and, more generally, Adbusters‘ focus on consumption and it’s branding of non-consumption) and, while I appreciate the efforts of individuals...
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No penis = no power: The worst we could do to Rob Ford is emasculate him

A cartoon in today’s Toronto Sun shows a castrated Rob Ford. While I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to Ford’s castration, this cartoon is indicative of society’s unquestioned belief that penises equal power. What’s the worst we could do to Rob Ford? Emasculate him. Rob Ford’s sense of power and his absolute certainty that he not only deserves but is entitled to his position as mayor, as well as his belief that he can behave however he wishes and should not be challenged, is firmly rooted in his male privilege. That we believe that to strip him of his power is equivalent to castration signifies our cooperation in this system that privileges masculinity and see power as a decidedly male domain.  ...
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Gavin McInnes thinks male violence feeds babies, explains to women what women think

Throw a little gasoline on the hipster sexism fire, folks — co-founder of Vice magazine* and “Godfather of hipsterdom,” Gavin McInnes threw a misogynistic tantrum on Huffington Post Live during a discussion about contemporary masculinity on Monday. Little known fact: Gavin McInnes is not only a scientist and knower of all facts, but he can SEE INSIDE OUR BRAINS, ladies. And what does he see? Misery. McInnes drops so many truth bombs in the discussion that it’s hard to know where to begin, but his basic premise is that male aggression is natural and that feminism has made women miserable by forcing them to pretend to be men. You know how we all do that? Yeah. Well now we can stop. “You’re welcome” – Gavin McInnes. It’s weird because...
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Learnings from talking about ‘healthy masculinity’

I’ve been pleased that my essay “How Talking About ‘Healthy Masculinity’ Is Like Talking About ‘Healthy Cancer’” has been generating a robust conversation online. Though I’ve responded here and there to questions and comments that have come up, I’d like to pull together what I’ve learned from following the conversation. The first thing I’ve learned is that though most people seem to have read the piece pretty accurately, others have completely not. For example the title: It’s intentionally a teaser provocation, and I expected it could lead some to think they were about to read an article that equates masculinity with cancer. In fact that’s not at all what the piece says or does; the title is a blatant bait-and-switch. The piece actually continues a theme from Refusing to...
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The trouble with male allies

As I’ve said before, when it comes to men being feminist allies, “show, don’t tell.” Now, more than ever before, feminists should be skeptical of men who claim the title of “feminist” or “feminist ally.” We’ve learned a number of things (one would hope) from the Hugo Schwyzer debacle – one of those things being that we should be skeptical of any man who claims to be an authority on feminism (particularly when these men have a history of abuse, but in general as well). In an interview with activist and writer, John Stoltenberg, published here at Feminist Current this week, he responds to the question of where “pro-feminist men” fit into our movement with this: “First of all I don’t think any man of conscience—whether self-identified as pro-feminist...
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John Stoltenberg on manhood, male supremacy, and men as feminist allies

This interview was originally published in french on Isabelle Allonso’s website and was translated by Sporenda. Q: “Refusing to Be a Man” was first published 23 years ago (1990). Do you consider that since its publication, the message of the book has inched its way somewhat in the mainstream, or is it still marginal? I’ve been very heartened by the renewed interest in radical feminism, which—as I can see now on social media—is international. I always intended the ethical framework of “Refusing to Be a Man” to be congruent with radical feminism’s critique of gender as a hierarchy—and that critique definitely seems to be catching on, especially among young activists. Q: In  1994 you published a book entitled “The End of Manhood.” Do you consider that we are indeed...
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Why talking about ‘healthy masculinity’ is like talking about ‘healthy cancer’

I understand—I really do—why a lot of people raised to be a man are seeking a gendered sense of self that is separate and distinct from all that has been called out lately as toxic masculinity. These days a penised person* would have to be really clueless not to notice all the manhood-proving behaviors that have been critiqued as hazardous to well-being (one’s own and others’). However much that penised person accepts the mounting critique of standard-issue masculinity, he might reasonably be wondering what manhood-authenticating behaviors are exempt from it: What are the ways to “act like a man” that definitively keep one from being confused with “men behaving badly”? Or, put more personally: What exactly does one do nowadays to inhabit a male-positive gendered identity that feels—and is—worthy...
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INTERVIEW: Meghan Murphy on rape culture, Steubenville, & masculinity

I was a guest on Vancouver Co-op Radio’s The Rational on Tuesday evening talking about rape culture, Steubenville, masculinity and an article I wrote recently: The Steubenville rape case: This is masculinity. Thanks to Riaz Behra, who interviewed me. You can listen to the full interview here:   Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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But what about the men? On masculinity and mass shootings

“But what about the men?” It’s a question that’s been largely avoided by the mainstream within the context of mass shootings. The recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut sparked thousands of conversations across the continent about gun laws, mental illness, and violence. And sadly, we’ve been here before. We’ve had conversations about access to guns – the victims would still be alive today, after all, if there were no gun. We’ve talked about the need to better address mental illness in North America – about how people need access to services and treatment. With proper support, potential perpetrators could get the help they need before it’s too late. And what about the media? We see violence all the time in movies, video games, and on television. Have we become so...
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We ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger: On Kasi Perkins as “the catalyst” to her own death & holding the media accountable

Coverage of the murder of Kasandra (Kasi) Perkins by NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher has been incredibly brutal over the past few days as we bear witness to mainstream news sources rushing to defend Belcher’s character and erase any whiff of ‘male violence’ or ‘domestic abuse’ from the conversation. Most media that covered the story over the weekend barely mentioned her, headlines reading” “Chiefs LB Belcher kills self“, “NFL tragedy: Chiefs chairman says Jovan Belcher murder-suicide ‘incredibly difficult’”, “Jovan Belcher murder-suicide leaves Chiefs in shock“, “Kansas City Chiefs’ Belcher in fatal double shooting“… You get the picture. Something about a football player. The NFL is taking it pretty hard. Fox Sports went out of it’s way to find people to defend Belcher’s honour: He was a good, good person … a...
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Interview Archives

Interview archives: Older men/younger women relationships: Is age really just a number?

This interview was recorded in July 2011 and originally aired on Vancouver Co-op Radio.   In this episode, Meghan Murphy explores the older man/younger woman relationship with guest, Hugo Schwyzer. We’ve all heard or seen the cliche that is the middle-aged man who, maybe post-divorce, seeks out a much younger woman; but whether it be to start a (new) family or simply to pump up his ego, the ‘creepy’ factor remains intact. While some may want to present this kind of relationship as ‘natural’ or as some kind of biological imperative that is applicable to men in particular, we must ask whether or not it is indeed ‘natural’ and why it is that we continue to get that creepy feeling about middle aged men who pursue relationships with women...
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Don’t much care about the men: Man problems edition

What about the menz is weighing on me this week. So everyone’s talking about how *gasp* men and boys are dealing with body image issues. Due to a recent story in the New York Times, the CBC’s Q did a segment yesterday morning looking at boys who were overly focused on working out, asking whether or not the issue of boys “reshaping their bodies and fitting a muscular ideal” should be getting more attention. Douglas Quenqua, the author of the Times article, writes: Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. He goes on to write: Just as girls who count every calorie in an effort to be thin may do themselves...
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Podcasts

Podcast: On Hanna Rosin’s ‘End of Men’

Are men on the decline?  In Hanna Rosin’s new book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, she argues that as the world changed, women have adapted along with it, which has worked to their advantage – whereas men, she claims, have failed to adapt, to their detriment. In this episode, I speak with Jennifer Homans, a historian and a distinguished scholar in residence at New York University, who published a review of Rosin’s book in the New York Times. She writes: The End of Men”? This is not a title; it is a sound bite. But Hanna Rosin means it. The revolution feminists have been waiting for, she says, is happening now, before our very eyes. Men are losing their grip, patriarchy is crumbling and we...
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Not my Nigel: On mothers, sons, responsibility, and denial

After reading a piece, published back in 1989 by Sonia Johnson called “Rearing Nice Sons Can’t Change the World“, I started thinking about mothers, sons, male privilege and what’s sometimes referred to as the ‘Not my Nigel‘ defense. In the article, Johnson points out that, while we love to wax poetic about the very important role mothers play in this world, they are relatively powerless in terms of effecting change on a systematic level and, therefore, have little influence over whether or not their sons turn out to be entitled misogynists. She writes: Patriarchy tells mothers unctuously that we are very important and have much influence, but its behavior speaks louder than its words. Of all persons in patriarchal society, mothers have been set up to have least credibility....
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