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Sun Jul 2, 2017, 01:01 PM

I have a question for serious feminists. Actually two questions.

I am participating in a facebook discussion (I know - ugh) about a post on a website.

In fact I reposted the article here on DU - https://www.democraticunderground.com/1018962759.

The website is called "The Art of Manliness" and it appears to be a general interest, men's popular magazine type of thing.

A person on FB contends the site is sexist mainly by virtue of its name (and I too had a moment of "uh oh" when I saw the name of the source). Nobody has presented any real evidence of any overt sexism in any of the articles, though it is clearly aimed at heterosexual men - certainly no MRA type of crap. The person made the point that most would probably discount any content coming from a website called "The Art of Whiteness" so why do we have a problem believing "The Art of Manliness" isn't sexist?

That actually made me check my reactions a little. I am wondering what you all (whoever is left?) think about that and if you want to take some time to look around let me know if you find anything blatantly sexist there.


Is the name of the site an indication of sexism and what are the implications for this in terms of specialty media for various demographic groups - in other words the simple question sounds like typical majority whining - if they can have a special website/platform why can't we? (reminds me of the formation of the men's group here) But really is there anything wrong with media aimed at the group most in "power?"

Can anybody locate truly blatant sexism on that site? There was an article given as an example - on parallel parking. Of course I can't find it now but the set-up was a guy taking a woman on a date and driving to the theater and only finding a space that needed that skill. Yeah it was not any kind of example of diversity or feminism by a long shot, but a man driving on a date with a woman isn't inherently a negative. It didn't present the woman as helpless or useless it was just a heterocentric example used for the intended audience. At least that was my take.

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Reply I have a question for serious feminists. Actually two questions. (Original post)
Kali Jul 2017 OP
LakeArenal Jul 2017 #1
athena Jul 2017 #2
Kali Jul 2017 #3
athena Jul 2017 #4
JHan Jul 2017 #5

Response to Kali (Original post)

Sun Jul 2, 2017, 02:22 PM

1. Just looks like Cosmo geared to men to me.

I know a few men who should try to find the art in being a man.

I only checked the Art of Manliness. It talks about a range of things like starting a fire and holding a baby.

Most of the skills most women should have as well. I didn't see women mentioned in either a negative or positive way. I don't think I saw the word even though you say women are mentioned in the parking thing.

Hardly scientific research. I don't know if we should ever judge on a label or name. I knew Dick Gay, he wasn't. I knew Harry Ball, he wasn't a porn star.

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sun Jul 2, 2017, 04:46 PM

2. I'm not sure what makes a feminist "serious", but the site seems sexist to me.

Sexism is not just an action that hurts a specific woman or aims to hurt women in general. Sexism is also a way of thinking that seems innocuous and reasonable to the majority of men and women but ends up hurting both men and women. This is the sense in which the site is sexist.

The site overtly romanticizes the 1950s. The whole idea is that men are supposed to be manly and cultivate those qualities that our sexist society believes should distinguish men from women. (If you want to see why we moved beyond the 1950s, read "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan. It's a great read. It's one of those books one never forgets.)

The whole idea of "manliness" is that being a man is fundamentally different from being a woman. The reality is that women and men belong to the same species. Beyond physical attributes, there is nothing that distinguishes men from women. Anyone who says men and women are fundamentally different should try saying that about any other two groups: black people and white people, Jews and Christians; homosexuals and heterosexuals, and see how bigoted they sound.

Everything posted is linked to the idea of "manliness" by virtue of the name of the site. Imagine a site that was called "The art of Womanliness" that had articles about things like plumbing, woodworking, war, sports, and surviving in the wilderness. You didn't expect that, did you? You expected a site that had articles about cooking, cleaning, knitting, sewing, fashion, and childcare, right? Well, that tells you all you need to know about why the site you refer to is sexist. I spent quite some time looking through the site, and I didn't see any articles on how to work for a female boss, how to stand up to a coworker who is being sexist, and how to get one's daughter interested in amateur radio. It's all about being a "manly man" in the 1950s sense, marrying a woman who is a "lady" in the 1950s sense, and pretending that one is still living in the 1950s.

Sexism doesn't only hurt women. It hurts men, too. Men are harmed by the restrictions that the 1950s ideal of "manliness" imposes on them. It hurts heterosexual men that they can't display the entire range of human emotions without having to worry about appearing weak; that they can't dress in pinks, yellows, and purples without appearing homosexual; and that even when they have a high-income-earning wife, they can't choose to stay at home and bake cookies without being shamed by society for not being a responsible breadwinner. Every time you tell someone that they cannot live the way they choose, you are hurting them by restricting their options. Telling men they should be "manly" is not so different from telling women they should be "womanly" and stay at home and bake cookies. The site owner may not realize it, but he is inadvertently hurting both men and women with his rigid ideas of how men and women should behave.

Men and women drifting further and further from each other is not going to make us a better society. What is going to make us a better society is the widespread realization that we are all, deep down, similar, regardless of our gender, skin color, and sexual orientation, and that we're all in this together.

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Response to athena (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 2, 2017, 06:08 PM

3. Some good points.

I had assumed the fifties vibe from the clip art and general look of the site (and reworking of old articles I am sure) was just part of the current modern retro fad/fashion in other areas as well, but it seemed like they had cleaned up some of the real garbage from the old articles. And the few articles I looked at (like the let your kids do dangerous things I reposted) included boys and girls and generally used gender-nuetral terms like "kids" so it wasn't all about teach your boy children to do these things. Or you know, how to trim your beard

Good catch on lack of articles on how to work for a woman or deal with bigots, and there didn't seem to be much in the way of articles teaching how to do what would be stereoptypical "womanly" skills either so yeah I am getting it more now. (also I looked some more and found a kind of creepy article on "protecting" your family when out in public that got my hackles up a bit in the portrayal of the more or less helpless wife needing it in the first place).

You helped me get a better picture of what the person objecting to the site was seeing (they didn't take the time to explain, and I understand why but there were some willing to hear and just getting the "if you can't see it you will never get it" was not helpful)

Thank you for taking the time and sorry about the "serious" - I just meant people that have actually delved into the subject beyond using it as a self-descriptor.

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Response to Kali (Reply #3)

Mon Jul 3, 2017, 02:55 PM

4. Thank you for your comments.

There are, or used to be, others on DU who knew much more about feminism than I do. I am a feminist, and I've read numerous feminist books over the years, but I never took a college-level course in women's studies, and I could never get into feminist theory, which always seemed really dry to me. What I posted is just my own opinion.

Despite its sexism, that site is still a lot better than PUA sites. If a young man is going through a "manly" phase, it's much better if he reads that site than a PUA site. The romanticization of 1950s roles, though, is going to be inevitably sexist. The owner could greatly improve his site by making it feminist. I don't mean it would be a site focused on women and feminism but rather a site for strong men that realizes that strong men are feminists. There is nothing as attractive as confidence, and feminism in a man signals a total lack of insecurity.

(By the standards I'm applying here, women's magazines are also sexist. It takes a lot of effort to live in a society that is sexist without absorbing all of its sexist attitudes.)

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Response to Kali (Original post)

Sat Jul 22, 2017, 10:25 PM

5. Athena raises some good points, there is a very retro feel to the site...

I've enjoyed some articles on that site. My first impression of it is that it's a rejection of some unpleasant modern archetypes of malehood like "fuckboism" - think of a male who is young, misogynistic, enjoys and boasts about manipulating women...and the site also seems to want to reach out to men who have poor social skills.

As athena also noted, it's one of the better male oriented sites in the interwebs but it is promoting an archetype nonetheless - a very traditional, retro archetype, without the side order of the more toxic ideas which infused traditional ideas of masculinity. I really have no problem with the site itself, but it does raise questions about how men define themselves in the 21st century after being accustomed to particular modes of thinking for centuries? On the flip side, there are sister versions of sites like this, blogs by women who embrace the nurturing archetype, full of babies and cooking and traditional feminine concerns..... Harmless on the face of it ,not the worst that exists out there..but nonetheless ideas that seek to define womanhood in specific ways.

Archetypes are powerful, can be problematic and restrictive, can be used to justify determinism which is harmful - Once we understand in society, there are many different ways and modes of being, so long as we don't hurt others, we'll be a lot better off.

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