Look up bigorexia. I’ve been warning since college, where I was by far the most prominent male feminist activist, that if feminism didn’t address the legitimate concerns men hold, men otherwise sympathetic to the cause would avoid the movement and join harmful right-wing ones like the men’s rights movement. Feminism in the last 15 years has studiously refused to address any men’s concerns (case in point: Jezebel.com), and men have done exactly as I warned.
Look at the seduction/pickup community. Rape culture (women leading men on by saying yes when they mean no. Women on OK Cupid usually say in answers to personality questions that being drunk is an excuse for bad behavior, that men should head their households, that it’s unacceptable for men to stay at home raising their kids, that when they say no to being asked out, their ‘no’ really means ‘keep trying’, that men shouldn’t have long hair or wear makeup, that chivalrous men are preferable–the list is endless). Fraternities and hazing. The glorification of inherently sexist chivalry (because equality can’t be romantic!). The proliferation of the phrase “man up”, as if responsibility or maturity are male traits, or only men need to grow. The continued if not increasing refusal of straight women to ask men out or pay their share on dates (even though studies have shown that when men do all the asking and paying, they have all the power which leads to a higher incidence of rape). Man caves. The suicides of young boys who are bullied for liking “feminine” toys like Barbie or Care Bears, or painting their fingernails, wearing makeup, etc.
Recently a non-gendered Meetup group I belong to offered a class on makeup tips. You had to sign up for the event to get the location emailed to you. I signed up and heard nothing until I said something after the event. The organizer ASSUMED that only women could or should be interested in makeup. I guess she hasn’t been on Capitol Hill. Someone in my neighborhood Facebook group posted a question about where to get good manicures and pedicures, but directed the question only to women. No one can tell me why umbrellas, alcoholic drinks, or bathrooms should be gendered (I’ve been mocked by men AND women for drinking “girly” drinks). Studies, again, show that women prefer to date sexist men over feminist ones. If you wanted to make men more feminist, wouldn’t you want to reward the feminist ones and punish the sexist ones? In sex and dating, men are the demand, and women are the supply. Sorry, I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Women have a great deal of power they aren’t using. Simple behaviorist psychology says you’ll get more of the behaviors you reward, and vice-versa. Yet women WANT men to be jealous, “protective”, and violent. They take no interest in men who express emotions–especially weakness–or ever need emotional support. They want men who are sensitive TO THEM, not who are sensitive people on the whole. The personal insult hurled at me for opposing war and guns is that I’m a pussy. “REAL men do X” because men constantly have to “prove” their masculinity based on behaviors that have nothing to do with gender. If you don’t fit the outdated, sexist, 1950s prescription of what a man is supposed to be, you’re a fake man.
You can’t create equality between two groups of people when you only have buy-in from one of them. Feminists should be exploiting the ways sexism harms men to address those concerns, and attract male support for a movement that truly helps everyone and improves all our lives. They should not ignore, dismiss, demean, or belittle men when they raise these issues (a favorite tactic of mine is when they classify these concerns as personal and thus irrelevant or unimportant, so conveniently forgetting that “the personal is political” was a rallying cry of 2nd wave feminism). But the sad truth, as Warren Farrell said, is that no one really wants equality. They want immediate, short-term self-interest. So that’s what we’ve got. And most women and some men continue having the cost forcibly extracted from them.