Before stating my opinion proper, I think it’s important to preface by saying that the first part of the Center for Civic Engagement’s event was fairly good. It was respectful, polite, and allowed for respectful disagreement; this is more than what can be said for Yale or the University of Missouri. The message, that men are suffering from rigid societal expectations, seems balanced and fair, and I think we can all agree that promoting the freedom of choice for anybody (within reason) is a good thing. But this is where my praise for the event stops. The panel, like many others regarding gender equality, suffered from the rather standard amount of misleading or discredited academic studies, particularly those pertaining to women somehow being an oppressed class. So, while the general message was good, we cannot let these important details and assertions go undisputed, as they will undoubtedly play a large part in whatever misguided solutions these people plan to put forward.
The first and most glaring issue was the notion of men being a privileged class in the United States, along with women being a subservient one. The host of the panel, Professor Meriweather, started the discussion with the widely discredited “1 in 5 women will be victims of sexual assault in college” study by the Association of American Universities. This study, along with others like it, has been debunked for having a small sample size, a non-representative population, and overly broad definitions. The most accurate rate of sexual violence, according the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ “Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization among College-Age Females, 1995–2013”, is around 0.61%. And before any of you go spouting the comically unsubstantiated “90% of rapes go undocumented” that would still bring you to only ~1 in 17, dramatically far from the 1:5 that still gets tossed around.
What troubled me most about Meriweather’s use of the statistics was how unmarked it was; it was taken for the truth without any sort of debate or discussion. This, in turn, set a tone of culpability and guilt that would permeate throughout the rest of the event: men would have to change, not for their own well-being, but so they could be less of a threat towards women. The program even said that the panel was to “[explore] the facts surrounding and solutions for ending violence against women…” They later changed this to include the phrase, “and other men” as a token gesture of egalitarianism. Never mind the fact that the majority of victims in violent crime are men, accounting for 76.8% of homicide victims according to Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nope, we’re only interested in how evil and toxic masculinity threatens the virtuous, pure, unspoiled perfection of mother Gaia and femininity.
Another conspicuous absence in the panel was how societal perceptions of masculinity benefit women, specifically in custody hearings (women receive custody 85% of the time), prison sentencing (women are given 12% shorter sentences for the same crime), and domestic violence. As I stated before, male victimhood in violence was never brought up by anyone in the discussion, even though the whole supposed point was to discuss how men are treated unfairly. Domestic violence, for those of you who are unaware, is not a gendered issue, with men making up 43% of total victims. Despite this, less than 1% of those helped in shelters and clinics were men. In fact, the 1995 Home Office Research Study 191 for England and Wales found that in 12% of cases where the man called the police, he himself was arrested. This hasn’t happened in any of the cases for women. In addition, according to a 2007 study by Daniel J. Whitaker et al., men make up 53% of all victims in non-reciprocal violence (which is roughly half of all domestic violence), and women make up more than 70% of the perpetrators. In other words, in cases where only one partner is being mistreated (which is half), chances are the victim is a man and the aggressor is a woman. It’s important to distinguish, however, that women are no more or less guilty of this sort of thing. Being a violent asshole isn’t monopolized by one sex; unlike those hosting the event, I’m not trying to convince you that half the population is dangerous and needs to reform for the greater good.
This is the overarching problem that these events, along with third wave feminism as a whole, tend to perpetuate: it is entirely gynocentric, even when it swears it isn’t. So, even if you go to a discussion on how men are being held to unreasonable societal standards, you’re only going to hear the tired old assertion that women are a “marginalized” class in the United States. You’ll find that it’s rather hard to defend this, though, when men are the majority of suicides (78%), the unemployed, the homeless (61%), the drug-addicted (up to 59%), the incarcerated (90%), high school and college drop-outs (54%), and workplace deaths (93%). Oh, and women live longer, graduate more often from college with better grades, have the majority of consumer spending power (70% – 80%), and are the majority of voters (65.7%). But women are totally the victims in all this, right?
The panel had its heart in the right place, it really did, but it was bogged down by so much of the same nonsense that I’ve sadly come to expect from these sorts of “gender equality” events. I won’t speak on the second half of the event, because I did not attend, but I will conclude that the first part spouted the same worn-out, discredited assertions and took them all as fact. This, in turn, led to an atmosphere of abject guilt in manhood, and abject victimhood in femininity. How are we to bridge the supposed gap between the sexes when we keep telling boys that they are flawed for who they are, and that girls need to fear or reform them for their own safety? How are we to help young men when we won’t even acknowledge areas in which they’re victims?