Recently, multiple male members of the A Voice for Men (AVfM) staff received the following email. We will accept at face value that Carly is who she says she is. Here is her letter, and below will be my response:
Letter Received: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 10:35:25 -0800 (PST)
From: Carly M <email@example.com>
To: [Various male members of AVfM staff]
I am an 18 year-old girl from the United States. I came across your
website while I was researching studies done on women’s rights for my
Probability and Statistics class. I was surprised by the statistics posted
on your website. At first glance I expected your website to promote
equality between genders. Instead I realized you are promoting one thing:
men. You seem to believe that everything negative that has been done to you
has been the fault of women. I am sorry. Women and men are both equally
important to society and to life, you seem to have forgotten this. Your
whole website is based on the belief system that men are far superior to
If this is what you believe, then I am sorry. I am sorry on behalf
of all the women in your life. I am also sorry for wasting my time writing
this email, that I expect you will never read. What you do not understand
is that men have had voices since the beginning, however in the last one
hundred years women have just began to be able to speak. Those voices will
not silence now. Women have realized things can be better, and life can be
more fair It is my impression that you believe women plan to “take over the
world” and chastise men until the end of time. Some feminists may have this
idea, however most women want equality. Most people want equality. Tell me,
why should we not deserve equality? I would be very interested to hear the
answer. I do not plan to take over the world, I just want to live in a time
where I can be taken seriously and not objectified. I have a lot of plans
for my future.
I want to work for human rights, I want to help boys and girls
all over the world receive an education. I want to create awareness
about racism and sexism too. I want to reduce the statistic that 30% of
women and 10% of men will be raped or abused in their lifetimes. I have
these plans because I want equality. I expect that you do not take me
seriously. That’s okay, it just means I have a lot of work to do.
I know I cannot change your mind, however I didn’t write this email to
change your mind. I wrote this email because I was struck by the hate
present on your website. Needless to say I was very offended, I hope that
my email is not hateful, just a different point of view for you to
consider. You are correct in demonstarting that there are more than one
side to every argument and statistic. I ask that you do some more research,
though not online. Think. Just think. Think about opportunity. Think about
coexistence. Think about collaboration. Think about a world that is
beautiful for everyone to live in. Think about equality. Change is scary, I
know that, however it cannot be stopped. I also recommend you watch the
film Miss Representation, it is available on Netfilx.
Thank you for your time,
The following open letter is written not just to you, but to any young woman who has an open mind and is willing to be challenged on her prejudices.
As a rule, when we get emails or comments like yours, we usually ignore them or just say something rude, because we’ve heard it all before. More times than we can count. You may interpret that as an “angry” response, but really, it’s just exhaustion. There’s nothing in your mail which we haven’t already addressed a thousand times only to have people refuse to listen. The only reason we did not do the same with you is because you say you are 18 years old. This, to me, indicates someone whose mind may still be open.
The older you get, the harder it is for you to accept new information and new views of the world, so I’m hoping that you or others your age will possibly read this and think about it. Not that people who are older can’t change their minds, but the older we get the more closed-minded we tend to get. Life experience and the aging process will do that to you. In fact, if you take away only one message from this entire letter, I hope you hold onto this: that open-mindedness you seem to pride yourself on now? Try hard to keep it as you attempt to understand what I’m saying here and, more importantly, try to hold onto open-mindedness when you start getting up in years. Believe me, the older you get the harder it is to have your mind changed, but it’s always worth being willing to change your mind if facts and perspectives you haven’t heard before come to your attention.
Now, to the substance of your letter: You say you were surprised by the statistics posted on our site. I’m not surprised, since these statistics have been hidden from you, at least up until this point in your young life. They’ve been hidden by people with an ideological and financial interest in keeping you in the dark about them–and by people who are just plain prejudiced and bigoted. If you have specific statistics you want to challenge, let us know and we’ll take a look, but we don’t publish things like that willy-nilly. What we seek, first and foremost, is honest, verifiable information, so if you have something we’ve missed, please let us know.
You did not specify where you got the statistics either; we have multiple articles and pages where you can find statistics. You may want to look at this page, which is a few years old and needs a bit of updating, but, we stand by the substance of that page and we would have to ask you which stats on it you took issue with before commenting further. But I hope you also stop by our Wiki page of primary references, which contains considerably more information which will probably surprise you even more. (We are still looking for volunteers to help update that wiki as it happens, and you and others are welcome to help improve it.)
By the way, when looking at those primary references, please pay attention especially to the references on domestic violence, rape, and something called the Woozle Effect. You will probably get a better education on these issues there than you will almost anywhere else today.
Now, I have to give you a warning: I strongly suspect that not only are the facts we cite generally correct on substance, but your teachers will be most displeased with you if you try to share them. For, while they are all perfectly good references from multiple independent and scientific sources (at least on the Wiki, which is the real go-to page), they tend to run against the grain of what a lot of people talk about when they speak of “women’s rights.” Because they expose common, everyday lies that your teachers tell you. What we find is that people who speak of “women’s rights” are (usually) incredibly lopsided in what they look at, only taking the perspective of looking at where women often get a crap deal, while rarely bothering to look at where men get a crap deal, or only see men’s issues in an “oh yeah, men too” way, or by blaming that mythical beast called “The Patriarchy” for whatever bad befalls men.
And sometimes, they just flat out make things up.
Although you are female, and so you are privileged in this area: men who try to talk about these things are usually personally attacked, and I would expect a boy taking classes with you to get a flunking grade just for having the audacity to present some of this information, at least if he did not come to conclusions that pleased his teachers. Because he’s a boy, and boys aren’t allowed to speak in ways that might upset women or which speak unapologetically about where men get the short end of the stick. But, because you are a girl, maybe you could help shine a light in the darkness and put the truth out there in the face of what are verifiable lies. I hope you’ll think about doing so, anyway.
Anyway, what you have likely been taught by your teachers, possibly your whole life, is that if bad things befall women, it’s because they are oppressed as a class, but, if bad things befall men, it’s just a side-effect of women’s oppression; supposedly, having “male privilege” is great but it has some down sides, and that’s their only answer when a man’s life is destroyed. If you can free your mind from that toxic lie–and a toxic lie is what it is–you might be able to see what’s really going on here. The truth is, the most privileged class of people in the whole wide world are young women living in places like the US, UK, Canada, etc.–and if you want to be treated like an equal, you should not flinch or cry like a little girl if someone tells you that.
You accuse our web site of promoting men. Well, to that we must plead guilty: men have few to no voices speaking about issues that are specific to men, or defending men as a group, in this society. Until very recently in history men never have had such a voice. Because pretty much all civilizations for the last few thousand years have prioritized the needs and desires of women over those of men. For hundreds, even thousands, of years. We aren’t used to seeing men suffering or, if we do, we think it’s either the natural order of things or, worse, ultimately their fault. Men are not viewed as human beings with innate value by this society, and from what I can see, they never have been.
Now as it happens, I think you will find no one on A Voice for Men who disagrees that men and women should have equal rights under the law, and equal opportunity to pursue whatever they want out of life. We just happen to think that women have become, in recent decades, an incredibly pampered, privileged group of people in our society, and that most of the time, it’s men who get the short end of the stick–although that isn’t true everywhere and always, it’s true in far more ways than you probably even suspect.
You say we “seem” to believe everything negative that has been done to us was the fault of women. Well in fact, if you ask me, and most of the others in charge here at AVfM, we don’t believe it’s women who are the primary impediment to the Men’s Human Rights Movement at all. No, the primary impediment is men: getting men to think of themselves as human beings first and not the disposable utility of women is really hard. After all, men have been prioritizing the safety and provisioning of women over their own self-interests for thousands of years. Putting women first has been the priority for so long, most men don’t even know how to think about things any other way.
You say we seem to have forgotten that women and men are both equally important to society. I have no idea why you think that. Women and men are both equally important to society as human beings. Although it does depend on where you look; it’s men who do most of the sacrificing and dying for this society, and men who most frequently have their civil rights stripped from them, and some of us are getting pretty uncomfortable with a world that demands “equality” but then ignores the largest minority in this society: men.
If you’re doing some statistical research, here’s an article with lots of statistics for you to look at written by Janet Bloomfield, one of our senior contributors, on what would happen if all women quit their jobs, versus what would happen if all men quit their jobs. And while you are looking at those statistics–which again, you can verify for yourself, since the references are right there–I would suggest you ask yourself of all the jobs there, which ones most frequently involve loss of life and limb and which ones rarely involve such risks.
If you’re interested in sexual assault by the way, don’t miss Alison Tieman’s Manufacturing Female Victims, Marginalizing Vulnerable Men, which has still more statistics you should look at with a critical eye.
Moving on: You suggest that we believe men are far superior to women. I don’t think anyone I work with believes that, although we do believe men and women tend to have different strengths and weaknesses–and statistics do tend to bear that out too you know. Tell me, are garbage collectors, mostly men, “better” people than hair stylists, mostly women? Are firefighters, mostly men, “better” than lawyers, who these days are mostly women? You will find men and women in very different proportions in those and many other fields, but I don’t think any of those people are better than the others.
You suggest that we “do not understand…that men have had voices since the beginning, however in the last one hundred years women have just begun to speak.”
I had to pause on that, and reflect a while. See, if you were 58 years old, you would have no excuse for believing that horrible lie. But you’re 18, and so, not to put too fine a point on it, you are still a young skull full of mush. You probably not only believe that, but you probably haven’t until now even had anyone question it for you. See, you’ve been lied to your whole life about that, and it probably shocks your sensibilities to have someone call BS.
But I will be straightforward and to the point with you: whoever taught you that was helping to repeat a lie. In fact they told you a horrible, hateful, wicked lie, a lie that is sexist and, also, racist to the core.
And if telling you that hurt your feelings, welcome to the world of equality, where people don’t spare you from harsh truths just because you’re a girl.
If you believe men have silenced women for thousands of years, or that women had no voice for thousands of years, you believe something that just not true. Counterfactual. In error. Furthermore, if you believe that, what you have to believe is that Asian men have been oppressing Asian women for thousands of years, black men have been oppressing black women for thousands of years, European men, Australasian men, and so on, have all been oppressing their women for thousands of years. And those weak women could do nothing about it. So what you believe here isn’t just wrong, it’s racist.
If you believe women have had no voice for thousands of years, you are also spitting in the faces of your grandmothers, your great-grandmothers, your great-great grandmothers, and virtually all the women of history. And you’re spitting in those men’s faces too. You are at once making out women to have always been weak, spineless, craven little creatures who never had the strength or courage to rebel against their oppressors… and you are making the men in their lives, their fathers, brothers, and sons, out to have been monsters.
Seriously, it’s only because you’re only 18 that I’m not calling you a bigot and telling you to go to Hell. But I will tell you, without apology, that your teachers are bigots, and I will ask you to give them a great big “screw you, you for abusing your authority by teaching lying propaganda to young people like this” for me. No seriously. Please do quote me. Screw them. They lied to you, and their lies are toxic.
Here’s the truth of history: women have always had a voice, and not only their own voices but the voices of men who have, as a group, collectively made a habit of putting women’s needs and desires first and foremost above their own. For most of history, being female was a privilege. It carried certain special rights that only applied to women, and special responsibilities that only applied to women, and through most of history, being male was a burden, a burden which carried certain rights that only applied to men, and those rights were there mostly so they could discharge their duties to women properly.
For at least a thousand years, if not longer, the march of history has been characterized by putting women’s needs and even their feelings ahead of the needs of men and boys. And what we do here represents a serious challenge to those unequal privileges women have always enjoyed, but which have become even more extreme over the last generation as women have been given more rights with fewer responsibilities, leaving the burden of women’s needs and desires even greater on men.
There is a classic essay on this subject that you may want to read and/or listen to. It’s by our good friend and contributing editor Karen Straughan: Feminism and the Disposable Male. If listening to a man tell you these things is hard for you, maybe you’ll have an easier time hearing them from a woman.
Finally, you suggest I watch a movie called “Miss Representation.” While I’m already pretty sure I’m familiar with everything in that movie, having studied these issues for longer than you’ve been alive, I’ll make you a deal: I will watch “Miss Representation” if you will watch this little movie: Interview with Erin Pizzey. There’s a transcript and references you can check, and if you’ll promise to watch it and think about it, I’ll watch your suggested movie. I suspect my movie will challenge you a great deal, but it may also make you a better person. Erin is also, by the way, not only someone who will challenge you on your beliefs, but has since joined the staff here at A Voice for Men, as so many other women have.
It is a little strange, by the way, that you only wrote to men who work on this site, and not any of the women. Maybe you didn’t notice the women, which is kind of common: people seem to be very uncomfortable at the notion that women might speak forthrightly about the concerns of men and boys without putting them at the back of women’s bus. If hearing a woman’s voice is what you want, please note that in this article I have just linked you to three different articles written by three different women, and an extensive interview with a very important female historical figure, who are all part of the team that makes this site work. If you won’t hear a man’s voice, perhaps you’ll hear those women’s voices on these issues.
In closing, I’ll note one more thing: you may occasionally see angry remarks or articles on this site. What I would hope you would do with that, when you do see it, is contemplate that there is a difference between righteous anger at real injustice, and what you seem to have misinterpreted as hate–once again, Erin Pizzey has some things that might help you understand the difference. It’s something to think about, anyway.
What we are here at A Voice for Men is a group men and women who believe in equal rights under the law for everybody, for the same human rights to be granted to everybody, with reasonable equity for all. These should not be radical concepts, but for some reason these days they are.
I for one hope that one day, you’ll be open-minded enough to join us.