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“real” war…

May 9th, 2012 Comments off

Bad enough we have to tangle with the phrase “real man”, as a means of males keeping other males in check and de-legitimizing any expression of masculinity that doesn’t pass muster, but now we have “real war” (presumably as opposed to a fake one).

In this case, the “real” war is against men. No, really. Give yourself a treat, trot over to the InForum section of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (as in North Dakota), an online news source. A “real” one, not a fake one, despite this Onion-like Letter to the Editor by one Michael Ross

Done reading? Is your head still spinning? Good. Mine was, for a day or so. Then I crafted the following response:

This letter is in response to Mr. Ross’s Letter to the Editor of May 5th; yes, it’s taken me a few days to write a reply because I spent the first few days under the presumption that Mr. Ross writes for the humorous newspaper The Onion.

Apparently, this is not the case. Apparently, it is also not the case that this is a letter from the 1950’s that was recently unearthed from some dusty archive and posted, belatedly, for April Fool’s Day.

Mr. Ross needs some editing; “men have ruled every civilization since the beginning of time and always will”, here he clearly means “white men”, yet it’s conspicuous that he does not call that out.

Mr. Ross says “when good men rule, it’s ordinary men exercising leadership in their homes, local churches, local civil government, local business and commerce.” And how, exactly, does this “leadership” manifest itself? Were the good men in charge when America was a slave nation, built on the backs of free labor excised through vicious punishment and the oppression of people of color we brought to this country? How does one exercise leadership in their home? By celebrating the humanness of his partner, sharing in chores and upkeep of the home, expressing love and modeling cooperation for the children as a way of helping to instill good, humanist values? Somehow I don’t get that sort of vibe from Mr. Ross’ letter.

Mr. Ross weaves the same old, tired, yarn of traditional misogynist sexism that we have heard for generations; it is self-serving, and totally self contained; the “evidence” for jobs traditionally belonging to men is simply that men have always been in charge (what do ya know, white males happen to be the ones in charge, and that’s what I am! How convenient!).

Absent is any sense of self-analysis, reflection, or critique of one’s complicity in a system of privilege; absent is connecting the dots between jobs traditionally reserved for men and the opening statement about civilizations being run by men.

No one is denying male and female, just adjusting how we have historically defined these identities – definitions which for millennia condoned the inhuman treatment of women and girls (and of any boys that didn’t fit a rigid, masculine mold) through violence, sexual assault, and murder.
It is not the elite that are the problem; it is a model of power and control which asserts the needs of one group (men, in this case white men) over everyone else, and sanctions violence against others on the grounds that this group’s right to be in charge and get their needs met at the expense of others is somehow dictated by an inherent law that is unquestionable and beyond reproach or criticism.

One more correction to Mr. Ross’ letter, the title: the real war is against ignorance.

Stephen Montagna
Men Stopping Rape, Inc.
Madison, WI

http://www.men-stopping-rape.org

- a valuable part of the movement to end violence since 1983 -

As of this writing, my letter has not been posted, but luckily, I’m not alone, and the site has received a fair number of responses to Mr. Ross’s letter…

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