As I’ve suggested before, I think one simple reason we don’t already have a movement called “masculinism” that renders men’s complaints about women as pseudo-moral, pseudo-political grievances in the way that feminism turns perennial complaints about men into an ersatz philosophy is simply that this would entail a great deal of whining, which under the twin reign of chivalry and feminism is considered unseemly in males (by the standards of feminist academic discourse, surely whole books could be written about the pain inflicted on males by the use of the word “dick” as an insult, etc.). I take a great risk even in appearing to do it myself, as any fair-minded reader realizes.
Consider that to most males, demonstrating that some harm has been done to them would seem, almost instinctively, to require toting up some sort of demonstrable physical or financial damages (a wonderful basis for the sort of bean-counting, bourgeois thinking necessary to maintain a capitalist or even libertarian regime, incidentally).
By contrast, under most formulations of feminism that I have ever encountered (though I will no doubt be called an idiot or reductionist for having the audacity to think I’ve encountered anything like a representative sample), mere rhetoric can be deemed oppressive. I half-smile and half-wince when I recall seeing conservative Dinesh D’Souza speak at left-wing, feminist Brown University two decades ago and repeatedly use the phrase “the patriarchs of our culture” as praise in describing our most esteemed intellectual forebears. Can you imagine how oppressed — and thus delighted — the hissing, feminist-filled audience must have felt?
At the very least, we know the tiniest such slip can be taken by a leftist to discredit a whole argument. I can only wonder how many feminists have remained immune to economic reasoning due to the use of phrases such as “men engaged in trade” by a Milton Friedman or other advocate of laissez-faire. There’s always something to pounce on in your opponent’s rhetoric in any debate, if you’re the sort of person determined not to be a generous listener — and feminism, by routinely toying with the idea that speech itself is oppressive, or at least that many traditional linguistic constructions are, not only encourages a hyper-attentiveness to such slips but declares rhetorical “errors” real acts of injustice. What a marvelously self-insulating intellectual cocoon.
But if, as a few feminists have tried to convince me (in what I suspect was merely one of those subconsciously-tactical efforts to avoid making an enemy), feminism is primarily concerned with rights-violations in the classic, property-focused libertarian sense, I’d like to know whether most feminists think they are up against, say, a covert movement to make pickpocketing of women legal or something like that. If not, I suspect language-policing, thoughtcrime-spotting, and the occasional lawsuit is pretty much what their movement is now reduced to.