Are men oppressed? NO! (not as a gender, at least)

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Wed Dec 22 18:22:45 MST 1999


I have not heard of this particular "Men's Movement" but I can well guess
its true ideological intentions and proclivities. It is sort of like David
Duke saying that the National Association of White People is simply a
counterpart with the "same goals" as the NAACP: supposed "equality." They
start out with the bogus notion that somehow there is now "reverse
discrimination"--that the pendulum has swung "too far" in the opposite
direction. They take annecdotal and distorted examples or pseudo-examples of
supposed "favoritism" towards women and minorites through
mechanically-applied or pseudo "Affirmative Action" programs and then claim,
we are only for "equality" and oppose ANY discrimination including supposed
"reverse" discrimination. Pure disingenuous and dangerous bullshit.

So you have two runners in race I, one of which has been held back until the
other runner is more than half-way around the track and then all of a sudden
the held-back runner is "turned loose" and told you have an "equal
opportunity" to run the race; and if you fail to win, it has nothing to do
with having been held back, it only has to do with your being a lazy
dead-beat, whiner etc. And since inequality can only beget more inequality
under supposed regimes of "free competition or trade", to extend the
metaphor further, suppose the runner of race I is advanced even further
around the track while the "loser" is again held back. Any doubt who will
"win" races I, II, III ...?

But translating the metaphor and identifying which is the "held-back" runner
and which is the "favored" runner is not so easy when going beyond gender to
add the other factors or dimensions of oppression and discrimination race,
age, class, ethnicity etc.

My daughter is an enrolled Blackfoot and looks it. No doubt she is an Indian
and in a world where caricatures and forms of racism and oppression against
Indians are tolerated and encouraged--caricatures and forms of racism and
oppression not even openly tolerated against many African-Americans--she
will no doubt suffer as a woman, as a Blackfoot and as a Blackfoot woman.
But she already has, and has had, advantages that no Reservation Blackfoot
boy or ghetto African-American boy could hope to have because of my own
privileges and position. With the right skills, she could go into fields and
work via computers such that few bigots would even know what she is and she
could work at-distance. She will likely always face oppression as a woman
and as a Blackfoot, but she also has opportunities that come from early
childhood influences that sadly many Blackfoot, poor and working class white
and minority children--boys and girls--will never see or have a chance for.

On the other hand, she shows signs that she may wind up with a very thick
FBI file like her dad, but in any case, I can easily imagine all sorts of
males who will never have the opportunities she has and will indeed suffer
their own forms of oppression that she may more easily avoid even under
capitalism. But as I hope she will unite with non-Indians and care about
"non-Indian" issues as Indians ask non-Indians to unite with Indians and
care about "Indian" issues, so progressive men must work on their own sexism
and that of the non-progressive men and unite with women to support "women's
issues" and genuine women's liberation and of course vice-versa for the
women; the same could be said with respect to gays and non-gays and gay and
non-gay issues etc. The ultra-reductionism of bourgeois epistemology leads
inexorably to reductionism and fragmentation of peoples, issues and
movements and that is exactly what keeps the "Man" (which includes some
women) in power.

Jim Craven

-----Original Message-----
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:cbcox at]
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 1999 4:42 PM
To: marxism at
Subject: Re: Are men oppressed? NO! (not as a gender, at least)

    Some things were established in the 1960s and 1970s, and
simply have to be taken as ground gained, from which we
move forward, not principles needing endless re-demonstration.
I am thinking now of some intensely practical political principles.
Mixed groups and groups of the specially oppressed are the
two kinds of acceptable political groupings. The Black Radical
Congress. The Committe of Labor Union Women. Black
caucuses. Women's Caucuses. *Not* men's groups, however
well intentioned. *Not* white groups, however well intentioned.

The bad history of the workers movement in general and of marxism
in particular on the subject of women offers abundant fuel for
varous kinds of reactionary politics. (Some kinds of black nationalism,
some kinds of feminism.) Among the more offensive contemporary
(pseudo?)marxist writing is that which focuses its attack on those
who use that fuel rather than on the practices and ideological
features of the workers movement and marxism that provide the
fuel. I am rather amazed -- or, sadly, perhaps not amazed -- that
on a marxist list it should be necessary to point out the
of "men's groups." The "men's movement" is unacceptable and
attempts to defend it are themselves unacceptable. There *are*
limits to free speech.


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