Since I started the Man Camp project a few years ago, we've (expectedly) encountered a lot of criticism that's based on preconceived notions of what we're trying to accomplish instead of what we're actually trying to accomplish. I generally don't care if people disagree, but some of the men that could find our work valuable might disregard us because they think we're something we're not.
This post will clear that up by outlining exactly how we frame the issue of gender and gender equality, why we disregard many modern third and fourth wave feminist ideas, what will happen if we do not change, and provide a road map to a brighter future.
The Problem with Modern Feminism
To start, I have to say I don’t have a seething hatred from feminism. The ideology works for some people’s worldview, and quite a few feminists seem entirely happy living their lives as they choose. That’s great; we should all be given that freedom!
However, the feminist ideology, especially modern feminism, causes a host of problems for many people. I STRONGLY believe we can achieve equality for men and women by acknowledging our differences without having to radically alter our biological imperative, which I’ll explain in this post. I firmly believe all of us should be given equality under the law, and all of us should be given an equal opportunity to accomplish whatever we set out to accomplish. Sexism is no different than any other harmful “-ism”, and should never be tolerated.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that qualifier out of the way, let’s begin!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that qualifier out of the way, let’s begin!
Back in the day, the first and second waves of feminism fought for voting rights and equality under the law and throughout the judicial system. This was a brave, virtuous fight, and the women who fought this battle are nothing short of heroes. Many of my thoughts on gender have been influenced by the early feminists.
The third wave of feminism, which began around the early 1990's, started to transition the focus of gender equality from the legal arena to the social arena. In some ways, this was important, especially because feminists fully recognized the first two waves did not account for the diversity of all women. The third wave feminists also started questioning gender roles and stereotypes and tackling issues like sexual assault, domestic violence, and access to contraception. The sex-positive feminists are part of this group and were a major influence on my work on this front over the years.
While this focus on the social arena should have been a good thing, far too many feminists bought into the idea that gender was a social construct that was infinitely malleable and had no basis in biology, despite the complete and total lack of quality empirical evidence discovered through scientific research. This led some of the third wave feminists to advocate eliminating gender or suggesting there are no social or biological consequences for ignoring gender. Some of the third wave feminists also started redefining the very definition of "gender equality" from "equality under the law" to "everyone should be equal" or "everybody should have equal outcomes regardless of contribution or ability." That seismic shift towards Marxist ideas being conflated with gender led to the fourth wave of feminism where gender entitlement replaced gender equality.
Fourth wave feminism takes the idea that gender is a social construct and uses it as a justification to essentially create a weird fascist-like radical socialist dystopian society. Sounds bat-shit crazy, right? One of the most concise, accurate essays on the matter was written by writer Zoe Zorka, and can be found here. Give it a read. She perfectly sums up the inherent logical and logistical flaws with the fourth wave feminists.
The biggest problem I have with the fourth wave feminists is their tendency to flat-out lie to women. For example:
- They say hormonal birth control is perfectly safe, even though it messes up our relationships and probably changes women's brains.
- They tell women they can "have it all" and attract the same quality men at 35 as they could at 25.
- They tell women they should really be marrying for ineffective men because they’re better providers, even though these men result in terrible relationship patterns and, ultimately very bad outcomes for women.
- They tell women attractiveness doesn't matter and men should love them for qualities men simply do not find attractive.
- They tell women there are no consequences to casual sex (admittedly, and not surprisingly, I'm okay with this lie... and that's all you really need to know to see how and why that's damaging.)
- They encourage women to avoid learning self defense because doing so "blames the victim" of sexual assaults and engage in as many stupid, dangerous behaviors as they wish because you know, relying on other people to not do bad shit is a good life strategy.
- A specific sub-set of feminists openly despise the trans community. They call themselves RadFems. Hate is hate is hate, no matter how loudly or frequently you play the victim card. As a liberal dude who fully supports real equality, these asshats and their painfully obvious hypocrisy make me sick.
- Perhaps the most chilling effect: fourth wave feminism kills free speech under the guise of "political correctness." "I am a woman, hear me roar" apparently now comes with the qualification of "As long as the roar is the roar that does not offend my fragile sensitivities and is perfectly aligned with my own particular roar. Otherwise, you're a misogynist."
Fundamentally, modern feminists fail to ask - "Am I creating a world I really want to live in?" Given that 82% percentage of the U.S. population does not identify with feminism, the answer should be obvious. Modern feminism went from being a virtuous cause to a damn popularity contest with the cool girls bullying anyone and everyone that disagrees.
Later in this post, I'll suggest a plan that will correct the course of feminism that accounts for biology AND assures all of us, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, culture, disability, age, or whatever other demographic grouping you want to consider - will live in a world where we have equal opportunity, equal possibility, and equal responsibility. First, I'll discuss the real purpose of the patriarchy that denied women rights, then I'll tackle the myth of gender being a social construct.
Gender is Biological
My academic background was in experimental social psychology with a focus on sex and gender, but I studied under a lot of evolutionary psychologists. A few were strong proponents of sociobiology. I had always assumed anyone that studied gender, including feminists, agreed that "gender" had a strong biological component because that's how all my feminist mentors operated. For close to two decades, I worked off that assumption.
When I started studying the effects of gender on male and female sexual practices in long-term relationships for the No Bone Zone project, I was a bit shocked and dismayed that many of the people that wrote about gender issues sincerely believed gender was entirely a social construct. Many took it even farther and asserted that gender was created by men to oppress women. The result of this belief is some rather comical assertions, such as:
- Physical appearance doesn't matter. When I first heard this, I assumed it meant "all of us have value as humans that transcends physical appearance", which is true. Our value to humanity isn't measured by our physical traits. But that's not what these folks meant. They were literally arguing that appearance has no effect on how we treat each other (they've never heard of the halo effect) or worse, we are attracted to everyone in the exact same way. That supermodel is as attractive as the diseased, morbidly obese addict sleeping on the street corner. My challenge to that sentiment is simple - let me choose a person as the genetic donor and co-parent to your children. If appearance doesn't matter, that shouldn't be an issue, right? To date, nobody has taken me up on the challenge.
- Gender is malleable. Gender, since it's biologically-determined, is a lot like sexual orientation. We can act like something we're not, but it's just not who we are. People can attempt to change our gender, which ends up looking a lot like "gay conversion therapy." That particular practice is so absurd, it's being outlawed. My own early life experiences confirm this. I lived a lie for most of my life because that's what I was told I was supposed to be. Needless to say, life is a Hell of a lot better these days.
- All men innately have all the tools to be a woman, and all women innately have all the tools to be a man. This takes gender malleability a step farther and claims any of us can successfully engage in gender thoughts and behaviors that fundamentally differ from the gender we naturally identify with. If this were the case, men and women shouldn't have any problems communicating with each other. Men should intuitively understand every aspect of the female experience, and vice versa. Anyone who doesn't live under a rock understands the silliness of these ideas.
It should be noted that the actual definitions of gender (and biological sex, genetic sex, sexual orientation, and all they gray areas of each) are operationally defined by people researching the constructs, the actual underlying principles are rooted in our biology. How any of those biologically-determined constructs manifests itself in society can be influenced by the environment, but that doesn't mean they are socially-constructed. That's the not-so-logical leap modern feminists seem to take.
Even a VERY rudimentary knowledge of how the human nervous system and endocrine system works should dispel that notion... but apparently it doesn't. Or biology is simply ignored. This article in Psychology Today, by an evolutionary psychologist, provides a nice outline of the common feminist "gender is social" fallacies. We know men and women have a lot of significant differences in brain structures and function, and these differences cannot be attributed to social conditioning because they start in utero. We know men and women produce different combinations of hormones, and those hormones control a lot of stereotyped gender behaviors. We know we can alter stereotypical gender behaviors by artificially altering hormones.
Yet all of that data is completely ignored by the "gender is a social construct" crowd because it invalidates their entire narrative and kills their pity-inducing tendency to play the victim.
Interestingly, their take on gender not only ignores the biological basis of gender behavior, but it also dismisses all kinds of other issues of biology affecting behavior and famous gender-related cases. I already mentioned sexual orientation; it's pretty clear that there's a strong biological component at work there. What about mental disorders? If we say gender can't be biological in nature, then can we also say major depression, the personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are socially-constructed and people can "just get over them?" How about the John/ Joan or Caitlyn Jenner cases? Are we socialized for handedness, too?
Before we get to the discussion on where our society is heading, it's important to address the issue of "The Patriarchy." Aside from my training as an experimental psychologist, I also earned a history and social studies degrees (I wasted a lot of time and money on post-secondary education.) Social history was a favorite topic of mine, and I see a lot of complete and total misunderstandings about the how and why humans developed patriarchal systems from the earliest beginnings of our civilization.
The Real Purpose of "The Patriarchy"
Fighting against "The Patriarchy" is a pretty common strawman argument used today to justify all sorts of attempts at silly social engineering. It IS true; we used to have a patriarchal system of government. Women were excluded from representation. Winning the freedom of equality under the law was the original goal of feminism. As I stated before, that was a great thing. People don't seem to understand, though, that patriarchy was a system to control men, not women. Women were oppressed under the system, but that was incidental to the real purpose of patriarchy.
The idea that men would have to create an entire social structure to control women should fall apart immediately when you consider one simple, irrefutable fact - men are physically stronger than women. Men don't need elaborate social structures like religion, codified laws and a judiciary, and social mores to control women. They can simply use force. Testosterone gives us a size, strength, and speed advantage, along with the capacity and primal drive to use aggression to engage in extreme violence.
Men controlling each other, though... now that takes some work. THAT is the reason men developed "The Patriarchy."
To understand why men need to be controlled, you really have to understand the nature of masculinity. Masculine men have a ton of testosterone flowing through our bodies, and that causes all sorts of well-documented behavioral and attitudinal characteristics. This effect leads men to follow one of three "paths" that are driven by our primal, biological imperative:
That's it. Those are the three options men have. If we create, we find a passion that helps our fellow man and follow it with all our heart. We become givers and strive to make ourselves the best version of us we can possibly become. This is the vehicle that has led to pretty much every major advancement of humanity. The problem with "creating" is that it's hard work. There are few tangible rewards along the way except for the journey itself. In fact, the overarching goal of the Man Camp is to help men learn constructive ways to harness this drive to create. This is also why I kind of despise lazy, ineffective males... they refuse to improve themselves or do the hard work to create. They sit on their asses, content with being "special for who they are." Anyway, I digress.
If we destroy, we become takers. This would include petty criminals, con artists, rapists, murderers, evil dictators, etc. Biggest problem with destroyers is that it's a lot easier than being a creator and one man can do a Hell of a lot of damage. A small group of men can do even more. We don't want men to do this; it sends society backward.
The final option is to simply kick back and do nothing productive OR destructive. We enjoy. Weirdly, men have the capacity to be ridiculously industrious AND complete and total lazy asses. This is your typical lazy chump today, which is encouraged by modern feminists that attempt to "redefine masculinity."
So what does this have to do with patriarchy?
Waaaayyyy back in our evolutionary history when we were still hunting and gathering, men didn't really have much of a choice. They were productive when they needed to hunt or build things for the tribe’s survival. They were destructive when they had to protect the tribe or forcefully acquire resources from neighboring tribes. Finally, they were lazy the rest of the time to conserve energy for famines and other harsh environmental conditions. The tribes that had the most men that could successfully do all three survived and killed those that were less successful. See where those drives originated and were selected via natural selection?
Eventually we discovered agriculture, which led to villages, towns, and eventually cities. Larger, more diverse populations and more specialization meant not all men needed to use all three of these drives, but we still possessed the potential. And sometimes bad stuff happened when men decided to destroy. Or get lazy. The leaders, at some point, started devising ways to control and channel men into a pro-social way. Those methods fell into three categories:
- Family Life
The problem with force is that it takes a lot of time and resources, and doesn't work especially well over a long period of time. Imagine a dude standing over your cubicle with a whip. Positive punishment, in operant conditioning terms, needs to be immediate, severe, and consistent to be effective. You end up needing almost as many whip-crackers as male workers. That's a pretty inefficient system.
The problem with bribes is that it takes a lot of resources and it causes an extrinsic motivation effect where we eventually hate what we're "paid" to do. Think of how many Americans today despise their jobs. Without kids to raise and sex (only the rich handsome males had regular access to women, that's why the ancients were polygynist), there was little motivation to work for rewards long-term because the rewards become ineffective.
That left "family life." At some point, leaders realized men would be motivated to choose the "create" option if they were doing it to provide for a wife and kids. He would be motivated by sex from his wife and the desire to get his genes into the next generation.
The problem with family life is that we're not all that well-suited for lifelong monogamous pair-bonding. We're inherently kinda slutty AND there's the problem with polygyny I mentioned before where only the best males had wives. The idea of monogamous marriage and the expectation of sexual fidelity solves that problem because it gives a lot more men access to wives. However, it requires systems to control men's desire to fuck as many women as possible and women's tendency to always seek the best male they can attract. THAT is where all the oppression of patriarchy comes from. The oppression of females, which did happen, was just an unfortunate consequence of controlling men.
Today, we've effectively ended the patriarchy. Women now have all the legal freedoms men historically enjoyed. We now have a social, legal, and economic system that allows women access to anything and everything men have access to, which includes government support should they decide to or involuntarily become a single mother. It's easy to get married, easy to get divorced, premarital sex and cohabitation are common and accepted, serial monogamy has replaced "till death" monogamy as the norm, and ethical, consensual nonmonogamy is increasing in popularity.
Needless to say, all of us have incredible freedom. But that freedom comes at a very, very serious cost because far too many of us still deny that gender matters. A lot.
The Future We're Creating
I don't want to spend a ton of time discussing where we are as a society right now. Besides, I've linked to a thousand articles earlier in this post. Needless to say, we're not at the doorstep of the magical Utopia we dreamed about a few decades ago.
The saying "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." is entirely appropriate here.
If we continue the trend we're on where we try to engineer new definitions of gender and continue to blindly sabotage our primal, biological imperative, here are a few things we can expect:
- Explosion of single moms. Since the 1960's the number of children being raised by single moms has absolutely exploded. As much as we'd like to consider this a "victory", the actual data on the outcomes of children raised by single mothers is terrifying. As I've mentioned in a few of the linked articles throughout, the erosion of pair-bonding as a result of the ease of divorce, the widespread use of hormonal birth control (ironic, right?), and the explosion of beta males all contribute to this effect, and it's only going to get worse. The effects we see today in the African American community will soon extend to most cultural groups here in the U.S. It benefits all of us to work to assure families stick together.
- MGTOW. The Men Going Their Own Way movement, sadly, is an often-mocked movement (via calls to "man up!" from feminists) of men that, well, have given up on women. Their rationale is simple. Men have been told they can't approach women without coming across as a total beta chump, all men are rapists, and if you get married you can expect to be taken to the cleaners and lose your kids when she leaves you. In a world where men are routinely vilified by women, this is an attractive option. We only have to look across the Pacific to see what effect this has on a culture. Or take a look at this piece.
- Players will play. A lot. A few days ago, I shared this piece on my Facebook wall. The gist - women were upset that a handful of very high value (i.e. - hot, wealthy, confident masculine males) were using Tinder to hook up with absurd numbers of women, but refusing to commit. Amusingly, the author seemed to be attempting to shame the men into stopping. Ladies, you're never going to be able to present an argument for change to a dude who’s getting unfetered access to unlimited, free, hot women who are willing to have sex within a very short time of meeting. Ever. In a society that's becoming more and more saturated with ineffective males, the dividends of being an alpha are skyrocketing. Hell, that's the reason I started the Man Camp! Modern feminism has sold the idea that dudes have to be weak and passive to earn a woman's love. The dudes who recognize those same feminists have zero sexual attraction to the dudes they're creating just smile. They're too smart to buy into the hype because, well, they have eyes. The situation described in this article will only get worse. Good for me and my Man Camp cohorts, but terrible for the ladies who can't get the masculine unicorns to commit AND bad for the men who listen to feminists to learn what women “really want.”
- We can expect to see increased mass shootings, increased drug use, and an increased prison population. This may seem like a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. We can't just "redefine masculinity" and make testosterone go away. As those early leaders of civilization learned, men are either going to create, destroy, or sit on their asses playing Call of Duty, and the only way to control that is punishment, bribes, or family life. Guess which ones are more popular today, and even MORE popular tomorrow? School security is one of my other interests, and we know pretty much every male who commits violence in school settings matches the profile of the kind of men who do not know how to be an effective, productive man.
How do we turn this ship around? We don't have to turn back the clock to the days of our patriarchal past. We don't have to smash any of our social institutions. We don't have to embrace a radical quasi-Marxist philosophy. All we need to do is make a subtle change in how we attribute gender from social to biological, really embrace that change, then start doing the work of becoming better men.
That’s our goal here. Nothing more. Nothing less. We teach men how to get better at being a man. Over the last few years, we’ve helped hundreds of men tackle this challenge. If they put in the work, the dividends are tremendous. Our typical Man Camp member loses weight, gets stronger, gains confidence, has happier, more fulfilling relationships with everyone around them including their spouses or girlfriends, their children, their friends, their coworkers, and of course, other Man Camp members. They become more successful in their profession and their hobbies. They become more passionate and feel more alive.
You don’t need us to accomplish this, though. We don’t offer some sort of miracle cure. Hell, just reading through all the posts on this blog and following the advice will get you to this magical place. Our group merely provides support, advice, and most importantly, accountability. We also provide brotherhood, but that’s just a natural outgrowth of experience of overcoming our struggles in a shared journey to becoming the best version of ourselves possible.