Reading a bit over on GenderTrender, I saw a link to a German article in the comment section, posted by commenter IceMountainFire. It was an article about a German men’s rights book, and it was titled “The Penis is Not a Weapon“. So with a blatant lie like that in title, I got curious and decided to translate this article for my readers (yes, I speak German, so if that’s your language and you want to comment on my blog in German, knock yourself out!)
Gender roles: the penis is not a weapon
Should men be filled with pain or rather be machos? Neither, writes Ralf Bönt in his manifesto for the modern man.
For those who are interested, information has been available for quite some time now on the fact that women are not the only oppressed sex/gender. The strictly segregated roles and values of the past not only excluded women from politics, science and business, but they also kept men away from their families and made them into soldiers and workers who paid for recognition either with their quality of life or with their life.
While feminism has fought the disadvantages women face for a long time, and while it has achieved much and has become socially established, men have largely ignored their role. Many may have formally recognized women’s demands, but they never created any demands and modern gender roles for themselves. They are stuck in the old role with one foot, and with the other they are struggling to keep up with modern everyday life.
The result is the ‘masculinity crisis’. Its symptoms in Germany are a noticeably lower life expectancy, a suicide rate that is three times higher than that of women, and frequent complaints from older fathers saying they spent too little time with their children.
Author calls for more compassion
As a reaction to this state, the writer Ralf Bönt from Berlin wrote The Dishonored Sex, a “necessary manifesto for men” as the subtitle calls it. At its core the book makes three demands: “1. The right to a career-free life. Men must also be respected beyond their professional position. 2. The right to sickness without accusations of hypochondria or unfeelingness. 3. The right to an honored sexuality beyond rejection, defamation, capitalization and criminalization.”
Bönt does not exhort men to become soft, and neither does he advocate for ‘more feeling’, as some have written. Much rather he calls for more compassion. But even that isn’t quite correct, for Bönt merely states that men are just as complex creatures an just as human as women, and that there is therefore no reason to hold men in lower esteem or to treat them with less consideration and acceptance than women.
Though this may sound self-evident, there is no broad social consensus on this, and so Bönt describes the facets of the negative and trivialized portrayals and views of men in the public sphere and their impact on societies and personal lives. He describes with outrage how a friend, helping his daughter to right her tights at the playground, was approached by police at the request of the mothers present. He inspects the male body and sexuality with the exactitude of a scientist (which was his line of work before he became a writer) and clarifies that the penis is not a weapon. And he describes how it thoroughly ruins your evening “even in educated circles” if you point out that the Vietnam War killed 58,193 Americans, but that only 8 of them were women.
Bönt never questions the accomplishments of women’s movements; much rather he expresses his respect for them. He simply demands more respect for men as an add-on. The thing that impresses many people the most about this book is its tone: even if he writes about injuries and intense emotions, he never descends into whining. Instead, the writing style is characterized by honesty, candidness and consistency.
This tone is probably Bönt’s greatest asset, since not nearly all the facts he presents are new. The difference in life expectancy and suicide rates, the disregard for health as a sign of masculinity, the image of men as evildoers and constant threats have been written about by others already. For the German-speaking world, Walter Hollstein deserves a mention, having written about the current situation of men in great detail in several books. But Hollstein doesn’t have this tone. His tone is more bitter, sometimes slightly apocalyptic. Bönt writes more confidently, poignantly and with a disarming personal quality.
He describes how he fought for the right of paternal custody after the birth of his first son and turned from a passive bystander into an active father. And he tells of his chronic illness, how he sat at his desk with trembling hands and was belittled as a hypochondriac—until he could “correct an idiotic false diagnosis” and “identify stuck neck vertebrae and a heavy metal as the cause.”
Bönt only criticizes feminism where it goes beyond equality and depicts men as constant perpetrators (thus paradoxically cementing the status of women as victims). This means mainly that he settles the score with Alice Schwarzer and her castration ideology: “Schwarzer is the Franz Josef Strauß of feminism, the once-necessary macho of the women’s movement,” but: “The hatred has, instead of solving the problem of the sexes, only made it worse.”
But Bönt is just as irate about the “reduction of men to the active and strong, which is a prohibition of passivity and weakness.” This means he has little patience for debates like the current one about the supposed lack of strength in young men (“Pain Men”). As a physicist he has a nice explanation why such discussions are so heated, however: hysteresis. “The reason is the same as the reason for the bright spot in your eye after you have switched off a lamp. The neurons have to rearrange, they have to calm down first. (…) What happens within a minute in the case of the bright spot in your brain just isn’t a small matter when it comes to re-calibrating a social factor.”
Bönt designs a man of the future, a confident, enlightened partner that is needed in order to fulfill equality. This man is not simply soft, however, but most of all honest with himself and consistent—and this is also why he is a fulfilled man. Ralf Bönt has found a tone that allows men to meet the expectations of modernity without having to hide. May men read his book. And the women too.
Not like we haven’t heard most of this before, but here are a few thoughts I had while reading:
It becomes clear that men aren’t in need of liberation when you read this sort of thing (even if nobody I know or respect would need such proof). Feminist literature doesn’t go, “So, what should women be like? Should they allow themselves weakness? Should they speak like this or like that about what they think and feel?” Those are luxury thoughts, aren’t they? Feminists are so busy with trying to analyze and fight back against the crippling violence, the ever-present fear, the restrictions that are placed on us every step of the way that we don’t really engage in musings on how the ideal woman of the future will look and behave. What we want is freedom, liberation, not a recipe on how to be.
One of the biggest gripes men seem to have is when they are seen as dangerous and potential perpetrators of crimes by default. But those who complain about that will never make a single mention of how they come to be seen that way. Again, luxury thoughts, for where a man becomes indignant to have been treated with suspicion, a woman was genuinely scared for her life or for that of her child, and is merely listening to her survival instinct. There is a vast gulf between these two problems (as so often, I’m reminded of the Atwood quote about men being scared women will laugh at them while women fear men will kill them).
The article almost immediately goes into Super Patriarchy Creeptastic Mode. First we have this little gem: “Many may have formally recognized women’s demands, but they never created formulated any demands and modern gender roles for themselves.” Clearly, everyone is failing to realize that women made demands because their needs were and are not being met compared to men and because of men: women’s needs have always been sacrificed to the needs of men and that is why women even make demands. For men to draw a parallel here is, of course, absurd, but then again that’s the Men’s Rights Movement for ya.
Then it gets really creepy and disgusting, for now we get to hear these demands of men. And my question is: who is this being demanded of? Let’s see.
- The right to a career-free life. Men must also be respected beyond their professional position.
Okay, so career-free seems to mean that men should be able to work menial jobs or part-time, etc., and yet lose none of their status. Good luck in the capitalist world of social Darwinist pissing contests over material status that men built, but ok. It’s just kind of awful to read “men must also be respected beyond…” because men are respected every-fucking-where, and if they fail to see that, then the reason is clearly that they don’t really know how much further you can sink on the Respectedness Scale–in other words they have male privilege, part of which is not being aware of said privilege. The word patriarchy comes from the word pater, Latin for father. I think we all know that even lower-class men and unemployed men enjoy respect and status outside the workplace that women can only dream of. But okay, who is this being demanded from? Probably women, more precisely female partners, but let’s say he also means other men and society as a whole. No mention of paternity leave, though, which would actually do way more for equality than more respect for not having a career (hint: women do not get this respect even when they have a career; it is seen as neglecting the family and stealing jobs from men).
But, moving on. Because it gets better (i.e. worse):
2. The right to sickness without accusations of hypochondria or unfeelingness.
This here implies that men don’t have a right to be sick without facing serious social repercussions. However, this is all part of the Cult of Masculinity, which says that men must be in control and dominant and all that stuff, so being sick is basically like cutting off your dick and telling everyone about it. When women make demands, they demand stuff from people who aren’t women, or at least not from themselves. But being brave enough to be sick and actually get help for it…well, it would be up to the individual man to get the hell over himself and admit he needs help, wouldn’t it? And I have known many men (biblical innuendo alert) and have yet to hear the sentence, “I’m not feeling well, I think I need a doctor.” (And I have seen men close to dying or thinking they are, so.) I don’t know who he is demanding this from, but I would say that only men themselves can take this step and it’s thus a bit weird to turn this into a ‘demand.’
And we have saved the worst for last:
3. The right to an honored sexuality beyond rejection, defamation, capitalization and criminalization
WHOA THERE, WHAT? The pompous language of having your sexuality ‘honored’ set aside, those are some really big demands for something that is absolutely not a necessary part of life and in which sphere men continue to do terrible, terrible things to women and children every day. BEYOND REJECTION? This is male entitlement distilled to such purity that you could set it on fire by staring at it hard. Male sexuality must not only be honored, it must never be rejected, for fucking is a man’s right, and fucking is not something men generally see as a team effort. They see it as their right to stick their dicks in things (women are things to someone with this mindset; who else would demand to have sexuality that is honored and free from rejection except someone who forgets that other people are involved?).
And I’m sure you can guess what the criminalization part is about. When you hear men complaining about criminalization of sexuality, you have to think: porn, prostitution, strip clubs, i.e. the sex industry, in which millions of girls and women suffer a living nightmare every day, raped and beaten and tortured and murdered for the ‘right’ of men to stick their honorable dicks in them free from rejection. The other component to the criminalization argument is the issue of rape. Even as feminists fight for just laws and for implementation of these laws (such as, you can’t just stick your dick in a sleeping, unconscious or really inebriated woman), men (rapists and would-be rapists) are feeling the heat and getting scared and seeing themselves with one foot in jail because they really like plying women with alcohol and drugs or just straight up raping (who watches all that rape porn online you think? The same five men? Millions and millions who jack off to rape, and you don’t think they’d like to do it for real as well? Right, let’s get real here).
And of course since men’s sexuality has to be honored and unrejectable, that means that unlike men, women cannot have sexuality that is not capitalized upon, but that’s totally different, right? Women don’t need sex like men do, because when men can’t stick their honored dick in something, they will get violent and commit rape. Yes, isn’t that your favorite widespread lie about men ever? They actually frame their sexuality around the threat of violence should they not be met with total compliance, and people believe this stuff and they use it to justify the existence of an entire class of dehumanized commodity-bodies that they can buy and fuck and dispose of.
I understand that it must be bad to come under suspicion for no reason, but a truly unselfish father would have been grateful that the mothers at the playground were looking out for his daughter. How much hassle or trauma can it cause to be asked a few questions by cops? I doubt they treated him like a dangerous criminal. Men never think about how shitty it is to live in a world inhabited by a very violent version of your species that is on average physically superior and has a track record of doing unthinkable and cruel things to those like you since the beginning of time. They just think, “But I haven’t threatened anyone! How dare they suspect me!” How about, because the penis is actually a weapon, which is also why it is featured in so many common phrases that express aggression. Someone with a penis has the power to humiliate, violate and destroy, and a man who gets hurt over the fact that he is seen as a potential rapist shouldn’t get angry at the women who see him that way but at the rapist men who taught those women to protect themselves through fear and suspicion (maybe this indignant fellow should look at his own resistance-is-futile sex demands for answers as to why men are regarded as rapists? Just an idea).
A few words on Alice Schwarzer: she is the only German feminist of note. Her name is synonymous with the word ‘feminism’ in the German language. She may have made one or two questionable statements over the decades, but overall she has been consistent in her fight for women’s and children’s rights and tireless campaigning against pornography and prostitution (uh-oh, Demand 3 is in danger!). She is not a meat cleaver-wielding monster threatening to castrate men, but you can tell that this is precisely the image her name conjures up. Feminism means castration to men, and doubly so in Germany, where feminism is largely a dirty word and where there is nothing close to as strong a feminist culture as in the UK or US. With only one feminist of note to bash, antifeminists have had a ridiculously easy time turning Schwarzer into the stereotypical manhater feminist everyone loves to hate. And thus you get German men openly bashing her in the mainstream press while giving lip-service to some hypothetical feminism that has not a single representative in the country.
So, to summarize, men demand more compassion and understanding for their situation, more respect in all walks of life, completely free reign and unhindered access when it comes to sticking their dicks in things, and to not be seen as weak when they get the sniffles.
And penises are fluffy, friendly little things that never hurt anyone.
LIARS AND RAPISTS.