By Robert A. Vella

Before getting on to yet another controversial topic, I’d like to preface this post by stating that I marched in support of women’s rights during the late 1960s and early 1970s, advocated for the E.R.A. amendment, spoken out against male-perpetrated sexual crimes against women, and have consistently defended the ladies in my life from domestic and workplace abuse.  I am neither perfect nor an angel of virtue, but I try to do what is right;  and, I do believe reversing millenniums of gender mistreatment is the right thing to do.

That said, I do not believe the current state of the #MeToo movement furthers that aim.  What might have begun as a social media strategy to illuminate the very real problem of sexual abuse, has quickly become an opportunistic platform to vent rage and to exact retribution long after the fact.  And, the predictable backlash has already started (see:  Facebook bans women for posting ‘men are scum’ after harassment scandals).

Most everyone is familiar with the term misogyny which is defined as the “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.”  Far fewer people are familiar with the term which defines the hatred of men, misandry.  Particularly in today’s highly polarized American culture, gender and sexual stereotypes abound where evolving social liberalism frequently clashes with traditional mores, and where secularism is under constant siege from religious fanaticism.  In these us-versus-them dynamics, people can lose touch with their principles and stray into the dangerous waters of hostility.  Furthermore, political motives are always lurking to exploit contentious issues as observed recently by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski (see also:  Why Democrats decided Franken had to go).

Combatants embroiled in the so-called Battle of the Sexes are not mentally disposed to intellectual understanding.  Grievances are countless, and emotionality is the order of the day.  However, objective awareness is key to more constructive resolutions and to more positive outcomes.  While the nature of male sexuality is openly discussed in public forums, the nature of female sexuality is still rather taboo.  If we remain averse to exploring all the reasons why so many women have such negative experiences with men, then the problem will only continue.

In a large number of mammalian species having intricate social organization (e.g. bison, lions, etc.), mating typically occurs between the general female population and a small exclusive group of males.  There are evolutionary benefits to this reproductive dynamic and that’s why it is so prevalent.  Although human societies are far more complex, this basic instinct remains inherent in our sexual relations.

From:  The Allure of Aggressive Men

It’s a question often asked when a man mistreats a woman: What does she see in him?

A study out of Germany sheds light on why aggressive males can be so appealing. It all begins with the vexing process of mating. According to Parental Investment Theory, reproduction is much more costly for females than it is for males. While women invest nine months in a pregnancy, a man’s initial contribution to parenthood boils down to just a few minutes. Thus, women need to be particularly selective when it comes to choosing a mate. Aside from a man’s resources, his genetic gifts are decisive in the selection process. After all, in our ancestors’ unpredictable environment, a hardy constitution went a long way in fulfilling evolution’s ultimate aims: survival and reproduction.

Research has established that, generally speaking, women must choose between between two types of men: dads and cads. On the one hand, dads are typically more commitment-oriented, warm, faithful, and reliable. Yet they are usually less handsome, charismatic, and dominant than his caddish counterparts. On the other hand, cads are sexier, with their narrow eyes and strong jaws — but they also tend to be flashy and exploitatative of others. Even worse, these masculine men often embody the Dark Triad, a personality constellation that encompasses Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. So, what in the world is appealing about these objectionable individuals? Quite simply, they possess high-quality genes that they will pass down to their future children. In turn, the thinking goes, women will maximize their reproductive success by choosing a macho man as a short-term mate for his genes, and a less masculine man with a warmer personality for a long-term, invested partner.

However, ovulation can make the choice between dads and cads particularly challenging. Research has revealed that during ovulation, women show a weakness for masculine men with high-quality genes. Studies consistently show that fertile women prefer men who display macho facial features and social dominance. In other words, they like bad boys. Building on these findings, Gilda Biebel of the University of Konstanz and her colleagues reasoned that evolution may have also favored men who went to war. Consequently, they wondered if aggression might also be a signal of genetic fitness.

Aggressive behavior comes in two forms. The first is “reactive–impulsive,” which are responses to external threats. The second is “appetitive-aggressive,” which is internally motivated. It is derived from the intrinsic pleasure that is associated with violence, hunting, and combat. In keeping with studies that have found women’s preferences for “bad boys” and socially dominant men for short-term mating, the investigators wondered if appetitive aggressiveness might also be an advertisement of good genes. They also speculated that women may be drawn to truculent men during ovulation, when the interest in short-term mating for good genes is at its peak.

In other words, women tend to gravitate towards the very type of man who is most likely to behave with sexual assertiveness, aggression, and self-indulgence, and who are derided as “scum.”  Such men also tend to be successful in life, occupying positions of institutional power which reinforce their brash and bold behavior.  Additionally, and conversely, the sexual frustration experienced by some men who are not perceived as “cads” or “dads” (i.e. the excluded outcast male) is known to be a contributing factor in violent crimes against women (see:  On Sex and Violence).

The men are scum meme is also terribly divisive besides being a poor generalization of half the world’s population.  It is also morally equivalent to racial, ethnic, and religious condemnations which portray blacks as “lazy,” Jews as “conniving,” and Muslims as “terrorists.”

What is badly needed, in my opinion, is proper and effective sex education for children.  When kids reach adolescence and puberty, they should possess a basic context for interpreting both the feelings they are experiencing and the behavior of others they interact with.  Simply communicating the obvious ramifications of sex (e.g. pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.), although important, is not sufficient in my view.  Furthermore, children need another kind of education that they are mostly not getting these days – how to behave in civil society.  If we, as adults, allow our kids to act like animals, that’s exactly what they’ll grow up to be.

For a differing perspective on this issue by a respected and admired lady blogger, see:  Men and Women and Sex.  The comment section contains some excellent discussion.

24 thoughts on “Men are Scum: critiquing the #MeToo movement

  1. This: Simply communicating the obvious ramifications of sex (e.g. pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.), although important, is not sufficient in my view. Furthermore, children need another kind of education that they are mostly not getting these days – how to behave in civil society.

    I could not agree more! As with most everything, education is the key to helping us function and survive in a world of mixed ideas, opinions, prejudices, etc.

    BTW, thanks for the good word on my blog post. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Robert, this is a brave and much needed perspective of developments in the #MeToo movement. On several occasions over the years, I have also been a victim of sexual harassment and have had to use my wits to escape being raped. (I still tremble on remembering that incident that occurred almost 40 years ago.) My convent novel highlights this issue, among men within and outside of the Church.

    As a woman, I am still learning to live and deal with aggressive males. At the same time, I have met and come to know several good men who have supported me during my journey through life. As you note, labeling all men as scum will not advance the debate and lead to real change in male-female relationships.

    While I agree that “proper and effective sex education for children” is needed, I have learned from my own experience of raising two sons to respect women that it is not enough. Our sons also learn from the behavior of the men in their lives as well as those they perceive as successful. Example speaks far louder than words.

    Peace, Brother ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “The men are scum meme is also terribly divisive besides being a poor generalization of half the world’s population. It is also morally equivalent to racial, ethnic, and religious condemnations which portray blacks as “lazy,” Jews as “conniving,” and Muslims as “terrorists.” ” Well said. Excellent post.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Very interesting post.

    I hadn’t heard about this “men are scum” thing. It can be a very delicate subject to discuss, there being so much pain and suffering connected to it for so many women.

    As a man, it could be very easy to be misunderstood expressing an opinion. I believe you were brave to tackle it, Robert, though your readers know you are a sensitive, moral and intelligent person so I doubt you’ll encounter much negative feedback.

    Violence hurts everyone, perpetrators and victims and I believe that extends to words as well as actions. We have too much extremism these days. Emotions are out of control. One thing I know is that men need to reign in the so-called “locker room talk” when women aren’t around so that boys and young men get a better understanding of proper behavior around women. As a male-dominated society, we’ve treated women as objects to desire and not given them the respect they deserve for far too long. This obviously can’t be fixed in a couple years of apologies. We need concrete progress and spewing hatred will not help. This needs to be discussed while keeping our anger in check, like every contentious issue.

    It might be a good idea to have women lead the discussion and let the healing begin.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Many good points. Saying what happened is a good idea and long overdue – and has there ever been a platform before now? but brainless insults is, well, brainless.
    You hit the nail on the head in your last para about teaching children how to behave in civil society. I have long wondered why manners has never extended to sexual manners – that sex has been treated as a morality-free zone where many men seem to think everything that they can get away with is OK.
    also good point regarding women’s contribution to a bad setup. A thought experiment – if women thought like men there would have been sexually coded behaviour agreed long before now. Perhaps we are suffering the after effects of women’s status being that of chattel rather than person – so many men feel they can treat their “property” any way they like, and their victims have no vaild say – as with slaves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • >>> “… sex has been treated as a morality-free zone where many men seem to think everything that they can get away with is OK.”

      In particular, American culture conveys that message and it extends far beyond the scope of sex. Success is subtly but effectively defined as the shrewd exploitation of others – domination, in other words, such as the rich amoral banker, the powerful corrupt politician, the flamboyant self-indulgent celebrity, or the superior irrepressible athlete. And, because of the reasons I detailed in this post, women tend to reinforce such behavior.

      Although this dynamic has much to do with the ‘women as property’ problem, there are other contributing factors as well. The desire to control others is rooted deep in human psychology. Females do it too, but use more indirect methods than do men. Furthermore, males have evolved in many species to use control over females as a means to prevent competing males from mating and to ensure their genes will be passed on to the next generation.

      It’s a very complex issue which – as you said – won’t be solved with “brainless insults.” Thanks so much for the great comment! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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