The Power Of Stories – A Voice for Men

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Pixabay Fantast Stories Myths

Author: Elizabeth Hobson

*The following speech was delivered at the 2020 digital ICMI. 

We inhabit a world of things – literally observable objects and facts, and, for the MRA, literally measurable evidence of male disadvantage. And we MRAs collectively do a good and necessary job of measuring and cataloguing such disadvantages. It escapes none of us however, though our evidence is required (and should be), that feminists are not held to the same standards.

That feminists can assert the most outrageous untruths, without challenge. That baseless feminist conspiracy theories, fantasies, lies, delusions and myths are simply believed. The reason for this is simple: as much as a world of things, we live in a world of stories (Peterson, 2018).

Mythologies, archetypes and expectations help us to organise information. We can’t expect to be able to rationally sift through each piece of data that we’re exposed to, so we categorise constantly: of interest/not of interest, in line with what we would expect/anomalous (Sowell, 1987).1 And feminism has been uniquely deft at creating compelling stories that people can internalise, which act as shields against further investigation of their claims.

If this sounds malevolent: that’s because it is. Feminists misuse the power of stories to circumvent the logical appraisal that should accompany policy lobbying and establishment. Feminists misuse the power of stories to breed resentment instead of love between men and women. Feminists misuse the power of stories to justify hate-filled and supremacist intentions as recompense for centuries of “sex-based oppression”. And the fact is that feminism has advantages in the story-weaving game. Our species’ innate gynocentrism, our gender empathy gap and our evolutionary perceptions of men (the genetic filter, to be policed) and women (the limiting factor in reproduction, to be protected) allows us to zero-in on female disadvantage and to ignore male disadvantage, to view the world through blinkered eyes through the lens of the female experience, to believe in an innate badness in men!

But… We MRAs have advantages also… We can share stories that enrich the psyches of our audiences with gratitude and love for men, and respect for women. We can share stories that are exponentially closer to the truth than those sordid webs that feminists create. Stories backed by facts, but stories that can be internalised by a significant proportion of the public; and weaponised so that no longer will feminist rhetoric be taken at face value. So that the playing field will be levelled and the standards of evidence that we accept as the bare minimum required for MRAs to advocate – will also apply to feminists.

This is why I believe in the power of stories to deliver justice for men and boys (and the women who love them).

Feminist myths

The dominant feminist story we must dismiss and provide a counter-narrative to is the religious doctrine of patriarchy. There are a number of approaches that we can take in the dismissal. The coolest among us may wish to simply reject their hypothesis: “I’m sorry, as an atheist, I simply don’t accept theories based on faith” or “patriarchy is not a scientific theory, it’s a political fashion” for example (I’m sure that some of you hip cats can come up with snappier retorts than that, too).

There is a power and style in this approach that make it a necessary element in the destruction of the pernicious patriarchal conspiracy theory.

For those of among us more like me, who like to over-explain whenever possible, there is a myriad of evidence and rationally constructed thoughtways that can also dismiss either or both ideas that our history can be best described as patriarchal or that our present societies can be described as patriarchal. Evolutionary psychology tells us that human sociality is about males competing with each other for access to females, not oppressing females. They do this through dominance hierarchies that allow them to excel in their field and be noticed by women who then choose the men who show the qualities they most desire.

Men act as the genetic filter, with only the most successful having the opportunity to reproduce while less successful combinations of genes are excluded from contributing to the gene pool for further generations (and in this way a positive evolution is driven). Women, being the limiting factor in reproduction (only capable of producing an average of one baby every couple of years, as compared to men’s boundless ability to impregnate), are a protected ‘class’. D.N.A. analysis in 2004 by Jason Wilder,  Zahra Mobasher and Michael Hammer reveals that ancestrally the majority of women (80%) reproduced whereas only a minority (40%) of men did. The dynamic does not disadvantage women, it disadvantages most men, relative to the winners- whilst at the same time driving artistic, technological, thought… advances of all kinds that enrich all of our lives, via these dominance hierarchies.

History is a story of cooperation between men and women to improve their standards of living. Henry Fawcett was one of the first champions (of either sex) of the cause of women’s suffrage, equal access to further education and employment. He was committed to supporting the work of his wife Millicent in her campaigns and her writing with enthusiasm and money; and, alongside John Stuart Mill (author of ‘On the Subjection of Women’), was among the male MPs who presented the Women’s Suffrage Petition to Parliament in 1866 which marked the start of organised campaigning  for votes for women. He came to the struggle before he met his wife and was undoubtedly attracted by her revolutionary zeal and intellect.

It is a myth that “women fought for the right to vote” inasmuch as women and men fought for the right for women to vote. It is another myth that Victorian gentlemen liked their women to be seen and not heard. Middle and upper class families (and even some working class families, to the extent that they could) took pains to guarantee that their daughters were as well educated and well rounded as possible and many men took pains to select engaging women who would be their equals in the private sphere, if not in the public sphere. 

In the Hull of 1968, three trawlers were lost at sea and 58 men were killed. A campaign for better safety at sea was launched by the wives, sisters and daughters of  trawlermen, led by Lillian ‘Big Lil’ Bilocca whose father, husband and son all made their living at sea. It came to be known as ‘The Headscarf Campaign’ after the distinctive scarves popular with working women of the time.

The campaigners met with trawler owners and government ministers to discuss better safety and fairer working conditions in the fishing industry, and picketed the dock to make sure that no ships left without a radio operator. Big Lil’ even met Prime Minister Harold Wilson at No. 10 Downing Street. Support for the campaign grew and spread from the families of Hessle Road to other fishing communities as well as to the rest of the country who were enthralled by the exploits of the folk heroes played out in national newspapers.

Eventually it brought about changes which drastically improved the safety of British fishermen. Not only is this a tale of love with the Headscarf Campaign showing theirs in their committed action to protect the men in their lives, but it shows the power and influence women had to instigate political change. What kind of patriarchy is it that ignores the safety of men until it is highlighted by women?

The hijab was made compulsory for women to wear in government offices in Iran 24 days after the 1979 Islamic revolution was declared victorious. Days later, on March 8th, International Women’s Day, more than 100,000 women and men marched on the capital city Tehran to protest against the law and other planned assaults on women’s rights.

By 1984 the hijab was compulsory in all public spaces. In April 2007, the Tehran police began the most fierce crackdown on what is known as “bad hijab” (dress exposing anything other than the hands and face) in more than a decade. Thousands of Iranian women were cautioned in the capital city over their bad hijab and several hundred arrested. In the intervening years thousands more have been cautioned, fined, imprisoned or received lashes for their dress.

In 2016, besides the customary uniformed morality police, 7,000 undercover agents were reportedly also on the case- then news of a new wave of protests began to circulate, with men taking to social media with pictures of themselves wearing veils in solidarity with their wives and female friends and relatives who wish they didn’t have to. Although these men are not breaking the law, the fact that women in bad hijab have been targeted with acid attacks with increasing regularity recently suggests that their stance is not without personal risk. An unnamed participant who photographed himself wearing a hijab with his niece in the protest told Heather Saul at The Independent “I can’t be indifferent to the violation of freedoms of half of my people.”

Women have lacked rights in the past (those in Islamic countries particularly often still do) but they’ve also enjoyed significant privileges. Men have had some privileges but also considerable responsibilities. The balance has generally reflected social conditions at various times, sensible divisions of labour which facilitated the very survival of the species.

Technological advances have rendered the old ways all but obsolete but our political and social structure has been (and is being) developed collaboratively by men and women working side by side, hand in hand. To believe anything else is to believe that men are pathological sociopaths- and that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

The fact that feminism has ignored or even obfuscated the beautiful truth about sex relations is disgraceful. They’ve robbed society of the trust we once had between the sexes- to the extent that they’ve been able to, harming individuals and societies as a whole.  

Patriarchy theory is  blatantly misandric. It’s also misogynistic, asserting that until feminism arrived on the scene women allowed themselves to be ‘treated like chattel’ by the men in their lives. It is one that has been present in feminism since the Seneca Falls Convention declared “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her”, and is still prevalent in feminism today.

Egregiously, it’s a theory that now finds itself written into British law with the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017 (or Istanbul Convention) which states “that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women…and… is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men…”.

In response to valid criticism of the mythological feminist idea of patriarchy, the feminist response presently is to double down on the conspiracy theory and dolefully inform us that patriarchy hurts men too. According to Richard Herring in his unbearably condescending book ‘The Problem with Men’:

In some ways, men actually need to overthrow the patriarchy more urgently than women do. Masculinity is in a crisis of its own making, and toxic masculinity and ludicrous overconfidence in our own ability is harming men, too.”

It’s so decent of Herring and his feminist cohort to concern themselves with men’s wellbeing but they are sorely misguided in their approach. While feminists are busy berating men to take collective responsibility for any and only bad things done by any man at any point in history and pathologising perfectly healthy attributes and very normal behaviour in men and boys; Martin Seager and John Barry, when researching for ‘The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health’, found that positive attitudes to masculinity are beneficial to the mental health of men and boys and may even provide a barrier against suicidality.

To put it more plainly, feminist misandry is killing men and boys. The feminist story goes: “our patriarchal societies are run by men for the benefit of men but the burden of maintaining traditional masculine personas is dangerous for men and boys”.

Our retort: we reject the hypothesis that we live in patriarchal societies. In fact, the idea that serious adults would entertain such a silly idea based on data entirely lacking in nuance and without any semblance of rational and appropriate analysis is quite bizarre. Men are good and the attributes common to them are archetypal in nature and therefore, to help men, we must accept them and meet them where they are. Feminism is malevolent and cannot be tolerated threatening the mental wellbeing of our beloved fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, friends.

In ‘Women and Power – a manifesto’, Mary Beard confides that she would like to explain “just how deeply embedded in Western culture are the mechanisms that silence women, that refuse to take them seriously, and that sever them (sometimes quite literally) from the centres of power… When it comes to silencing women,” Beard writes, “Western culture has had thousands of years of practice.”

It may surprise some listeners that I don’t entirely disagree with Beard’s claim. Women have been silenced, for many years. Take The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1918: women were well represented, energised by the Female Reform Societies that had recently sprung up to campaign for Parliamentary reform (including suffrage for all men) and the repeal of the Corn Laws (trade tariffs that kept the price of grain artificially high for British consumers).

Magistrates sent cavalry into the crowd and 4 women were killed on St Peter’s Field, aside from an unknown number who must have died from injuries later on. 4 women, killed in cold blood for exercising their inviolable right to protest: 4 women, 13 men – and one 2 year old boy, William Fildes, the first casualty of the day- who was knocked from his mothers’ arms and trampled by a horse. 18 people killed – and none because of their sex! Killed because they were working class and threatened to inspire a popular movement to make the state more representative and to encourage policies that would benefit the working family rather than the wealthy mercantilist class.

When it comes to women, as compared to men generally, Western culture has had hundreds, if not thousands, of years of practice of prioritising women’s voices. Beard recounts an episode from Homer’s Odyssey wherein Penelope is told by her son, Telemachus, “Mother, go back to your quarters, and take up your own work, the loom and the distaff… speech will be the business of men…”, and it is true that few archaic societies welcomed many women in public life – but women had an immense power in the private sphere and influenced men in the public realm.

Take Potiphar’s wife, in the biblical book of Genesis, who was spurned by Joseph so made a false allegation of rape against him, which resulted in his imprisonment. The Ancient Greece where Beard finds her literary evidence of women’s political subordination, gave us democracy and every free man there could vote, but later incarnations of democracy were far more limited.

Prior to the 1918 Representation of the People Act in the U.K., only 56% of men could vote – and that was significantly improved from the First Reform Act 1832 that entitled around 20% of men to vote (up from less than 6% beforehand). The First Reform Act was also the act that formally excluded British women from voting in General Elections. Prior to that, women had voted in General Elections – and women had been taking an active part in Local Elections for at least 100 years.

Women were active in political movements – as we saw in Peterloo – and in electioneering; and voting men were expected to vote on behalf of their families, with women expected to take an interest in politics and advise the men in their lives.

In the late Middle Ages, Eleanor of Aquitaine spearheaded the establishment and popularisation of chivalric love in which men were expected to defer to the whims of women – who were presented as men’s moral superiors, and which C.S. Lewis would later refer to as “the feudalisation of love”. Eleanor, portrayed in context as a selfish and domineering woman, is reputed to have had much political influence over her husband, King Louis VI and persuaded him repeatedly to engage in warfare – to restore Toulouse to her Grandmother in 1141 and to invade Champagne and lay waste to the region in a vengeful defence of Eleanor’s sisters’ marriage to an already married man in 1143! In 1147, she accompanied Louis on the Crusade to defend the Holy Land. An official political title, Eleanor lacked, but a political voice? I think not.

Ernest Belfort Bax meticulously documented women’s legal privileges in his 1896 book ‘The Legal Subjection of Men’, in areas such as child custody, divorce, alimony and criminal sentencing. Even then, ‘believe women’ ruled the day – unless a man being prosecuted was of a higher class than the woman accusing him.

In her book, Beard circles back to the modern day, bemoaning the abuse allegedly Tweeted at political women in the public eye. However, evidence shows that men in Parliament receive significantly more abuse, as standard, as compared to women.

So: the feminist story goes that women have been silenced throughout history and continue to be so. The more nuanced and realistic MRA story that I suggest is that, politically, as William Collins would have it, “there have been centuries of oppression” – but they were class based, not sex based. Men and women, as compared to one another as classes, have both suffered historically from disadvantages and benefitted from privileges, had varying degrees of authority, in different areas.

Men and women historically, though, generally worked together to support each other – like we saw at Peterloo – and pooled their advantages to best serve their families and communities. In the words of Jordan Peterson, “It looks to me like the so-called oppression of the Patriarchy was instead an imperfect collective attempt by men and women stretching over millennia to free each other from privation, disease and drudgery.” 

Today, women are welcomed into politics – they’re just as likely to be elected as men (unless they’re in one of the U.K. Labour Party’s all-women-shortlists!) and the idea that they’re subjected to more abuse when they are is a delusion. However, feminist insistence that women are excluded and abused if they do make office can only hold back any women who believe it and justify the forcible holding back of men.

Another cute feminist story is that men are responsible for the destruction of the planet and environmental degradation – and that, were women in charge, the planet would be a healthy and happy utopia. As Janice Fiamengo said, and I quote:

We’ve been informed of “5 Women Environmental Leaders You Should Know” and invited to “Meet 4 Inspirational Women Working in Environmental Science Today.” Articles that profile such scientists abound, almost always including a discussion of the (allegedly unique) “challenges” the women faced in a male-dominated field, with exhortations about how such challenges can be overcome, almost always through state and global initiatives that benefit women by providing them with money and opportunities not available to their male colleagues.

The alleged distinctiveness of women’s scientific perspective is a never-challenged assumption in many policy documents and political proclamations. An article outlining why “[w]e need to build more networks of women in science” predictably informs readers that women are “far more nuanced in [their] approach to just about anything, including science,” which is why “environmental science can only become stronger if we have more women in research, because [women] often bring the human angle into the science.” The male angle, apparently, is somewhat less than human.” 

The evidence supports none of this. Women are privileged in science, and this is a rejection of the meritocratic and sex-blind approach to progress that we should be taking, morally and for the purpose of efficiency. If feminists want women to save the environment they may want to forget the positive discrimination in environmental science and encourage women, who drive 70-80% of consumer spending, to make more responsible consumer choices.

Men and women have worked together throughout history to escape privation and disease and misery. Men and women must continue to work together if we want to nurture the planet on which we’re flourishing. Throughout history our sex roles have been rigid out of necessity. Today there are disparities in occupational sex-demographics based primarily on choice and this is something we need to accept if we are to tackle the scientific challenges that face us and await us. We need the best people for the job – even when they’re men – if we are to continue on our onwards and upwards trajectory of increasing the standards of living in our societies.

The prevailing gender narrative around domestic abuse, a narrative utterly monopolised by radical feminists, is a narrative that presents domestic abuse as a gendered crime. Furthermore, it’s a narrative with an ever-expanding definition of domestic abuse that can indict men and boys for increasingly reasonable behaviour – and will consistently indict men and boys who are in fact responding to abuse from female partners that is uncontestable as abuse to anyone bar the most wretchedly ideological feminist.

What is unfortunate is that the sectors who are responsible for dealing with domestic abuse are either totally pervaded by or trained by the most wretchedly ideological feminists. What is also unfortunate is that in the social sphere while the behaviour of men and boys within relationships has been critiqued to the point of abject absurdity over the last half century in particular. The behaviour of women and girls within relationships has not been subjected to the same scrutiny (or any scrutiny at all, not outside of the fringes of society where weirdos like us live) and in fact feminist advocacy and gynonormative attitudes more widely repeatedly justify, excuse, and make light of their abuse. Clearly our responses to abuse suck – but the most damaging aspect of the whole social picture is the disparity. If we took either of those approaches to domestic abuse, it would be a mistake, but to differentiate based on sex.

To neuter men and boys and their ability and will to defend their boundaries on one hand and to “empower” women and girls to be abusive on the other is beyond dysfunctional. It is vital that we teach men and boys to value themselves and to respect their needs and boundaries and to protect the same. It is vital that we criticise abusive behaviour and the women and girls who perpetrate it (as well as men and boys).

And it is vital that every single time a damn feminist raises his or her head to tell us that domestic abuse is a gendered problem we pop our heads up and repeat Erin Pizzey’s mantra that abuse is not a gendered problem, but a generational one. We need to expose the feminist domestic abuse racket as a racket and as a system that repeatedly fails women and girls as well as men and boys.

This International Conference on Men’s Issues 2020 is packed full of commentary on domestic abuse and the work that is being carried out by the speakers we have is so important – look out in particular for the Male Coercive Control survey being published by Deborah Powney and Nicola Graham-Kevan this International Men’s Day. Furthermore, people instinctively recognise that domestic abuse is a generational problem, they only need to have it pointed out to them.

I’d also like to point out that November 2021 will see the half century anniversary of Erin Pizzey opening her Chiswick refuge so the coming year is really an opportune moment to push progressive perspectives on domestic abuse which will surely eventually leave feminist domination of domestic abuse response services untenable because the public simply will not accept it.

Rape culture hysteria is terrifying many people. Sex positive activists including feminists like Camille Paglia and Katie Roiphe (author of the excellent book ‘The Morning After’) report “winning the argument” that had returned in the 1990s with their messages about personal choice and personal responsibility… But right now mainstream feminism is dominated by prudish and hysterical fainting couch feminists who tell us that rape is on an ever expanding spectrum that includes more and more “survivors” everyday, too many of whom do reappraise their experiences and take on neurosies about traumas that didn’t exist till feminists informed them that they had been violated.

The cruelty is contemptible and goes to prove that feminism is not about women, it’s about power. Traumatising vulnerable women is acceptable collateral damage if feminists can then dictate legislation, policy and the minutiae of interpersonal interactions between men and women. Rape culture is not a feature of mainstream society though. It’s our job to empower people by reassuring them that rape is not common and that it’s not necesarily an insurmountable trauma if it does happen to them.

Human beings are anti-fragile and most of us grow from most of the trauma we will experience. We do need to gender neutralise laws in many societies to protect victim men and boys and to serve justice to women and girls who perpetrate rape – but we also need to very clearly differentiate our messages from the messages of feminists who seek not to protect the vulnerable but to weaponise the pain and fear of the vulnerable.

Our story here is one of presenting truths that expose feminist lies but it must also be a strengthening one to combat the panic that feminist obsession with creating victims and then weaponising their newfound distress is causing.

Feminism’s most ascendant story element involves intersections of privilege and oppression based on sex as just one factor, with an infinite number of other factors contributing to where people find themselves in given hierarchies – such as race, class, ability, sexuality, etc.

This naked attempt to usurp the catalogue of social justice issues is designed to compensate for feminism’s increasingly blatant irrelevance in the modern West. It has the benefit of a truthful component – it’s significantly more appropriate and less clumsy to take different factors into account in addition to the traditional male/female duality. In practice, it is also, however, an utterly depressing and divisive approach to rating human beings and to ascertaining their right to speak and be heard.

To this, we (borrow from Peterson and) stress that the highest level of resolution that can be achieved – and must be achieved to really understand individual experiences – is, indeed, the individual. We value individuals. And individuals, human beings, are born with an inalienable right to hold opinions on anything and everything. I must say that the Men’s Human Rights Movement already embodies this ideal, the diversity of opinion that can be found here is exceptional – as is our collective enthusiasm for disagreeing with passion and respect and ability to love each other despite and sometimes even because of our moral, political and philosophical differences. Never let that go because that spirit attracts and holds hearts and minds.

Feelings don’t care about your facts

Stories frequently succeed in arousing strong feelings, like when we read a novel and become moved to tears or anger, or when we see scenes in a movie which make our skin crawl, give goose bumps, or make our hair stand on its proverbial end. Such strong feelings, and the stories that generate them, seem to put a lie to the popular phrase “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings”. The reverse seems more likely in evidence, even when we know that a fantasy novel or movie is not factually real – our feelings remain dominant.

This is why old-world mythologies, complete with kooky beliefs, have flourished and sustained large civilizations – civilizations which thrived and expanded under the guiding influence of those same unfactual stories. Even when the stories promote a geocentric universe with a flat earth, or mythical gods requiring human sacrifices, deadly wars or violence over the divinely mandated length of men’s beards, or whether a woman’s mandated head covering is pleasing to the divine powers. You would think these things would cause a civilization to collapse and die out, however it appears that those more rational civilizations who deconstruct myths have birth rates plummeting whilst cultures based in fanciful stories enjoy explosive birth rates.

Perhaps it’s time to consider the painful possibility that feelings don’t always care about our facts. That’s certainly the case in many cultures, and it may indeed be a default setting of human beings generally – we are story creatures, and facts are often seen as an affront that offends both the stories we believe in and feelings associated with them.

Writing in the year 1984,3 professor emeritus of communication Walter R. Fisher explored these two approaches to reality – the approaches of both story and rationality – and named them 1. ‘the narrative paradigm’ and 2. ‘the rational world paradigm.’

Fisher describes the narrative paradigm in much the same way as I am in this talk; as a reflection of the fact that we use stories to communicate with each other, and to provide a shared map of meaning among a group of people.

Stories help by gathering the scattered bric-a-brac of everyday existence and combining it into a coherent whole, or what we might refer to as a template, that we use to orient ourselves and our goals in harmony with the shared orientation and goals of others. In short stories provide us with a shareable world.

As we have seen, religious stories and folk tales, can be both benevolent by way of organizing the masses into a harmonious moral unit, or they can be destructive as we see in stories promoting warfare against innocent nations, and even those stories which, today, promote gender wars.

What Fisher refers to alternatively as the ‘rational world paradigm’ consists in five presuppositions, which I can paraphrase as: 1. That humans are essentially rational beings, 2. That human decision-making and communication is a form of argument depending on clear-cut inferential and implicative structure, 3. That the conduct of such argument is ruled by legal, scientific and legislative dictates (etc), 4. That rationality is determined by subject matter knowledge, argumentative ability, and skill in employing the rules of advocacy in given fields, and finally, 5. The world is a set of logical puzzles which can be resolved through logical analysis and application of reason conceived as an argumentative construct.

Fisher notes the frequent failure of the rational world paradigm in the modern context, and goes on to conclude that:

This failure suggests to me that the problem in restoring rationality to everyday argument may be the assumption that the reaffirmation of the rational world paradigm is the only solution. The position I am taking is that another paradigm may offer a better solution, one that will provide substance not only for public moral argument, but also all other forms of argument, for human communication in general. My answer to the second question then, is: “Yes I think so.”

Adoption of the narrative paradigm, I hasten to repeat, does not mean rejection of all the good work that has been done; it means a rethinking of it and investigating new moves that can be made to enrich our understanding of communicative interaction..3

What Fisher refers to as “Investigating new moves” is something the men’s issues community might also take on board – specifically that stories and the feelings they evoke can be used as a form of communication to address the wrongs of gynocentrism and misandry we have been working so hard on, with limited successes, via the rational mode of argumentation and data recitations.

The narrative communication paradigm, or more simply the use of stories, has been criticised from a rational perspective when applied to scientific or legal issues, with the charge being that there is no way to make a choice between two equally coherent narratives. This is a valid complaint, but not one that practitioners of the rational world paradigm completely escape – this due to their frequent preferencing of one set of data over another, of placing the accent on one set of findings while neglecting others – a tendency that renders “rationalist” conclusions more subjective than they might like to admit – just like those of the story tellers.

Ultimately the rational and narrative approaches need to work in tandem if we wish to provide strong results, but at present the men’s movement has been wary of narrative approaches due to their tendency to subjectivity and corruption. Unfortunately, storytelling remains the preferred mode of communication and decision-making of the human species, therefore we can’t simply wish it away as irrelevant because that would be to deny the fact that humans have evolved to be narrative creatures – Homo Narrans – who preference communication via stories. It is a biological and evolutionary fact, so it isn’t going away, and hating it will do little to change its biological necessity.

If story is here to stay, then we need to enter the fray. We need to get down into the alphabet soup and wrestle with those destructive narratives perpetuated by feminists and others who would reduce men and boys to a tiny fraction of their lived experience. This can be done by challenging any element of the dominant gender narratives currently circulating – by amending the stories to conclude the male hero is “good” rather than “toxic,” or by crafting new stories altogether that incorporate the positive experiences of men and boys.

That is my challenge to you all today: not to do away with rational or data-based approaches, but to broaden them by offering new endings to the destructive stories currently on offer, re-narrating them, or by telling new stories in ways so compelling and emotionally moving that they displace the destructive ones currently on offer.


[1] Sowell, T. (2002). A conflict of visions: Ideological origins of political struggles. Basic Books (AZ).

[2] Ecofeminism,

[3] Fisher, W. R. (1984). Narration as a human communication paradigm: The case of public moral argument. Communications Monographs, 51(1), 1-22.

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