By Henry Laasanen
The big problem with the advancement of a men’s movement is the “coalition” of feminists and conservatives.
It’s hard for men’s rights activists to win by voting for democrats or republicans, because they both have the same goal: protection of women.
In this article, I will try to explain the coalition of feminists and conservatives using the sociological concepts of “story line” and “discourse coalition”.
People acquire information from simple story lines. Story lines set people in “subject positions”. The story line is accepted because it feels just about right.
There are three important subject positions: the victim, the villain and the hero.
In the conservative story line we have the traditional story, where the damsel is in distress, captured by the “bad men” and saved by the hero, who is played by the white knight. The conservative story line also has the subject position of “unmanly men” who are whiners (who could be an MRA) and who lack the courage to save the woman.
Then there is the victim feminist story line, where woman is the victim of men or patriarchy and feminism is the cure, supported by the ideology of power feminism.
Discourse coalition of feminists and conservatives
If two story lines are similar enough, they can form a “discourse coalition” to advance the same political goal.
The conservative and feminist story line gives people same kind of subject positions. Women are the victims and men are the bad guys, only the hero’s subject position is different.
Although conservatism and feminism have many different goals, they can unite in discourse coalition to protect women from men
The “New Gentleman”
I have used the concept of the “New Gentleman” to describe the kind of man who is the product of both discourse coalition conservatism and feminism.
In the old times we had John Wayne, who saved the woman. The New Gentleman doesn’t save just one woman, he fights for the sake of feminism. He has succeeded in combining the story lines of conservatism and feminism.
Most of the top male politicians could be branded as some kind of New Gentleman. By supporting feminist’s ultimate goal of protecting women, they get votes to win elections. So, becoming the New Gentleman is a rational decision for the aspiring politician.
The New Gentleman is the new hegemonic form of masculinity.
The problem with the masculinist story line
Masculists have hard time explaining their story line to the public. In masculist story line men are the victims, the villain is an unequal society (or even feminism) and the hero is masculism. For the majority of people, the masculist story line just don’t feel right, even if the facts are behind it.
Masculist are in an ideological no man’s land. By positioning men as victims, it’s hard to appeal to either men or women.
The masculist story line is so different from conservative story line that it is difficult for masculists and mainstream conservatives to unite, and putting men in the unmanly subject position of whiners (which is hard to avoid) doesn’t really help.
The advancement of the men’s movement against the discourse coalition of conservatism and feminism is a tough nut to crack.