Chasing Without Knowing, Acting Without Responsibility

I previously mentioned in my review on Men On Strike that Dr. Helen Smith was excellent in being able to observe, but had very little understanding regarding why the things happen that she observes. To use a commonly observed physical example, she has observed that a ball is rolling down the street, but has not hazarded much of a guess as to what caused the ball to roll down the street. This is a logical reason why the feminists haven’t attacked Dr. Smith (video at 4:57): She’s said next to nothing that is consequential against feminism, therefore she has done nothing to damage the narrative.

This is not uncommon regarding most of the women that have set their feet on or near the manosphere or have gotten into anything related to men’s rights. For example, Dr. Smith spends time in the introduction trying to explain why a woman is writing such a book, but comes to the false conclusion that men have a “psychological barrier to standing up for their own causes” and need “the tools to identify and overcome these barriers” in dealing with “those women and men in your life whom you are afraid to confront on your way to equality” (p xviii). The truth is that men (and some women) have observed these things (as Dr. Smith has reported) and have explained them. It’s not a psychological hang-up wherein a man might get the courage to write the next book in the MSM, it’s that a man saying such things is not allowed in the mainstream, either in social settings or in book form:

I’m glad to see it getting the publicity, but ONLY a woman could write this without suffering fem-screech backlash accusations of misogyny. This is the environment we’re in today. I have no doubt that Ms. Charen will receive her share of frothing hate from ego invested Jezebels, but at least her critique will register for them. No man could write this critique and be taken seriously, and therein lies the danger in women co-opting the message the manosphere has been compiling for 12 years now. The environment is such that anything remotely critical a man might offer is instantly suspect of misogyny or personal (‘he’s bitter”) bias, however, couch that message in a female perspective, play Mrs. Doubtfire, and you’ll at least reach the audience beginning with something like validity.

While Rollo wrote this of another text, it is as much true of Dr. Smith’s work. Men have been speaking out against these things, but women are picking up the message of the legions of men who have been speaking out and running with it to greater popularity. While I agree with Dr. Helen (5:36 in the video) that more men should be standing up, but the current culture does not accept these messages from men, especially true anti-feminist messages, because it is deemed hatred of women. It’s not a matter of men being shamed as Dean Esmay (5:52) says it, but these messages simply not being acceptable from the pens or mouths of men. Again, there are legions of men that have been and are speaking out, but will never get MSM attention with their ideas. In this sense, a man could never have written this book and have had it as accepted as Dr. Smith’s book. To that point, this book had to be written by a woman for it to see the light of day. The publishers in the MSM would have never accepted this book from a man.

The rejoicing of people over this book, and earlier over the writing of Suzanne Venker shows the degree to how men are wanting to hear the message, but they are thinking no further. The reinforcement and approval of men that women such as Dr. Smith, Suzanne Venker, GirlWritesWhat, and other female bloggers receive by clumsily delving into men’s rights messages only shows how deeply ingrained traditional feminism is in the culture:

Women are the pillars of righteousness, and have the right to speak.
Men are the existence of prime evil, therefore they have no rights at all.

So ultimately, this book only reinforces the message that women are the only ones that speak, since men are put on this earth to serve women. Again, perhaps a reason why Dr. Smith’s book didn’t receive that much criticism is because it serves this end perfectly for the new liberal vision of feminism which seeks to paint men as victims who are helpless and need the strong independent woman, government, or groups such as A Voice For Men to ride in and save them. Oddly enough, the goal of allowing feminism to stand (fourth-wave?) always happens.

So what of motivation, which is a big question for all women who take up such messages? Usually these messages are impure for that reason. I couldn’t find Dr. Smith’s vision for what is correct for inter-gender relations in her book or her blog. Clues always seem to come out (9:30 in the video) though which reinforces that the concerns these women have are always outside what is going on with men, and are concerned with their sons or other women who just can’t find their own personal man-slaves husbands. However, motivations were clearer with Suzanne Venker. As Dalrock wrote:

Telling the man he is responsible for financing and protecting the family but not leading it places him in a subordinate role. As others have pointed out, the difference between a driver and a chauffeur is who is calling the shots. Far too many self labeled “traditionalist” women want to put men in the driver’s seat as figureheads with the wives calling the shots; they are feminists who don’t want to get their hands dirty. The issue of headship is the litmus test which separates out truly traditional women and feminists in traditionalist clothing.

And again:

After all, in her opinion pieces Venker seems to get it at least somewhat right. At least she wants to allow men to be men in some ways (provide and protect), even if she is all about the strong independent woman. The problem is expecting men to continue with traditional gender roles while having no reciprocal expectation of women is a disaster. This is just another brand of feminism, where women have rights and men have responsibilities.

While Dalrock gets tantalizingly close to identifying traditionalists for the man-hating feminists that they are, what he does get right is Suzanne Venker’s motivation:

One might read that as suggesting that men are made to be servants to women, and women need to let men act as servants (and perhaps even consider their husband’s input when making decisions).

In other words, Suzanne Venker’s message is this: Women, we need to be kinder and gentler slave masters.

Helen Smith has been smart (perhaps) in not identifying what her vision is for what is right behavior between men and women in her book, though it casts her work into severe doubt. Motivation is a major factor of consideration when women parrot other men regarding men’s issues, since inevitably everything from the female perspective always seems to come back around to the issue of female benefit at the expense of men.

Regardless, the overriding issue is that a woman is speaking out at all for men when there are legions of men up to the task who are already doing it in blogs and other media. This only reinforces the feminist narrative that women are the only ones who are qualified to speak, the only ones to have a right to speak, and the only ones that have anything worthy to say. Sadly, a book such as Men On Strike only reinforces the feminist narrative in this way and likely only will do further damage to the cause of freedom for men.

Bonus Video:

The efforts of women who care about “men’s rights” would be better served addressing the moral, physical, and mental corruption of women due to their own actions – not being adult and taking responsibility for their own actions, including the support of female-supremacist hatred. Form your own “women’s responsibility movement”, and quit the Mrs. Doubtfire act.

Book Review: Men On Strike by Dr. Helen Smith

Men On Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream and Why It Matters. Helen Smith, PhD. New York, Encounter Books, 2013.


With the interest that this book has gotten since its release both in the mainstream media and in other locations (Free Northerner, da GBFM, Wintery Knight, Dalrock, Vox Day, among many others), I found it to be interesting to obtain the book.

However, there was a two week delay in getting the book from Amazon, which has delayed this review along with the death in my family. These have conspired to make this review fashionably late.

For those that are familiar with manosphere circles, Dr. Helen Smith is a forensic psychologist who has been published in numerous places. Most notable for the discussion of this book is that she has spent “many years talking to hundreds of men” (p xiv) in her position as a psychiatrist for two decades, and that she has blogged since 2005 on a number of issues, including men’s issues.

Dr. Smith states (p xiv) that her concern in listening to men and their plight has driven her in what she does. That focus on awareness comes out in the content of her book where many of her observations come to light. She describes how men are dealt with in society with respect to marriage, reproductive choice, higher education, and parenthood. She then describes her vision of why recognizing and dealing with these inequities matter, and then describes her observations on how men have dealt with these things along with her beliefs on how these things can be changed.

The reader of the book will notice readily that a focus is placed on observation. Men On Strike is full of anecdote and personal stories of men from her blog and from other sources (as illustrated in the notes section) which she reports to the reader. This emphasis is perhaps best for the feelings-dominated society that we live in today, especially for readers who are uninitiated into the topic. This is perhaps ideal, as the book seems to be intended for such an audience, though perhaps to the author’s experience, it misses two of the venues where men are under fire (the workplace and religious organizations).

In my opinion, Men On Strike suffers from this undue emphasis on observation over theory. While the book is quite effective in sounding a warning in the same way as Suzanne Venker, Dr. Smith seems to exhibit very little understanding of the reasons behind what she is observing, to the point that there are few passages of any good insight. To wit, the most insightful parts of the book are the ones where she comments on Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power, and collaborates with Christina Hoff Summers via interview (The War Against Boys)in the chapter on higher education.

This lack of theory contributes to two things present within the book. It is a very light easy read which will go quickly as Dr. Smith presents all of the stories she has gathered. Then with the theory component not present, it is hard to see any degree of organization in her writing. When she presents her stories and anecdotes, the point she is trying to make by telling the stories is either lost or missing in many cases. Then, some of the terms she uses like Uncle Tim (“male sellouts”? p76 Meaning what exactly?) are ill-defined and are filled as the book progresses.

Men On Strike can be very beneficial to those who are new to the concepts behind men’s rights and men’s issues. The text, while having its deficits of organization and theory, can contribute to the awareness of what happens in the lives of men today. However, since it will only function as a cursory introduction, it will not be very constructive to those who are familiar with these issues in any way. For those people, seeking out one of the other books mentioned in this review, The Manipulated Man, or The Polygamous Sex will be more beneficial. To the author’s credit, she lists a number of resources at the end of the book.

Rating: If you’re new to the manosphere 8 out of 10. If you’re not, 5 out of 10.

Image Source: National Review Online: The Siege of Men
Other references to Helen Smith on this blog:

Links and Comments #15 (The “Where’s Poochie?” Edition)

Time again for some links and comments. While I haven’t been able to write or do much at all the last month or so, I won’t be writing stories in first-person perspective of the pets (a clue to those who read the blog roll religiously regarding what’s happened in the life of ballista74).

Those who have come here before will notice I changed the blog theme. I was getting kinda bored with Twenty Ten, so I found a new theme. Please let me know if you run into any problems like things you expected to be present not being here.

To some links to what has interested me, since I still collect them as I read (in no particular order). Of course, I don’t always agree with what these say, just saying that they’re interesting to me:

A definitely controversial view: Do women provoke domestic violence? This person says yes.

The infamous “Take Me To The Lake” video:

A definitely perfect sales job against marriage. This is what modern marriage looks like, gentlemen. ROK’s commentary.

It seems that women cheat more, but are better at covering it up.

Should you marry or not marry in this age where Marriage 2.0 is the only choice? Much on this blog is for this purpose too, but this page beckons you too to think about it before you jump into the wedded abyss.

Someone else got a good sales job against marriage:

I’m a 26 year single male and this forum kind of cements my choice to not get married.

Note all the NAWALT deflections and pleas that the plantation can be good that followed.

(NSFW for language) Da GBFM was on fire: Helen Smith doesn’t get why men aren’t marrying. A similar impression to my forthcoming review of the book (about 90% completed). Also, da GBFM on the prevalence of desire for the flesh (PUAism) instead of the Spirit or Jesus in even “Christian” blogs.

Will S points out that American feminism began around 1820. Those aware of traditional feminism know it started about 400 years earlier, but the Industrial Revolution was the impetus for what we call secular feminism or modern feminism. Also see this.

Helen Smith’s Reddit IAMA.

There are those that may have already figured out that I’m not that into self-promotion. But I thought I should go ahead and point out that I ended up with a couple of “guest” posts (the blogger on that site tends to take comments she is interested in and makes posts out of them with her commentary.

Here’s this one on what I meant by the word “loyalty” as used in this comment, which I explained here.

Then I was asked elsewhere how I interpret what “drama” is, which turned into my nascent ideas on what true Biblical concern should be for a husband and wife instead of the application of PUA “game”. I may or may not develop them in the future beyond what I did here when all the “game” discussions hit last year. I always believed that knowing who you are in Christ and sticking to it in the face of all comers (even your wife) is what is most paramount.

Related: Crimsonviceroy on “godly attraction” versus “worldly attraction”. A perfect distillation on what adopting “game” means in the life of a Christian man.

Men have the perfect right to run from women. After all, it’s giving the women what they want. You know, the fish needing a bicycle thing…

The Mark Minter manosphere litmus test: Rollo’s Commentary — The Spearhead: Mark Minter’s hypocrisy illustratedThe Manosphere Is Lost. I’ve said it myself, it’s not that he got married, it’s that he proved himself dishonest by not living out what he writes. How you are known is reflected by the values you uphold and your reputation. With Minter, the actions don’t match up with the words. This is where the firestorm came from.

What Churchianity looks like in terms of Starbucks (it’s spot on):

Peacefulwife commenter Renata on how romance novels effect a Christian marriage. The blog’s operator on the same topic.

Deti on the lack of accountability and false assumptions of Churchianity regarding women (Part 1, Part 2) Also, there’s a number of other good comments out of the whole post.

Hannah on the proper goal of a Christian woman. (Hint: Titus 2) Unfortunate result, though.

On marriage: Human Reason versus Biblical principles? Proper incentives are necessary, but as the Word says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” The problem that is missed is that Marriage 2.0 doesn’t work for good for any man, especially a Christian man.

Jack on what the typical Christian man finds with the average Christian woman today (Part 1, Part 2). Perfect analysis.

Visual proof that attractiveness of a woman to a man increases as the weight decreases (H/T):

Should a wise man get married?

Barbarossa’s analysis on the man-up/step-up garbage that inhabits Churchianity from the likes of feminist pastors such as Mark Driscoll.

It seems that “Tim” doesn’t like my used-car lot because it doesn’t “appeal to women”. I could say that they’re selling Payless shoes for Manolo Blahnik prices to appeal to women, but the idea that I or anyone else has to pander to women here is completely and totally stupid.

Geopolitics: The USSR was better prepared for a collapse than the USSA.

Free Northerner suggests the archetype of the Modern Woman.

Comment reading at Dalrock’s been good lately (though the subject matter does get a bit repetitive to me): The sin of modern Christian menFragging Christian headshipSubmission is something a wife must voluntarily offer

Until the time that I can post again…

(*) – internetz props to those who get the pop culture reference in the title.