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Up is down, black is white, and men are the world's most oppressed minority.

That's why a group of brave souls have decided it's long past time for a new academic program to confront this oppression head on: Male Studies.

"This came out of the contentious business of gender studies," says Lionel Tiger, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. "It’s not men’s studies as contrasted with women’s studies. It’s a study of males without all the ideology and self-righteousness of feminists about turning over patriarchy."

There is already an academic program that examines gender roles and masculinity. It's called men's studies, and it has existed since the 1970s. But for Lionel Tiger and his colleagues, men's studies is insufficient.

The supporters of the new discipline believe that existing programs are biased toward feminist ideology and critique masculinity rather than study it. "Much of it has to do with the almighty females," Tiger says. "A lot of feminist argument is just irritating."

And that's the problem for the sanctimonious male studies set. The already existing men's studies programs do not critique the irritating, self-righteous almighty feminists. They do not examine the myriad ways that men have become subjugated, oppressed, and feminized. And that's why, earlier this month, Lionel Tiger and others gathered at Wagner College to host a symposium on how to create a new academic field to help men stand up to the powerful matriarchal structure of society that has kept men oppressed for far too long.

And we know just whose fault this is, don't we?

The culprit, said Tiger, is feminism: "a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force, as a phenomenon."

Tiger has a long history of blaming women and feminists for threatening the sacred power structure. He has spent the past several decades arguing that the world has pretty much gone to hell in a hand basket ever since women started controlling their own reproduction with the availability of the pill and the legalization of abortion. In the good old days of manly manliness, men could fuck women without consequence, but once women were able to do the same, they seized control from men, and it's been a downward spiral ever since.

And that's not all. The situation is so dire that men are now silently suffering behind what Dr. Edward Stephens, Chairman of the Foundation for Male Studies, calls "the lace curtain," which apparently is like the glass ceiling that keeps women from attaining economic and political parity -- but, you know, for men. It prevents men from receiving equal pay for equal work, getting elected or appointed to the highest offices in the land, reaching senior management positions in business doing stuff.

Denigration of maleness? Lace curtains? No wonder Miles Groth, another sponsor of the symposium, believes a male studies program is so desperately needed:

The male studies program initiative and a degree in the discipline as proposed would give serious attention for the first time to the unique experience and history of human beings who are male.

Yes, because our entire educational system has, for too long, ignored the contributions of men to history, art, literature, politics, economics, and science. Isn't it about time we directed at least a little attention and appreciation to men's experience throughout history?

Groth wants to incorporate the valuable lessons of Principles 101: Feminism, Manhood and You into a new male studies program. Lessons like this:

Do not tolerate disorderly behavior from women. You will only cause yourself more problems in the long run.

And this:

Feminism trains women to feel they unilaterally deserve what men have earned.

And this:

Simply put, Manhood is your authority — the proper form necessary to govern the lives of others, especially women.

Yes, this sounds like a worthwhile academic program, doesn't it? Teaching men how to reassert their authority to better govern the lives of others -- especially women.

Of course, the proponents of male studies aren't quite that blatant about their agenda. Instead, they insist that the number one justification for creating a male studies program is what they call the "boy crisis" -- the trend of girls outperforming boys in school and enrolling in college in greater numbers. Something must be done about this crisis before men are all but obsolete. It's such a "crisis," in fact, that the token female organizer of the symposium, Christina Hoff Sommers, has written an entire book about it: The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.

Just one problem with the "boy crisis," though. It's bullshit.

The "boy crisis," the report says, has been used by conservative authors who accuse "misguided feminists" of lavishing resources on female students at the expense of males and by liberal authors who say schools are "forcing all children into a teacher-led pedagogical box that is particularly ill-suited to boys' interests and learning styles."

To the male studies set, it's a zero sum game. Women's success means men's failure. And that success rightfully belongs to men.

Proponents of male studies are like teabaggers who whine that they just want their country back, and they want it back from those irritating, self-righteous feminists who have stolen men's manhood with their feminizing "equal rights" claptrap.

Some defenders of male studies argue that it's only fair. If women get their own area of study, shouldn't men? Isn't that equality?

The short answer? No.

Women's studies emerged out of a need to give visibility and acknowledgment to the half of the population that had been left out of everything, including academia. It provided a way for women to understand and fight to change a patriarchal structure that designated them second-class citizens.

But men are not invisible second-class citizens. The entire education system is an examination, by default, of men and their experience in the world. They do not need to learn how to stand up to the power structure that subjugates them. They have controlled the world since the beginning of human history, and despite the concerns of male studies proponents, a couple decades of women's studies classes and Title IX and access to birth control have not forced them to cower, powerless and emasculated, before the almighty women who now run everything.

This isn't really about women's studies or male studies. It's about the last desperate cry of a generation of men who insist that an even playing field puts them at a disadvantage, that fairness isn't fair. It's about fear of losing a system that has always privileged them and needing someone to blame for it. It's about throwing a pity party because for the first time in human history, men are having to share the power they have always assumed was their birthright.  

And that's actually a good thing.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 25, 2010 at 10:02 AM PDT.

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