All that is happening is that some feminists are finally realizing how shallow their views of men have been all along, and they are trying to garner credit for the "discovery."
Hugo is a big fan of Robert Jensen. In my view, which I've written here, Jensen is an extraordinarily shallow thinker who has made a career of shuffling and regurgitating radical leftist nonsense that he doesn't have the talent to originate. Hugo quotes Robert Jensen's essay in the book, saying it serves as the best summary of most of the other essays:
We live in a time of sexual crisis. That makes life difficult, but it also creates a space for invention and creativity. The possibility of a different way of understanding the world and myself is what drew me to feminism. I was drawn to the possibility of escaping the masculinity trap set for me, and the chance to become something more than a man… I was drawn by the possibilities of becoming a human being.
There is willful blindness here. Blindness that supposes that the only way to be a respected man among men in society is to mimic some "macho" caricature of manhood. Jensen needs to realize that there is a group in society that benefits from this caricature - Feminists. "Toxic masculinity" is the best marketing tool for the feminist agenda. Feminist outrage seems justifiable when you focus your attention exclusively on insecure adolescents, rapists, predators, and manipulative, violent sociopaths. Feminists have long claimed that women's experiences have been marginalized and women's voices have been "silenced." But the truth remains that the vast majority of men, who neither kill nor rape nor exploit, but spend their lives avoiding trouble and providing for their families - play only the smallest of roles in feminist discourse. So Jensen and other feminists take an adolescent toxic social dynamic and pretend it is the locus of experience for most men throughout their adult lives.
Ideologies need a hard, uncompromising view of an immoral enemy to survive. If any sympathy for that enemy seeps in, the whole edifice comes down. So feminists promote the belief that most men are stuck in that phase, when most men move beyond it as they mature.
Of course, men do have feelings — and not just the familiar ones like anger and lust. Reading through this anthology, I felt again and again that sense of relief that comes with realizing “No, I’m not alone in this. Other men feel as I do.” In our hyper-masculine and confused culture, we rob men of the chance to speak about their pain early on; “boys don’t cry” becomes an internalized message that most men carry to the grave. But we make a terrible mistake when we assume that because men seem to lack the same vocabulary for their emotions that women have, that they then somehow lack the emotions themselves. We give men the chance to develop that vocabulary by exposing them to male role models who are comfortable with strong emotion, and comfortable too with rejecting the straitjacket of traditional masculinity.
Did James Joyce lack a vocabulary of feeling? Duke Ellington? Eugene O'Neill? Is Robin Williams shy? When Hugo says "we make a terrible mistake when we assume" I don’t include myself in that "we." I don’t include historians - who have studied men and their motivations - in Hugo's "we." I don’t include police, who see the rawest of emotions each day. I don’t include wives who know exactly what their husbands are feeling, and why. I don’t include nurses, who see men suffer. I don’t include soldiers, who watch men die. The "we" are academic feminists, who need to relearn what most children learned from their fathers.
Only some men remain in the straight jacket; Feminists claim that most, if not all men are still trapped, and feminists hold the key. Nonsense - a man needs to get himself out, as part of growing up.
Hugo speaks of his students views:
So many of us, particularly women, despair about men. So many of us have had been left bewildered and hurt by the ways in which the males in our lives live out the masculine credo. I can’t count the times my female students have said something along the lines of “You know, I don’t really believe men have feelings the way we do. Maybe a few rare ones do, but it just seems like men don’t think, don’t hurt, don’t engage in anything emotional. I think men just play at having emotions to string us along, displaying whatever they think we want to see, whatever will get them laid or shut us up.” And when one student says something like this, others nod their heads vigorously. Some of those nodding are men.I guess William Shakespeare just couldn’t "engage with anything emotional." Walt Whitman just couldn't find the right words to express how he felt. Frank Sinatra couldn't make sense of emotion. Beethoven was deaf to human feeling. Maxmillian Kolbe lacked empathy. Firemen don't understand fear. Husbands and fathers don't understand love. No - the reason that Hugo can’t count the number of times his female students generalize like this is because they are never corrected - they are never told: "Go study some English literature if men puzzle you. Study some ancient drama. Read the wartime letters of soldiers. Listen to Arlo Guthrie. Watch Seinfeld for God's sake!"
And that nonsense about men living out the "masculine credo." Perhaps to Hugo and Robert Jensen that credo means little more than getting laid, and kicking the ass of anyone who gets in your way, but in doing so they willingly and purposefully market an adolescent phase as if it was the full measure of what it means to live life as a man. As if it represents the full range of choices men have today. The vast majority of men lead lives far deeper than that, and survival dictates they must navigate the same emotional waters women do. Jensen's view of men doesn’t see men as having artistic urges, or religious impulses. No - Jensen sees himself as the lonely pioneer leading the way in that area.
All through history, any "masculine credo' that existed was roomy enough to include artists and saints, in addition to warriors. And true, non-tyrannical leaders too. Look at some of the most famous, successful men of the twentieth century:
Pope John XXIII
Martin Luther King
Can you find a common "masculine credo' that they share? Ali is the only one I'd want on my side in a barroom brawl, but he'd be no help in combat - because he went to jail rather than to go to war. I'm guessing the men in this list weren't strangers to emotion, and that they had some crude ability to express it - yet they were highly respected for what they accomplished. So what is this "masculine credo" that our society enforces as the road to wealth, success, respect and admiration?
So when Hugo's female students vent in the classroom, they are venting about a straw man "masculine credo" that has been deliberately constructed for them - by feminists - as an effigy that will fire their anger. A straw man that deliberately lacks some of the "traditional" masculine imperatives like hard work, dedication, perseverance, creativity, self-sacrifice, courage, honor, and integrity. Adding those to the effigy might muddy the waters, because in some circles they might be seen in a favorable light. So those qualities are excluded, in order to make venting easier. And the more the (female or non-heterosexual male) students vent against the silly effigy that feminists desperately point to, the more the teachers feel validated in their own narrow views.
Hugo quotes an essay from the book on a male sex abuse survivor:
one out of six boys wil experience sexual assault by the time they turn eighteen. By comparison, though, one in three women will be assaulted in her lifetime. What this means is that we need to include men as victims in conversations about sexual assault without decentralizing women’s experience and without taking away from the leadership of women and gender-variant survivors. We must recognize that while sexual assault affects everyone, it is also a tool of the patriarchy that specifically and disproportionately targets those assigned less social power.That's an essay I'll skip. To paraphrase: Yes, we know men have feelings, and we will graciously give them a hearing - as long as they don’t disturb our settled certainties about whose suffering is really important. Men "can be included in the conversation" - but purely as a marketing effort, not because we really care. So men, please express your feelings - so I can chivalrously focus on other, more deserving victims.
So here's another answer to give when Hugo's students start to vent about men they know who "don’t think, don’t hurt, don’t engage in anything emotional." Maybe men don't express their feelings to woman like you because they have the emotional insight to realize that you don't really care about their feelings. The more feminist you are, the less likely you are to care about men's feelings, despite the empty "patriarchy hurts men too" rhetoric you were taught to use.
Hugo concludes by summarizing one of the essayist's experiences with feminist academia:
Gently, firmly, Brillante makes the case that academic feminism must be open — in theory and practice — to men, just as those men must also be open to rethinking their deepest beliefs about gender and sex.
Notice that it is men that must do the rethinking as the price of admission to these rarefied circles of academic feminists. Yes, men do need to rethink their roles in society, but they'll find fallow ground for that at the feet of feminists.
Anyway - are there men that want in to feminist academia? I sure don't, and it pleases me that my children show not the slightest interest in Women or Gender Studies. Then again my daughters don't need a place to vent - they do plenty of that at home.