Invasion and Retreat

Equality between the sexes:  I wouldn’t have a problem with it if the word “equality” weren’t so loaded.  Are we equally human?  Yes.  Equal before God and under the Rule of Law?  Yes.  Equally turned on by horribly-written novels in which members of the opposite sex make the main character insert butt-plugs?  Not so much.

I’m a fan of the Golden Rule:  “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”  However, applying it requires common sense.  For example, if I desperately want a new chainsaw for Christmas, if I applied the Golden Rule like an idiot I’d get everyone I know a chainsaw for Christmas.  The Golden Rule is a call for reciprocity, but actual reciprocity requires that varying wants and needs be taken into account.

And this is why so much of “gender equality” as we currently strive for it is doomed to failure.  One of the ways in which this is most evident is the realm of Male-Only Spaces.

In some comment thread somewhere that I have no hope of locating on my own, Cail Corishev described a phenomenon by which boys find themselves crowded out by girls.  I paraphrase (but will be happy to quote exactly if somebody provides the link), but I believe he used the example of altar boys.  Part of the reason that altar boys want to be altar boys is that the name of the job is “altar boy“.  One day they let girls do it, too.  Boys are disheartened by this and see no reason to want to be an “altar kid”, so they drop out altogether.  Those who wanted girls to take over for the boys now feel vindicated, for if no girls wanted to do the job, there wouldn’t be enough kids for the job.

In one sense, such takeovers are a victory for “equality”.  Only boys did it, now everyone can!  However, it’s not equal because by nature males and females simply aren’t equal in their regard for the “spaces” of the other gender:

When women are crowded out of an all-male space, many of them have an irrepressible urge to either invade that space or shut it down altogether.

When men are crowded out of an all-female space, we don’t give a damn*.

I’m sure that some idiot somewhere is pissed he can’t get a membership at Curves for Women, but the vast majority of guys who drive by Curves every day don’t give it so much as a second thought.  If some guy started Angles for Men, within a month there would be picketing and lawsuits.

Which brings me to another related Truth:

When women invade male spaces, it fundamentally alters what goes on there:  the men are likely to feel less masculine.

When men invade females spaces, the women are likely to be either indifferent or feel more feminine.

Men need places in which they can not only be brash and make fart jokes, they need to be around other men to find solve problems in masculine ways, to give each other crap without having to worry about feelings or communicating with sufficient nuance, to forget about keeping up appearances, keeping the coffee table wiped off, and being politically incorrect.  An all-male environment can help you feel strong, alive, like the things that are getting you down don’t really matter all that much.  For us, it’s downright essential.

I’m sure that women like their own places, too, but as an admitted outsider I find it hard to believe that the very presence of a male fundamentally alters the entire environment the way a female being around men does.  Furthermore, I doubt that women need all-female spaces the way we do, nor that not being able to have them leaves quite the same mark.

Yet despite the greater importance of male spaces, its male spaces that are under assault.  You don’t see men objecting to being left out of the quilting club, and boys who want to join the Brownies are extreme exceptions.

I could be wrong about a woman’s need to get away from men, but if I am, I have no problem letting them have at it.  They’re welcome to whatever recipe exchange clubs or gardening parties or Pilates gyms they could possibly want.  A woman’s book club in which they’re reading all my favorite books?  I’ll gladly hook up with one of the members after the meeting.

But equality in this respect is impossible because we don’t want the same things.  Whether it’s Augusta National, the Boy Scouts, Navy SEAL’s, a father-son bonding retreat, or your weekend hunting trip, women want to be everywhere.  If you object, you’re a sexist, misogynist pig.

Most women simply can’t understand how their very presence changes things.  I’ve had some great discussions about politics and philosophy with women, but far more often I’ve been having a great discussion with another guy only to find that it the conversation somehow drifts to reality TV after some girl shows up.  I’ve been in mixed-race, all-male, groups in which we made fun of each other’s races and nobody’s feelings got hurt.  Even if some female friend is “one of the guys”, she’s really not.  Sorry, but when women are around we censor ourselves.

Sometimes we’ve got to be left uncensored.

There are ways in which women can bring out the best in us, but there are ways in which they don’t.  How much better would the education in our high schools be if boys could just concentrate on the algebra solution on the board instead of trying to get a glimpse up Stephanie’s skirt?  Don’t get me wrong, I figured out how to perfectly angle my watch in seventh grade English to see some great reflections of Deanna on it, but when Detroit wanted to start some all-male schools and suburban moms from NOW stopped them, I knew that they were keeping some boys from ever developing into men.

Some sides of us women are meant to see, some not.  When women aren’t around,  we might be at our most crude or ridiculously goofy, yet other times that’s when we’re at our very best.  We need to be able to walk around the house hanging out of our boxers blasting AC/DC and not give a damn if she thinks it’s too loud, and we’ve also got to push and punish each other in ways that make women feel awkward.  Most men understand how yelling along to heavy metal with five other guys, working on a motorcycle, and becoming a master software developer are intrinsically related.  Most women want the software without the aggression or relaxation that goes into creating it.

Yet robbing men of such opportunities seems to be one of the reasons for feminism’s very existence.  Perhaps some femmis understand why we need male spaces and intentionally want to hold us back, others probably have no clue, still others undoubtedly see it all through the prism of oppression, that a man’s desire to get the hell away from women every once in a while means that they secretly hate women.

Whatever the case may be, if we’re around women when we want to be, we’ll appreciate their presence just a little bit more when we have it.

And women need to recognize that invading male spaces doesn’t shine any light on any sort of great mystery, for the very fact that she’s there means she’s not seeing what it’s like when she’s not there.  All she’s doing is taking the fun out of it for us, and perhaps even retarding our development

Yet it’s not just about fun, it’s where we become the type of men that women want to be around, as well.  She can’t help that process along; all she can do is ruin it or get the hell out of the way so that we can do it ourselves.

If I sign up for some yoga class, it’s simply not the same.  In this regard, we’re anything but equal.

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25 Responses to Invasion and Retreat

  1. Kate says:

    I’m a mother of a son and a daughter. Girls wanting to crowd out boys isn’t something I see at all really. As for your boy scout example, the girls were invited, but it doesn’t appear that there was an attempt to crowd anyone out.

    I’m not sure if I buy the example of altar boys. I’d guess the inclusion of girls would be an attempt by the church to keep some of those families in the church. I went to Catholic schools for twelve years and many of my male classmates were altar boys. After some of the disclosures of past events in our diocese, I could see how parents would have mixed feelings about having their boys participate.

    Have you known anyone who has attended a single gender school? I have six family members who did, including my father and female cousins that were close to my age. I’d have to get more evidence. Except for two of my female cousins, who seem normal, I’m not sure of what actual benefit was obtained.

    During the years my daughter took dance, there was often a boy or two in classes one would assume would be mostly female. So yes boys do crowd out.

    I’m not entirely sold on the idea though that men can’t have men only spaces because women are trying to crowd them out. Boy Scouts is just about dead at our school because not enough men will volunteer. I honestly know of no women, feminists or not, that have a problem with a guys only weekend. Many moms I know would be happy to see the dads engage in such an activity. The only objection I see is if there isn’t a similar opportunity for women only time.

    If men in my husband’s family aren’t having men only time, it is because they aren’t taking the initiative to do so, not because any women are trying to crowd them out.

    • Martel says:

      “As for your boy scout example, the girls were invited, but it doesn’t appear that there was an attempt to crowd anyone out..” […]”Boy Scouts is just about dead at our school because not enough men will volunteer.”

      Whether women want to “crowd anyone out”, they do. This sounds like Cail’s altar boy phenomenon exemplified.

      “Many moms I know would be happy to see the dads engage in such an activity. The only objection I see is if there isn’t a similar opportunity for women only time.

      The problem with this is that if the men come up with an idea, unless they themselves come up with the same idea for women, it’s “discrimination.” In the example I link with the father-son retreat, just having the idea and going ahead with it is misogynist because it’s leaving out the womenz.

    • Austin says:

      Your entire comment is an example why I can’t stand to be around women very long.

  2. earl says:

    When women get together in their secret places…they often gossip about other people, especially the men they know. Most of the time it’s a race to see who can tear down whose man the best.

    They probably think men do the same thing when we get together. Do nothing but tear down the womens…so they should be there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Men often don’t engage in petty gossip. They may briefly talk about their wives…but the discussions often relate around sports, activities, or concepts. And we need a good natured ribbing every once in a while.

    • Austin says:

      I think there is some truth to this point. Often times I get the wife asking plenty of questions about who my friends and I talked about after some all men get together. She doesn’t seem to believe me when I tell her that we didn’t sit around gossiping.

      I told her a better question would be WHAT we talked about. But those subjects bore her.

  3. Kate, it’s not that girls want to crowd boys out. They’re drawn to boys’ activities because the boys are there, after all, so they don’t really want the boys to go away. That’s just what always ends up happening. The boys build a tree house and put a “No Gurls” sign on it, and proceed to do a lot of fun stuff like setting traps for squirrels and falling out of the tree. The girls feel left out of the fun stuff, so they complain, and a well-meaning parent tells the boys they have to let the girls in. The girls proceed to plan meetings, put up curtains and safety railings, and nag the boys about picking up after themselves. The boys abandon the tree house and go play in the creek. (They can’t just go build a second tree house, because the girls would follow them, the original tree house having become unappealing somehow.)

    The girls don’t do it on purpose, because they don’t actually want the fun that drew them in the first place to stop, but they can’t help themselves. If the men in your husband’s family tried to set up some regular men-only activities (say, a weekly poker game), do you really think none of their wives would ever object or try to participate? That would be very unusual. Every time I’ve seen guys do that, it’s just a matter of time until some of the women decide they should be there. It starts with, “I’ll bring snacks, because I know you guys are eating garbage at these things, but I’ll stay out of the way,” and eventually you’re playing Pictionary instead of poker and the cigars are banned to the outdoors.

    In the case of altar servers, there were other things going on at the same time, but the homosexual abuse scandal came later, so it wasn’t about that. But it still followed the same script: the boys had a boy-only activity that most of them participated in, and there was a sort of martial attitude to it. At the time, serving was pretty demanding: you spent a lot of time kneeling, and the priests could be pretty hard on a boy who screwed up. Then, because reduced numbers made it hard for some parishes to get enough boys to serve every Mass, Pope John Paul II declared that parishes could use girls if it were absolutely necessary. Like everything else since Vatican II, once it was allowed for a specific circumstance, the floodgates opened and it became the norm. Now the casual military/locker-room attitude between the servers was gone, the priests couldn’t be as demanding of girls as they were of boys, and girls cared a lot more about their appearance up there than the boys, who were just focused on doing it right. Suddenly serving started to seem a little girly to the boys (even though the outfits became less so — they used to have actual lace), and they didn’t see the point anymore.

    So yes, there were other factors that played into it, but it’s still an example of how, once you bring girls in — whatever the reason — then the atmosphere that makes male-only spaces special is gone. That’s not to say girls are bad or that co-ed activities are bad. They’re great in lots of ways, and most of the world should be co-ed — but male-only spaces are great too, and a big help for boys trying to grow up to be men.

    (Martel, thanks for the link! One thing: it’s Cail, not Cali. When I was choosing a pseudonym, I should have picked an easier one to spell.)

    • Kate says:

      Do you mean the revelation of the abuse came later, or the actual abuse? In our area there is pretty substantial documentation of abuse going back to the forties. My point was that I’d believe males of my generation, having once been servers, were less likely to want their children to do it, since the revelations came out between the time they were servers and the time they had children.

      My husband’s family doesn’t live close enough to have a weekly poker game. They do have an opportunity to do things on a less frequent basis though. My point stems, that in general, the men make less of an effort to stay connected than the women.

      My sister and I never followed boys around to play so this whole idea is a bit foreign to me.

      I know what I see as a parent of school aged children. If boys only spaces are great, such as Boys Scouts, then why don’t men engage more to make things like these happen?

      • To some extent, men don’t try to engage in men-only activities because they already know what will happen — they’ll be shot down or punished for it later. I’ve known men who gave up their weekly pool league night out with the guys because it wasn’t worth the bitching they got every time they got home. And it wasn’t “I want equal treatment” bitching; their wives/girlfriends got at least as many girls’ nights out. It was just standard “you don’t want to be here,” “you drink too much when you’re with the guys,” “you smell like smoke” style bitching, which all boils down to, “I don’t have control of you when you do that.”

  4. Emma the Emo says:

    I’m currently reading “Why Men Rule”, by Steven Goldberg. Some interesting relevant findings and thoughts:
    1)Highest status positions will always be mostly male, yet it is not maleness itself that makes them so (many low status positions are also male. Ex.: the homeless, garbadge people).
    2)Women start to dominate a position when it loses its status. Women “invading” it is a symptom, not the cause, of its decreasing status. However, it’s possible it contributes to the further decrease in status, because of hypergamy (women themselves not picking their equals and finding them high status enough).

    I think feminists will always lose this game, as most women just don’t have enough feminist fervor to pursue status as enthusiastically as men. Highest status positions will always be male, due to purely statistical reasons.

    And this is also why men don’t seem to want to invade female spaces. They are invariably relatively low or moderate in status.

    • Martel says:

      I’d have to do some thinking on the status thing–part of me suspects it might be a chicken/egg type of issue. Or perhaps, status was determined by men as a way of rating other men. That would make male jobs more high-status.

      What I do know is that when women do something that’s traditionally male as well as a male, they feel a sense of pride. No guy would ever brag about being able to run a nursery as well as any woman.

  5. JB32 says:

    The presence of a male absolutely fundamentally alters the environment of women spaces; they will all start competing for the alphas and so on as the example in the previous thread about “girls day” and “boys day” showed.

    I’ve noticed something similar about rock bands. Rock bands used to be tough guys and sex gods, then women and beta males wanted to play in rock bands. Then the tough guys left. Now rock music is almost entirely wusses and chicks, with the exception of some metal genres that are still tough, and have resisted the infiltration of women.

  6. qqquietone says:

    Another disturbing trend that I’ve been noticing, is co-ed bachelor/ bachelorette parties and co-ed baby/bridal showers.
    These activities are tradionally gender specific for a reason people!!

    • Yes, it’s so frustrating to hear about a man going to a wedding or baby shower. I think it usually happens because his bride drags him along, but he should put his foot down and refuse. I don’t know what goes on at those things, and I don’t want to know; it’s none of my business. Men who go to them deserve to be punched in the gut repeatedly by men who wish they could have a men’s club without being accused of committing a hate crime.

      • Austin says:

        A man going to a wedding is fine if he knows the dude getting married or sees the new couple as people who he would like to get to know better.

        Baby showers? Men go to those? I received invites but I thought they were jokes.

        I’ve had friends get dragged off to their wives friend’s birthday parties. What is the point of that? “It’s Jessica’s burfdae!” squeal

  7. MargeryM says:

    “I’m sure that women like their own places, too, but as an admitted outsider I find it hard to believe that the very presence of a male fundamentally alters the entire environment the way a female being around men does.”

    This is a bit irrelevant as feminism has made sure that all places are women “safe” or centered. Society caters to us and men are expected to cater to us so it’s such a non issue.

    But I can think of one place in particular that should probably be “women only” but is a societal taboo to suggest otherwise- labor and delivery.

    • Martel says:

      Regarding labor rooms, have at it! I’ll pace like a weenie outside.

      if that’s taboo (and I’ve no clue if it is or not), it just goes to show we’re losing all semblance of common sense. There are times and places where my gender simply renders me unwelcome, and that’s okay.

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  10. Tarnished says:

    Question: What do you think of women with gender dysphoria or Female-to-Male transsexuals being in male only spaces?

    I think it’s okay so long as there is absolutely no threat of the feminine imperative rearing it’s ugly head, but as I’m a gender dysphoric “woman”, my view is admittedly biased.

    It’s just that male only spaces are the one place (other than my own apartment) where I can truly be myself, and I imagine it is the same for other people who’s mind and body don’t match. I am of the opinion that gender is, for the most part, not a social construct. Sure, maybe a few bits here and there, but for the majority of human beings your sex matches your gender and so do your interests and personality.

    Toddlers who have been raised as close to neutral as possible *still* pick “sexist” toys to play with…the odd female like myself who shuns dolls in favor of trucks, or the rare boy who wants to wear a sparkly gown instead of a firefighter’s outfit are likewise just acting out their gender preferences. It’s simply that something happened to our brains during fetal development that caused a dissonance between what our bodies say we are and our minds say we are.

    Everything that you state above about what gets accomplished in male only spaces is true. I have only had male friends since 8th grade…I am now 30. I’ve been to geek conventions, taken male dominated classes in high school and college, and have been to numerous sleep overs/camping trips where I’m the only “girl”. I have tried to have female friends, but realized long ago that even chicks who say they are tomboys or “one of the guys” are just not the same as hanging with dudes.

    There’s always that one comment about female superiority…that single hint of misandry as they agree with feminist doctrine or speak out against men who “are wusses”…The fact that they still act disgusted or alarmed when a guy friend breaks down and cries, instead of just being silently supportive. Even the unspoken option of them being able to flutter their eyes to get a guy friend to pay for them or do them favors ruins the illusion they have carefully crafted to be allowed in. So at best I have female acquaintances, and it works out.

    For what it’s worth, there are some rules that gender dysphoric “women” live by when in male only spaces. A lot of these we wouldn’t do anyway, but it’s important to make sure we leave the mask we wear for society behind :

    -Don’t wear makeup, excessive jewelry, perfume, heels, or sparkly clothing. Example: I wear a religious necklace, and that’s it.

    -Wear clothes that help cover up your feminine assets to avoid creating sexual tension. Example: I wear jeans that are 1 size too large, non-Vneck/ non-form fitting shirts, and a bra that’s a bit too small. (I used to bind my breasts in middle school, but it hurts too much now that I’m a DD.)

    -Keep your hair short, or out of the way. Long flowing hair is healthy, but typically a sign of femininity. Example: I always wear my hair in a bun or ponytail.

    Usually if you can do anything at all to reduce (or even potentially eliminate) the problem of inadvertent sexual tension caused by your female physical traits, you should. It will help to lessen your guy friends instincts to protect/provide for you and create a truly level field for you to hang out in. I’m not going to go into things like wrestling, “punching” each other, making crass jokes, being non-PC, etc because if you’re truly gender dysphoric or transsexual, you already know how boys and men act. They act like you.

    • Martel says:

      For informal male spaces (i.e. hunting groups), it’s obviously up to the group. If it doesn’t bother the dudes to have you around, go for it.

      But for more formal organizations like clubs, I oppose it, for the reason you cite:

      “I think it’s okay so long as there is absolutely no threat of the feminine imperative rearing it’s ugly head, but as I’m a gender dysphoric ‘woman’, my view is admittedly biased.”

      As masculine as a specific individual might be, their very presence in fact opens “the threat of the feminine imperative rearing it’s ugly head”, even if no aspects of their own behavior introduce that imperative.

      For if Sheila is let in (“she acts just like us”), it opens the door to letting in tomboy Carla (“she usually acts just like us”). Once Carla’s in, then why not Brad’s girlfriend Julie? (she’s quiet and will basically just help us with the beer). Now that Sheila, Carla, and Julie are in, then why not Linda? (she doesn’t really care how we act) Or Tracy?

      And even if the line is successfully drawn just after Sheila (or Carla, or Julie), it still introduces tension. There are then gray lines to consider, potential squabbles (why her but not her? she’s not really a “her” and she is a “her”. oh yeah, who’s to say?).

      For almost every male space both formal and informal, women are trying to work there way in. Obviously, sometimes one individual’s presence will affect things more than would another.

      If the line is clear (no women, period!), those hoping to enter are more likely to give up than if there seem to be loopholes. Sheila’s presence may not change our behavior in the slightest, but try to explain to Tracy why it’s okay for Sheila to join but not her? (after all, Tracy’s probably utterly clueless as to why we wouldn’t want women around in the first place)

      We might win the battle against Tracy, but it would just be a hell of a lot easier to not have a battle (or not as much of one) in the first place.

      • Tarnished says:


        This is a fair enough assessment.

        Truthfully, I’ve not yet encountered a situation where I have been forcefully kept out of a building or club simply because of my genitals. I know they exist, but so far said existence has not impacted my life. If I find a circumstance that *does* significantly impact it, I suppose I’ll then have to start taking testosterone supplements and get my breasts removed. (Genital surgery usually doesn’t go so well, so I probably wouldn’t go that far.)

        The thing is, if no women…even ones like Sheila…are let in, then you’re already having to have reasons to not allow Carla, Linda, Tracy, etc. The way our culture is going, soon there will probably not be any “good” reasons to keep women from being members of private organizations. Especially given how money talks nowadays.

        I’d propose an all male space should have very strict codes of conduct that all members must adhere to, regardless if they have a paid membership or if it’s a free club/organization. That way, people like Sheila, John, Gus, and Martin can all be held to X standards. These could then be used to ensure that troublemakers like Tracy, Linda, and Carla are either going to act as expected from everyone…or they can be shown the door. Thus will male dominated spaces be frequented by male-minded participants, rather than female-minded ones who have no understanding of how masculine people bond and interact.

        As this is an entirely hypothetical situation that unfortunately has the potential to become reality if feminism is left unchecked, what do you think?

      • Tarnished says:

        Or, a shorter question: Why do you not have an issue with telling Sheila that she can’t enter a space that she would do well in and contribute to, but you balk at the idea of telling Tracy, “Listen, you wouldn’t like it here. We only do male activities, and have absolutely no interest in doing female ones. Why not go to the club down the road that’s co-ed?”

        People need to learn to grow up sooner or later, and understand that not everyone is your friend…or cares that they aren’t your friend.

  11. deti says:


    As “gender dysphoric” as you are, even if you are more masculine than the men you hang out with, you are still a woman.

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