The “Downsides to being seen as a man” post has received quite a bit more attention than I was expecting, most of it good.Â However, I feel like I may have failed to explain a few areas as well as I could have.Â One of the big ones has to do with male/man-only organisations.Â More than a few people have said that all non-women-only organisations are for men by default, something that I think needs to be looked at.
Yes, most organisations are run by men.Â However, there is a distinct difference between something be run by a man and something being for men.Â Just as there is sisterhood, there is brotherhood.Â Unfortunately, there are very few areas for men to experience brotherhood, particularly straight men.Â If you’re not big into frats and/or can’t get into a Masons lodge you’re left with religious organisations and maybe recreational sports teams (depending on whether or not your area has progressed to mixed-gender teams).Â What’s a straight, atheist, geek guy to do?Â Women have social organisations devoted solely to the experience of being a woman and how that brings them together.Â Men don’t.
What’s more, there’s often a certain amount of anger at the idea that men might need men-only groups.Â It’s as if people believe that the simple act of men getting together is going to cause a return to the 1950s.Â I first noticed this a few years ago when I was converting to Judaism, the (cis-woman, as far as I know) rabbi was openly hostile to the men who had been to an orthodox shul and said they enjoyed the male bonding experience.Â This same woman hosted women-only Torah studies and organised the yearly women-specific Shabbat service, but was less than thrilled when my synagogue at the time started up a men’s group.Â It makes absolutely no sense.
Now, I’m not saying there should be only men’s and women’s groups.Â I love my woman friends, I’m much closer to them than I am most of my guy friends (particularly the straight guys).Â However, there are times that it’s just nice to be with only guys.Â Trans, cis, gay, straight, bi, whatever.Â There’s just something a little different about not having women around.Â It can’t really be all that surprising to anyone, particularly women who love their women’s groups.
Even when there are groups of only gay guys, not having women around brings the stress levels down a bit.Â For all we try to act like men are insensitive animals who don’t care about anyone, most guys do change their behaviour around women.Â Sometimes it’s subconscious, often it’s an attempt to make sure the women in question are comfortable.Â Either way, having women around changes the dynamic.
Hell, let’s say none of that was true.Â Would it matter?Â Why can’t guys just want to hang out with guys?Â There’s nothing wrong with men and women having their separate spaces.Â There’s not even any reason we have to limit it to men and women, let’s also have bigender, agender, genderqueer, and whatever other gender variation we can come up with groups (along with the ‘everyone’ ones, obviously).Â As long as we all recognise that no group is inherently better than the other there’s nothing wrong with splitting up every now and then.