This page is about the silencing and derailing tactic. Do not confuse with Toxic masculinity.

"The patriarchy hurts men too" is a set of silencing or derailing tactics whose basic motif is to draw attention from the original topic to men's issues in feminist discussion.

This is usually done by bringing up certain points in a discussion about women's experiences or oppression that women face:

  • that not all men benefit equally from the patriarchy (see Geeks are oppressed)
  • that performing masculinity can be difficult (being expected to take the romantic or sexual initiative) or dangerous (being expected to be able to physically fight, being physically bullied)
  • that sexual violence happens to men too
  • that due to ideas involving masculinity and femininity, men are categorically considered inferior to women in some specific areas of life (such as being a better parent when a choice must be made in a divorce custody case).

All of these things are true, and they should be discussed, but insisting that men's problems be constantly acknowledged and included in feminist discussions is a derailing tactic. Men are, as a class, the group advantaged by the patriarchy, and thus spaces discussing the experiences of women and gender diverse peoples are comparatively rare.

Rather than derailing conversations about and between women, men who want to discuss male identity, masculinity and the patriarchy need to create new discussions in spaces that aren't marked as women-centred.

PHMT and respectability politics

Sometimes, feminist women use PHMT: not necessarily as a silencing tactic, but as an implicit form of tone policing and asserting their own positionality as more respectable than other feminists (often, respectability based on a white, cis, and/or heterosexual social status).

An example that Mia McKenzie at Black Girl Dangerous wrote about is Emma Watson's 2014 speech to the UN:

Here, [Watson] seems to suggest that the reason men aren’t involved in the fight for gender equality is that women simply haven’t invited them and, in fact, have been unwelcoming. Women haven’t given men a formal invitation, so they haven’t joined in. It’s not because, you know, men benefit HUGELY (socially, economically, politically, etc. infinity) from gender inequality and therefore have much less incentive to support its dismantling. It’s not because of the prevalence of misogyny the entire world over. It’s just that no one’s asked. OMG, why didn’t any of us think to ask?!

McKenzie compares PHMT with a closely related tactic, "racism hurts white people too":

Firstly, because even if that’s true, it does nothing to create solidarity. I have never met a white person who decided to take on anti-racism work because of the negative effects of racism on white people. Literally, never. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who genuinely supports feminist ideals because of the ways they benefit men first. If I did know people like this, I wouldn’t like them.

See also


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