Good Men Project’s Noah Brand Tells TJD: “Career Women Get A Hard Time — So Do Stay-At-Home Dads”
11:15 am, May 8th | by Amy Tennery
Noah Brand is the editor-in-chief of The Good Men Project, a website that explores the world of men and masculinity – and rejects the notion that men are neither “mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be.” We love it!
Brand recently (bravely) submitted to a battery of questions from The Jane Dough. What’s the deal with the War On Women? Who’s got it tougher, men or women? We left no stone unturned.
The Jane Dough: You’ve been the editor of The Good Men Project for almost two months now — what’s surprised you the most about this new position? What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Noah Brand: I was hired with a mandate to increase traffic and build community. Before I arrived, Men’s Rights Activists, who are largely just misogynists with a short list of repetitive talking points, had been actively working to colonize the Good Men Project and make it their own. Our brave comment moderators have been banning some of the MRA types from commenting, and encouraging decent people to ignore their toxic nonsense and engage with the community anyway. I think what’s surprised me the most has been that I seem to be rather good at this job; traffic has increased substantially, and the site is developing a stronger sense of community. This success is probably due to the rest of the team, but for purposes of this interview I will blithely take credit for it.
TJD: How do you expect the site to change and grow in the coming months? What are your editorial priorities, so to speak?
NB: I find that the phrase I keep repeating in conference calls is “positive and empowering”. Men are socialized to repress our emotions and not communicate openly, so creating a space where men can talk openly about grief, about love, about stress and fear, or just about the goofy little moments that make up life, is in itself empowering. There are an awful lot of things that have gone untalked-about; we’re working to change that.
TJD: Okay, let’s settle this once and for all. Who has it tougher, men or women?
NB: I reject the premise of your question. “Tougher” is not actually something that can be quantified in that way. Women face forms of oppression and a constant barrage of microaggressions that men do not, no question. But there are also several decades and at least three waves of feminist thought and activism to help them engage with those problems. Men face different problems, different microaggressions and stereotypes, and we’re still working on finding the language to talk about those. Feminism has the right tools for the job, but has been historically reluctant to engage with men’s issues, and the thing calling itself the Men’s Rights Movement is about as useful as a land war in Asia.
Any stereotype about women comes paired with a concurrent stereotype about men. So women are supposed to be housewives in the same sense that men are supposed to be breadwinners, meaning that career women get a hard time, and so do stay-at-home dads.
TJD: I noticed that you recently aired some grievances over the internet commenting situation on The Good Men Project. How do you deal with the pushback when you call out racism and sexism?
NB: “Political correctness” is the name for common courtesy and human decency used by people who are opposed to courtesy and decency. If someone doesn’t feel bound by any social obligation not to be a hateful jerk, I figure the best thing to do is simply point that out. It’s not just that they want to be racist and sexist, they don’t want to be looked down on for it. They want our sanction for their hate, so I figure the easiest solution is to simply withhold that sanction and continue to point out that they are rude, hateful people.
TJD: More than any election cycle in recent memory, this year’s presidential election has focused heavily on gender and women’s issues. Did you see this coming? Were you surprised by how the “War On Women” came to dominate the dialogue?
NB: It’s an odd choice. The Republican strategy for the past few elections has been to whip up their far-right base by proposing a bunch of state laws about one of the hot-button issues the base can’t resist. Then, once they’re in the polling booth to vote on the law they’re so incensed about, they might as well pull the lever for the Republican candidate they’re only sorta into. It’s a way to increase turnout by likely GOP voters, essentially. Thus, in 2010, we saw a lot of anti-gay-marriage laws all of a sudden on state ballots. In 2008, it was anti-immigration laws. This year they’ve decided to target abortion and contraception.
Next election year it’ll be someone else. It’s hard to say whether I’m more depressed by the viciously awful laws they’re proposing, or just the sheer cynicism of it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.