They say that you should never meet your heroes. Well, you should also probably never read their blogs either.
Giant of Anglo-Saxon scholarship, Allen Frantzen – someone whose work has influenced me a lot, and someone for whom I had a lot of admiration – has shocked, offended and annoyed a large portion of the online medievalist community with a bizarre blog post addressed entirely to men (perhaps assuming that no women read his website?) urging them to free themselves from the fog of feminism – ‘femfog’ as he calls it – and “grab their balls” and use data (confusing mix of advice there IMO) to defeat feminism.
You can read the whole thing here: http://www.allenjfrantzen.com/Men/femfog.html
It’s not pretty.
The crux of my objection to this post is that, despite claiming to be about equality, politics and freedom, it’s actually about sex. How do you get women to have sex with you without having to go to the trouble of pretending you view them as equals? Franzten suggests it is by grabbing your balls and using data.
There are lots of facts and figures about men underachieving, male fatality in combat, men in hazardous jobs. I agree – men dying is bad! I like men! Men are people! I like people! But women are also people, and this is what this post fails to recognise.
It’s littered with the aggressive rhetoric of PUAs and MRAs from the bowels of the internet, urging men to ‘choose the red pill’ and free themselves from the fog of feminism. Then we get to this absolute gem:
Life in femfog is the price a man pays for women’s acceptance and approval. These are goals many straight men desire, even crave, because men want to have sex and they know that adored women are more likely to grant sexual favors. I suggest below that you might have a better sex life out of the femfog than in it.
This is the crux of it; you don’t need to be a feminist to have sex with women. So why do it?
I have plenty of male friends who believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, almost none of whom I have had sex with. And yet they continue to believe in it, and to talk about it with me! Why, I hear you all cry. Why?
Because we’re better together. And that’s the really sad thing about this post. It’s saturated with adversarial men-versus-women language, and it consistently assumes that women ought to be subservient or at least cowed by a man with one hand occupied on his balls and some ‘data’. It suggests that female emancipation is male slavery. It suggests that feminism requires men be disposable. It’s resulted in a lot of angry medievalists on twitter giving Franzten what for, because he deserves it.
But here’s the kicker; in the eternal words of the parent, I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. How many female PhD students has he supervised? Interviewed for jobs? Listened to their papers? Accepted them onto courses, into conferences? Knowing that all the while, this respected man who has had so much to contribute to the world of scholarship has never viewed women as capable of the same contribution is immensely sad.