HYPOAGENCY – Hypoagency and Blaming Everything on Men

I’m going to be doing a series on hypoagency and hyperagency. Typhonblue identified these as the core of the gender system we find so problematic and the more I look at them the more that analysis is confirmed.

Because this is series, I am soliciting examples of both.

Female hypoagency is what we call the cultural tendency to deny that women have agency. We are talking about imputed rather than real lack of agency. This means that when a woman does something, her agency in that act is denied, so that if that act is something bad, she will be immune from blame.

A necessary corollary of female hypoagency is male hyperagency. Under male hyperagency men are held responsible for all the things women are not.
I hope the sexism is obvious enough not to need further explanation and that the misogyny and misandry of this system is obvious too. One common form this takes is projecting women’s inaction, failures or the negative consequences of their actions onto men, as a culturral norm.

So in this first look at female hypoagency we are going to look at female immunity and how it works both in the general culture and in feminism, which claims to criticize and analyze that general culture. This is basically a list of things as they come to mind, nothing comprehensive or exhaustive, and I encourage readers to nominate other material.

Here we go:

WAR – This is the claim that “men start wars” and that war is a male problem that men foist off onto innocent civilian bystanders. This relies on a completely uninformed and naïve understanding of war as some kind of sport that all those rough boys go off and do and the stray rounds fall on peace-loving innocent bystanders – in other words a complete denial of the benefits that women and others on the winning side derive from war, and a denial of women’s role in sending men to war.

POLITICS – This is the claim that men have all the power because they hold the majority of political office, despite the fact that women outnumber men as voters, so are responsible for all these male politicians being voted in. This ignores the troublesome fact that women make up the majority of voters. The engrained belief in hypoagency is what makes this denialism possible.

BENEVOLENT SEXISM – Every time women enjoy any kind of advantage due to gender – “privilege” – that has to be spun as being due to male action, or else it has to be spun as some kind of disadvantage. Labeling an advantage “benevolent sexism” accomplishes that.

This is not to deny that benevolent sexism is a fair way to describe what’s going on. For one thing, it damned sure is sexism – sexist against men, and we don’t experience it as particularly benevolent, not in the least. But on the other hand the Golden Cage is also harmful to women. Well, that’s just one more reason to identify and destroy all forms of female privilege.

These are the big, umbrella categories. Help with specific examples.

22 thoughts on “HYPOAGENCY – Hypoagency and Blaming Everything on Men

  1. I shall refer you again to my blog post Men Do, Women Judge. It’s not just that men are held responsible for things that men are not – it’s also that women presume to decide who is to be held responsible and who is not – and society accepts that.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of KC Crowell and the “Creeper Move” cards she has invented for women to hand out to men at hacker conventions – yellow for being a bit “creepy”, red for being so “creepy” you deserve a punch in the face, and green for being a good little boy who knows his place. Can’t think of any better recent example of “men do, women judge”. Imagine if men took it upon themselves to hand out “slut” cards or “cocktease” cards to women- or imagine if the organiser of a hacker convention banned these cards and kicked out a woman for handing them out. There’d be international protest movements on behalf of the women in either case.

  2. The proper response to the red card is calling the police and arresting the criminal going around making threats.

  3. “Eat, Pray, Love”, anyone?

    In almost all divorces that take place in America, the husband is responsible for paying off all debts (with the exceptions involving the destitute and/or “entitled”, so trust fund babies and blue-collar men married to the rare white-collar/corporate woman would be the most common examples.) Thanks to male hyperagency, we live in a society in which the author of the specified book could collect a $200,000 book advance, divorce her husband, then whine about not receiving alimony (while leaving her husband with the $100,000+ in tuition debt that became “family debt” as soon as he said “I do”.)

  4. I have a question.

    Is it benevolent sexism when certain women (let’s call them sexually attractive women) can use the internet and various mediums to make their selves money and then other women (and some men) class this as MEN exploiting these women for sexual gratification?

    For instance men get blamed for “rewarding” this behaviour with money; men are blamed for ‘rewarding’ this behaviour with attention. Men are blamed with ‘creating a demand’ for it. However I don’t think anybody has ever taken any of these women to task wholesale. People skirt around it like one of those taboo subjects. I’d really like to know what the rest of you think. Sorry if this counts as a derail.

  5. Valkina, Hitler’s female supporters are buried history. His political appeal was security and material prosperity – a housewife’s heaven. He had Eva Braun as is girlfriend for years but never married her until it no longer mattered, as if to keep himself available to his female fan base for romantic fantasizing.

    Typhonblue – I had a piece by Dani cued up up, I see you have posted it. Good to go.

    Ogun – casting prostitution as men exploiting women is a great triumph of hypoagency. it ony works because male sexuality is already demonized in western culture, so it’s easy to blame men.

  6. There’s a post on Shrink4Men about sociopahths that I liked. It says, “in our society, men receive the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder and end up prison far more than women do.” (http://bit.ly/yNffYd) Maybe that’s part of hypo- vs. hyperagency.

  7. Thanks guys.

    Patrick, I remember that post now.

    Dani, Dr Tara is an invlauable resource, always.

  8. I’ve noticed many women act like women cannot exert peer pressure, that women’s opinions and preferences have no effect on the world or society. For example there is the concept of the “male gaze”. If magazine has a photo of a sexy woman, it’s to satisfy the “male gaze”, nevermind if its a magazine only women buy…

    Another example: suppose hypothetically a woman is obsessed with having skinny ankles. In my experience, usually that type of woman will blame men or “society”, and then snark on other women’s ankles all the time.

  9. axesunshine: That is the concept of “internalized misogyny”, often meaning that yes, women *are* complicit in spreading misogyny, but this is because we live in a highly patriarchal society*, and once patriarchy is smashed, women’s own dislike of women will vanish. Which boils down to “Shame others into being the change you want to see in the world”.

    *And you can tell how *extremely* patriarchal our society is, because it infiltrated even the minds of honest, decent women …

  10. How about Technology?

    Pretty much every technological field is male-dominated. The pat explanation for this is that the men are actively preventing women from entering the field. We’ve seen this complaint about pretty much everything. Computer Science. Software start-ups. The Internet. Video games. You name it. I remember the early days of the Internet well: you couldn’t have dragged a female into my high school’s computer lab because it was a bunch of stupid ugly male geeks doing stupid ugly male geeky things like… downloading music and sending email and playing games and making web pages. Stuff which is now considered ‘cool.’

    3-D printing? It’s happening before our eyes. Pretty much all of the early adopters of 3-D printing have been men so far. Geeky men in garages and workshops. Absolutely nothing is stopping a female from buying her own 3-D printer and tinkering around with it in her garage to her heart’s content. NOTHING. So where are all the women 3-D print enthusiasts?

    Mark my words: years from now, when 3-D printing completely revolutionizes manufacturing, we’ll hear complaints from the usual suspects about how women were unfairly kept-out from 3-D printing, how they didn’t get enough ‘encouragement’, how they didn’t feel ‘welcome’ in 3-D printing labs and how everything is men’s fault and how special programs are needed to get women into 3-D printing, etc. etc. But the truth is that most women do not give a DAMN about 3-D printing and they wouldn’t develop an interest in the subject even if you paid them to do so. So how is this men’s fault?

  11. How about Wikipedia?

    According to AVFM, some feminists are organising a day (15 March) called “Feminists Engage Wikipedia”, to combat the sites apparent bias. It’s true that, as far as anyone can tell, only about 15% of contributors to Wikipedia are women – but contributing to Wikipedia is a 100% voluntary thing and requires only an internet connection and a little time to learn the rules and the markup, so the only cause of any “bias” there is fewer women than men making the effort.

  12. Axesunshine, welcome!
    axesunshine: That is the concept of “internalized misogyny”, often meaning that yes, women *are* complicit in spreading misogyny, but this is because we live in a highly patriarchal society*, ”

    Yeah, that’s the dodge. That is their core argument when they simulataneously want to exonerate women form all the evil in society and yet claim all the benefits of that society. “The Man made me do it!” Well too bad – complicity requires agency. The refusal to admit to that agency *is* hypoagency.

    Patrick – the irony is, to the point of their complaints being a Compensatory Inversionm, is that Wikipedias’ pro-feminism/anti-MRM bias is pretty obvious. There was a post on r/ Mensrights. I could go look for, but it’s Sunday morning and I can’t be bothered rigt now.

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