"... that preclude opportunities for self-definition and coerce men into stifling identities. The Equal Protection Clause should not... presumptively tolerate such burdens on a man’s right of self-definition."
Lawprof John M. Kang argues that the law of gender discrimination should not protect men merely as "collateral beneficiaries of the protection afforded women, but in their own right." The article is called "The Burdens of Manliness."
Kang denies that he's a throwback to the "the sensitive troglodyte yearnings of the 1980s Men’s Movement," and I hear echoes of criticisms he must have received on drafts of this article. I was already a law professor back then, and my school (Wisconsin) was a hotbed of feminism theory. My own orientation at that the time — and now — was to see gender roles as limiting freedom for everyone. I remember suggesting to one of the most prominent feminist lawprofs that I thought feminism would be better if it expanded more generally into concern about the burdens of gender roles, which men felt too, in interestingly different ways. Individual freedom for all could be the overarching goal.
The response was not, as I'd naively anticipated at the time, that I had a great idea or that it was at least an intriguing proposal that we could casually converse about for a minute or 2. No, not at all. I mean, I'm still alive. But there was pushback. Swift, sharp snapback. Men get nothing from feminism. They must give ground. Much ground. For all that they have taken from us, for all the crushing and raping. Never give them the hint of a glimmer of hope that there is anything more that they can get. This is for us.
But —I tried to defend my humble, untenured self — wouldn't more freedom for everyone be better? No! My elder laid down what was, she assured me, the lesson of long political experience: If men think there's anything in it for them, they will use their superior power to take more and more, and the subordination of women will worsen. We must all follow the same strategy: to demand that men give up power and wealth for the benefit of women.
As for the Men's Movement... remember "Iron John: A Book About Men"? Remember thinking it was important to hate Robert Bly?
And what are the burdens of manliness? Ironically — ironjohnically — men are made to feel unmanly for developing their set of grievances and whining and moaning about the unfairness of it. But please don't let that stop you from expressing yourself in the comments.
ADDED: By the way, during the same period, you'd get similar sharp pushback from lefties if you said you thought gay people had the right to marry each other. That was viewed as a conservative position that would undermine the feminist critique of marriage as patriarchy. I also got an instant, angry response from a lefty feminist law professor when I said that the cause of gay rights might be advanced by scientific findings that homosexuality may have a biological cause. Back then, you see, homosexuality was supposed to be a choice, and scientists were condemned even for researching the matter. Today, of course, lefty lawprofs will get mad at you if you don't endorse gay marriage and the biological origin of homosexuality. Oh, how I wish I'd had a blog circa 1990! And I hope this post gives you a glimpse of why there is so much emotional energy behind my blogging.