You're listening to the Stoic Solutions Podcast - practical wisdom for everyday life.

I'm your host,
Justin Vacula. This is Episode 67 – Stoicism, Not Feminism: A response to an opinion piece in The
New York Times titled 'What Feminists Can Do for Boys,' linked in the show notes, written by Jessica
Valenti.

Visit my website at stoicsolutionspodcast.com where you can connect with me on social media; find
past episodes; and join my Discord chat server for interactive discussion. Support my work by
becoming a donor through Patreon or Paypal to access special rewards including the ability to have
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“Feminist ideas can help men – be it the rejection of expectations that men be strong and stoic” is part
of a puzzling paragraph from a recent opinion piece in the New York Times.

What might feminist author Jessica Valenti mean by this statement encouraging rejection of
expectations that men be strong and stoic? Should we not expect men to be strong or be stoic? Should
men be the opposite of strong or stoic? Here, Valenti doesn't capitalize the s in stoic, so she doesn't
necessarily lament Stoic Philosophy. Perhaps she dislikes what she calls a persistent stereotype of quote
unquote real men being “powerful and violent;” what she calls “get-manly-quick platitudes;” and what
she calls “traditional gender power dynamics.” Maybe she's thinking about a typical dictionary
definition of stoic as “a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or
complaining.” It's unclear.

In her article, Valenti also laments Jordan Peterson calling him a “misogynist huckster” grossly
misrepresenting his views. She insists that women need to stop people like Peterson. Contrary to
Valenti, I find Peterson, encouraging people to be strong and stoic, to be a great resource for men and
women. Although I disagree with him on some points, I find many positive parallels between his work
and Stoic Philosophy – I discuss this more in detail in episode 51 of this podcast.

What I talk about here on this podcast is Stoic Philosophy, something in addition to mere endurance or
resilience, one interpretation of a lowercase-s stoicism, but also a foundation for life based on values
including courage, justice, moderation, and discretion. Aspiring Stoics seek to have an attitude of
gratitude, acceptance, humility, and contentment mainly or exclusively placing value on what's in their
control and not overly placing self-worth on externals including social approval (either from men or
women), wealth, or fame. For a fuller description of Stoicism, see episode 66 in which I talk about core
concepts.

Encouraging or expecting men to be devoid of emotions, bottling up their thoughts and feelings, and
thinking of asking for help to be resignation, some negative thing, runs contrary to the message of Stoic
Philosophy – this surely isn't a worthwhile state to desire. In my engagements with children and their
families, I often talk about ways to cope with hardships in life and encourage people to share their
thoughts and emotions. I work to cultivate mental fortitude and mental strength. Stoicism and
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a counseling approach upon which I draw, can help us better cope with
and even avoid intense negative emotions by altering our thoughts about the world, questioning our
assumptions, and reorienting our desires or values – all without feminism.

Why ought we reject expectations that men, or anyone else for that matter, be strong and stoic? What
wisdom might we find in feminist circles and why would men or boys want to be helped by feminist
ideas?

Whose feminism, anyway, shall we choose amidst a constant false narrative – some of it coming from
Jessica Valenti herself –saying that men hate women so much so that society is built and engineered to
undermine and oppress women, boys are raised to hate women, men are violent oppressors in a culture
which normalizes rape of women, and that masculinity itself is a toxic thing.

Feminists lament behaviors of men coining terms such as mansplaining and manspreading. They reject
assumptions of innocence instead conducting trials by social media which ruin the lives of men even
when accusations of sexual assault are shown to be false. Women who question feminist ideas are
called gender traitors and sister punishers who have internalized misogyny – see Young Turks
commentator Anna Kasparian, for instance, hurling invective at women who voted for President
Trump. Male supporters of Bernie Sanders, dubbed BernieBros, were also portrayed as unthinking
misogynist fools by feminists.

People are glibly dismissed by feminists with thought-terminating lines such as 'tone trolling' or 'check
your privilege' and people are unfairly labeled as transphobic, racist, homophobic, ableist, and
misogynistic. Misleading and false information about domestic violence, crime statistics, and pay of
men compared to women is repeated. The list goes on.

Cathy Young, in an article titled 'Feminists treat men badly, it's bad for feminism,' linked in the show
notes, writes:

“Feminist male-bashing has come to sound like a cliche — a misogynist caricature. Feminism, its
loudest proponents vow, is about fighting for equality. The man-hating label is either a smear or a
misunderstanding.
Yet a lot of feminist rhetoric today does cross the line from attacks on sexism into attacks on men, with
a strong focus on personal behavior: the way they talk, the way they approach relationships, even the
way they sit on public transit. Male faults are stated as sweeping condemnations; objecting to such
generalizations is taken as a sign of complicity. Meanwhile, similar indictments of women would be
considered grossly misogynistic.
This gender antagonism does nothing to advance the unfinished business of equality. If anything, the
fixation on men behaving badly is a distraction from more fundamental issues, such as changes in the
workplace to promote work-life balance. What’s more, male-bashing not only sours many men — and
quite a few women — on feminism.”

It's no wonder why, although feminism is still popular and fashionable in many circles with tremendous
financial and media support, more people do not see the label of feminist as something positive – it's
often far from what it claims to be – a positive movement of equality and advancing rights for women.
Partially as a response to feminism, many men are breaking free from roles of protectors and providers
for women -- 'manning up' as some say – expected to sacrifice time, resources, and ambitions to take
care of a traditional family. Others rid themselves of romantic relationships and marriage altogether
focusing on other priorities keeping society going as mentioned in Epictetus' lecture 'On the Cynic
Calling.' I further explore some of these ideas in episode 57 of my podcast titled Men Going Their Own
Way (MGTOW) with SunriseHoodie.

Instead of looking to feminism for guidance, we can look to Stoic Philosophy which, far ahead of its
time, advocates a true spirit of egalitarianism stating that all people are capable of reason, learning,
improving, being more compassionate, more understanding, more inclusive, and less judgmental.
Wealth, country of origin, reputation, skin color, and disability aside, people, on the stoic view, have
value as living beings who are worthy of respect – we're even to pity those who seek to harm us and
educate them if possible rather than being driven by anger or resentment.

Men and women can draw from Stoic Philosophy to break free from societal expectations questioning
the crowds, common wisdom, and find meaning in life pursuing virtue, engaging in self-improvement,
making society a better place, and taking upon crucial roles overcoming adversity and challenge which
is inherent to, as Marcus Aurelius says, 'doing the work of a human being.'

Men and women face many challenges in modern society, even Jessica Valenti will admit that, although
we may disagree on the causes or severity of particular challenges. Both men and women can be strong
and stoic in the face of adversity while still processing their thoughts and emotions in a healthy way
with the help of Stoic Philosophy rather than taking on all of the baggage, the negativity, which can
come with feminism.

Stoicism, along with information from Jordan Peterson and even positive communities for men which
exist online, can help rid alienated men Valenti mentions, those calling themselves incels, of intense
desire for approval from women. Rather than tying self-worth to sexual access or validation from
women or feeling entitled to have sex with women, we can, as Seneca says, 'be our own spectators,
seek our own applause' rather than dangerously placing our self-worth in the hands of others especially
given that we lack ultimate control on what others think of us. We can reorient our lives, engage in self-
improvement, and find meaning independent of our romantic lives or lack thereof. Indeed, some men
and boys are in need of intervention, but I don't see feminism as the solution.

Stoicism, rather, than feminism, has much to offer men, boys, women, and girls. The ancient reflections
of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius inherent in the modern revival of Stoic Philosophy are
valuable resources for all. Even if we can find valuable information in some better versions of
feminism -- surely some in the audience will say “ not all feminists aren't like that” -- why would
anyone, particularly boys and men prioritize feminist ideas especially when many feminists are 'like
that.' People like Christina Hoff-Sommers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Camille Paglia -- still using the label
feminist -- can be good resources, but there are many poor resources and approaches in feminist circles.
Hoff-Sommers herself even praised Stoic Philosophy in at least one of her public appearances. Be
strong, be stoic.

Visit my website at stoicsolutionspodcast.com where you can connect with me on social media; find
past episodes; and join my Discord chat server for interactive discussion. Support my work by
becoming a donor through Patreon or Paypal to access special rewards including the ability to have
upcoming guests answer your questions, custom-tailored podcast episodes, and personalized one-on-
one discussions. Share, comment, like, subscribe, and leave reviews to help support my efforts. Email
me with your thoughts – justinvacula at gmail.com.

Podcast music, used with permission, is brought to you by Phil Giordana's symphonic metal group
Fairyland from their album 'Score to a New Beginning.' Thanks to generous patrons and fans of this
podcast who help support my work. Have a great day.
--

Jessica Valenti: “What Feminists Can Do for Boys”
http://archive.li/AhA7N

The Young Turks: "SHAME On Women Who Voted For Trump" (Not safe for work)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBquRAun1RE

Cathy Young 'Feminists treat men badly. It's bad for Feminism.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/30/feminists-treat-men-badly-its-bad-for-
feminism/?utm_term=.4d2829f9dd02