Sunday, July 3, 2016

A response to 'Feminists treat men badly. It's bad for feminism'

An article from the Washington Post was shared into my twitter timeline this morning. It made me ANGRY. I went on a twitter rant about, which I've storified here:

But I wanted to expand on my criticisms a bit. Because actually this kind of article is really damaging. It undermines the feminist cause, it tells women we need to be 'polite' when we talk about our oppression and demands that we centre men's feelings when fighting our oppression. So, I'm going to break down my objections point by point, answering the accusations made in this article.

FEMINISM IS NOT A FIGHT FOR EQUALITY!!! I get so damned tired of hearing this argument. As a feminist I want women to be liberated from the oppression they face under a White-Supremacist, Cis-Hetero, Capitalist Patriarchy (from here on out referred to as 'patriarchy' to save time). I don't want 'equality' under an unfair system. I'm not fighting for membership of an unfair club for women. I want to burn the club to the ground and a build a new one. Women (and here I mean ALL women) cannot have any kind of 'equality' under the current system, without that 'equality' coming at someone else's expense. We need to smash the system and build a new one. FEMINISM IS THE FIGHT FOR WOMEN'S LIBERATION.

Men's individual actions contribute to a system of oppression for women. As feminists we critique and analyse men's individual behaviours to explain how the system operates. To demonstrate the effect of Patriarchy on women's day to day lives. And, can I just point out that attacking someone's behaviour is far from attacking them as a person. A distinction I've always made as a mother is to chastize my child for his bad behaviour and not call him 'naughty'/'bad'; because behaviour can be changed. We criticise these behaviours in the hopes that men will change them. Because we believe that men can change them.

Again, an analysis of individual behaviour helps us to highlight how the system operates at a very basic level. And, we can totally talk about how men sit on public transport at the same time as fighting for work-place changes. I LITERALLY do this. I work in Equality and Diversity at a university. My day to day job is about addressing gender and race imbalance in Higher Education. And yet, I'm as likely to tweet about men taking up too much space on public transport. Funny, hey? Maybe I'm just some kind of weird freak and other feminists can't do this (sarcasm).

Additionally, if critiquing their behaviours 'sours many men' to the feminist cause, then I'd say they're not really very committed to it anyway.

*screams* *takes deep breath* OK. That's better. Right. So yes, I will acknowledge that Patriarchy is damaging for men. As the mother of a sweet, caring, gender non-conforming son I see first hand the damage Patriarchy does to boys. But, see, despite this I know (and so does my son) that as a white, middle-class male he's always going to have it easier than anyone else. I think, that since men are currently the one's with all the power, if they're unhappy with the system perhaps THEY should do something to change it.

Oh, and attacking Andrea Dworkin as a man-hater, how original! *rolls eyes FOREVER*

HAVE YOU EVEN LOOKED AT 'STRAIGHT WHITE BOYS TEXTING'? It is a blog about men starting 'conversations' with women by demanding sex from the very first contact. It's full of men who get angry and nasty when women refuse these 'advances'. This is not 'jerky attempts at flirting'. This is male entitlement. The idea that they can see a woman they like and immediately ask for sex, and expect her to say 'why, yes, you wonderful man! Where have you been all my life?'

And, yes it has a disclaimer that it's not racist or sexist. BECAUSE IT IS NOT. Racism/sexism require POWER. They are expressions which refer to the prejudicial way in which power in interactions privileges oppressors over the oppressed. White men CANNOT be the victims, since they have all the damned power.

OK, misandry is a word. I'll give you that. And it does exist. But it's completely justified. I mean is it really unreasonable to have a dislike/hatred of people who have been/are raping, killing, torturing people like you for millennia? It's a reasonable response to oppression.

As for words like 'manspreading' and 'mansplaining': well these words help women to describe the effects of Patriarchy on our day to day lives. Let me break it down for you, first with 'manspalining'. I'm a working-class girl, who was always very bright. I read LOTS. I learned everything I could. Got an education and managed some social mobility. But as a working-class girl I have never 'known my place'. I'm gobby, balshy and in your face. I'll happily enter into an intellectual debate (or any other debate) with ANYONE. That's not to say that I think I'm always right, often I enter these discourses to learn more about something. But when I am right, I won't bloody back down. I cannot tell you the number of times in my life men have assumed that I cannot possibly know more than them about a given topic. The number of times I've been dismissed, both because I'm a woman and because I'm working-class (hello, intersectionality). I went through most of my life thinking this was something unique to me. That something in the way I interacted with these men, how I spoke, how I carried myself, something about ME made them make these assumptions. Then I came across the term 'mansplaining' and freaking neon sign lit up. Suddenly I understood that this was not about me. I wasn't to blame for the way these men acted. That this is an experience common to all women, even flipping PROFESSORS!! This word gave me a way to describe and understand just one small part of how Patriarchy affected me personally and women in general. It's an important word.

Secondly, 'manspreading' - again the neon flash when I came across this word. But more importantly it is a way for us to describe an aspect of male entitlement. Manspreading is used to describe the way that men feel entitled to take up much more than their fair share of space in public (often at the expense of women). Yes, it usually refers to the specific example of this happening on public transport; but it describes a much deeper issue, As a girl I used to sit like that all the time, until people started telling me off for it. It was 'unlady-like' for a girl to sit like that (and flashing my knickers was not a concern because I NEVER wore skirts and dresses as a child). I (as all girls are) was taught to shrink myself in public space, To make myself small. To be unobtrusive, unnoticable. Whilst boys and men are taught/allowed to spread out. Again this is a small, insidious way that Patriarchy operates to diminish women and girls.

As for the comment about women and their bags: I used public transport exclusively when my son was a baby. Every time a woman had her bag on the seat it was moved when that seat was needed by someone else. Manspreaders however, will often allow others to stand whilst they sit taking up two, sometimes three seats. There is no equivalence here.

Erm, OK. So advising women that it's better to be single than accept relationships with men who are selfish, perhaps abusive is equivalent to men who complain because women are too 'uppity' now-a-days? It may seem to be equivalent on the surface but if you interrogate the reasons given for advocating avoiding relationships you'll see that men's reasons are often (though, admittedly not always) routed in misogyny, whilst women's are routed in self-protection and self-respect.

OMFG!! This is the most blatant misrepresentation of 'friend-zone' critiques I have EVER come across. The 'friend-zone' is exclusively used by men who feel upset that a woman won't enter into a sexual/romantic relationship with them, EVEN THOUGH they have been nice to her. It treats women's friendship as being some kind of punishment. And argues that every man should be entitled to a sexual/romantic relationship with any woman he is nice to. The 'friend-zone' is inherently misogynistic. There are so many good critiques of this on the web, like really, read some. Just google.

Oh, my heart bleeds. Women are finally starting to make inroads to liberation from male domination and we're supposed to feel sorry that men no longer have privilege? Give me a break!

FEMINISM IS NOT ABOUT EQUALITY!!!! FEMINISM IS NOT ABOUT MEN!!!! FEMINISM IS THE FIGHT FOR WOMEN'S LIBERATION FROM MALE DOMINATION!!! Men have all the power, perhaps they should use that power to address some of the issues that face them? Why should feminists do the work of looking after men? I mean, I know we live in a Patriarchy and women are supposed to look after men, to put men first and foremost in everything they do. But this is LITERALLY what feminists are fighting against.

And if men will not support us because we speak the truth about how their behaviour affects us? Well, sod them. If you're a man, and you can listen to me (and other feminists) talking about how Patriarchy affects us, how we are abused and oppressed in this system and your first thought is 'Oh, what you're saying about men hurts my feelings, so I'm not going to support you' then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

*screams forever*

Right, I have one thing to say to this: Brock Turner, Bill Cosby, Ched Evens, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen..... the list goes on and on and on.


And, sure feminists are to blame for the rise of Donald Trump, It has nothing to do with racism, xenophobia and sexism. Nope. It's all the feminists fault.