Typically narcissistic blogging.

Why So Quiet, Son?

At some point, the word “feminism” took on ugly connotations. So ugly, in fact, that women will distance themselves from the term, claim not to be feminists. While that seems incredibly problematic to me, so is the fact that “feminism” somehow no longer means “advocating equality for women and men” but somehow means becoming stridently obnoxious about women’s rights, or requiring cheesy hippie approaches to womanhood, or that women hate men (something I’d like to generally avoid, as men can be quite charming and really rather awesome).

feminist

This is unfortunate on a number of levels, and I think there needs to be a general redefinition of “feminism” as something that both women and men should want to take part in. Definitions aside, I’ve noticed something about how things get shared and handled on both Twitter and Facebook that I find incredibly shitty.

  1. When I share or tweet an article about rape, the only people who share, retweet, or comment? Women.
  2. I wrote a post about misogyny. 1 guy ‘liked’ it. 2 guys commented, to make jokes.
  3. The post about misogyny was in response to a guy I called out for comparing his irrationally bad mood to PMS in women (thus perpetuating the stereotype that women are irrational and continuing to give license to men who, when they don’t like a woman’s behavior, would like to complain about “that time of the month”). I had my say and his response was, “ok.” Maybe he thought I was being irrational—just like a woman? All I figured was that dude was too cowardly to admit that he’d fucked up.

Well, fuck that. Fuck all of that.

Dudes, bros, come on. Where is your feminism? I am not asking, by the way, where your love for women is. Saying you’re a feminist because you love women is like saying you are Jewish because you love hamantaschen.

Okay. For the sake of this post, let’s create a loose definition of “feminism” with some very basic concepts:

  • Recognizing that women are just as capable as men are.
  • Recognizing that women deserve equal pay to men.
  • Recognizing that stereotypes about women are bullshit and should be avoided: let each woman define herself; don’t define women.
  • Recognizing that women don’t exist for others to desire/use/fuck—even if being desirable or fuckable is something they do and enjoy.
  • Recognizing that double standards with regard to sexuality and enjoyment of sex are ridiculous.
  • Recognizing that rape is an issue (and yes, I know that women can also rape, but the majority of rapes are committed by men, and that majority is gigantic. I also realize that men can rape other men and do regularly, so just standing up against rape in general is a Good Thing—all right?)
  • Using your voice to emphasize all of these things, to help pass on the message, to share, to do something as simple as retweet.

feminist1

Why are men leaving the discussion about feminism, about rape and rape culture, up to women? Why is it only their job to fight for their rights, to stand up to rapists and abusers? Why, when men send rape threats to women who have stood up for themselves, don’t their friends say, “Dude. Not cool.”? Why, when a girl is sexually assaulted and her assaulters share the photograph of the assault, don’t people rally around the girl, why don’t they support her, why aren’t we teaching teenagers that bullying is bullshit? We have had two suicides in rapid succession of young women who experienced such intense bullying after being sexually assaulted that one of them couldn’t even move schools without it following her. Why are teen boys not telling their friends, “No way, dude. Leave her alone.”?

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why people are still sharing posts about how women can avoid being raped, about the times they can walk alone outside, about how they should wear their hair and their clothes—thus leaving the victim-blaming discussions wide open (I mean, really, did you see what she was wearing?) and making it so easy to blame women for not being careful enough. I don’t understand why there aren’t more discussions about teaching youth about rape—discussion about sex is so taboo in schools that it’s left up to parents who are apparently in denial about the situation or think their kids are too young to learn about it. Well, guess what? They are old enough to rape, they are old enough to learn why rape is unacceptable. I don’t understand why we aren’t teaching young men to love and respect young women.

And learning it from only women is also unacceptable. Men, you need to add your voices to the arguments for equality. It’s easy to say that women should obviously vote, because that’s a right they already have. It’s more difficult to stand up for equal pay, for removing double standards, for cutting out casual misogyny (like unnecessary comments linking irrationality and women). It’s more difficult to let go of your privilege when a woman points out the rampant misogyny in gaming and at conventions, and support her. It’s more difficult to stand up to your friends when they misbehave. It’s difficult for teenagers to go against the social flow—high school is a breeding ground for cruelty and insensitivity—and it’s difficult for us to teach them that standing up for women and taking a stand against rape is necessary. But if you really genuinely believe that women have just as much a place in the world as you do, then you have got to. It is fucking necessary.

And if you don’t believe that, I don’t want to know you. And don’t get me started on the so-called Men’s Rights movements, which are nothing short of delusional.

So men, where are your voices? Why so quiet, son?

goslingfem

18 responses

  1. FINALLY!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

    April 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

  2. > It’s more difficult to stand up for equal pay,

    When adjusted for education[1] and time in the field women make about 94% of what men make. Since pay is more distorted at the upper levels where pay and benefits are negotiated, where “time on the job” is often and where hours worked aren’t tracked (study after study shows that 80% of the people working more than 50 hours a week are men), and that women tend to either not negotiate (i.e. they take the first offer) or negotiate less than men, I think that we’ve pretty much eliminated the structural bias against women in the work place.

    There are even some fiels where women often out-earn men (and some of these are rather surprising, like “sales engineers”. Of course one could make the claim that this is because men are sexist pigs and will buy anything from a set of tits, which is stereotyping, but probably also true).

    Now, if you want to go on about being able to take a year or two off for childbirth without penalty then you’re really asking for special consideration because of your sex (and yes, you’ll insist that men can get it too, but men *won’t*. Just like men are, generally speaking, willing to work more hours).

    Study after study after study in the *last* 10 years has shown that on par women are starting to out earn men. Partially this is because the current recession generally hit traditionally male jobs (construction, heavy industry) harder (more men were laid off/out of work than women) but mostly it’s because below the VP/C level jobs (where there is less room to negotiate)

    > for removing double standards,

    You mean like the standard that says that men are expected to wear collard shirts and long pants, but women can wear t-shirts and miniskits with flip-flops? I’m all for lifting that, as long as it’s in the direction of insisting that women cover up in the office. (look, I’m a normal guy in that I like women’s bodies, but at work I do not want to know if you’re wearing granny panties or a thong. I don’t want to see your nipple ring through your shirt. We’re there for work, not titillation).

    Or the one that says that women can say anything they want to a man, and if he complains he’s being a wimp or he’s just grumbling, but when being critical of a woman you have to be double plus extra careful or you get hammered with a sexual harassment claim?

    > for cutting out casual misogyny (like unnecessary comments linking irrationality and women).

    If you want that, then you’d best consul WOMEN not to come in to work saying things like “I’m really feeling the PMS today, watch out”.

    Which is practically word for word from a woman I used to work with.

    Don’t blame us when you can’t keep up your side.

    As to why we’re so quiet, it’s just like race, if you make arguments from informed statistics and science (both social and hard) that counter the prevailing zeitgeist you get branded a racist and a sexist. Because, you know, reality is a socially determined construct.

    There is NO WAY I’d post this under my real name as it would guarantee I would never get a job in the corporate world again. I’d just be too big a risk of upsetting someone and getting a EEOC complaint about a “hostile work place” levied–just for being willing to argue the other side.

    See, as a white male I’m not allowed to have an opinion on women’s issues, race, or anything other than sports, monster trucks and beer.

    [1] Men are *masively* over represented in STEM fields, which are considerably higher paying, and where pay is more negotiable than Fine Arts, Liberal Arts and the social sciences. Women are vastly over represented in Education and fields like Sociology where the pay tends to be established by state and federal agencies. This is why in things like Construction women earn 94.2% as much as men, while in the Financial Services (which is a much broader field career wise) it’s under

    April 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm

  3. JHW

    “Using your voice to emphasize all of these things, to help pass on the message, to share, to do something as simple as retweet.”

    Personally, being asked to share articles around on Facebook to attack rape culture is akin to being asked to honk the next time I see someone homeless to “show them some support.” We have different privileges and our actions reflect that. I do not have the megaphone you do (comments clearly show your posts can reach the kind of folks I’ve spent the last quarter century completely and successfully cutting out of my happily introverted life) nor the credibility to speak to the issue. And you do not have the ability to shitcan engineer job applicants who make sexist jokes or write politicians who have your name flagged as a significant donor.

    Your talk isn’t cheap, but mine would be. That’s why I’m so quiet. I have nothing to add to the debate. And honestly the debate fundamentally pisses me off – what the fuck is there to debate? Should we get into whether murder is bad next? Last time I visited them my 12 year old nieces gave me an excellent summary of the idiocy of slut shaming by dissecting the media treatment of Miley Cyrus and Taylor… Taylor… damnit, some Taylor singer who people seem to care way too much about her love life. Anyhow, in my life view we’re in the enforcement and stamping out the bigots phase. The debate on the points you laid out is done. But don’t assume that means I have nothing to do.

    April 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    • I disagree. Sharing articles raises awareness. Additionally, not saying, “this is bullshit” when women all over the place are saying “this is bullshit” is, in fact, bullshit. You are leaning on your privilege, John, to say that your voice doesn’t matter. It does matter.

      April 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      • JHW

        My voice and power is in no means on Facebook. My voice matters a great deal and I have a responsibility to raise it. And I do. But sharing articles and tweets to increase awareness? You kids live on a different planet sometimes.

        April 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm

        • It works, dude. I get half of my news from Twitter. You know why? Because people are paying attention and sharing. Fine–don’t use social media. But think about what you can and are willing to use your voice for, and do it. That’s all I am asking for.

          You have kids and I know that brings you even more into this discourse in an age when children are raping children, bullying and getting bullied, resorting to suicide. And you are an educated, strong man who is married to an educated, strong woman. I have faith that you will do what needs to be done. I’m just trying to say–even slacktivism is a change for the better.

          April 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

  4. Auros

    FWIW, I consider myself feminist / anti-patriarchal (in part because I see patriarchal attitudes as harmful to people like me who are a poor fit for the prescribed masculine role), and while it’s obviously not the only thing I talk about all-day / every-day, I certainly do remark on items in the news, FB-share stuff from Ultra-Violet (whose activist approach I admire), and so on…

    OTOH, I’m not sure I regard myself as “a man”; more as a human who happens to have male bits. (Physical sex is fun; culturally constructed gender sucks.)

    April 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    • That’s fair. I can only get so specific WRT gender identity, and I wish there were a way to bring that into the discussion without muddling everything (and if somebody knows better than I do how to do that, TELL ME, please–I am in!).

      I see that you do share things and discuss things, and I appreciate it. It’s too much of a rarity, IMHO.

      Keep doing what you are doing. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

      April 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

  5. Scott Climber

    Why? There are a few reasons, but no one with social power wants to touch them with a ten foot pole because they’re such socially suicidal positions right now:

    1. Men have double standards too

    But we must be manly men & deal silently with the obstacles our gender faces because that is the expectation, that we not whine about the tough parts of life lest we lose manliness. Yes, we do have unfair advantages in several areas like pay & physical strength. That I cannot deny. Still, it pains us to repeatedly see our gender blamed for female problems, while feminism gives no thought on how they can also help men rise above their double standards!

    The only feminist talk I’ve seen that remotely addressed this asserted that men’s double standards lead them to degrade the female body & become rapists. Wow, demonizing much? And, again, coming solely from the perspective of how this would benefit women. Rarely is giving men a little more flexibility in their roles a topic. Or even selling men on any potential advantages at all.

    2. Princess syndrome

    Given the slanted tone of society’s gender discussions, I’ve seen more and more females put themselves & their bodies on a throne above men. There is a huge difference between being respected and being worshipped. Every woman and man deserves respect. Yet anyone will tire of worshipping a flawed mortal being.

    Just yesterday, a girl let my friend stroke her head as reward (half-jokingly) for a particularly admirable comment he made. As if men should derive pleasure merely by being given the opportunity to touch? Even in relationships, I’m seeing women out there who think the man must be getting great pleasure just from the permission to give affection and ONLY when she’s exactly in the right mood. As if we men never do things for our partners when we aren’t feeling like it.

    You know what this creates? Angry, temperamental, affection-starved men.

    3. Gender judgement

    I hear much complaint about the unfairness and base nature of judging women solely by their appearance. But where is the outrage over how men are judged attractive? Why his social standing, why how many people he can influence? If anything, it’s the more unsustainable desire. Every hierarchy has its bottom rung, and far more people are located near the bottom than at the top.

    Why can we not say that every man is worthy of respect & desire, instead of just the ones who care to be & are lucky enough to be socially strong? Followers are just as necessary as leaders in Ann organization or society. See: too many cooks in the kitchen. So why do leaders get ALL the adulation?

    4. Teasing & consequences

    When a woman dresses to accentuate her sexual features, whether to simply feel good about herself or not, she is CONSCIOUSLY TEASING PEOPLE WITH HER FEATURES. Now, I agree it’s NOT her fault if she gets raped! But the dialogue I hear about women being able to present themselves in any way and it doesn’t mean “come sex me up”, well, this dialogue seems a bit too absolute to be truth.

    What you’re doing is taking part of seduction, emphasis on your desirable sexual features, and hoping that it’s enough to attract the right people without making a statement that you’re trying to seduce everyone.

    The fact remains, though, that you’re wearing these elements of seduction, and without follow through, you are by definition teasing. And if you tease people too much, people tend to react badly.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

  6. Scott Climber

    Sorry, I ended that comment on the wrong foot. How you dress can tease, but it’s far from likely to be a huge factor in getting raped. Much more likely is just being in the random wrong place at the wrong time. :/ I was just annoyed by the “how I dress doesn’t mean ANYTHING” argument, because it does imply teasing.

    Ultimately, I think there’s an awful lot of cross gender animosity in today’s culture, and that pains me. I just think we should try to remember more often that no gender role is easy, and that we’re all in this life thing together.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:57 am

    • Auros

      You know, there IS some quite good writing out there about how sexism and patriarchy hurt men. (For instance.) The key thing, if you want to not sound like a douche, is to avoid whinging about how “feminism is hurting men”, or women are getting special privileges, or whatever. There’re two problems with that kind of stuff:

      First, it just ain’t true. Society is still constructed to systematically disadvantage women in ways that are invisible to men unless they make a conscious effort to learn about it. (This goes to the definition of privilege, which I believe WP has written about cogently. There are a lot of things that men just don’t need to think about / worry about / fight for.)

      Second, it’s fundamentally reactionary and resentful, even if you try to dress it up as something else. Follow that kind of logic far enough, and you end up with Jesse Helms’ “white hands” ad.

      I’ve occasionally thought that it would be nice if we’d ended up with a term like “anti-sexism” or “anti-patriarchalism”, rather than “feminism”. Or maybe, more forcefully: I wish we didn’t need a word at all to describe people who believe the sexes should be equal. There isn’t really a common term for being against racism (though I guess there was “abolitionist” back when we had the fight against slavery, and then “integrationist” later on). At this point, being against racism is just the default; you don’t need a word for it… It’d be nice

      If you want to talk about the way that the structure of gendered behavior, as prescribed by our existing patriarchal culture, is harmful to all of us, including men, that’s great. If you even want to talk about misandry, in some contexts, that may be OK. But you can do it in a constructive way. The answer to men’s gripes about how things have ended up, with aspects of patriarchy falling, but many other, more subtle aspects still intact — it’s to finish the job.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      • Auros

        Ack, hit the Post button before I was done editing; the “It’d be nice” snippet on the end of the next to last paragraph should’ve gotten deleted, and the last sentence should’ve been something like, “the answer to men’s gripes … isn’t to attack feminism, it’s to finish the job.” :-P

        April 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

  7. Wow. What a great post. Thanks so much for writing it!

    May 3, 2013 at 9:20 am

  8. Bob

    Dude, you need to stop confusing women with feminism. Does the Tea Party represent all men? Nope. Women are people; feminism is a political ideology and it’s often misandrist. This is especially true of professional feminists who if truth be known, see themselves as men’s inferiors. Support women but get real about feminism which is more often than not misandrist and insatiable about affirmative action for women.

    May 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    • Which just shows that the point of feminism has been lost on you. Thanks for playing, though.

      May 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

  9. Bob

    Oh man, you are really a slow learner if you can’t see that the movement, like all political movements has been hijacked by radicals. If you want to be one of its useful idiots, go ahead.

    May 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm

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