The internet is afire with Emma Watson’s speech in front of the U.N, and justly so. The sentiments expressed are noble and she makes several good points.
However, this statement,
“I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.
For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
…does not ring true to me. There are textbook definitions, and there is the reality in practice.
My disillusionment with the modern feminist movement began when my sister, then in college, encountered a faculty member from the Women’s Studies department who harangued her for “betraying her gender by studying a male science.”
Physics has a gender. Who knew?
It was furthered after encountering this editorial and the dozens of comments, over 100 of then, supporting her assessment.
A several years later, it took another blow when, at a national Neo-Pagan conference, a famous Dianic priestess barred transgendered women from her ritual. She had made several statements against the Trans community before, and accused transgendered women of being “Men trying to destroy us (women) from within.”
It also bothered me that the same feminists who treat a woman being raped with horror and sympathy often treat men being raped as a joke.
Many of them claim “Oh, I don’t hate men,” but their feminist focus seems to be on finding men to berate. (There is a fine line between “liberating men from stereotypes” and “pressuring men to be ersatz women” they run across with rampant abandon.) And then there are those that claim it openly. And then those in the middle who passive-aggressively proclaim such an attitude, but as “irony.” It is not “ironic” when the attitude actually exists. (And as someone noted in the comments, flip the gender on those T-shirts. Are they still “funny?”)
Are there feminist who truly believe men are their equals and work toward real equality? Yes. But not enough. Or at least they are not loud enough.
And when I brought this up in the discussion over Watson’s speech, people said, “But these are just a few voices of radical feminism. You can’t lump us in with them. Do you judge the christianity as a whole by the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church?”
First of all, the WBC is mocked by everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike. No one takes them seriously (unless they are being truly offensive, like picketing a funeral). No one sees them as representing christianity as a whole. (Though sadly there are a lot of Christians who are only slightly less bigoted that do blacken christianity’s name). Secondly, they can be mocked without people accusing those mocking them of being anti-christian. Mock a feminist in the same way, and if you are male you will be called a “misogynist, potential rapist, troglodyte” and even aspirations made on your manhood. If you are a women, you are a “self-hating, or jealous of/hating-other-women, misogynist” as well as a “slave to the patriarchy, a woman ungrateful of the gains women have made for you, yadda, yadda, yadda.”
Do I know women have a lot of challenges in American society and around the world to find true equality? Of course I do. Am I upset that we are not further along than we are? You have seen on this blog that I am.
But while I have had some truly horrible experiences at the hands of men, I also was raised by a man who held the women in his life as intellectual and functional equals because he was raised by a woman who was a functional and intellectual equal to his father. She worked outside the home to help support the family *and* to fulfill her own needs as a person. That was the experience and attitude my father brought to his marriage and his children. My sister and I were (intellectually) encouraged in whatever interests were had, which were usually scientific. My brothers both adore and respect their wives and see them as friends of intellectual equality and partners in life, not just romantic partners and “helpmates.” (In fact, my brother the Marine said of his wife, “She the manager, I just do the heavy lifting.” This is actually a very common attitude in the military where wives are often left alone to manage the household for months or even years at a time. It is often difficult for spouses to functionally integrate back into a family unit that has been ticking along without them for so long.) No one in my family was ever taught that there were things women could not do simply because they were women. That issue just did not exist in our household.
(Plenty of other issues, but not that one.)
One of the best friendships I have treasured in my life was with a man, and I have had BF’s who treated me with respect as an equal.
I can’t hate men. I like them. I like that they see and approach the world slightly differently than I do. I like the insights I get from them and the insights I can share with them.
So I have a very hard time identifying with the feminist movement. The word “feminist” has become tainted with hate that I simply can’t share.
And frankly, there are issues men and women should be working together on. I mentioned the rape culture above (and a couple of times before on this blog). This is not just the victim-blaming that women go through. Men also struggle with sexual assault and rape, and not just by other men. Not every man welcomes having his crotch grabbed by anyone or wants to sleep with anyone when he is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, yet society believes this is so for straight, bi and gay men. If the rapist is a woman, and they sometimes are, they have a difficult time convincing anyone to believe that it is physically possible for a man to be raped by a woman. (It is.) Socially, men being raped is usually treated as a joke, an emasculating joke which makes it incredibly hard for them to step out of the shadows. The trauma is the same, but they have a harder time coming to grips with what happened to them because of our fucked up attitude toward rape in this country. It’s equally wrong for women and men to be sexually assaulted. Period. End of.
Then there are family issues. Compared to many countries in Europe, maternity leave for women in this country is a joke, and men are remarkably lucky if they get two weeks to bond and help with their newborn. Both men and women need to fight for greater natal leave in order to help strengthen the family before both spouses have to go back to work (since most families in the U.S. need two incomes).
I think men would like women to have access to affordable birth control, as well as affordable childcare since both those issues affect them as well.
These are issues that we could be working together rather than lashing out at one another.
Many people feel the same way, and have become disillusioned by feminism because its loudest proponents are misandrists.
And so the disaffected have turned to the term “egalitarian:” Equality for all.
P.S. I have not met feminist, online or RL, who actually said, “All men are potential rapists.”
But in case you ever meet one who does:
It’s not all men, just a small number of sick ones.
On a lighter note:
So… my dogs have nautical counterparts.