Or, For the love of God, are we ever going to stop having to explain feminism to the haters?
Dear Self-Proclaimed “Fat-Shaming, Meat Eating, Slut Shaming Cis-Males,”
I hate having this much material to write about. I hate finding more and more things to address regarding women’s rights in this country. I also hate how I can find “inspiration” while perusing the internet on a sick day home from work.
Here’s what I found while trying to navigate the antibiotic-induced clouds today, via the OkCupid Gold Mine Tumblr.
What is with the feminist hate, guys?!
The first thing I think of in response to this sort of accusation from the general public is this:
I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks. -Sarah Grimké
However, this doesn’t seem to ring with these sort of people. These guys and a whole sect of humanity that makes me want to pull my hair out (i.e. Men’s Rights Activists) have taken feminism and completely eschewed it into a man-loathing hate group that slings violence and rage at anyone who dares speak up in opposition. Let me tell you right now, I’m all for the first amendment. I’m also pro understanding, respect, solidarity, and seeing the big picture – something I find these men sorely lacking.
You’re familiar with MRAs, right? The people who say, oh, that men are sexualized in video games as well and we women should stop complaining? They’re the folks that don’t realize that the male-dominated industry of video game technology, the over-sexualized man is a fantasy for a man about himself? (That’s what it is. Read: In this fantasy world, you can look like him. And you can have her.)
Evidently, MRA’s have a laundry list of reasons why feminism is sexist, and why they as men are truly the oppressed group. This is what I’m surmised thus far:
1. Feminists hate men.
2. Feminists believe that women are superior to men.
3. Feminists want the perks of gender equality without relinquishing the perks of being a woman.
4. Feminism is simultaneously ruining femininity (either we’re sweaty masculine women with short hair and combat boots or we’re diseased sluts in stilettos) and making us lazy (we simply want to be handed things for sake of being a woman).
5. Feminists are pro-abortion and kill babies because it’s convenient and we’re just a bunch of sluts.
- Men are unfairly paid the same as women while they are forced to do the heavy labor instead of the women doing it.
- Men are expected to pay for women while they are dating and support a woman while they are married.
- Men (during the time of the draft) could be drafted to fight while women could not.
- Men receive custody of children in divorce proceedings much less frequently than women do.
- Female circumcision has multitudes of people working to against it while forced infant male circumcision is a common practice.
- Male victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape are not taken as seriously as female victims.
- Feminists are working to better conditions for women while ignoring the issues that men have.
- Hiring priorities are given to women in the workplace over men as a type of affirmative action, etc. etc.
These, my friends, are a combination of the myths of feminism and misunderstanding of what patriarchy is. Please, allow me to debunk.
1. True feminists do not hate men.
A feminist is someone who thinks that men and women are equal and should be treated as such. No more. No less. We do not hate men. In fact, we at Generation: Handmaid both have boyfriends and numerous male friends. Nor do we think that all women are flawless – just look at our previous post in which we are angered by female politicians who pass anti-choice legislation. If you knew us in person, you’d require no further convincing.
A friend of mine once dated a self-proclaimed feminist who apparently hated men and saw them as inferior. While it seemed strange to me that a man-hating woman would be in a heterosexual relationship, I told him the same thing I will say now – that is not a real feminist. Anna Anderson may have claimed to be the lost princess Anastasia, but we all know the truth. Same rule applies. If you believe her, it’s your prerogative, and doesn’t change the facts. Anna Anderson was Polish and those women do not represent the actual feminist movement.
2. True feminists do not believe that women are superior to men.
Nor do we believe that men are superior to women. We acknowledge that men and women are inherently different, but still equal. Again, a feminist is someone who believes that men and women are equal and should be treated as such, no more, no less – see above.
3. Feminists want the perks of gender equality without relinquishing the perks of being a woman…only it’s not that simple
I assume this refers to the idea that a woman still wants equal pay and equal representation in politics, etc while not wanting to pay for her own dinner or hold open her own door. This makes her a hypocrite in the eyes of many a man. Here is where I will say something that many may not agree with, but it’s true: feminism and courting are not mutually exclusive. As a tax-paying citizen in this country, I deserve equal pay for equal work, adequate representation in politics, equal medical insurance coverage, and a right to my own body – however, it is impossible to stake the claim that this sort of “don’t treat me differently” mindset will be applied to every single woman in the country in regards to her relationship. I want my boss to pay me the same amount as a male coworker who does the same job – however, I still like to have my boyfriend drive when we go somewhere. Does this make me a hypocrite? No! I find it lovely that men hold the door open for me, and this is because I recognize that men and women are inherently different. This does not mean we are unequal in status or importance. Seeking romance or courtship or whatnot does not make me a bad feminist, because they are not mutually exclusive. They are two completely different spheres of life. Furthermore, THIS IS ONLY MY PERSONAL PREFERENCE. It’s a matter of what one individual wants in a romantic partner. Look at it like being a Christian and being Republican – yes, a lot of people are both, but it doesn’t make you a hypocrite if you’re a non-Christian Republican or visa-versa. Those two things are capable of being separate, unattached choices on behalf of one individual, or maybe they are tightly interwoven, depending. You can’t possibly sum up every feminist’s preference for romance and dating alongside the ideals of feminism, that’s impossible. It varies from person to person as all romantic preferences do. If you don’t like it, it’s the same as finding a woman whose religion more closely resembles yours, and it’s fixed by seeking a partner whose ideals align with your own. It’s no reason to get angry. You don’t get angry at every passing brunette just because you prefer blondes, do you?
4. Not all feminists are diseased slutty hookers or disappointing hairy butch-women.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but feminists come in all colors, sizes, ages, from all walks of life…sort of like any political belief. Liberals, for example, range from pot smoking vegans to, well, me (eyeliner, perfume, sushi lunches, etc). Furthermore, there are male feminists, which sort of makes that argument invalid.
5. Pro-choice and pro-abortion are two different things.
Don’t get me wrong, we love kids – we want babies to be healthy, loved, and above all, wanted. We believe that abortion should remain legal, safe and affordable since sometimes that is what is needed in certain situations. We think that with proper education and access to birth control, abortions can remain rare. We don’t relish in abortions. We don’t have “girl days” in which we go get our nails done, have a quickie abortion, and then go tanning. No! Pro-choice means there is a choice available, the ability to say yes or no. We’re not monsters. We don’t actively want all pregnant women to abort their fetuses. It simply needs to remain an option. We just believe that every child should be a wanted child. Abortions are a medically legitimate procedure and we see them as a potential solution to being pregnant and financially unable to raise a child, or perhaps having a medical condition that would risk both lives if the mother was to carry the child to term. Perhaps she was raped and impregnated. Perhaps her abusive boyfriend got her pregnant and she needs to cut literally all ties to him and leave him. Don’t assume we’re all a bunch of “whores” who get knocked up without care.
Now, onto addressing the complaints of MRAs…
- Men are unfairly paid the same as women while they are forced to do the heavy labor instead of the women doing it. Well, first of all, that’s not always the case. Also, what comes to mind here was the first job I ever had – cashiering at World Market when I was sixteen. Yes, generally the male employees were called on to move furniture more often than the women were. However, the women were not always exempt from this. If no guys were available, we got the furniture ourselves or did “team lifts” if the item was too much for one of us. Furthermore, the men consistently got out of doing skumatics (organizing stock on the shelf by a specific color/product arrangement mandated by corporate) by saying that they “didn’t have an eye for color” or something and the women were ALWAYS stuck doing this long, banal task while the guys chatted near the registers. See? It evens out.
- Men are expected to pay for women while they are dating and support a woman while they are married. This is problematic for two reasons – if it expected from the woman, then feminism myth debunked #3 applies. If you mean as mandated by society, then yes, I agree, this is inherently sexist, and it stems from patriarchy: the idea that the man is the provider and the woman the delicate pregnant flower. This is what feminists are actively fighting against.
- Men (during the time of the draft) could be drafted to fight while women could not. Well, first of all, women in the draft is in the works, and the draft is currently suspended, but – again, this idea is inherently sexist. Again, it comes from patriarchy – men are the big burly ones who have to go risk their lives and fight because the precious women have to stay home with the children. Patriarchy.
- Men receive custody of children in divorce proceedings much less frequently than women do. Is there an echo in here? Yes, it’s sexist. It stems from patriarchy, the idea that men have to provide and women have to raise the kids.
- Female circumcision has multitudes of people working to against it while forced infant male circumcision is a common practice. Now, this is something I had to do my research on. Upon inquiring a man I know, he said he likes being circumcised as its easier to keep himself clean. Upon doing research, a lot of men online dislike circumcision as it is a detriment to sexual perf0rmance and enjoyment, it puts infants at risk of infection, etc. While being circumcised is more common, my friend said that it’s not as if a bunch of men in a locker room would make an uncircumcised man feel uncomfortable or even mention anything. It looks as if there is a lot of controversy surrounding the subject. I suppose you could say forced circumcision of infant males is not okay as it doesn’t give the child a choice, but then again, some men say they are glad they are circumcised and glad they don’t remember it. I guess my opinion is then that we should stop automatically circumcising young boys and give adolescent and adult men the choice (freedom of choice over their body, eh? Sound familiar?) My problem with this complaint is that it only comes up in response to feminism. No men seem to be seriously taking any initiative against this problem. If it means so much to you, speak up! Feminists are very open minded about rights to what you do with your body. Guys, it’s your junk. Start making noise if this really upsets you. If you stand by us, we’ll sure as hell stand by you.
- Male victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape are not taken as seriously as female victims. I’ll tell you right now that I personally know more than one male victim of abuse and rape. It is absolutely not okay that these people feel that they have to keep their stories a secret. This, again, comes from patriarchy – men are the strong, dominant leaders, they couldn’t possibly be victims, right? Also, the fact that it doesn’t come up in politics as often as female victims do is due to the fact that approximately 9 out 10 rape victims are female. The bulk of the problem is male violence against females.
- Feminists are working to better conditions for women while ignoring the issues that men have. Yes, there are male feminists, but typically feminists are female, and we are working to achieve something for ourselves – we are also fighting against patriarchy, which is the main perpetrator of MRA’s complaints. Feminism is working to achieve true equality between genders, which is in the MRA’s favor, regardless of what they may say. Their ideas of feminism are based on a lie of what feminism is.
- Hiring priorities are given to women in the workplace over men as a type of affirmative action, etc. etc. Affirmative action comes from white privilege and patriarchy, etc. etc. [also, there is always the off-chance that in some situations the woman simply came across as more personable or more suited for the job than the man did].
“But feminists are annoying. They’re gross. They’re bitchy and whiney and entitled and demanding and they cheat on your and break your hearts.” Trust me, for every drippy, entitled, demanding, pouting princess out there who wouldn’t go to prom with you, there is a sulky, childish, whining man with a WOW addiction and a neckbeard who thinks he’s entitled to sex for being nice to a girl. There will always be obnoxious people in the world, regardless if they are male or female, if they call themselves feminist or not. Nobody is perfect. It is human to err, my friends! We’re not all bad, we’re not all out to get you.
What is it that feminists actually want?
We want equality. We want abortions to remain safe, legal, and accessible. We want contraceptives to be widely available to help prevent the need for abortions. We want equal pay for equal work. We want fairly priced medical insurance and equal coverage. We want an end to sexual harassment and rape culture. We want fair and accurate representation in politics. We want equal treatment for servicewomen. We want respect and solidarity. I do not think that this is too much to ask. I do not think this oppresses men at all.
In fact, I have a favor to ask: if you are a white, heterosexual man living in the United States, please stop claiming that anyone is oppressing you. Just stop. As far as I know, the only unfair thing you truly have to deal with is that your car insurance rates are a little higher. Everything else you complain about comes from patriarchy, which is something we can fight together.
Feminists are not bad people. We don’t hate you. We do not want to replace patriarchy with matriarchy. We want good things for everybody. All we ask is for our brethren to take their feet from our necks.
“Absurd, but that’s what I want. An argument, about who should put the dishes in the dishwasher, whose turn it is to sort the laundry, clean the toilet; something daily and unimportant in the big scheme of things. We could even have a fight about that, about unimportant, important.”
-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale