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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Problem with the F-Word


The problem with Feminism, like the problem with most religions, is that it doesn't really mean what people say it does.

Definition of Feminism (via Feminists): Advocacy for gender equality. The real definition of Feminism (via the dictionary): The advocacy for women's rights.

See? Right there. They say it's about gender egalitarianism, but in reality it's about increasing the power of women as a group, not about strict gender equality.

Now, I've got no problem with women advocating for their rights and privileges as a group. Hallelujah, praise geebus, and all that jazz. Go get it, girls! Shatter that glass ceiling! Seriously, I support that fully.

Sadly this often comes at the expense of racial minorities, the LGBTQ communities and other groups, including men. It's identity politics at its worst. The problems begin with the dishonesty, misandry, and total asinine bullsh!t done in the name of Feminism, including the denigration & outright denial of male victims.


Which is why I will always consider myself a Masculist. The radical notion that men are people, and can be oppressed based on their gender.

See, Feminism fails for me in that it institutionalizes misandric paranoia -- such as the notion that all men are rapists -- demonizing men, the Lace Curtain, sexual violence against men, and other incredibly harmful things.

That's why when people say, "I'm a Feminist", I say, "Oh really? Because I don't think that means what you think it means."

So it goes.

This guy knows what I'm talking about.

Cheers

10 footnotes:

RVCBard said...

I have my problems with mainstream Western feminism, but it's deeply insulting for you to use the lives of LGBTQ people and people of color as fodder for your diatribe against what you describe as feminism, which is a gross misrepresentation. Not to mention it also dismisses and erases groundbreaking work by women of color (quite a few of whom are also lesbians) such as bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberle Crenshaw, Angela Davis, Barbara Smith, and countless others. But I suppose that since we've got Malcolm X, Cornel West, and Tim Wise, nothing that women of color have to say about sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny is worth thinking or talking about more deeply.

Everything you have written here and elsewhere about feminism uses the same rhetoric that men everywhere use to erase and dismiss the ways that sexism, misogyny, and patriarchy affects me on a daily basis: the "Nice Guys" who think I owe them sex because they do something nice for me (yet won't hesitate to call me a bitch and/or dyke, demand an explanation, or whine about me leading them on if I reject them), the constant barrage of advertisements showing me why my body is ugly and/or disgusting and what I should do about it (buy their products, of course!), the moralizers who seem to believe they have a say on what I can do with my uterus and support laws that would coerce me into obeying their opinion (and who, ironically, do not wish to support initiatives providing government assistance, paid maternity leave, or even job security should I choose to raise the same babies they insist I carry to term), the constant expectation for me to play Mommy if I wish to be treated like a human being worthy of basic respect and consideration (nevermind admiration), being condemned for forms of self-expression that would be praised in a man, the need to downplay my successes or abilities to seem less threatening, the need to trumpet my achievements and abilities to seem capable, media of all kinds that tells me that what matters most about me is who I choose to fuck and who wants to fuck me, media of all kinds that tells me that how I perform sex matters more than how I enjoy it, and media of all kinds that tells me that I should be sexually available but not enjoy it more than Average Joe (since that would make him feel inadequate).



Compared to the overwhelming evidence of the harm that patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism causes, misandry is barely even a blip on the radar. Resentment, hostility, and hatred are the natural fruits of oppression. People who have to deal with sexism, racism, and homophobia (among other things) on a daily basis tend to get pretty pissed about that.

Until some future when women, people of color, and LGBTQ people have the collective power to oppress men, White people, and straight people, I really don't see the need to focus on these people when all it does is take attention away from the bigger and more pressing issues at hand.

Zek J Evets said...

RVCBard,

I apologize if my pointing out the ways in which Feminism hurts those communities I mention was offensive to you.

If I recall, wasn't Alice Walker et al involved in Womanism precisely because of the failures they perceived in Feminism?

Your point about connecting my "rhetoric" to the suffering you've experienced is extremely powerful, but I do not see how my evidence about Feminism hurting, denying male victims, portraying masculinity as inherently negative, and inciting sexual violence against men somehow erases your suffering.

Can't the pain I feel share space with the pain you feel? Can't they coexist?

You say, "misandry is barely even a blip on the radar", but how does that justify not talking about it?

Notice I don't define "men" as anything other than by their gender, and I guess I just fail to see how we have to wait until the scale of oppression is tipped completely the other way to talk about problems that affect half of the population.

Your comment is well-taken, but male victims, particularly those attacked in the name of Feminism, do not in any way reduce or remove the realities of the kyriarchy. If anything, they support the notion that oppression affects us all, and we need to fight against it.

At least, that's how I feel.

RVCBard said...

If I recall, wasn't Alice Walker et al involved in Womanism precisely because of the failures they perceived in Feminism?

Yes, because mainstream feminism, as practiced by White women, has often been racist and classist. The problem with mainstream feminism is not that it advocates for women's rights, but because it erases the vast majority of women in the world (Third World women and women of color) when they talk about women's rights or women's issues.

Your point about connecting my "rhetoric" to the suffering you've experienced is extremely powerful, but I do not see how my evidence about Feminism hurting, denying male victims, portraying masculinity as inherently negative, and inciting sexual violence against men somehow erases your suffering.

For the same reason that you realized that focusing on a few people of color talking shit about White people in the internet is detrimental to anti-racism:

I got my hackles up, and decided that all by myself I was going to "challenge" what I saw as hypocrisy, ignorance, and the corruption of anti-racism.

But this fight isn't about me. It isn't about purging anti-racism of every contradiction I find, because that's just silly. Naive. Impossible. This fight isn't about whether I'm right or wrong or somewhere in-between.

I need to stop caring so damn much about what stupid shit others say and start focusing on what I'm saying and how I use those words to help others. (And no, I don't want, need, or expect a thank you!)

In anti-racism it isn't my job to lead, or to police, or to tell other anti-racists why they're wrong. It isn't my job to worry what some blog tucked far away in cyberspace may or may not believe about White people. That shit just ain't worth it. It's small potatoes without any goddamn gravy.


As you had realized when you said that, you are losing sight of the bigger picture.

Nobody is denying that being bullied or abused really sucks, regardless of the reasons that somebody decides that they want to exercise power by disempowering someone else. But there's a difference between being bullied or abused because people sometimes suck, and having the weight of systemic power backing up the abuse.

It's a lot like being the White kid in a Black neighborhood who gets picked on and sometimes beaten up for being pale and scrawny. Does it suck? Yes. Are that kid's tormentors some real assholes? Yes. Does this magically mean that reverse racism is the real problem? No. Does it suddenly mean that Black people are the real racists? No.

Rather than interpreting this experience as Those People trying to make you feel guilty for being White/male, why not transform your perspective?

You can always say, "I had this experience. It really sucked, and it's wrong that this happened to me. If I am apparently privileged by my race/class and this happened to me, what happens to the people who don't share my privileges? How can I support them? Who would be willing to trust and work with me?"

But, no, what always happens is that what matters most is that a White man has suffered so everybody but White men are the real problem.

Zek J Evets said...

RVCBard,

Yet there is evidence that there is systemic power backing up the abuses that Feminism/Feminists engage in, such as the refusal of domestic violence shelters to treat male victims.

Honestly, I feel I transformed my perspective when I started learning about Masculism, and male issues from domestic violence to rape.

Unlike my writings on anti-racism, I'm talking about a systemic ideology which HAS HURT through use of structural oppression. Not one that *may* hurt, but has hurt.

More importantly, I'm talking about my lived experience as a man who deals with male issues. That is significantly different from trying to be a White ally in anti-racism.

But, no, what always happens is that what matters most is that a White man has suffered so everybody but White men are the real problem.

I'm sorry you feel that my writing is tied to that trend, because frankly I've worked to distance myself, and distinguish myself from that kind of talk.

What matters to me is that men, just based on the fact that they are men, are suffering from a systemic ideology that -- unlike anti-racism -- hurts them because their existence/lived experience hurts their political narrative/victim meta-narrative.

I recently read an article by a gender queer bisexual woman who explains a lot of my problems with Feminism, albeit from the otherside of the gender-divide.

Here's the link: http://www.genderratic.com/?p=933

RVCBard said...

I'm sorry you feel that my writing is tied to that trend, because frankly I've worked to distance myself, and distinguish myself from that kind of talk.

Unfortunately, that's how you sound most of the time when you talk about feminism or blame feminism for the problems that men have. You seem to believe that feminism is a bigger threat than patriarchy (yes, even the men: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2003/02/04/patriarchy-hurts-men-too/). I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise because I have better ways to waste my time.

This is the same wall you keep hitting over and over and over again in every case where you fall on the privileged side of the equation. You want to talk about systemic oppression yet somehow don't want people to see you as part of that system despite all the collective evidence and experience to the contrary.

You claim to be an ally of people of color, of women, and of LGBTQ people, but you stomp all over the work of the very people who are trying to liberate themselves with and then seem bemused, even wounded, when we don't thank you for deciding that our issues and our work are important enough to piss on.

Who in their right mind would trust you with anything as critical, something as essential, as the internal and external work that needs to happen to bring justice and freedom to their lives and communities? The stakes are far too high to entrust our well-being to people who seem to place more importance on how we make them feel than on the work that needs to be done.

RVCBard said...

You may also find the following links illuminating:

http://sexistculture.tumblr.com/post/13846722819/men-get-raped-too-a-response-tw

http://xenologer.dreamwidth.org/358862.html

And especially: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/08/man-haterz.html

Implicit, then, in womanism/feminism is not only the belief, but the expectation, that men are not brutish nor infantile—nor stupid, useless, inept, emotionally stunted, or any other negative stereotype feminists have been accused of promoting—but instead our equals just as much as we are theirs, capable not only of understanding feminism (and feminists), but of actively and rigorously engaging challenges to their socialization, too.

Zek J Evets said...

RVCBard,

Well, you're entitled to your opinion of me, however wrong it may be =/

I've never stated that I think Feminism is a bigger threat than patriarchy. In fact, I've hardly ever distinguished what's the biggest/smallest threat in gender issues, if ever actually. I rather see a problem, and prevalent or not, I find myself draw to why, and how to change it. As often happens, the problems I'm drawn to are ones that affect me directly, in this case, as a man. Yet I acknowledge my privilege, all the time.

I also don't use the term patriarchy, especially since it's an incorrect term for describing power dynamics in America.

How I sound is unfortunately not something I can completely control, and I'm learning to get over it. People will read my writing and think whatever they want ultimately, no matter how direct, forthright or honest I attempt to be.

It makes me sad, but that's life I guess.

Who in their right mind would trust you with anything as critical, something as essential, as the internal and external work that needs to happen to bring justice and freedom to their lives and communities? The stakes are far too high to entrust our well-being to people who seem to place more importance on how we make them feel than on the work that needs to be done.

The pain you're projecting to me is incredible, and only compels me to feel even more melancholy at the reality that we do not agree on your perception of me, or Feminism, or the plight of male victims.

It would be too easy to disregard your comments as a parallel "what about teh wimminz" kind of BS, but I believe I know you better than that.

Yet I refuse to silence myself when I see injustice happening. I may often ignorant, often privileged, and surely stubborn as all hell, but I will at least speak up when I see something going on that I feel is wrong. Especially when the group of victims are a group that I belong to, and identify with!

And notice that identification is based not on racial privilege, nor sexuality, not class, not age, but gender. I'm talking about an entire half of the population of the planet! To me that seems like a major issue -- though even if the people only comprised a tiny portion of the 7 billion people on Earth I would still like to believe I would care and act upon that compassion.

Your links are well-taken. But did you read mine? Your comments imply otherwise. I haven't gone out trying to take away from women's issues, or from anti-racism, or the myriad other forms of oppression in the world. I talked about an issue that affects ME deeply on MY OWN blog.

And if that bothers you so much, then you are, of course, free to disregard my post and read elsewhere -- as you've implied that you will. I will miss your comments, because they were thoughtful and decisive, but so it goes.

Thanks, and take care =)

RVCBard said...

I read your comment at the post you linked to, and explained that way, I don't disagree with your critique of what I call F*eminism or Feminism (TM), that is a completely different thing from the work women have been doing for decades now. As much as mainstream sources would like to have you believe that National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women is the same as feminism, it is not. It's never been the case. They think they trademarked the name, but contrary to what they tell everyone, the National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women does not own feminism, nor do they have the monopoly on advocating for the rights, well-being, and empowerment of women (the category of which they limit to White, cisgender, college-educated, able-bodied, middle to upper class, English-speaking citizens of First World Western nations).

I have yet to hear anyone outside the National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women argue any of the following:

1. That penetrative sex is inherently patriarchal oppression (apparently, even for lesbians).
2. All men are rapists and all women are innocent victims (All those Black guys who got strung up for "raping" White women? Conveniently ignored or forgotten - Black men who are the fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, and friends of Black women.)
3. Rape and sexual abuse only happen to women (What Catholic Church scandals?)
4. Women cannot be ignorant, evil, or flat-out insane.
5. Fathers should defer to the mother on all things related to rearing their children and it's better if he had no say at all.
6. Women's violence doesn't hurt as much as men's violence (Any woman who survived high school will prove that a lie.)
7. Harming men who pose no direct threat is a viable solution to the problems of sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny.

The feminism you are talking about is a very specific phenomenon that arose out of a very specific context that is only tangentially related to the self-determination and empowerment of all women.

Zek J Evets said...

RVCBard,

Fair enough. I frequently find myself apologizing for radical, misogynist elements of the Men's Rights Movement (the MRA, for one) and saying that what they stand for is NOT what I'm about as a Masculist.

That said, you cannot deny that the "National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women" is not only the leading voice of Feminism, but also the most powerful. It has become an institutional power unto itself, and perpetuates its own forms of oppression (albeit they are milder than their opposites) to maintain that power.

But either way, there comes the crux of our disagreement. You say: The feminism you are talking about is a very specific phenomenon that arose out of a very specific context that is only tangentially related to the self-determination and empowerment of all women.

Yet in my experience, and that of thousands of other men across the blogosphere, that specific Feminism you disassociate yourself and other women from is the only Feminism we have ever known. The Feminism you speak of has, unfortunately, never existed in my life -- perhaps because it is dominated, controlled, used, manipulated, and otherwise oppressed by the kind of mainstream Feminism that unfortunately has disturbing elements of misandry, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other crappy things that I cannot agree with.

Which is why I've said here on my blog (though not in this post) that I prefer Womanism to Feminism. Womanism sounds a lot more like the Feminism you describe than Feminism does.

RVCBard said...

Put that way, yes, I can see where you're coming from, as they are the same complaints that women have about Feminism (TM), aka the National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women.

You might want to read Jessica Yee's "Feminism For Real" (which talks a LOT about the institutional aspects of the National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women) and pretty much anything by Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Patricia Hill Collins, to name a few (incidentally, all women of color).

These works take a very, very different perspective on men than what you'd find from the National Association for the Advancement of Bourgie White Women, aka Feminism (TM).