Here it is again. Sorry to my 22 or so readers. I hate to be a drama queen. But sometimes I am a bit timid with my feminism and scared of the name-calling that comes when you utter the word 'patriarchy'.
But seriously, if you want to call me names, go right ahead. Sticks and stones and so on. Just actually READ what I say before you start throwing insults, okay?
Occasionally I am accused of hating men. Originally when someone said this to me, I used to respond with: "But I love men! I love my dad and my two brothers and my partner and some of my best friends are men!"
Now I have been around the feminist block a few times, so to speak, I realise that this is a rather pointless manoeuvre. Instead, next time someone accuses me of hating men, I'm going to say: "Your point is?"
Because even if I do hate men, so what? Do I have the power to do anything with my hypothetical burning hatred of human beings with penises? Nope. I'm also a pacifist, so I'm not going to recommend anything remotely like a Valerie Solanis type attack on the bodily integrity of other humans. Even if they are those wicked tricksy mensies.
No, I am a Man-Hater, in a world where the istitutions of power favour the XY chromosome, where women are regularly raped and abused and murered, where child abuse is rampant, and where my gender guarantees I'll make less money than a male colleague. Are you seeing a trend here, perhaps?
The thing that's the problem here isn't individual men, though they
can be part of the problem. It's Patriarchy, and I believe that many
men are victims of it as women. They're just victims in different ways.
However, I also believe some men win out in the patriarchy, and that's
why it's still around, because it benefits those in power. If this all
sounds conspiracy-theory-ish, it's not. I don't think very many men sit
around plotting how to oppress women and other men, anymore than I as a
first-world person plot to oppress the workers in factories in China
who make my shoes. That doesn't mean the oppression isn't real.
But I digresss. You see, I really don't hate you, if you're a man. If I criticise 'masculinity' I'm not being critical of you as an individual, unless you're being an arsehole, I'm being critical of an idea, a performance, a culturally inscribed set of ideals about how 'men' should behave. I'm not a complete moron and I do think there are differenes in male and female behaviour that come down to chromosomes and hormones and suchlike.
People, however, are more alike than they are different, and all this endless 'what do women want?' and 'how come women are DIFFERENT from men' business really elides our common humanity. That said, I'm not rejecting feminism for humanism because I believe there is a specific, real, lived and fundamental issue in this world to do with how women are treated, and I am proud of the many achievements of feminism as a human rights movement.
I also genuinely think most of our ideas about what 'men' should do are really rather idiotic and damaging. Men shouldn't cry. Men should be 'tough' and not show emotion. Men should be good at fixing things. Men do not do things women enjoy, because that would make them girly, and hence not real men. Men need to always be the provider and the supporter. Men should like football.
These needs and shoulds are a huge burden to carry, and I think they emotionally damage many people. The idea that showing weakness is essentially unmasculine is a huge problem, and I think it leads to a lot of the problems men have in our society. I think these ideas also express a huge contempt for women, because most of them are predicated on the idea that anything female is inherently lesser and bad.
And so on. Go read some bell hooks. It'll do you good.
Some feminists do actually hate men. And if you're a man I think you just need to accept that. Feminism isn't responsible for your problems. Believe me, feminism can't even convince women that having a labiaplasty might not be the best idea, and that's just common sense. Accept that, for whatever reason, some feminists don't want to hear about how you personally are a great guy and it's so insulting to be hated for your gender and blamed for problems you were in no way responsible for.
Analogy: I am a white person. I don't go around oppressing Aboriginal people. Yet I am inextricably linked to the power structures that oppress Aboriginal people, and no amount of me insisting I'm a great person is going to make those power structures which oppress Aboriginal people any less oppressive. Aboriginal people don't want to hear about how great I am because I've never personally stolen one of their children. In the case of Aboriginal people, I just need to do what I can by voting and being a little bit sensitive, but not by barging over to some Aboriginal people and demanding that they like me even though to them, I represent a world they are actively denied access to and justice from.
So. Some feminists just don't like you, because you are a Man. But they have no power over you, not in any institutional meaningful way. The world is still run by a small handful of powerful men, for powerful men, and they call the shots. Institutions are dominated by males, by competition, by dominance and power structures that privilege certain ways of doing things. If you were born with a penis, you've still got the upper hand in many ways. Of course, when you stir things like race, class, religion, socio-economic status and education into the mix, it all gets very complicated. Feminism needs to work with these complications and understand them, but gendered opression is still a very big deal and one worth actively fighting against.
But I really really do hate football. *Ducks and runs away*