So recently someone told me the following things and I decided to write an (extended) rebuttal against the claims.
1. You’re anti-man.
No, I am not anti-man. I am a feminist; there is a difference. Feminists are looking for equality between men and women, not for the subjugation of men. We’re looking for the empowerment of women and the changing of men’s attitudes towards women. If anyone tells you feminists are anti-men, they’re wrong.
While it may have been true in the past with strands of feminism like radical feminism which was popularised in the 1960s, that is rarely the case today. Today, we are seeing what is dubbed ‘fourth wave feminism’, in which feminism has evolved with the changing social landscape that the advent of 21st century technologies has brought about. It focuses on things like fighting rape culture, the misrepresentation of women in media, and the under-representation of women in politics, among other things.
Fourth-wave feminism has come to favour the method of calling out sexist and misogynistic behaviour online, especially when people are abusive and dole out death threats and rape threats to women who disagree with their opinion while they hide behind the safety of anonymity. Take Janelle Asselin, who received rape threats and death threats for pointing out the over-sexualisation of a teenage girl on the cover of Teen Titans #1, or Anita Sarkeesian, who received death threats, rape threats, and had someone create a game where players could beat her up- for pointing out how women are misrepresented in video games. (And, of course, the elephant in the room- Gamergate.)
I am anti-sexism and anti-misogyny, and since I’m listing the things I’m against, I’m also anti-homophobic and anti-MRA. (MRA being men’s rights activists, whose membership includes Elliot Rodger, who carried out a mass-shooting and killed six people and injured thirteen “to punish all females for the crime of depriving [him] of sex”, as well as all the people who praised him for carrying out the horrific attack.) But I am not anti-men, and, in fact, I think men can be part of the solution.
2. Not All Men
Firstly, I never said that. Nobody said that. Everyone knows it’s not all men who are like that. I’m pretty sure none of the articles I’ve shared on my feed said all men are like that. And I know not all men are like that.
But enough men are like that. Too many men are like that, and as a result, too many women have suffered at the hands of violent, mysoginistic and sexist men.
However, to use a popular metaphor- if you’re offered a plate of cookies and you know a couple of them are laced with cyanide, you sure as hell are not going to take one. Likewise, a woman walking down the street late at night is not going to know if the dude across the road is a potential attacker or just some guy just minding his own business. The cry ‘not all men!’ is completely meaningless unless men can prove, with their actions, that women won’t have to fear for their lives when walking home at night.
In fact, the response against the instinctive ‘not all men’ defence was so strong that the hashtag #yesallwomen was started so that women could share their experiences of being attacked or abused by men. And, the person who started the hashtag was- unsurprisingly and depressingly- inundated with abusive and threatening messages that forced her to delete her twitter account. I’m confident to say, pretty much ‘yes all women’. Yes, all women have received some kind of sexism or worse, sexual harassment or abuse from men. For me, I went to a convention and was stalked the whole day by some guy asking me for hugs. I was 15. I also received messages from random men on Facebook asking me for sex- to which I politely blocked them. I’ve also been objectified to my face, have had some random guy make inappropriate comments about what I was wearing that day, as well as been told I shouldn’t do certain things because I’m a girl. Like being a doctor.
But many women have had it far worse than me. Just read the #yesallwomen tag on twitter. Or see whenwomenrefuse.tumblr.com which collects the horrific stories of women who have violence inflicted on them for rejecting sexual advances, like the South Carolina man who hurled a twelve pound bowling ball at a woman’s head because she refused to let him buy her drinks, and the British man who smashed a glass bottle on a clubgoer’s head because she didn’t want to dance with him. Or the 16 year old girl who was stabbed to death in her school corridor by a boy whose prom invitation she turned down. (New York Daily News) The stories, depressingly, go on and on.
So the fact of the matter is- there is a problem, and by saying ‘not all men’, you are absolving yourself of responsibility for such behaviour, and are not helping solve the problem in any way. And if you think it’s more important to absolve yourself of responsibility than help fight against the violence and oppression that women face, then you are part of the problem.
However, I also strongly believe that yes, all men can be part of the solution. If men call out on another guy cat-calling, or hitting on a girl who is clearly uncomfortable with their advances, or preventing a guy from taking advantage of a girl who’s too drunk to fend him off, then I think that would be tremendously helpful in not only making the world safer for women, but also in helping the push towards equality and making the world a better place. Ultimately, it’s just the decent thing to do. Be a decent human being. Decent human beings treat other human beings with respect. Do not do unto others what you don’t want them to do to you, etc.
I don’t think equality should be a dream we aspire towards. It’s a necessity in society that we have to fight for.