Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Misandry and miscommunication....


I am having, how do you say, a stomp.

Last week my little sister suffered exactly the same indignity I went through at fifteen: having a painstakingly thought-out and researched feminist debate beaten in the school debating competition by a dim boy with a grin and a guitar. In the questions round, a gang of energetic adolescents asked the same question: Do you blame men?

After years of reading and thinking and writing and talking about feminism in the nominally adult world, I face the same question time after weary time: why do you hate us so? Why is it all our fault? Why must you blame us?

And no matter how often and how exhaustively I explain that we don’t, that feminism and misandry aren’t the same thing, no matter how careful I am to distinguish between ‘the patriarchy’ and ‘male people’, the same frantic, antic, aggressive-defensiveness persists. The same terror from men across the political spectrum that feminism means sanctioned man-bashing and, worse still, that it might have a point. An inverted delusion that any feminist statement is automatically an attack on all men, everywhere.

Feminism isn’t, in fact, all about men and the terrible things they do. Feminism isn’t even all about women. Feminism is about categories, and assumptions, and prejudices, and how they work us all over at base level. The necessity of explaining this to supportive readers and wannabe trolls alike is a central dilemma for feminist bloggers. Do you take on people's assumptions and try to explain? Do you engage?

Well, of course you do. Cath Elliott at Cif and Liberal Conspiracy is a tireless and inspiring example of the practice. You engage, and you engage again, even when you find yourself attacked and wilfully misunderstood on all sides. Because the internet is a safe space, but it's also a hypertextual space - and the right of reply, the right to ask questions and pose challenges is a central part of that discourse. Yes, it makes the whole process a lot more tiring. But in the end, you step up or you step the hell away from the keyboard.

9 comments:

  1. No doubt--

    Feminism = misandry

    Feminists have a tendency to explain things and act as people in general do today. That is they say one thing and do something else. How about acknowledging all the great things in society that have come from men and not just focus on the "terrible things" they do. Remember almost ALL technology and modern products are the product of men. Cars, planes, trains, homes, medication, computers are mostly due to men's work. What about the terrible things that women do and do not even try to correct. Feminists will never acknowledge the evil that women do. Where were all the feminists during the Duke lacrosse scandal ? This is why feminsim now seems to equate to misandry. Complain about men every chance you get. Blame men for every failure a woman has. Remember men are basically doing terrible things all the time and never do anything good (except those few who submit to the stupidity of feminism). I think that you will see more and more men realize the evil of feminism.

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  2. Anon -

    A lot of great social, technological and creative advances down the centuries have been solely the work of men - but this is not because men are a superior species. It's because, for much of that time, women were kept as domestic slaves or pets, kept illiterate and forced into childrearing, service, extreme religious devotion or all three. Since we've been moving towards the full political and social emancipation of women over the last century, you'll notice that female innovation and creativity has skyrocketed, so that as we become more liberated we contribute far more to human society and expand our potential as human beings. We're not there yet, we're still fighting the hostility of people with attitudes like yours. But we'll get there eventually. Now, don't you think that's something worth having?

    Feminists do not blame men for everything, nor do we claim that all women are saints. We see patriarchy as a holistic force in which many women, too, are involved.

    Some women genuniely hate men. A minority of those call themselves feminists. But most of us acknowledge that misandry is actually supremely unhelpful to the cause of contemporary feminism. We need men on side, and we want them there because we want them to share in the egalitarian society we're trying to build for our children.

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  3. Men kept women as pets? This is revisionist history of Biblical proportions. Women have always been complicit partners in their confinement to domestic roles, and you're kidding yourself if you think my great-grandmother wanted to work in a dangerous mine where almost all the men in the region worked -- and many died in their 20s -- while the women stayed home with the children. This was the way it was for most of human existence. As for superiority, the genders are equal, but there are vastly more male super-geniuses who have, and will, create the vast majority of inventions and art. There are also vastly more men at the bottom rung of society, too.

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  4. What you're talking about there is a specifically working-class dynamic. Nobody wants to work in a coal mine. However, given the choice, a lot of women from all classes would rather be out there creating and innovating than stuck at home with the babies.

    'As for superiority, the genders are equal, but there are vastly more male super-geniuses who have, and will, create the vast majority of inventions and art.'

    This simply isn't true. Everywhere, history is full of women who have been innovators and artists despite the often huge odds thrown up against them by their gender and social role. What we're also talking here is simple lack of training. You can't make medical discoveries if you can't go to medical school and if you've been discouraged from even learning how to write your own name because it's 'not your place'. That's not the case any more, which is why we've suddenly got a hell of a lot more females leading the field in the arts, writing, journalism, science, technology and business.

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  5. Hi, I'm a 45 year old man artist musician father, I believe in fairness and equality, in race creed culture and sex, but I see a difficulty now, in that the feminist debate has started to ignore the real males out there ,and we don't all play foot ball or look at breasts in magazines. I am alive , I am sentient , I am a man , I am creative , deal with me!

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  6. well... I'm a Canadian man now living in South-America. I was raised in the 70s and 80s by liberal parents and yes I did feel men were evil and women victims. In the 90's things got really difficult for for my generation (the X one). There was a lot of confusions regarding what men and women wanted from each oher. And I do remember quite well many a feminist (or so they say they were) blaming men as if it has been a conspiracy. Now living ina third world country looking at first sight as a macho patriarcal society I can tell you it is not that simple. I discovered men, although apparently holding he power were not so in charge. After all these machos were raised by.... WOMEN. And you do know that in traditional society how la mama is regard as a saint. I discovered that women were guardian of tradiions. They were those being ultra devoted to baby jesus, to role gender.
    To put it very simply, I felt women wanted to be mothers to escape the woman-state to become the boss of their families (men do not really participate in any ways to children education). Once reaching the status of "mama" they were really spreading the same disease. The little girls would me sort of mini-me and boys would be sexless lover reated as kings.

    Besides the mama situation, just travel and look who is in charage of small businesses, who is culrivating the field ect ect: Women.

    I feel western feminists had tried to change men without really questioning women themselves. I do thing it begin with women as they hold more than they think in their hands. I do remember articles blaming men for wars and saying women were the victims. Well... you would be shocked to see some mothers injuring their sons to eviscerate the "enemy" in some countries.

    Women are more than often those holding traditions, silly-religious beliefs and gender roles.

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  7. 'As for superiority, the genders are equal, but there are vastly more male super-geniuses who have, and will, create the vast majority of inventions and art.'

    "This simply isn't true. Everywhere, history is full of women who have been innovators and artists despite the often huge odds thrown up against them by their gender and social role. What we're also talking here is simple lack of training."

    Er, I'm sorry but you are in fact wrong here. Genetic truth holds that the human male is twice as likely to be supra-genius... but looking at the lower levels we see more men again. Nature takes greater risks with men for practical reasons I guess.

    This does not negate the biological and social restrictions that hindered women in the past. Although the absurd notion of a conspiracy that floats around does a disservice to feminism. Hopefully the future will see an increasing number of women able to fulfil their potential. But this will never remove the increased natural occurrence of male supra-geniuses.

    Biology wins this point and denial is mere adherence to propaganda.

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  8. If you think there are more male "supra-geniuses" (I note this term lacks exact definition) than women, then you basically still maintain men are generally genetically superior. What a fine argument.

    In addition, a quick leaf through your local dictionary should distinguish "feminism" from "misandry".

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  9.      "Nobody wants to work in a coal mine."
         That's quite true. But no woman has needed to in order to survive or to care for her family. Many men have. This is an item on which women have it better than men. Feminism wants to keep it that way. You see, no matter how carefully you explain that "feminism is not misandry," as long as I see that feminism only wants "equality" in those areas where they think men have the better deal and want to keep all instances where men get the short end of the stick, I will recognize feminism for the misandry it is.
         "...which is why we've suddenly got a hell of a lot more females leading the field in the arts..."
         Don't forget quotas, which all but say that men need not bother trying because they will be excluded. Although you complain about women supposedly being told it's not their place, that is what men are being told now.
         Feminism wants all women to have all the opportunities that only a few lucky men get. And it doesn't want women to have to face the costs or the adversities that the typical male faces.
         The problem you face when you try to explain that feminism does not entail misandry is quite simple. People look at the reality and see that it does. You are not going to convince people to believe you over their own eyes. Or rather, you are not going to convince very many people to believe you over their own eyes. You might as well be trying to explain that grass is pink and the sky is purple.
         For quite a long time, feminism enjoyed excellent public relations. People were blind to misandry and so didn't see it in feminism either. And feminism had some legitimate points, though not as many as most like to think. It isn't the person who "makes" a million dollars who has the power. It's the person who gets to control how it is spent. But the blindness is ending. People are beginning to see misandry. And once they can see it, they can also see that feminism is filled to the brim.

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