(comic courtesy of Sinfest)
We are surrounded by so much sexist garbage every day that to a lot of people it’s invisible. And the thousand little ways men can let women know they’re second-class citizens, the overwhelming but seldom-mentioned problems of sexual assault and domestic violence, the harmful “assistance” of well-meaning but uneducated ostensible allies and the hyperbolic vitriol and threats heaped upon any woman who dares to voice a criticism of sexism or misogyny online … it’s enough to make women think there truly aren’t any men on their side. I’d like to try and add to the voices of decent men speaking out not on behalf of women, but alongside them.
So why does another male feel he has something to contribute to the subject of feminism?
I honestly didn’t think I did. There’s plenty of people out there discussing this stuff, and women are the experts on how the world treats them, right?
But then I was filled with fury, sadness and nausea in the wake of the Isla Vista shootings. And even more sickened at the response from so many – these people were clearly dead because of gun laws. Because of mental health issues. Because he didn’t subscribe to The Game strictly enough. Because women should’ve just put out for the gunman, and he wouldn’t have ended up so messed up.
This was a man who wrote a 141 page screed about how much he hated women. About how their rejection of him meant they deserved to die.
He posted a seven minute YouTube clip detailing how he was going to kill women because he hated them.
This man made it clear, in his actions, his tone, and in his very specific words how he was motivated by hatred of women.
Why then were there so many invested in blaming his actions on anything but his stated motivation – hatred of women? Or to put it another way, why does our society have such a problem with acknowledging misogynism as a cause of violence even when the violent individual tells the whole world that women deserve to die just for being women?
So long story short, I’m doing this because women have told me that more men need to be saying the things I’m saying. Because if we’re not getting angry at women being treated as lesser beings, we’re enabling the perpetrators. And because if I don’t, I’ll go nuts.
So if you believe these things so firmly, why don’t you own your words and blog under your own name? Where’s the courage of your convictions?
If this were a perfect world where discussing these issues didn’t literally result in death threats, rape threats, personal info being posted all over hate sites and character assassination, then I’d gladly do so. I’ll admit I am at far less risk of those things happening than any given woman writing about the same things, but it’s still a risk. I’d rather stay pseudonymous. If you think that makes me a coward, you’re entitled to your opinion.
But the patriarchy hurts men too! Women do (bad thing) too! What about reverse sexism?! How are women any better?! Why do you hate men? (or any other comment that boils down to “You hurt my feels!/What about the menz?”)
STFU. Either you’re a troll, and I don’t feel the need to engage, or you’re entirely clueless about the concepts of privilege, structural and cultural disadvantage, and social conditioning. I am not providing Feminism 101, but I will get a link page up at some point with a beginner’s reading list for people genuinely learning more about feminism.
I believe men can coexist with women. I expect more from other men than rape jokes and death threats when a women tries to tell her story. I expect more than jokes about sandwiches and silencing tactics when a woman tries to express herself. I expect more than ignoring the lived experience of women in favour of mansplaining. I expect more than a zero-sum view of male-female relationships where one side has to “lose” for the other to “win”. I am a feminist ally and I believe men and women can interact in fulfilling, meaningful and mutually enriching ways, on equal footing. If you don’t believe that, why not? You either have a low opinion of what men are capable of, or a low opinion of the importance of women’s input into such an exchange.
Is this a safe space?
No. I am going to make an effort to not use excluding or demeaning language. That said, I will slip up and use words that will offend. Let me know if something is problematic and I’ll reconsider my use of a term, but I may not change it. And I will use content notes sparingly. It can generally be assumed that much of what I discuss will contain language that is pretty horrible to women, but discussion of sexual assault, torture, abuse and violence, vilification or hate speech will generally be pre-warned. I will also not entertain commenters who feel the need to demean already marginalised groups.
I am discussing matters which make me angry and which I find offensive. My language will reflect that.
“Ally to women”? Don’t you mean feminist/feminist ally?
Yes, I do. Sadly, that word is still yet to be properly reclaimed from the realm of stereotypes that close people’s ears and minds immediately. If this world were a better place even people who disagree with me might go ahead and read the page with the word “feminist” in the title bar. At this point I’d rather discuss my profeminist views in posts that people might read, and try to change minds, than have them not even read what I’m writing because they can’t get past that one word. Hopefully by chipping away at this crap and changing the conversation, and highlighting outspoken feminists who don’t fit the stereotype (spoiler: pretty much all of them!) we can take that word back.
Why “profeminst/feminist ally”? Why don’t you call yourself a feminist? There’s lots of male feminists!
Firstly, because I understand I’m a product of social conditioning that I have to fight against every day. I’m going to make mistakes.
Secondly, because my idea of feminism means I am, to an extent, flying blind – women are the experts on the problems they encounter and the systems that disadvantage them, and I don’t want to suggest I know more than them.
Thirdly, and most importantly in my mind, there’s a sizeable chunk of feminist women who take offence to men using the tag “feminist”. As a man, in order to argue that you’re entitled to use that label, you effectively force yourself into the position of explaining to a woman why she’s wrong in her views on feminism… and if you’re mansplaining why you should be allowed to use a term that alienates you from the people you’re supposedly supporting, you shouldn’t be calling yourself a feminist OR a feminist ally – because in that moment you’re telling a woman her opinion is less important than yours, so what exactly makes you “feminist”?
White Knight! Fauxminist! Low-T pussy! Mangina! You’re just saying this shit to get laid! (or any other attacks on my sincerity)
Fuck off. Not everyone subscribes to your ideas about what makes a man, or what makes a woman. I don’t feel the need to prove my credentials to strangers on the internet. Hopefully my words will convey my sincerity.