Gender Equality

by cacophonies

For anyone who reads this blog with any regularity, you’ve no doubt noticed the lack of posts in the past month. Well, imnotme and I moved, we’ve been getting ready for school (imnotme transferring and me enrolling for spring) and are settling into a new routine, and blogging has just become an afterthought– although imnotme has started a side project, blogging about his experiences on Trazodone, a prescription that he’s just begun taking for insomnia.

In addition to (and maybe of because of) that, I’ve been reconsidering my motives for starting and writing on this blog.

I still “believe in” feminism, at it’s core. I am still grateful for those women and men who are activists and change minds and policies every day. But I’m also changing my focus, whether I really wanted to or not. I’m in no way saying that I no longer care about the ways that sexism and misogyny affect women and try to (and do!) hold us down. But… I can no longer say that I feel that it’s important for us to focus solely on the ways that sexism hurts women.

While it’s important and useful to personalize and identify your passions and activism, to not spread yourself too thin, feminists tend to flat-out ignore the ways that misogyny, patriarchy, and sexism affect men. You tend to hear more these days, but they’re barely scratching the surface, with their quickly forgotten, sentence-long statement about how “patriarchy hurts men, too,” before moving on to how sexism against men is really just another manifestation of misogyny.

The thing is, I tend to agree with the assertion that hatred and fear of femininity is the root cause of most, if not all forms of sexism against men. What needs to change is that we need to stop focusing on this, stop using it as a rhetorical sound-bite to illustrate to the masses how misogyny is still alive and well.

When men are discriminated against because of their sex or gender identity, when they’re being held to ridiculous gender expectations, we, as feminists, need to stop screaming “feminism!!” in their faces. Perhaps embracing feminism is one solution, but it’s certainly not the only. Ordering a man to embrace feminism when he’s been the victim of sexual discrimination at the hands of a woman isn’t going to earn you his trust right away.

Imnotme and I had an incredibly enlightening and emotional discussion about physical standards men are expected to live up to. Throughout the conversation, as I listened to imnotme talk about the pressure to be a “buff,” muscular dude, I had to restrain myself from interrupting him to remind him of how many young women struggle with anorexia and other eating disorders, how the pressure to be thin, as a woman, was, in my opinion, far more dangerous and affecting. And I’m glad I did manage restraint, because imnotme was being candid and open with his struggles with gender conformity and expectations, and who was I to make it “all about the womenz”? Feminist blogs use that statement all the time– only, of course, replace “womenz” with “menz.” Men stumble across a feminist blog, read about rape statistics, and argue that no one cares about prison rape, men are wrongly accused of rape all the time, etc., thereby making it “all about the menz.”

Trying to assert that misogyny is more significant or damaging than misandry (if you even agree that misandry can exist– some radical feminists and other left-leaning bloggers would disagree, since men are the ruling class and oppressors) is to try to split sexism into neat little categories of importance, diminishing the voices of so many other oppressed people, invalidating their experiences.

I’m tired of fighting on a “side.” There’s no sense to it anymore, and even if we finally get where we’re going, it’s taken much longer than necessary.

I’m still going to get angry when I see pictures of celebrity women that are Photoshopped beyond belief, the subjects turned into disproportionate waifs with no hips or breasts to speak of, that we are supposed to strive to look like. But I’m also going to get angry when I see Calvin Klein ads with men who are 6 feet tall and 190 pounds of muscle, huge biceps and discernible abs and square jaws, that men are supposed to strive to look like.

I still identify as a  feminist, but I’m not going to act on one side anymore. I’m for gender equality, not just the equality of women.

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18 responses to “Gender Equality

  1. Welcome back to the world of the blogging.

    Ordering a man to embrace feminism when he’s been the victim of sexual discrimination at the hands of a woman isn’t going to earn you his trust right away.
    Yes yes yes. Feminists comment that it is understandable for women who have been hurt by men to not be trusting of men yet when men are hurt by women we are supposed to get over it (usually by way of “checking our privilege”) and embrace feminism, a movement that puts women at the forefront. At first this stance used to piss me off but now I find it funny as I realize that when feminists complain about MRAs with their gross generalizations and personal attacks/insults they are only justifying their very existence.

    And about that “patriarchy hurts men too” soundbite. Check this out. Its a post about someone complaining about those “Boys are stupid” shirts. Notice how quickly people come in to reassure us that while they are offensive they are not sexist (and the notion that sexism against men and misandry do not exist really bothers me). Notice how quickly someone points out that those shirts were created by men (while totally ignoring the fact that they are marketed to women who buy them). Notice how quickly someone trots out the “if anything this is misogyny at work” redirect. And after all this “What about teh menz?” is the problem?

  2. elementary_watson

    Yes yes yes yes, to that whole article.

    I like your last sentence, because it sounds somewhat strange. Surely, if a society has “equality of (for?) women”, then the genders are equal, and the society has “gender equality”, hasn’t it? However, the meaning of the word “equality” often gets stretched towards something one-sided, or even justifying inequality, which is really quite a task.

  3. Pingback: Gender Equality - antimisandry.com

  4. Well, isn’t your rationale the reason why Womanism was created? Traditional feminism ignored men, rejected them, in fact.

    It’s nice to see you blogging again. I’ve missed visiting, reading and commenting. 🙂

  5. Great post, cacophonies!

  6. Welcome back and let’s see some more!

  7. Well, isn’t your rationale the reason why Womanism was created? Traditional feminism ignored men,…

    My understanding is that Womanism was a response to feminism’s white middle-classness, not its gynocenticism.

  8. …how sexism against men is really just another manifestation of misogyny.

    The thing is, I tend to agree with the assertion that hatred and fear of femininity is the root cause of most, if not all forms of sexism against men.

    I understand the part quoted above of the latter paragraph to be a defence of the idea expressed in the last part of the former paragraph.

    To the extent that it is true that “hatred and fear of femininity is the root cause of … sexism against men.”, it is not a generalised “hatred and fear of femininity”, but a hatred and fear of femininity in men. Those who hate and fear it in men generally have no similar antipathy toward women being feminine. To the contrary, femininity in women is preferred.

    In so as the hatred and fear of femininity is directed at men having, (or perceived to have) feminine characteristics, this is hatred or strong prejudice against (feminine) men. It is not “hatred or strong prejudice against women” and so does not meet the definition of misogyny. It does meet the corresponding definition of misandry.

    It’s worth pointing out that feminists have no difficulty in labeling hatred and fear of masculinity in women as “misogyny”, which is what it is.

    Also, I do not agree that “hatred and fear of femininity is the root cause of most, if not all forms of sexism against men.” Firstly there is a lot of prejudice against men who are (perceived to be) unmasculine without their being (perceived to be) feminine. Secondly, there is a lot of prejudice against men generally, which has nothing to do with how masculine or feminine they are. “Prejudice” is defined to be “The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions” and “Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.”. Judgments and convictions that, for example, men are disposable or that they are presumptively combatants would fall under the first of these rubrics. Unfounded claims that “men hate women” would fall under the second.

    • Welcome back. Let the debating begin.

      Those who hate and fear it in men generally have no similar antipathy toward women being feminine. To the contrary, femininity in women is preferred.

      You’ve undoubtedly heard what I’m about to say a thousand times before, but I’ll reitterate, anyway:

      The general consensus in feminst theory, and I am likely to agree with this wholeheartedly, is that a hatred of femininity in men, while considering that the same femininity is accepted and encouraged, even preferred, in women, points directly to the fact that femininity is not valued, and that the only people who may display feminine traits are women, because it’s supposedly innate to them. Young girls who are athletic and considered “tomboys” by their family and friends are not looked down upon, but are encouraged for being tough and aggressive. Young boys who show a preference for playing with dolls, helping with housework, not liking sports or other “masculine” things are ridiculed and picked on. How do you account for the difference?

      Also, I do not agree that “hatred and fear of femininity is the root cause of most, if not all forms of sexism against men.” Firstly there is a lot of prejudice against men who are (perceived to be) unmasculine without their being (perceived to be) feminine.

      Do you have any examples, hypothetical or otherwise, of how this might play out?

      • The general consensus in feminst theory, and I am likely to agree with this wholeheartedly, is that a hatred of femininity in men, while considering that the same femininity is accepted and encouraged, even preferred, in women, points directly to the fact that femininity is not valued, and that the only people who may display feminine traits are women, because it’s supposedly innate to them. Young girls who are athletic and considered “tomboys” by their family and friends are not looked down upon, but are encouraged for being tough and aggressive. Young boys who show a preference for playing with dolls, helping with housework, not liking sports or other “masculine” things are ridiculed and picked on. How do you account for the difference?

        I’d start by observing that the difference really only exists in the west, and is a relatively new phenomenon here. Up until about a hundred years ago both men and women were rigidly confined to their respective gender roles. At the top of the social pyramid, a few men were leaders and decision makers, while their female family members were household decorations and in some cases, bargaining chips. At the bottom, it was pure drudgery for both sexes in vast numbers, with men being forced into the most arduous and dangerous work roles

        Over the past century in the west only there has been a considerable loosening of the social norms confining women. Feminism and its predecessor movements, such as suffragism, have been both a cause and an effect of this massive social change, in my opinion more effect than cause, though that’s hard to say for certain. Another major cause were the two world wars, which took lower class men out of farms and factories and into trenches and graveyards, and took lower class women out of homes and into farms and factories.

        Note that this mass movement of labour – at the behest of, and for the benefit of, a very small number of men, a few thousand on each side at most did not challenge the male role one iota. Lower class men had always been cannon-fodder for the upper class to conscript and expend at will. The movement of female labour, however, put women into roles traditionally filled by men, and saw them doing, quite competently, tasks it had been previously assumed by everyone including women themselves, that they couldn’t do.

        When the wars ended, the surviving men were only too delighted to return to the relative safety of their peacetime roles. Similarly women were happy to return to the restrictions of their former role. – not. This was the impetus for the second wave of feminism.

        The most natural and parsimonious explanation for the fact that girls “are encouraged for being tough and aggressive” is that, consistent with the loosening of female gender restrictions across the board, these qualities are no longer regarded as unfeminine.

        The feminist explanation, besides failing Occam’s Razor, lead to the bizarre conclusion that the value of femininity has fallen in the west over the past century, just as the value of women has increased. Not only is femininity less valued here than it was a hundred years ago, but it’s less valued here than, say, in India, where both sexes remain confined to their roles.

      • …there is a lot of prejudice against men who are (perceived to be) unmasculine without their being (perceived to be) feminine.

        Do you have any examples, hypothetical or otherwise, of how this might play out?

        For example, consider the stereotypical nerd, viewed as gauche, weedy, and unsuccessful with women. These are unmasculine qualities, but they aren’t feminine.

        • consider the stereotypical nerd, viewed as gauche, weedy, and unsuccessful with women. These are unmasculine qualities, but they aren’t feminine.

          Maybe you haven’t met their female counterparts. Heterosexual women, usually intelligent, well-read, and often into video or board games (and probably cats and feminism), not athletic or in any other way deemed unfeminine or even masculine, but not successful with boys or men. I know more of those women than not. That’s not a valid comparison.

      • Young girls who are athletic and considered “tomboys” by their family and friends are not looked down upon, but are encouraged for being tough and aggressive.
        Actually I have to disagree with this part. Growing up I saw plenty of girls who were “tomboys” being told that they should not be aggressive and tough because “girls aren’t supposed to act like that”.

        And just as the boys who prefer dolls over toy cars and cooking over sports the problem isn’t that one (the traditional ideals of femininity and masculinity) is valued and other is not the problem is that as soon as a child’s gender is determined they are forced into a gender mold and ANY deviation from it is looked down upon.

        A man that doesn’t have a wild sex life with multiple women (yes women because other wise he is not a “real man”)? Something must be wrong with him. Men are supposed to be hypersexual beasts full of sexual experience to guide inexperience women.

        A woman that does have a wild sex life with multiple men (yes because other wise she is not a “real woman”)? Something must be wrong with her. Women are supposed to be delicate with no sexual experience waiting to be guided by experienced men.

        • Young girls who are athletic and considered “tomboys” by their family and friends are not looked down upon, but are encouraged for being tough and aggressive.

          Actually I have to disagree with this part. Growing up I saw plenty of girls who were “tomboys” being told that they should not be aggressive and tough because “girls aren’t supposed to act like that”.

          There is, of course, huge variability between different western subcultures in how far women have been freed from their traditional roles. It is a fallacy to assume that one’s own village is representative of the entire world.

  9. While it’s important and useful to personalize and identify your passions and activism, to not spread yourself too thin, feminists tend to flat-out ignore the ways that misogyny, patriarchy, and sexism affect men.

    Ignore, deny, dismiss, minimise, marginalise and erase.

    You tend to hear more these days, but they’re barely scratching the surface, with their quickly forgotten, sentence-long statement about how “patriarchy hurts men, too,”

    It’s not the brevity of such remarks that is problematic. PHMT is often used as a derisory dismissal. Even when it’s expressed sympathetically, PHTM functions as a shield, catching facts that rightly should be regarded as challenging core feminist doctrines, such as the notion that men are empowered or privileged by their gender or that (other things being equal) men are always better off than women.

    Feminist: Women are the victims of war…
    Objector: But 80-90% of civilians killed or injured in war are men.
    Feminist: Yes, yes. Patriarchy hurts men too. Now, as I was saying, women are the victims of war.

    …Ordering a man to embrace feminism when he’s been the victim of sexual discrimination at the hands of a woman isn’t going to earn you his trust right away.

    Nor will adhering to theories of gender which outright deny his experiences. This, rather than any particular discrimination at the hands of women, is the personal behind my political. (I’ve suffered at the hands of both men and women, but mostly as a result of pervasive societal attitude, for which everyone is responsible.)

    • My initial comment about PHMT was supposed to read in the same tone as what you are describing. I was outlining how feminists, mostly female feminists, tend to think that saying “PHMT” is enough, and that they can simply move on from there. I disagree with that.

      • Which if odd considering I’ve seen feminists say that men who simply agree with feminism aren’t doing enough that they need to actively challenge the system and stand up for women. Yet they allow themselves to get “acknowledge” that the system hurts men by spitting off a line of lip service.

  10. Pingback: Interesting reads « ethecofem

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