Some Thoughts About Feminism and Being a Man

My blog is usually about ephemeral bullshit and inchoate rage about ephemeral bullshit. This post is not like those posts. Ya been warned.

I’m a feminist. It seems like it should be a pretty innocuous and easy thing to say – I believe men and women are equal and should be treated the same, and it seems obvious to me that this should be the case and it’s kind of unfathomable to me that there are people out there that disagree but there are – but it isn’t. For some reason the word feminism has been conflated into some amorphous thing that means different things to different people, to the point where successful women will publicly state that they aren’t feminists, because for some people feminism is a movement of man-hating shrieking furies (there are some who do vocally take offense to things like holding a door open for a woman, which is idiotic since I’d do the same thing for a 6’4” 270lb linebacker because it’s about politeness and not the idea that weak woman cannot push door but anyway, these people do in fact exist) while for others it’s about defining which wave of feminism we’re currently in and whether or not women having sex with whoever they want whenever they want are owning their sexuality or merely giving the Patriarchy what it wants because they are being influenced by media portrayals of sexuality and buying into the heteronormative narrative perpetuated by male-dominated industries and on and on (there are plenty of people like this; you can find them in the comments section of Jezebel and other places). In fact, it seems like there are as many definitions of feminism as there are individual people in the world, making the statement “I am a feminist” nebulous save for a vague sense of “I like women”.

So when I say I am a feminist, I am really saying I am a gender-equalist. That’s longer to type and say and includes a hyphen, but I suppose it is fitting since it doesn’t have decades of misunderstanding and bitter recrimination and in-fighting involved with it, so we’ll go with that.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this and other subjects of heavier weight recently and decided to talk about it here. There’s a lot of reasons why. There has been a lot more exposure of serious issues recently like rape on college campuses (my short take: the Greek system should be dismantled tomorrow and banished forever. You can make contacts and friends in college without paying for them, and if you can’t, then you might want to work on why you’re such a fucking terrible human being), Bill Cosby’s rape allegations (which have been known about and ignored for years now), Gamergate (a journalist writes an article about how the term Gamer is dead, a thousand sweaty neckbeards get their undies in a bunch, one neckbeard asshat in particular falsely claims his game designer ex-girlfriend slept with journalists to gain favorable reviews, rape and death threats pour out everywhere towards every female in an entire industry and gets so fucking out of hand that someone like Felicia Day says she doesn’t want to say anything about Gamergate for fear of getting doxxed and by saying that gets doxxed – actually, just read this since it captures my feelings on Gamergate better than I can), the cat-calling video (issues with the video or not, women get harassed every fucking day for having the audacity to be in public and are expected to be appreciative of the attention. I want to punch out co-workers who say good morning to me unsolicited before my coffee’s kicked in, and I know them. Forcing me to interact with strangers would drive me out of my fucking mind), and a thousand other things (the thousands of uninvestigated rape cases in Louisiana; the income disparity; the treatment of female politicians; Ray Rice; and on and on and sadly on). [Note – a 274 word sentence might be a new record for me, and I’m incredibly proud] With this increased exposure and focus comes a lot of talk about how women can improve their situation – what behaviors to avoid like drinking and being sexually active or dressing in anything other than a shapeless potato sack, or to embrace like smiling and thanking every man that has an opinion on their attractiveness – and it finally hit me why all of this is so fucking wrong.

Women don’t – and certainly shouldn’t fucking have to in any case – have to change. I do. We do. Men do.

It was something Chris Rock said recently that really struck me. He was talking about racism, and how the issue wasn’t what the “black community” needed to do to help eliminate the injustice and mistreatment of different races, or has done to “progress” to the point where there is a black President. Instead, he said that white people have become nicer. That’s it. And yes, this is a comedian saying something in a way that can cause a laugh even while making an important sociological point, but that doesn’t make him wrong. And I took that thought and ran with it a bit, then I saw what Terry Crews – who is more “man” than I or you will ever be – had to say on the subject. Check this out:

I want to be clear that feminism is not saying “women are better than men”…. What we’re talking about is gender equality, true gender equality… but the problem is that men have always felt like they’re more valuable.

I kind of relate it to… civil rights. Let’s go to civil rights – the people who were silent at the lunch counters, when it was the black lunch counter and the white one or the schools were segregated… and you were quiet. You were accepting it. Same thing with men right now. If you don’t say anything, you are, by your silence – it’s acceptance. I’m not going to be silent.

Fuck yeah.

So it was the combination of all those things that led me to this, today. I don’t want to be silent anymore either. I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to call out the people that belittle women as a matter of course because they think it’s “funny”. I want to tell the people that I know who want to “yeah but” every single issue that comes out to cram it up their fucking asses. Every single woman is a daughter, many of them are mothers and sisters and grandmothers and aunts and loved ones, just like every man is a son and possibly a father and brother and grandfather and so on. If you’re the kind of person who takes pleasure in belittling your mother or spouse or girlfriend or sister or daughter, well – fuck you. Be a man, and by “man” I mean a fucking human. The only way the bullshit Boy’s Club world changes if we as men make it happen. It doesn’t mean we lose anything – life isn’t a zero sum game. Treat your wife or girlfriend as your partner and not your fucking property. Don’t hit anyone, including women. Don’t rape anyone, including women. Judge a person on their fucking merits, not their fucking gender. And when someone does rape or hit a woman, let’s treat it like a fucking crime and refrain from asking if she deserved it or could have prevented it or wonder if she’s just doing it for money or publicity or making it all up to ruin someone’s reputation. It’s not a fucking lot to ask.

Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say now about it. I’m probably going to have a post about Ferguson upcoming (and weather the political bullshit storm about it) and one about the name Redskins (I’ve written about it before; I have further thoughts about it). But, if every fucking man who loves women as people just says so, and does something about it, like not be a sexist douchebag and calls out those around them who are, maybe we can make this world a better and safer place to live. And also: don’t make this a chance to excuse how women are treated in the US due to the fucking atrocities committed abroad by religious radicals. Women suffer atrocities here in America every day for the sole reason that they are women. Don’t equivocate. Don’t excuse your shitty behavior by saying someone else is worse. Don’t be an asshat.

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on December 3, 2014, in Philosophizin' and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I can’t believe how awesome you are! Period.

    I found you by Googling “I hate Walking Dead Rick” only yesterday; and already, I’ve read all your available Walking Dead reviews, your ‘The Blamers’ short story, and this blog.

    It is seriously like you are in my head, taking my thoughts, and putting them all online in a more organized way than I have the time to b/c software engineering work, R&R and all that… I haven’t met anyone besides my twin sister that seems to have the exact same thought processes and feelings on things than I do; I have yet to find non-relatives who love to HATE that stupid Walking Dead series than I do.

    I’m tired of getting confused stares when I tell actual fans of the show (really?) that Rick is a f*cking @$$ and Shane could have worked on his presentation at times (though who can blame him) but was almost ALWAYS right. I can’t remember the characters’ names same as you, I like Shane and dislike Rick for the exact reasons you mentioned, liked and started not liking characters (Mopey, Glen/n/n, DaleFace…) at the same moments in the same episodes… etc. It really feels like these are things I’ve written in the past and found them buried in the attic somewhere.

    ‘The Blamers’ was excellent and made a lot of sense; I can visualize that world, unlike the poor mash-up of BS The Walking Dead shows me… I’m literally looking at the world on a screen and it still baffles me that we’re supposed to believe it’s based on realism. Not sure if you’ve been keeping up with the series or not… Sorry I keep harping back to that series, but man, going through your reviews last night has drudged all that up again. LOL

    Anyway… I wasn’t sure where to say these things… I don’t generally comment online for obvious reasons I shouldn’t have to mention, but I had to tell you that you are awesome. But I know this comment is on a post about feminism, so…

    Like I said, you seem to be so much like me that there’s not much I can add. I agree with you 100%. I know it was geared more towards women, but I might have mentioned that there is some discrimination of men when it comes to things like child care and domestic abuse, for example, if only to get those ‘bleeding heart’ people off my back…

    The only thing I might have mentioned that isn’t here is that comet scientist, Matt Taylor’s shirt… I think it was more stupidly unprofessional than sexist, but the sexist part comes into play for me when it seems there wasn’t even a second thought when he woke up that morning like, “I think I’ll wear this shirt filled with half-naked women on national television as I represent the scientific community and talk about our achievement. I wonder if this shirt might be somewhat offensive… I hope Johanna isn’t in the office today.” Part of the problem is how desensitized people are to these minor things that even I, as a women in STEM, might have overlooked myself. Haha! Just kind of sad. In a way though, wearing that shirt is probably going to be the best thing that happened to him; now he will always be remembered as that scientist who wore that sexist shirt… oh, and landed on a comet. Way to bring focus – even if it’s a little, and misdirected – back into scientific discovery! No sarcasm there either… lol

    • This is all because I actually AM in your head. The last dental procedure you had also involved the implantation of a small but powerful mind-reading device (we in the agency call them “reads”) that allows me to catch your thoughts and upload them to the web as innocuous blog posts that are all part of a sophisticated plan to….

      OK, it probably isn’t exactly that.

      First off – thank you for commenting and your very kind words! They were very unexpected and really made my day. Mostly the people who comment are people I know or people in various countries trying to extoll the virtues of whatever thing they’re spamming. Plus, I usually get threats and cussed out for my opinions on TWD – and that’s from my friends – so it’s nice to meet a fellow clear thinker 🙂

      Secondly, you do make a good point about discrimination of men in certain areas. I think there needs to certainly be a discussion and change about that as well.

      And finally, an excellent point about Matt Taylor. It is amazing how ingrained certain things are in our society that don’t even make it on our radar until someone else points it out and we can all blink and say, huh, yeah, that’s pretty fucked up. And generally speaking, I’m all for increasing our attention on science – shame it can’t be for better reasons, like the actual discoveries and accomplishments, but I guess that’s sometimes too much to hope for!

      • I’m glad I could repay the favor, because you’ve made my day… starting last night. Haha! My sister and I spent 3-4 hours reading your TWD reviews to each other. It was a breath of fresh air knowing we weren’t the only ones. We haven’t read the comics either, but I just don’t see it making up for what the show’s story is making the characters do. 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading more from you; you’re honestly hilarious, the best kind.

      • I’m the twin sister, and she’s not lying. If you haven’t been keeping up with the show (I. can’t. stop. watching.), the 5th mid-season finale was last Sunday. I don’t know whether I’m more insulted that the writers think the average person is stupid enough to make the decisions their characters make, or if they think their audience is stupid enough to think their characters and the choices they make are actually believable. When I told my coworkers 2 years ago that I liked Shane, found him to be a much better leader, and that the group would have been better off if Rick didn’t show up and indirectly slaughter half the survivors in his camp, they looked at me like I was psychotic—nevermind my explanations that Shane was a solid character with believable motives (even if you don’t agree with them). My sister and I were up Skyping each other all last night (I’m temporarily in another country), talking about how we cannot be the only ones with these common-sense grievances.

        You have no idea—or maybe you do—how hard we scoured the web looking for a review that wasn’t singing the show’s praises, so it was refreshing when we stumbled into your reviews, which basically affirms *everything* we’ve been saying from the very beginning, and on a per-episode basis even. I particularly appreciated your reasoning for liking Shane as a character (S2e10), because it reinforces exactly (practically word-for-word) what I’d been trying to explain to my coworkers… who apparently now think I’m insane. But we are a very small minority, because the show has rave reviews all over the place (save season 2). Don’t get me wrong… the show has gotten better, but it’s still amazingly BAD at conveying human nature—and actual, thinking human beings—on realistic level. And, for some god-awful reason, they still worship Rick as if he were the Second Coming. I would have preferred if they followed through on your idea that they take Darryl, Shane, and Andrea to create a spinoff.

        Also, just to let you know, I found this the most hilarious part of your reviews, from the first paragraph in your review of S2e12:
        “…Daryl made his head explode by firing a high-powered revolver into his skull two feet away. Too bad they faded to black then, because I’d have loved to have seen the reaction of all of those people close enough to get hit by shards of flying bone and brains.”
        I literally tried 4 times to read that passage out loud, but burst out laughing before I could finish the last sentence. I had to run to the bathroom to keep from peeing myself. Admittedly, I was drinking at the time which likely added to the hilarity, but I can say with confidence that last night was the most fun I ever had with anything related to the Walking Dead series. So congratulations! You got 2 new strangers as fans! 🙂

        And just so my post isn’t completely irrelevant to your latest blog… I love that you linked to Chris Kluwe’s opinion of #Gamergate. lol

        • Chris Kluwe has long been one of my favorite NFL players, and all based on his ability to express opinions I share with such colorful insults. I live in constant envy of that man.

          It’s great to meet new strangers here who aren’t insulting me, so I’m ecstatic to meet you both! I’ve also heard that TWD got a lot better, but I just couldn’t make it through season 3 – I’ve contemplated starting it up again and writing recap/reviews of shows that are two or three years old at this point, to see if I could catch up and if I’d hate it as much as I used to.

          And yes, drinking is a great way to make me seem funny! Heh.

  2. Forgot to add, keep writing! I love your work.

  3. Agreed. I don’t care for Anita Sarkeesian, though, mainly because she’ll make blanket statements that yes, they apply to women, but LGBT gamers and other minorities had to go through the same thing. Just because I’m a white male does not mean I’m not harassed either for my sexuality or other areas. This video recently was what set me off in this regard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E47-FMmMLy0&feature=youtu.be

    • I agree with you about Sarkeesian, actually – she makes points that I think are extremely faulty and a stretch at times and for the most part I just don’t agree with her – but it’s the rape and death threats that make reaction to what she says just insane. I get insulted on here – mostly for not liking the Walking Dead – but I’ve never been threatened with death or rape or been doxxed because of them. It’s the extreme hate-filled outpouring of violence towards women in particular that makes my stomach turn. And you’re also right that the LGBT and minority communities face those exact issues.

  4. Yes, Fuck. Yeah.
    I watched the catcalling video when it came out, and was amazed it was news. Amazed others didn’t know, or get, that this was normal. It doesn’t matter how a woman looks, how she is dressed, when she’s out…this happens. One male friend I shared it with asked me, what…are feminists looking to make compliments illegal now? uh…./facepalm
    I’ve heard it described that the feminism is hitting another wave, that all civil rights movements go through growth spasms, before cresting into better, happier spaces with rainbows and unicorn farts.
    Also, I’d high five you for that long-ass sentence but without the mental breather I passed out.

    • I think for a lot of us (who aren’t women, obvs) the cat-calling video WAS a surprise, especially if it’s not something you’ve engaged in yourself or seen in action. To hear literally every woman I know say that, yes, that happens all the time, blew my mind.

      Looking forward to the wave of rainbows and unicorn farts with ya!

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