Some Thoughts About Feminism and Being a Man
Posted by Alan Edwards
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.
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.