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Opinion: Angry With Feminism? Allow Us To Redirect That

Posted January 15, 2013 by Lisa McInerney in Ramp Specials
Women vs Men

There is a significant proportion of men worldwide who seem to be furious with feminism, but still identify as progressive, empathic, intelligent human beings.

These men are not angry with feminism because they believe women should be helpless sponges who lie around all day applying mascara, although presumably there are a couple of half-kinked potato-brains out there who do think that. No, these men are angry with feminism… because men are victimised in society too. Men face gender-based discrimination. Men can be victims of sexual crime. None of this is feminism’s fault, but feminism’s transgression seems to be not addressing the problems of men alongside the problems of women. Of course, one could argue that by promoting gender equality, feminism is addressing the problems of men. It really depends on what you think masculinity is.

While the problems that men face in their day-to-day lives are valid and deserve to be discussed, the place to do so is not necessarily alongside, piggybacking on, or merely carpeting like a fainting Wookie the equally valid issues that feminist discussion tries to highlight. And sometimes, just sometimes, the gender-based discrimination that men encounter in their day-to-day lives is not as pervading as what their girlfriends, sisters and mothers go through. In some cases, it really is easier to be a man. Context is everything.

Problems are not solved by duelling over who’s got the most to complain about.

And in some cases, it is easier to be a woman. There does not have to be balanced victimhood in every scenario. Problems are not solved by duelling over who’s got the most to complain about. What all of this boils down to is this: in discussions about an issue which pertains to women, it is self-defeating for a man to wade in, flashing his battle scars and stating that his grievances have more of a right to the spotlight than anyone else’s.

Anyone who knows anything about feminism knows that it’s about gender equality, not supremacy. It is entirely probable that there are female supremists out there, but feminists would neither validate or welcome them, because that cray-cray shit-reel is not what feminism is about. Who wants to be an island? The joy in life is finding cool people to share it with. Feminists aren’t any different. They are not some frostbitten breed of twist that cannot derive personal worth from anything but the symbolic castration of men.

Why, then, are these men so angry with feminism? Let’s assume that they’re not just a swarm of wild-eyed misogynists who are simply pissed off that women are using a collective voice to disintegrate inequality, and are willing to stoop to the appropriation of genuine causes as masks to hide their hatred.

Feminists don’t acknowledge that men are victims too, they say.

If a feminist discussion turns to how certain men behave badly, whether by sexual privilege or simply everyday bigotry, that doesn’t mean that all men are the bad guys, and affronted blokes should ask themselves whether it’s more important to stand up for some loathsome stranger just because he’s also a bloke, or recognise bad behaviour for what it is. So when a feminist brings up the patriarchy and talks about changing it, that doesn’t mean she’s intending on killing off all the men, or moulding them into something more palatable to her frighteningly totalitarian tastes.

The patriarchy heaps inequality on everyone.

What she’s talking about is changing the system that heaps inequality on everyone; there is always someone cushioned and powerful who will benefit hugely from maintaining the traditional gender divide. People who want to keep men as deadened figureheads and women as baby machines. This is the patriarchy. The majority of men neither benefit from it or play a conscious part in it. It is not some sort of imagined bugaboo that women will slyly reference in their quest to trample masculinity.

And it is the reason so many men are unhappy.

It is what assumes men are all potential rapists, unable and unwilling to show sexual control because they’re just animals. If women are mistrustful of men they don’t know, it is because the patriarchy has taken great pains to teach them that men are to be feared.

The patriarchy is what assumes men cannot and should not have any say in how their children are raised, because productive little ants need not be distracted by their own offspring. When a man is unfairly looked on as a threat around children that aren’t his own, it is because historically, men were not allowed the luxury of paternal emotion.

It is what assumes men cannot indulge their feelings. When a man is ridiculed for being emotional, it is because the traditional norm made a hero out of the strong, silent type. So many boys are taught that it’s shameful to show emotion. So many men are seen as weak because they choose a career, an outlook, or a lifestyle outside of that macho standard. So many men are beaten with this ridiculous notion of masculine strength: that they must be confident always, in charge always, focused always, driven always.

The patriarchy is a system that fetishises power and control, because in telling men that power and control is their birthright, the status quo is upheld by the very people it’s shitting all over.

The patriarchy hurts everyone. It offers women a life lived on the backs of others and it offers men a big fucking fist wrapped around dead air.

So, men who are angry with feminists because they don’t think feminists realise men are victims too: feminists do. The problem is that it’s the very people claiming victimhood that can’t recognise how deep this shitpool goes. We’re all in it together, dudes, and ain’t neither side getting out by clambering all over the other.

About the Author

Lisa McInerney

Lisa’s soul is so damn sensitive, she has to invent and occupy parallel universes just to spread herself evenly. This is also known as being a frustrated novelist.

  • http://twitter.com/powertara Tara Power

    Great great article Lisa!

  • hugh

    What angers men about feminism (not woman by the way, there is a major difference) is the militant devotion to feminism some people have. There’s very few creeds/religions/belief systems that people push on others as much as feminism and identify themselves with. Look at Twitter profiles and you’ll see what I mean. This, to me, is always suspicious, whether that be a pro-lifer, atheist or feminist. Anyone with such devotion to one thing is liable to discount contrary beliefs out of hand.

    Furthermore, why do woman equate feminism with equal rights? Equal rights is equal rights for all – absolutely no need to segregate one section of society over another.

    This is what would worry me – http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/14/sexual-discrimination-science – i.e. that I have an inbuilt bias towards men. But then again, this is probably biological and totally natural and can be negated by good laws and legislation.

    The point is that I, and others, are worried. This means that change will come.

    It just won’t come tomorrow. And it won’t come easy. People still have to point out inequalities in our society and fight against them. But fighting against them as feminists is ultimately counter-productive. Society moves in tiny, tiny increments; making us move in different directions will only make it slower.

    • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

      I’m curious as to what you think feminism is, if not about equal rights?

      • Hugh

        You’ve just hit the nail on the head.

        What is the point of feminism if its main goal is to secure equal rights? Surely then you should just join an equal rights movement…

        Did Martin Luther King want there to be a black civil rights movement forever? Of course not, he wanted it to achieve its goals and then dissolve.

        You’ll now counter by saying there are lots of issues surrounding woman and inequality so there’s a lot more to achieve. Of course there are and I believe that, very slowly, that they are.

        I want to take some of the issues you mentioned above….

        ‘Rape to rapes reported to rapes convicted’ – http://ow.ly/gPHC3

        Very much so, but abuse happens on both sides of the aisle (although obviously skewed against woman). Again, this is an issue of law. If you are raped, then you should be protected under law. Why is this, per se, a woman’s issue?

        ‘the stigma related to male depression and suicide’

        I didn’t really get this point but again, depression and suicide is not a gender issue; it’s a health one.

        ‘the loss of rights for unmarried fathers’

        Again, this is an equality issue. Both parents should have equal access and rights once it is born, whether they are a man or woman shouldn’t be relevant – especially since woman/man is lessening as the typical family structure.

        After all that waffle I think I should finish with one point. Men that get angry about feminism are generally the ones who actually care about it. We get frustrated that (as you say in your article) that there seems to be no progression to its own argument. A social movement should be about constant change, and in truth feminism has absolutely no clue where it is right now so doesn’t have much of a chance going anywhere.

        Equal rights for all is the progressive argument that we can ALL get behind.

        Anyway, thanks for the good read – I’ll try to put together a proper response on my blog over the next while!

    • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

      Women equate feminism with equal rights because that’s what the definition of feminism is.
      It’s the belief in the fair and equal treatment of women in all aspects of society.
      Furthermore, the meaning of feminism has been distorted to the point where some people associate it with ‘man haters’ and women in the public eye say stupid things like “I believe in the strength of women but I’m not a feminist” (Katy Perry – http://this.org/blog/2012/12/12/wtf-wednesday-katy-perry-announces-that-shes-not-a-feminist/)

      • hugh

        No reasonable person equates feminism with ‘man haters’.

        Feminism is simply no longer relevant (and I’m sure I’m not explaining this well), as can be summed up in a couple of logically progressive statements.

        Original feminism – ‘All woman are equal with men’

        New feminism – ‘Men and woman are equal’

        Feminism’s next step – ‘Everyone’s equal’

        Once you take that step, making equality a woman’s issue is counter-productive because it once again separates the sexes in a negative way. Feminism is a creed that has an inherent paradox – it’s ultimate goal is to destroy itself.

        When you realise that you can begin taking issues where we are different one by one (how can we create a working environment where mothers can succeed for example) and not allow bullshit creeds and philosophies get in the way.

        Almost every issue that is lumped in with ‘feminism’ (surely this annoys you too?) can be sorted out by thinking about it in terms of equality; not equality for woman.

        • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

          Of course feminism is relevant. Women are still not treated equally in the workplace, in society, in certain countries etc.

  • Will

    I will read this after work. I am just here to relay one of my favourite ever headlines from ‘The Onion’: ‘Man put in charge of struggling feminist movement’. Brilliant.

  • http://twitter.com/MehNoooooo Meh

    Men are angry with feminism because it’s a divisive and exclusive idealogy. The hypocrisy is crystal clear to men who want equality for all, that’s why feminism is on the wrong side of history at this stage and past it’s sell by date(in western countries), soon to join the club of dead religions and divisive political idealogies which formed the “patriarchy”.

    • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

      I disagree. There remains plenty of gender-based inequality in the Western world, for example: wage gaps or innate gender-based bias in the workplace, the frankly horrifying ratio of rape to rapes reported to rapes convicted (the vast majority of which are carried out on female victims), the stigma related to male depression and suicide, the loss of rights for unmarried fathers…

      Equality for all is the very basis of feminism: that women are allowed the same rights and privileges as men in everyday life. The idea that feminism is “divisive” and “exclusive” is, yet again, tied in to this notion that feminism is about female supremacy. As with Hugh’s comment below, I am genuinely curious as to what exactly you think feminism is? What you’re angry about is nothing I’m familiar with.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lisascott.dingle Lisa Scott

      I really wish dead religions were not controlling women’s lives, and that the need for feminism had gone in Western countries. Unfortunately in Ireland, where I live, women are still refused medical abortions because a foetus is as important as a woman. In the US a sleeping woman can be raped and the perp gets off because she isn’t married. I think perhaps you didn’t read the article and you don’t know what the ideology of feminism is…that women and men are both damaged by patriarchy.

  • Sinéad

    I am reminded of that episode of The West Wing where Ainsley Hayes says of the Equal Rights Amendment: “it’s humiliating. A new amendment we vote on declaring that I am equal under the law to a man, I am mortified to discover there’s reason to believe I wasn’t before. I am a citizen of this country, I am not a special subset in need of your protection. I do not have to have my rights handed down to me by a bunch of old, white, men. The same Article 14 that protects you, protects me, and I went to law school just to make sure.”

    Why do we have to call it feminism? Why can’t we just call it equality? I don’t think I’m due anything because I’m a woman, I would just like to enjoy the benefits of being a person equal to any other person. And who the hell could complain about that.

  • Sphynx

    Great article. A lot of what you write about patriarchy is also true for capitalism. NOT the we’re all in this together thing though.

  • Ellesar

    This is an excellent article on the subject – I just cannot be arsed debating with those angry men and you have summed up exactly why – I would be happy if more men could see this instead of feeling that feminism is a direct attack on all men. Patriarchy is a system, and wanting to end it does not mean destroying any individual. Men suffer many oppressions as a result of patriarchy, but are often told that it is feminism who caused those problems – how ironic!.

    Found this as a result of your 50 Shades piece – hilarious btw. You have a new follower.

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