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Thu Feb 22, 2018, 10:54 PM

"Feminists are Sexist" - A good article on this stupid accusation

An article from a UK feminist in... 2003! Still seems pretty relevant.


"Okay, first of all let me get this bit out of the way. Despite what those anti-feminist emails accused me of, I am one of those feminists who belives that the mainstream culture does stereotype men. I do believe that ‘Patriarchy Hurts Men Too’ (‘PHMT’ as it is sarcastically abbreviated by some www.msmagazine.com messageboard members – probably with a eye-rolling emoticon to accompany it). And yes, I’ll admit it – I’m one of those who believes that ‘Feminism Benefits Men Too’ (FBMT as I may refer to it from now on, no eye-rolling please). Yes, I do think that stereotyping men are bad, as I’ve said, again and again and again. I never said it wasn’t.


"My point is that feminists are not biological determinists. Feminists are the least likely people to say ‘all men are bastards’. Some of them might say ‘many men behave like bastards’. But they don’t imply that such behaviour is acceptable because its genetic or ‘natural’ for men to behave that way, like those arguments defending rapists which imply that men are really all just stupid cavemen who can’t be blamed when they rape because, hey, men just can’t help it when they see someone in a mini skirt. Feminists don’t write books about how men are genetically incapable of picking up an iron. Feminists don’t write books about how men are from another planet, one where men have to be left ‘in their cave’ because they just don’t have proper emotions like women do. That’s because actually, feminists think men should be treated as fully functional human beings with brains and morals who should be held responsible for the choices they make. If I was a man, I’d rather have that than the shallow and insulting implication that ‘men can’t help it because they’re naturally stupid.’ If I was a man, I know which I’d find most offended by. If I was a man, I know who’d I’d accuse of ‘man-hating’. And yes, yes, for the hundredth time YES, feminists disapprove of advertisements that stereotype men as ignorant buffoons. These ads are nothing more than macho caricatures which, as Holly Combe said to me recently, ‘make fools of men, whilst simultaneously making excuses for them.’


"I’m sick to the back teeth, sick and tired, of feminists being accused of sexism and hypocrisy unless we spend exactly half of our time and resources pointing out every instance of how ‘patriarchy hurts men too’. Gay rights activists aren’t expected to spend half their time campaigning for heterosexuals. Anti-racism activists aren’t expected to spend ages campaigning on behalf of white people. Yet its a different story with feminism, isn’t it? The most infuriating thing about this is that – as regular readers will know – I do think that feminism is important for men as well as women and I encourage both men and women to critique mainstream masculinity as well as femininity. But that doesn’t mean that I think that every single instance of feminist activism has to be prefaced with a disclaimer about how this also benefits men. Frankly, I’m getting a little bored of it. I believe it strongly, but there’s only so many times I am forced to repeat it before it gets a little wearing and I start to wonder why I have to keep doing it in the first place.


"Its something that I wasn’t really aware of until recently, but I’m starting to notice this phenomenon more and more. The Anti Street Harassment UK group was asked to change the wording of their mission statement to erase the word ‘women’ in favour of ‘people’ (they didn’t). At a Cambridge Union debate on feminism which I attended as a guest, Kristin Aune described in detail the ways in which women are still being held back in society, and the atmosphere in the room immediately became uncomfortable – people were shifting in their seats; they simpy didn’t want to hear it. Later, one of the students, in retort, listed a load of bad things which happen to men – he got an emphatic round of applause. Yet Kristin never said that this wasn’t the case; she simply described things which were happening to women – but seemingly focusing on women is obviously some kind of terrible faux pas in modern society. We can’t refer to women, we have to refer to ‘people’ – which includes men, which therefore makes it okay. What this implies is that things that happen to women are only worth getting upset about if they happen to men too. Then it’s okay, because it’s a ‘people’ issue, not an embarassing ‘womens’ issue."


Catherine Redfern, 19 September 2003
Full article: https://www.thefword.org.uk/2003/09/feminists_are_sexist/?skin=print


A side thought I also had: some of the white patriarchal response to feminism is also seen in the white patriarchal response to civil rights. Ms. Redfern notes that turning "women's" issues into "people" issues implies that "things that happen to women are only worth getting upset about if they happen to men too." This made me think of the insistent backlash/response to the Black Lives Matter movement with "ALL Lives Matter" -- as if the specific struggles of black people were only worth getting upset about if we acknowledged that bad things happen to whites, too.


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