Feminism and hate

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona

Incivility is the order of the day. And this incivility finds its roots in moralistic self-righteousness, which leads to a sense of urgency where any means are justified. Such people don’t even realize they’ve abandoned their values. That’s why President Donald Trump’s supporters are willing to excuse anything he does.

I participated in the women’s march in Phoenix, Arizona to make a public statement against Trump’s dehumanizing comments about women and other groups even though I had certain disagreements with some of the groups present. But as I look at feminist dehumanization of men I must wonder if I shouldn’t have attended the march.

Feminist hate

Misandry has long been a part of feminism. Decades ago second wave feminist and sometime Ms. magazine editor Robin Morgan said, “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.”

Feminists today take to Twitter with hashtags like #menaretrash, #maletears, and #masculinitysofragile. They say they’re being ironic, but as I noted earlier this is a passive-aggressive excuse for dehumanizing half the human race.

Yes, there are feminists who believe in gender equality in the true sense of the word – gender doesn’t mean women only. Just as there are conservatives who are true to their beliefs. Double standards, however, are too often the case.

Progressives were outraged when Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted, “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” But the truth is that he was repeating a feminist meme that said men instead of refugees (and M&Ms instead of skittles). Where was the progressive outrage then?

Worse, Lena Dunham recently called for the extinction of straight white men – a comment that rightly would be labeled fascist had it targeted any other group.

Integrity

Conservative columnist George Will left the Republican Party because of Donald Trump. And some feminists have left feminism to pursue more balanced gender equality instead. That’s integrity.

But bigots rarely admit they’re bigots. Most have moralistic excuses for their beliefs. People who hate Muslims point to 9/11 and say it’s not really hate – they just care about people’s safety.

Misandry among some feminists is no different. And while not all conservatives are Islamophobes, and not all feminists are man-haters, the problem is widespread enough to mar both movements.

Ms. Morgan’s sense of entitlement is noteworthy. Hatred is not excusable because someone is oppressed. Hatred is self-betrayal of what you say you stand for. The claim that sweeping and derogatory generalizations about a group of people is not hate if you lack power is a paper thin rationalization. Women have much more power than feminists admit to. So feminist hate can have far reaching consequences.

What is feminism?

Feminism is about increasing women’s power. Often this means promoting equality, but sometimes it means being anti-equality. For example, the National Organization for Women opposes shared parenting after divorce (NOW deleted the link).

Feminists often don’t see this as a double standard because many of them believe that men arranged society to privilege men at women’s expense. But like most conspiracy theories this doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

Throughout most of history men have not been privileged. Ancient kingdoms and empires were tyrannies run by small groups of men. The common man – the overwhelming majority of the male population – was a beast of burden and cannon fodder. The common man did gain rights before women, but the gap between universal male suffrage and universal female suffrage is less than a century.

But for feminists, something is only a gender issue if it negatively affects women. Though men face a wide variety of problems, none of these are considered gender issues.

There has never been a movement that focuses on gender issues in the true sense of the word. And there won’t be anytime soon. For now I accept that feminism is what it is, and I choose to distance myself from any ideology that can’t control its own hate.

Are men second class citizens? No, but that’s the wrong question.

Men are not second class citizens, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take men’s issues seriously. Addressing both women’s and men’s issues is not a zero sum game. Continue reading Dave DuBay’s article on the Good Men Project.

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Click the image to watch Australia’s Weekend Sunrise video.

Can you believe in gender equality but not be a feminist?

If you believe in gender equality then you’re a feminist. If you doubt that then look feminism up in the dictionary. It’s a popular argument that’s difficult to disagree with without being labeled anti-equality.

But does it follow that if you’re not a feminist then you’re anti-equality? It reminds me of the question, “How can you be moral if you don’t believe in God?” The black or white dichotomy such questions create is problematic.

Another problem is the attempt to define other people’s labels for them. A better questions is, “What do you call yourself?” And, “What’s your perspective on equality?” These questions are open ended and don’t push an agenda.

Feminism advocates for gender equality from a female point of view. This matters because the Seneca Falls Convention was held 168 years ago, but recorded human history stretches back 10,000 years. But men seem inconsistent in finding their voice about gender equality.

Feminism has changed men’s roles because women’s roles can’t change without shifting men’s place in society. But that change happens to men – we don’t have a choice. And that feeling of having no choice is one reason why men’s rights activists are angry with feminism. Feminists sometimes respond by saying that men need to understand that men benefit from feminism too. And while that’s generally true, the patronizing tone doesn’t help.

The men’s rights movement isn’t the answer, though. Their rightwing talking points fail to support women’s issues. Men’s rights activists even claim that feminism isn’t really about equality.

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Beehive Mountain, Acadia National Park

So is being a male feminist the answer? I agree with blogger Ally Fogg that feminism is a movement of women, by women, and for women. Men can’t define the issues or offer solutions. Men can’t even takes sides in disagreements within feminism without it being mansplaining. As a result, a male feminist must take his cues from women. This means avoiding certain issues and having his statements scrutinized for ideological purity, all of which constrain his ability to speak authentically about the male experience.

Fogg also points out that feminism is mainly concerned with issues men cause, not issues men face. And of course, issues that men face are for men to describe.

A return to the pre-feminist past is neither desirable nor realistic. Instead, I write in an attempt to develop a male perspective on gender equality and gender issues without the constraints of male feminism, but also without the anti-feminist and rightwing perspective of the men’s rights movement. This is a male viewpoint that runs parallel to much of feminist thought but which is also free to disagree with feminism at certain points.

Final thought: while I don’t expect people to agree with me (I’m simply defining my personal viewpoint), I also reject the moralistic judgments people sometimes make because I’m not choosing the labels they think I should choose. It is each person’s prerogative to choose their own labels and to define their own perspectives, and the attitude that someone must call themselves this or that disrespects that individual’s choice.